The Garnet Valley Jaguars Winning Season Comes To An End
With the snow falling and the cold blistery air whipping around Moe DeFrank Stadium, the Garnet Valley Jaguars were hoping to move on to the next round. First the Jaguars had to get through the Neshaminy Redskins. The Redskins entered this game with a record of 11-1, while the Jaguars were undefeated, 12-0.
With Tim Keyser and Paul Dunn in the backfield to receive the opening kickoff, Neshaminy’s kicker Seth Jeffries sent the football high and deep and Keyser took off to the Redskins 31 yard line. You could certainly tell the Jaguars wanted to come out and set the tone.
On the Jaguars first offensive series after a long return from Keyser, the Jaguars continued to run with senior Jared Bonacquisti and Keyser. After two powerful runs by Bonacquisti, Jared passed the 1000 yard rushing mark for a season, the first time in his career. Before you knew it the Jaguars were near the goal line, and ready to score. Junior quarterback of the Jaguars Mark McHugh handed the ball off to Keyser and Keyser dashed into the end zone for a three yard touchdown run and put the Jaguars up 7-0, after an extra point from Dan Acchione.
After a long kick by the Jaguars, Neshaminy fumbled on the kick return and the football was recovered by the Jaguars on Neshaminy’s 39 yard line. Garnet Valley couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and punted the football away. Neshaminy did the same on their very next offensive series as well.
Nearing the end of the first quarter, once Garnet Valley got the ball back, they fumbled and the Redskins recovered. On Neshaminy’s first and next offensive play they fumbled too. It was back-to-back fumbles. This time the Garnet Valley Jaguars offense didn’t want to lose the opportunity of a fumble recovery. The Jaguars again marched down field using their two 1000 yard rushing running backs, Bonacquisti and Keyser. With all the attention focused on the two running threats senior Chris Palaio scored rushing the football into the end zone right near the goal line. After another Acchione extra point the Jags went up big, 14-0.
The first quarter ended and it seemed like the Garnet Valley Jaguars had all the momentum needed. Then Neshaminy’s offense started clicking. They began to rotate their running backs and scored on a two yard touchdown run by Jay Colbert with 4:25 left before halftime. The Redskins cut the Jaguars lead in half, 14-7.
After Garnet Valley struggled to get first downs, Neshaminy didn’t waste any time. Nearing the end of the half the Redskins were in the red zone thanks to their quick running backs, Quilan Arnold and Bryan Dean. With just 25 seconds left in the first half Jay Colbert struck again. Colbert rushed into the end zone from the one yard line. After the extra point the game was tied 14-14 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter Neshaminy started to heat up in the cold weather. The Redskins continued to get first downs on third and five or third and long and eventually was right back near the goal line. This time Neshaminy’s junior quarterback Brian Titus faked the hand off and went to the air for a three yard touchdown pass to the future tight end of Rutgers, Paul Carrezola. The touchdown and extra point made the game 21-14. The score stayed the same going into the fourth and final quarter.
In the fourth and final quarter of the District One Semi-final game it was all about defense for both teams. On fourth and one Garnet Valley decided to pass and it was incomplete which gave Neshaminy the football on their own 18 yard line.
After Neshaminy got a few consecutive first downs, the Jaguars defense stepped up and on fourth and short the Redskins quarterback, Titus, was sacked by senior Nick Garcia. After the sack the Jaguars offense started on their own 26 yard line with just 3:50 left to go in the game. They needed to score.
Quarterback Mark McHugh and the Jaguars offense took a few close shots to the end zone but they were not completed. With less than two minutes to go in the playoff game the season came down to fourth and eight. The Jaguars would have to get over eight yards to keep the game, and the season alive.
With the crowd on both sides on their feet and everyone holding their breath, as their hearts were racing, McHugh stepped back threw but the pass was incomplete. Neshaminy took over and watched the clock tick down to zero. The final score in this great playoff game was 21-14. Neshaminy will now move on to the District One Championship and face North Penn.
Head coach of Garnet Valley Mike Ricci commented on his group of seniors and said “The seniors have been great leaders, they displayed great character, and our philosophy at Garnet Valley is selflessness, hard work, and character. If I had to pick three words to describe our senior class those would be the three words. Junior Mark McHugh had a few comments about the class above him and said “We had a great group of seniors, we had great talent. The seniors taught me about leadership, and how to handle myself during the game in pressured situations.”
The Garnet Valley Jaguars finished the season with a record of 12-1. In their first year in Classification (AAAA) and their first year in the Central League they not only went undefeated in the season, they were crowned Central League Champions and won two playoff games. The Jaguars certainly had a great year for being brand new in (AAAA) and the Central League. Coach Mike Ricci said “We’re proud of what we accomplished, we have no regrets, and we gave it everything we had. Neshaminy did a great job, and they were able to get a win tonight. We’re going to choose to celebrate our season instead of being upset about the loss.”
One season ago the Jaguars finished second, just one win shy of a State Championship in (AAA). Now after moving up to the top classification level in high school football (AAAA), the Garnet Valley Jaguars showed throughout the entire season just how successful their football program continues to be. Once again this will be another year that the community of Garnet Valley, the coaches, and everyone on the team will never forget……another triumphant season from the Garnet Valley Jaguars.
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