Indians’ one win from clinching tie for Ches Mont American title
By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times
KENNETT SQUARE — Regardless of their respective records, there’s one game that the Unionville and Kennett High School football teams circle on their schedule: when the two neighbors — who share a youth football program — meet up every year.
And every year, the game is a moment of deep passion, even if the results have been one-sided — Unionville has never lost to Kennett since the latter revived its football program some years back. But for a half, it appeared that the plucky Blue Devils might just finally best their neighbors from up Route 82 — outplaying the Indians for two quarters before finally seeing a second-half Unionville domination leading to a 34-14 win, Friday night.
The young Kennett squad (3-5, 1-3) played stout defense in the first half, frustrating Unionville, but found itself worn down as the Indians’ offense finally broke out, exploding for four scores in the second half. While the Blue Demons find themselves wondering what might have been, the Indians (5-3, 4-0) are one win — hosting Octorara next week — from clinching at least a piece of the Ches Mont American title. Wins against Octorara and Sun Valley, in the regular season finale, would mean a second straight undisputed league title for Unionville.
“Our kids work so hard,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “We’re just trying to take it one step at a time. We ask so much from our kids, basically from January on, it’s nice to be at the end of October and playing meaningful football games.”
But early on, the win was anything from assured. Kennett played with passion and continually frustrated an Indian offense that could not find its rhythm.
In the second quarter junior quarterback Joe Zubillaga — foreshadowing his second half — broke off a big run, powering the ball in from 32 yards out. After Matt Mainwaring missed an extra point wide right, the Indians held a fragile 6-0 lead.
The Blue Demons responded immediately with a drive of their own. Behind the running of halfback Connor Hyzny and quarterback Jake Dilcher, Kennett struck back, grabbing a 7-6 lead on Dilcher’s five-yard run — which held until halftime.
Clark pointed the finger at himself — he calls the defenses during the game and dialed up a blitz package early on that Dilcher was able to take advantage of — for the first score, praising his defense for yet another strong effort.
“I’ll take the heat on the bad blitz call when we gave up the first touchdown,” Clark said. “They’ll (the players) probably give me grief about that tomorrow (during game film review). (We want to) keep everything in front of you and be good tacklers. I think that’s the best thing we’ve done this year — we’re good tacklers.”
The second half — as Kennett started to get worn down and Unionville found (arguably for the first time all season) it’s offensive groove — was a totally different matter. The Indians marched up and down the field, using a power running game and timely passing to control the ball and take control of the game. Dante Graham — who had an outstanding second half — punctuated the game by powering a late drive to seal the deal.
“That’s kind of our style — we’re rounding into form a bit,” Clark said. “We executed and we didn’t take many penalties.”
With Octorara looming, Clark cautioned it would be a mistake to look past the Braves — a young team with talent on offense.
“They took Avon Grove down to the wire,” clark said. “I think (coach) Jed King is a really good offensive mind. He’ll give you fits — we’re going to have some issues.”
Two more wins would also likely mean a home playoff game for the Indians in the opening round of the District One 5A playoffs — Unionville was seeded eighth coming into this week, and teams above them, including Sun Valley, lost, meaning that its likely the Indians will advance in the seeding this week.