Chester Makes History With First Playoff Win, 18-15, Over Marple Newtown
CHESTER, PA — Before the Chester coaches entered the locker room at halftime, the Clippers’ senior leaders stood up. They weren’t about to let the chaos that had just ensued follow them into the two most crucial quarters of their young football lives in Saturday’s PIAA District 1 Class 5A playoff game against Marple Newtown.
The Clippers had just lost their most potent receiver. Their offense wasn’t running the way they liked. They could have fallen under the storm of a melee that occurred just before halftime.
Chester senior tailback, Noble Thompson, which may be listed on betting sites like tridewa, rushed for a career-high 135 yards on 11 carries, and senior defensive tackle/fullback Jabree Davis had a career-best three sacks. This enabled the Clippers to make program history with their first District 1 playoff victory, beating young, stubborn Marple Newtown, 18-15, in a classic at the Chester Athletic Complex, where you can view NFL point spread picks at a trusted betting online site at Vertical 23.
Chester (10-1), the No. 5 seed, advances to play No. 4 Plymouth-Whitemarsh on Friday at 7 p.m., while Marple Newtown fell to 5-6 overall with its Thanksgiving Day game to play at Penncrest.
“This feels great. It’s something that Chester never did, and we’re going to keep moving on and making people know Chester for football and not just basketball,” the powerful 5-8, 190-pound Thompson said. “What happened in the first half was pretty difficult. We had to make sure everyone stayed disciplined and stayed focused.”
That was because the game almost got out of control with 1:39 left in the first half. Davis just finished his first sack of the day, pulling down Tigers’ lefty junior quarterback David Bertoline for a six-yard loss at the Marple Newtown 43. A split second later, Thompson came crashing in on Bertoline when he was down, which immediately drew penalty flags.
Where things got out of control was when Thompson got up, Tigers’ 6-2, 265-pound senior center Josh Tiger-Wesley shoved down Thompson over a fallen player and both sidelines erupted.
In the melee, Chester’s 6-5 standout receiver Dominic Toy went after Tiger-Westley. The officials said Toy threw a punch at Tiger-Wesley, ejecting him from the game, while Chester coach LaDontay Bell maintained Toy shoved Tiger-Wesley and did not throw a punch at all.
Chester went into halftime leading 12-7, thanks to freshman quarterback Jalen Harris’ eight-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass to Toy on fourth-and-goal and Davis’ second-quarter, five-yard scoring run.
The Tigers, who scored on Bertoline’s 27-yard touchdown toss to Paul Defruscio on a fourth-and-three with 9:33 left in the half, were trying to mount another scoring drive late in the half when the brawl occurred.
“The talk at halftime was about locking in, knowing that we weren’t all together,” said Davis, whose three sacks amassed minus-15 yards. “We spoke up to everyone about being disciplined. We needed to come together as a group. Those are things we work on.”
Chester took what looked like a commanding 18-7 with 1:33 left in the third quarter on a great razzle-dazzle play. Harris took the snap, handed it off to one player, who tossed it to senior receiver Cymeer Brown, who then fired a strike downfield to senior wideout Malachi Holmes for a 62-yard touchdown and an 18-7 Clippers’ lead.
With the Marple Newtown offense struggling, it seemed the game was over.
Bertoline flipped a well-conceived screen to sophomore tailback Brian Box for a 56-yard gain to the Chester 17. Four plays later, Bertoline hit Defruscio again, this time with a six-yard TD strike. Bertoline’s little out toss to junior Joey Yukenavitch for a two-point conversion suddenly made it a game again, 18-15 game with 10:30 to play.
The play of the game came on fourth-and-five at the Chester 23 with 3:33 left. Bertoline looked left, trying to sway the Chester defense, while throwing a rainbow right in the direction of Box running to the sideline pylon. With perfect coverage, Chester senior cornerback Kesean Chambers batted the ball away just as it was about to hit Box’s hands.
From there, Chester handed the ball to Thompson, who pounded it into Marple Newtown territory and sucked the remaining seconds off the clock to secure Chester’s first playoff football victory.
Again, there was talk after the game and Bell decided to have his team go to the far end zone, foregoing the postgame handshake between the teams. Both Bell and Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking did meet at midfield and shook hands, as did Bell with every member of the Marple Newtown coaching staff.
Also, Bell made it a point to shake the hands of the Marple Newtown players he did come in contact with after the game—as did Gicking, intercepting Chester players on their way to the locker room to congratulate them.
“Coach Bell and their staff, they have those kids doing the right things. He’s done a great job down here and the credit goes to them,” said Gicking, who had just four senior starters. “But I’m really proud of our kids, our coaches, our community for the way we battled and never gave up.”
“We will never quit. We needed to do more on offense. Chester is a really good team and we battled them. We need to get stronger in the offseason. I already knew this group was tough.”
Gicking said it was hard to see what happened at the end of the first half, “because it really takes away from the game,” he said. “That whole situation, we shouldn’t have that. It takes away from a great game. At the end of the game, I told our kids you have to win and lose with class, and we lost with class.”
Bell had some bittersweet feelings. Before Bell, Chester has never been 10-1 playing in the second round of the district playoffs in November. He makes Chester lore by being the first Chester head coach to win a district playoff football game and in seven years has done wonders for the program.
On the other hand, Bell knows his team was capable of doing more than it did on Saturday.
“I’m excited about the win, however, we have a lot to work on for next week,” Bell said. “We fed Noble the ball and he did very well, and Jabree is a beast who put heat on. There are some things we have to address with the PIAA at the end of halftime, with questionable calls and ejections. I have to send information in, because what was called did not happen.
“In the end, I can’t say enough about the senior leadership of this team. It’s their team. Noble, Jabree, Cymeer Brown and Colin Ferrell, they are our senior captains and they all spoke up at halftime. It was major for these seniors to win this game. It’s a mindset of act like you’ve been there before. Play the game.”
Bell stressed that it was important for him to shake the hand of every Marple Newtown coach. He also had praise for Gicking, as Gicking had for Bell. Given the chippy tone of the game, it was an understandable move not to have the teams shake hands afterward.
“Chris is a great guy who I have great respect for,” Bell said. “I have no issue with Chris or their coaching staff. It’s why I shook every one of their coach’s hands. I told them the best of luck with their program, and they said the same to me.”
“But when you have young men who are chippy, going at it, young men running off the sidelines, you don’t allow that space to occur again. So that’s what we did, we mitigated that situation. Some people won’t understand that, because they’re not the coaches. But if someone were to fight, I have to answer to that.”
“I stand by my decision. Again, Chris is a great guy. He shook our kid’s hands, and then I did the same with their players. I wasn’t about to take any chances. Our kids were able to go home. Their kids were able to go home. We did the very best with that.”
Marple Newtown (5-6) 0 7 0 8-15
Chester (10-1) 6 6 6 0 -18
Ches. – Dominic Toy 8 pass from Jalen Harris (run failed), 3:23
MN – Paul Defruscio 27 pass from David Bertoline (Josh McMenamin kick), 9:33
Ches. – Jabree Davis 5 run (run failed), 8:13
Ches. – Malachi Holmes 62 pass from Cymeer Brown (passed failed), 1:33
MN – Defruscio 6 pass from Bertoline (Joey Yukenavitch from Bertoline), 10:30
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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