In­di­ans close in on di­vi­sion ti­tle

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

EAST MARL­BOR­OUGH >> Octorara’s im­pend­ing move from the Ch­esMont to the Lan­caster-Le­banon League in 2018 was an­nounced ear­lier this week, and what hap­pened on Fri­day evening at Unionville was a good ex­am­ple why the Braves wanted to make the move.

Just one week be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son foot­ball fi­nale, the In­di­ans were a bit lack­adaisi­cal but still cruised to a 25-7 tri­umph over an Octorara squad that played well de­fen­sively and cer­tainly never quit.

“We were flat,” ad­mit­ted Unionville run­ning back Jack Adams. “We were look­ing past this op­po­nent for sure, and at half­time, the coached re­ally laid into us.”

But a win is a win, and along the way Unionville (5-0, 6-3 over­all) se­cured at least a share of its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Ches-Mont Amer­i­can cham­pi­onship. A full game ahead of West Ch­ester Rustin, the In­di­ans can win the ti­tle out­right with a win at Sun Val­ley

next Fri­day.

“Ev­ery­body doubted us be­cause we lost so much from last year’s team and we’ve also had some in­juries,” said Adams, who rushed for 92 yards and scored two touch­downs. “But this team has been re­silient. Our se­niors stepped up, our de­fense has been great and the of­fense is com­ing along.”

The Braves – who have the small­est en­roll­ment of any mem­ber of the 14-team Ches-Mont — dropped their eighth straight con­test, are 0-5 in the di­vi­sion (1-8 over­all) and must beat Ox­ford next week in or­der to avoid yet an­other last­place, win­less fin­ish in the di­vi­sion.

“I think mov­ing to the Lan­caster-Le­banon League is a bet­ter fit for our whole school,” said Octorara head coach Jed King. “It’s not like we are go­ing to be a pow­er­house in that league, but it’s bet­ter play­ing schools more our size.

“We are the small­est AAAA school in District 1 and in the Ches-Mont. We have 313 boys right now, and we are fac­ing teams with 150 more kids to draw from ev­ery week. I just want to put our kids in the best sit­u­a­tion to have suc­cess. They aren’t just do­ing it for foot­ball but for all of our sports.”

Sta­tis­ti­cally, Fri­day’s clash was close, with Unionville ac­tu­ally get­ting out­gained (240-239) and the Braves had a cou­ple more first downs. But the In­di­ans pounded out nearly 100 more yards on the ground, added in a spe­cial teams TD, and came just a few sec­onds away from notch­ing the shutout.

“It’s a long sea­son -- a grind,” said Unionville head coach Pat Clark. “But I think Jed is a good foot­ball coach and their kids are com­pet­i­tive.

“We are for­tu­nate to have a few more num­bers and some more depth than them. Our kids know we didn’t play our best and we still man­aged to do a pretty good job.”

With scores on two of its first three pos­ses­sions, the In­di­ans never trailed. Adams opened the scor­ing with a 33-yard first quar­ter run, and kicker Matthew Main­war­ing made it 10-0 with a 30-yard field goal.

Adams upped the mar­gin to 17 with a 40-yard scor­ing run in the third quar­ter, and mo­ments later ju­nior J.T. Hower went 67-yards on a punt re­turn for a score to round out the scor­ing … al­most.

With time run­ning out and most of the Unionville starters on the bench, Octorara put to­gether an 11play, 83-yard march to end the shutout. Quar­ter­back Trent Pawl­ings found wide­out Bran­don Garver for six-yard scor­ing strike on fourth down with just 3.8 sec­onds re­main­ing.

“It wasn’t pretty at times, but we ba­si­cally shut them out. I was play­ing ninth and 10th graders at the end against (Octorara’s) var­sity, I thought our kids com­peted re­ally well,” Clark said.

“I’m proud that they didn’t quit,” King coun­tered. “We made mis­takes, the of­fense sput­tered on those short yardage sit­u­a­tions, and Unionville has a re­ally good de­fense and they’ve been stop­ping ev­ery­body in the league. They knuckle up when they need to. They have that bend-bug-don’t-break phi­los­o­phy. But my kids gave it their all.”

Pawl­ing fin­ished with 159 yards through the air and Garver grabbed six re­cep­tions for 105 yards. But King was pleased that his de­fense sur­ren­dered just 63 yards in the sec­ond half.

“Our de­fense played great, I was proud of a lot of kids,” he said. “But you can’t give up spe­cial team’s touch­downs. If it wasn’t for that, we would have been in the game a bit longer.”

In the end, how­ever, the In­di­ans did it the way they’ve done it all year: with de­fense and a bruis­ing run­ning at­tack.

“Our de­fense was lights out, we got a spe­cial team’s touch­down tonight, and at time we were ef­fi­cient on of­fense,” Clark pointed out.

“We didn’t get into a great rhythm of­fen­sively, we had a few penal­ties and that can get you off sched­ule. We took a cou­ple ver­ti­cal shots and didn’t hit on them. Are there things we can cor­rect? Sure, but I’m not up­set.

“We won, and we have a chance to win the league and get a home play­off game. I’m thrilled.”

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