Gines saves best for last as Sun Valley beats Chichester

ASTON >> James Gines picked a good time to turn in the first multi-touchdown game of his high school football career.

The Sun Valley sophomore registered the Vanguards’ first two scores at Dr. Wally Field Thursday — a pair of touchdown passes from Vanguards quarterback/defensive back Gabe Boccella — to help Sun Valley to a 20-7 win over Del Val League rival Chichester in the teams’ annual Thanksgiving Day game.

“It’s the biggest game of the year,” Gines said. “So to do it in front of my school, in front of my family and everything, it just feels great.”

Boccella also did his part, as he tossed three scoring passes and hauled in a pair of interceptions to further seal Sun Valley’s quest for consecutive Thanksgiving wins since the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

After Chichester ended a five-year Turkey Bowl skid with a 13-7 triumph in 2011, the schools traded victories in each contest that followed until Thursday’s, flipping scripts in the 48-year-old holiday tradition between the neighboring schools.

Gines and Boccella gave the Vanguards (4-8 overall) a good start with their first scoring connection, a 17-yarder.
After an end zone interception for Sun Valley’s Jon Kester and punts for both sides, Boccella came down with the Vanguards’ second interception of the afternoon on Chichester’s opening second-half drive. He then found Gines again for a 35-yard catch-and-run to extend Sun Valley’s advantage.

After the teams traded punts later in the quarter, Chichester’s Greg Allman gave his team a much-needed spark when he scampered down the Eagles’ sideline for a 64-yard punt return that put Chichester (3-8) on the board and cut the deficit in half, 14-7.

“Special teams stepped up,” Eagles running back Kevin Miller said. “We had the big punt return and we had the momentum (after that).”

But despite Miller’s 70-yard afternoon on the ground, the Eagles had trouble moving the ball consistently the rest of the way.

Charlie Wendling and Boccella each padded the Vanguards’ interception count in the second half, while Jon Kester’s 9-yard score on a screen with 3:01 left to play provided some late insurance.

Though Chichester gave itself a chance to pull within one possession late in the final quarter when it forced Sun Valley to fumble the ball away with just over two minutes left, the Vanguards sealed a winning result when they promptly forced a turnover on downs.

“We played great,” said Boccella, who totaled 158 yards through the air on 8-of-15 passing. “We kept the intensity up all game and we just did what we had to do.

“It meant everything. We played for the seniors. We played for each other.”

Though Gines said his team would have liked more to write home about than a four-win campaign, downing the Eagles for a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day, and on the Vanguards’ home turf, made for a meaningful season’s end.

“It’s a big rivalry. Neck-and-neck game. Close. Just fighting until the end.” he said of the Turkey Bowl. “Especially after not winning as many games as we hoped, (winning it) makes us feel better.”

The Vanguards totaled 258 yards of offense behind the likes of Boccella and Kester, who paced Sun Valley with 72 yards on 24 carries.

Despite periodic stalls on attack, the Eagles hung tough late. Ray Argo Jr.’s fourth-quarter interception of Boccella, along with the later fumble recovery, gave Chichester opportunities despite the turnover woes of its own.

But, in the end, it was just Sun Valley’s day. Despite that, Miller made sure to take in his third and final Thanksgiving matchup with the Vanguards along the way.

It was also the Jamaica native’s last game in an Eagles uniform.

“Very emotional,” Miller said. “Going into the third quarter, it hit me.

“I feel good to compete in this game for the third time. … I worked toward this game for three years now. It’s just always a big game. A big rivalry for both teams.”

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