Warriors Upset Number One Seed Ridley
Halfway through the regular season the West Chester Henderson Warriors were at a very high note sitting at 5 and 0. Then they had a three game losing streak which consisted of a 10-0 shutout loss to Coatesville. Then entering the final two games of the regular season they both were must wins to even make the playoffs. The Warriors went on to beat Avon Grove and got a big win over a tough Downingtown East team on the road to put them as the last team to get into the playoffs as the sixteenth seeded team.
Being the last ranked team in the AAAA District One playoff tournament meant the Warriors would have to play the number one seeded team, the undefeated Ridley Raiders. Do you believe in miracles? Well, nobody was even counting West Chester to come close against the Ridley Raiders.
It looked like Ridley was on route to a blowout early on in the game as it only took less than two minutes to score. Senior quarterback Sean Blundin threw a 59 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dion Shaw to go up early 7-0.
The Warriors offense took advantage of a big turnover by Ridley. After Blundin was hit hard the ball came loose and the fumble was recovered by senior defensive lineman Jorge Mejias near midfield which gave the ball back to the offense.
Young sophomore Warriors’ quarterback, Strafford Foster made himself look like a senior tonight. After a few long runs down to the goal line, Foster threw a two yard touchdown pass to junior, Jacob Richard. After catching the touchdown pass, Richard went on to hold the football for the extra point which was good and tied the game, 7-7.
Ridley was just about to answer back with a touchdown of their own on their very next possession. On fourth down Blundin threw to senior Shahaid Smith and with his quickness he ran all the way to the goal line but was stopped at the one yard line. On the very next play the Green Raiders went to Smith, but Smith bobbled the handoff from his quarterback and West Chester Henderson recovered the fumble on their own one yard line. It was a big stop by the Warriors.
On a night with no wind at all Ridley attempted a 41 yard field goal before the half. Senior kicker, Aaron Kellet kicked a line driver which went just left and kept the game tie. The missed long field goal was points Ridley needed in such a close game.
West Chester Henderson’s defense continued to make Ridley turnover the football. On another bobbled snap, senior Quincy Rhoades recovered the fumble on Ridley’s 45 yard line. Next for the Warriors would be a trick play; A flea-flicker. Foster handed the ball off to Zachary Jones and he flipped the ball back to Foster, which threw off the defense and went deep to senior wide receiver Austin Constable for a big 45 yard touchdown. The Warriors went up 14-7. Constable said, “Coach called the play and we were excited. We worked really hard all week at practice. Strafford threw a perfect ball and it was just a great play.”
Once again Ridley missed an opportunity to score as they were on the one yard line and Smith was stopped again. The Raiders went to Smith three times but the Warriors defense wasn’t letting anything up. For the second time in a row Smith and the Green Raiders were stopped at the one.
Since Ridley’s offense couldn’t score it was up to the special teams. West Chester Henderson deep into their territory punted to Dion Shaw and he ran a 47 yard punt return into the end zone; the crowd erupted and gave Ridley new life with just 3:48 to go in the game. The only thing was the extra point was hooked just right and was missed. An extra point that would have tied the game left Ridley behind by just one point, 14-13.
Ridley had to stop the Warriors offense with just one time out left to even get the football back into their hands. Three plays later, Ridley with no timeouts left and the Warriors facing a third down, Jacob Richard rushed for a first down and wrapped up the game. West Chester Henderson (number sixteenth seed) upset Ridley (number one seed) in the first round of the District One AAAA playoffs by a score of 14-13.
“This is probably the biggest win in my career; I have been doing this for a long time. These kids just came out of nowhere and we are playing our best football right now” said Warriors head coach Joe Walsh. He added, “It’s high school football and anytime you go out on the field you have a shot of beating the other guys. We were dinged up during our three losses and we thought we should have done a better job there, and now were rolling.
Next week the Warriors will play their big rival, Bayard Rustin, and will be looking for revenge. In Week 7 of the regular season Rustin beat Henderson 27-18. Coach Walsh said, “Rustin’s gotten our number the last couple years and they beat us this year. We weren’t at this level when we played them before, hopefully we will be able to do a good job against them too.” After this big win by West Chester Henderson, anything can happen as the Warriors proved that by knocking off the number one seed in District One AAAA.
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