ASTON — For 52 Thanksgiving days, the football teams from Chichester and Sun Valley have been getting together to settle their differences.
First-year Chichester head coach Bob Brice has had experiences with two different Eagles squads since the 2019 season began in August.
“I told them earlier in the week that I wondered which team would show up – the one that beat Bishop Shanahan and Chester or the one that lost to Interboro,” Brice said. “Today it was the Chichester team we wanted to see, and they came here to play and they got the job done.”
The visiting Eagles, who had little trouble with a Shanahan team that had a successful playoff run and beat a Chester team that won seven games, bounced back from a loss to previously winless Interboro earlier this month and knocked off Sun Valley 20-0 at Dr. Wally Field Thursday morning.
The win was Chichester’s second Thanksgiving Day success in a row and third in the last four Turkey Day games. Sun Valley leads the series, 28-24.
Junior Bryen Hamm had a pair of scoring runs in the second quarter, and junior Zach Taylor, who booted a pair of extra points after the TDs, kicked field goals of 33 and 29 yards in the fourth quarter to account for the Eagles’ scoring.
Chichester (4-8) had three of its four completions in the second quarter, when the Eagles could take advantage of the strong wind gusts, and Taylor had the wind with him when he booted his two field goals and put his kickoffs into or out of the end zone.
Neither team averaged 25 yards per punt because of kicks that didn’t end up more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage because of the weather. Taylor’s final punt went 65 yards with a favorable roll, and Sun Valley’s first punt was with the win and ended up 47 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Chichester’s only two possessions of the first quarter resulted in three-and-out situations and concluded with 14-yard punts. After Sun Valley’s good first punt, the Vanguards went backward with their second punt from the Chi 33, giving the Eagles a first down at their 44.
Seven plays later, Hamm’s five-yard run on a first-and-goal try from scrimmage resulted in the first points of the game.
Sun Valley ran off the next 13 plays but could move only from its 20 to the 50-yard line. The Vanguards’ punt of five yards started the Eagles on a 55-yard march that took only four plays.
Nate Decenzi’s 32-yard completion to Antonio Perez was the first of the four plays, and Hamm had another five-yard scoring dash on which he appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage but kept his legs moving until he reached the end zone with three Vanguards draped all over him.
“We had some rough spots during this season,” Hamm said. “But this feels great. Our coaches have been working with our offensive line all season. Today they made me look good, and I tried to make them look good with what I did.”
Late in the third quarter, Eagles senior Brandon Jessup picked off a Sun Valley pass and was tackled at the Vanguards’ 32. Three plays later, Chi gained the wind advantage in the fourth quarter, and Taylor got all of the ball on his first field goal, which came down well behind the goal posts.
Qurron Benson and Will Asbury sacked Sun Valley quarterback Johnny Eskridge on fourth down one minute later, and 6:44 before the final whistle Taylor added a 29-yard field goal to set the final score.
“We put in a lot of preparation getting ready for the season,” Taylor said. “It was great to get this win today. All of us who are coming back want to make sure we have the chance to do this again next year.”
Following the game, Sun Valley had its annual Senior Walk in which the players make their final journey across the field together then are greeted by their families.
“We only had six of them,” SV head coach Greg “Bubba” Bernhardt said of the players who participated in the traditional event. “We’ve tried all year, but we knew we were a couple of people away.”