Schuylkill Valley Defense Shines In Season Opening Win Over Pequea Valley
They’re on a mission to do something around these parts that’s never been done before. A playoff mission. For 20 years, the Pequea Valley Braves have been lacing up the cleats and putting on the shoulder pads, but have yet to play beyond the regular season. Don’t be mistaken however, this isn’t your older brother’s Pequea Valley anymore. Under the direction of head coach Mike Choi, now entering his fourth season guiding the Braves, PV has come agonizingly close to a date at the dance known as Week 11 the last handful of seasons. A couple of which came down to being on the wrong side of literal decimal points.
Last season, it looked like PV was well on their way to finally quenching that playoff thirst as the Braves rolled out to a hot 3-0 start before going 1-6 the rest of the way to finish with a surprising 4-6 mark in 2016. Within the early season surge in their last campaign, PV was able to topple Schuylkill Valley of the Berks League with a dramatic 14-13 road victory to start the year in Week 0. On Friday night in Kinzers, the visitors from Leesport returned the favor. Big time.
After a nice return on the opening kickoff by Panther senior wideout Logan Grauer, Schuylkill Valley set up shop at near midfield eager to make a statement early on. It certainly appeared that was in the cards as the first two Panther plays were good enough for first downs, but the drive really took shape when junior quarterback Anikin Glassmire hooked up with senior receiver Joe Jardine for a 17 yard pickup to move the ball down to the Pequea Valley 7 yard line.
Ultimately however, the drive would stall as Pequea Valley senior standout Ryan Smith was able to collect a critical sack on 3rd & Goal from the 8 yard line to help extinguish the early Schuylkill Valley momentum and ultimately keep the visiting Panthers off the scoreboard.
Schuylkill Valley would not be deterred however as the Panthers roared back in the early stages of the second quarter, aided by a costly offsides call whistled against Pequea Valley which made a 3rd & 7 turn into a 3rd & 2 which the Panthers were able to convert. The gang from Leesport would find paydirt shortly thereafter when Anikin Glassmire played a game of pitch and catch with Logan Grauer in the endzone to put SV up 7-0 with 11:19 to go in the opening half.
After a Pequea Valley 3 & Out on the ensuing possession, Schuylkill Valley was on the move once again. The Panthers were able to march into PV territory getting to the 35, but no closer when Ryan Smith slammed the down once more with yet another gigantic sack to close this Panther drive on downs.
Stymied for most of the night up until that point, the hometown Braves needed to find some positive momentum heading into the half. It looked like their next drive could be that answer as Pequea Valley was able to extend the drive on three separate third down attempts, the first two of which came courtesy of senior running back Jeru Gray on the ground, with the latter coming by senior quarterback Jordan Lapp showing off his own wheels as the PV march found itself at the Schuylkill Valley 13 yard line. Once again however, the Panther defense rose up and were able to hold Pequea Valley to a goose egg on the scoreboard after the opening half. “We had to make them earn things,” Schuylkill Valley head coach Jeff Chillot remarked regarding his team’s defense. “We didn’t give up anything big and even though they drove a little bit in the first half, we forced them to take it all the way.”
With the game up for grabs as the second half got underway, someone needed to make a push and take this game over. Schuylkill Valley was there to pick up that tab. After a Pequea Valley fumble deep inside their own territory on their initial drive of the half that was scooped up by Schuylkill Valley’s Shane Newell, the Panthers found themselves with a golden opportunity to create some critical distance from their hosts on the scoreboard. Their opportunity would seem even more golden when Anikin Glassmire called his own number and took off on a 3rd & 11 attempt, moving the sticks after a gallop down to the Pequea Valley 14 yard line. Glassmire then took to the air when he connected with Logan Grauer for the pair’s second TD connection of the night to give Schulykill Valley the 13-0 lead with 8:52 to go in the third.
Although Schuylkill Valley was able to generate a turnover on the ensuing PV possession after senior linebacker Tyler Worrell was able to nab a Brave pass, the Panthers would have to wait until they got their hands on the ball the next time before scoring again. It turned out to be well worth the wait as Glassmire hooked up with Joe Jardine on a beautiful 41 yard pass on 3rd & 10 to put the Panthers up by a now commanding 20-0 advantage with time a shade under four minutes to play in the third quarter.
For as much as Pequea Valley struggled to move the ball offensively, especially in the second half after Jordan Lapp was forced to exit due to an injury early in the second half, they were finally able to crack into the scoring column when sophomore southpaw quarterback John Smith found fellow classmate Mike Finger in the back of the endzone for a 23 yard strike to draw the Braves closer, now trailing by a 20-6 margin late in the third.
Any possible swing in momentum was quickly put to bed once the final quarter got underway however. Schuylkill Valley was able to add to their lead after a 5 yard TD jaunt by Jackson Brown in the early minutes of the final frame, before Glassmiretossed his fourth TD of the evening, this one to freshman Tanner Mountz, to put the Panthers up for good. Just for good measure, sophomore defensive back Alex Gonzalez was there step in front of another errant Pequea Valley pass as Schuylkill Valley fittingly put the finishing touches on magnificent defensive performance to start the season by virtue of a 34-6 triumph.
To some, this result may turn some heads. Talk to Coach Chillot and you get the feeling he knew something like this could be in the cards. “The Shane Newell’s, the Zach Myers’, Anikin, Logan Grauer, and Luke Williams, they all showed up all the time,” Chillot offered when asked about the Panthers’ offseason training regimen coming off a 1-9 record last season. “They were ready to create their own team and their own season. We’ve been looking at this game the whole time and we’re pretty happy with the way things worked out.”
NEXT UP: Schuylkill Valley will look to continue their winning ways as they go on the road again to take on fellow Berks member Fleetwood in a Section 1 vs Section 2 clash next week. This will be the second consecutive game that Schuylkill Valley will be looking to reverse their fortunes in from last year as the Panthers slipped up to Fleetwood last season 20-14, giving Fleetwood their only win of 2016.
Pequea Valley will go back to work this week as the Braves begin prep for Kennard Dale of the York Adams League back at the friendly confines in Kinzers. The Braves and Rams squared off last season as well with Pequea Valley claiming a 30-14 road victory.
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