Ken­nett closes in on play­off berth

Ken­nett’s dy­namic duo needs two wins for first-ever play­off berth

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Heck­en­berger nate­heck­en­ @nheck­en­berger on Twit­ter

Talk­ing can­didly about Ken­nett quar­ter­back Jake Dilcher, an area coach summed him up rather sim­ply, stat­ing “he’s a pain in the (butt) with his feet.”

Dilcher has been pes­ter­ing op­pos­ing de­fenses all sea­son, ex­tend­ing plays with his legs.

On a team with a lim­ited ros­ter, Dilcher is the type of multi-di­men­sional ath­lete the Blue Demons have needed to be com­pet­i­tive. For the first eight games, the ju­nior QB has been part of a three-headed mon­ster of dual threats, along with run­ning back/wide re­ceiver Myles Robin­son

and tight end/de­fen­sive end Kerry To­masetti.

Fri­day against Ox­ford, and for as long as the sea­son lasts, Ken­nett will be with­out Robin­son due to a bro­ken wrist. If the Blue Demons (3-5) can knock off Ox­ford and then Great Val­ley, they’ll likely qual­ify for their first trip to the play­offs, but the task just got taller with­out their most ex­plo­sive player.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s tough los­ing our best player but we’re tak­ing on the next man up men­tal­ity with two games left,” To­masetti said. “If we win both we’re in the play­offs. That was our goal and it hasn’t changed.”

Dilcher, Robin­son and To­masetti gave Ken­nett three re­li­able and unique op­tions, of­fen­sively. Dilcher (1,774) is sec­ond only to Great Val­ley’s Rob Geiss (2,202 yards) in com­bined rush­ing/pass­ing yards in the area. Robin­son be­gan the year as more of a run­ner (496 rush­ing yards, seven touch­downs) and tran­si­tioned into a slot re­ceiver (25 re­cep­tions, 448 yards, six TDs) who did it all. To­masetti, at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, is a phys­i­cal blocker on the edge and is also sec­ond in the area with 30 re­cep­tions (for 412 yards and two scores).

With­out the light­ning part of the trio avail­able, count on Dilcher to stay his cre­ative self.

“It gives us other op­tions if the re­ceivers can’t get open or if they dump eight into cov­er­age,” Dilcher said of his scram­bling. “It gives us op­tions be­cause it’s hard for a de­fen­sive back to stay with anyone for five or six sec­onds if you can cre­ate time for things to open up.”

Ken­nett is 3-5, and with the new PIAA clas­si­fi­ca­tions, qual­i­fy­ing for the District 1 Class 5A play­offs is still pos­si­ble. Of the 26 5A teams in District 1, 17 are .500 or below, mean­ing there will likely be close to half of the field of 16 in with such a record.

While opin­ions dif­fer on the new PIAA struc­ture, Ken­nett is em­brac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing in Novem­ber. The Blue Demons have been as close as ever to knock­ing off one of the Ches-Mont Amer­i­can Di­vi­sion ti­tans, los­ing to West Ch­ester Rustin by 1 (af­ter go­ing for two and the win late in the fourth quar­ter) and fall­ing to Unionville (af­ter lead­ing 7-6 at half­time).

Mo­ral vic­to­ries don’t get anyone to the play­offs, but they do some­times pro­pel pro­grams in need of a spark.

“We’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” Ken­nett coach Doug Lan­g­ley said. “We keep get­ting bet­ter ev­ery week. We lost to Rustin by one point and we made some mis­takes in that game. Rustin is a re­ally good team and we hung with them and could’ve won the game.”

What is Dilcher’s bless­ing can some­times be his curse. His abil­ity to ex­tend plays has helped him to 13 TD passes, good for third in the area. He also has an area-high 13 in­ter­cep­tions, al­beit with the sec­ond-most at­tempts, 191.

Dilcher started last sea­son as a sopho­more but a bro­ken foot in week two ended his cam­paign abruptly.

“He’s ba­si­cally had 10 starts and he’s work­ing on tech­nique and tight­en­ing things up,” Lan­g­ley said. “He makes the right reads and moves well and as he im­proves his tech­nique, the bet­ter he’ll be. We’re look­ing for­ward to next year and start­ing off with all this ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ken­nett is hav­ing its best sta­tis­ti­cal year on both sides of the ball since the Jor­dan Lar­dani-led 2012 team. Con­nor Hyzny (321 rush­ing yards) will shoul­der much of the load left by Robin­son, as well as fresh­man Gar­rett Cox.

Ox­ford is 1-7, but have lost four one-score games and have been com­pet­i­tive in all but one. Great Val­ley has as much skill as anyone in the Amer­i­can and is play­off-tested. Ken­nett’s in some new ter­ri­tory, but for the first time in awhile, op­po­nents have their work cut out for them pre­par­ing to stop the Blue Demons.

“That’s the one thing I love about this team, no mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion it’s never a lack of ef­fort,” To­masetti said. “We play to­gether and even though our record is not where we wanted it to be, prac­tices have still been good and we’re still up for the rest of the sea­son.”


Kerry To­masetti (left) and Jake Dilcher (right, and also pic­tured below) have Ken­nett in the hunt for its first trip to the post­sea­son. The Blue Demons will have to beat Ox­ford tonight, how­ever, with­out Myles Robin­son, who is side­lined with a bro­ken wrist.


Se­nior tight End Kerry To­masetti will have to come up big with­out Myles Robin­son tonight against Ox­ford.

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