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Written by: Joe Ruby on Monday, September 8th, 2014
If you had come up to me after the first quarter of this game, a slow, unremarkable first quarter that featured only a single touchdown, and told me that by the end of the night I would have witnessed one of the best high school football games I’d ever seen, I would have asked you who was kicking off at 11 PM and what channel they’d be on. Could you blame me? In the first quarter, the Wyoming Valley West Spartans ran 22 plays, and scored just seven points. The Delaware Valley Warriors managed just 3 plays on their home turf, for a total possession time of 1:02. Senior RB Lex Rosario, who rushed for 179 yards against University High School in Del Val’s season-opening 28-27 loss at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, had just one run for 4 yards against a physically imposing Valley West D-Line. Basically, by the end of the first quarter, I was starting to wonder if it had been worth it to drive the 78 miles to this contest taking place on the banks of the Delaware River, at the corner of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
Oh, me of little faith.
After his 4-yard first quarter, Rosario decided to step it up just a little, finishing the night with 373 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs (including the go-ahead score with 1:02 left in the game), a TD reception, and, to cap it off, an interception on the final play of the contest to seal the deal on one of the most amazing games I’d seen in quite some time.
Back and Forth
The momentum in this one was like a pendulum, swinging far in one team’s direction before rushing back the other way to undo whatever advantage it had granted. At the end of the first quarter, it looked like Valley West would slowly but surely run away with the contest. At half-time, the 19-7 Del Val lead looked like evidence that the visitors had run out of gas, a belief reinforced when Rosario took the first play of the second half 80 yards – 70 or so of them after contact – to increase the margin. When the Warriors took a 35-14 lead with just under four minutes to go in the third, I was ready to stop taking notes and just enjoy company of the happy, stress-free hometown fans. And after the first play of the fourth quarter, when Wyoming Valley West had scored their third touchdown in four minutes to tie the game at 35, I was too enraptured to even spare a thought as to who would eventually come out on top of this slugfest.
Any praise for any performance in this one has to start and end with Lex Rosario. At halftime, I tweeted (@JoeRuby1009, people!!!) that he was clearly the best player on the field. He then rewarded me with an 80-yard run, and kept piling on, primarily because the Warriors needed every single yard to stay ahead of one of the most balanced offenses I’d ever seen a high school team run. When Rosario got in the open field he was impressively quick, and when someone tried to tackle him he was even more impressive. I wish I’d kept track of how many broken tackles he had. We’re talking 25 or 30.
Most impressive of all, though, was Rosario’s decision making behind the line of scrimmage. With an offensive line that was quick but not exceedingly large, Del Val implemented a zone blocking scheme for much of the night, and, when there was space to be found, Rosario found it, and was five yards past it by the time anyone else realized he had found it.
The rest of the Del Val offense did enough to spell Rosario and ensure that he would have the energy he needed down the stretch. Much like a certain winning squad featured in last week’s Ruby Review, the aerial attack was not a big part of the Warriors’ offense (indeed, attempts to go down the field were generally intercepted by Valley West’s JerMichael Bunch), but with the defense selling out to just have a chance at stopping the run, quick hitters to RB Austin Cernak and TE Connor Lutz were invariably successful for chunks of 7 to 10 yards. Lutz, in particular, was effective in all three phases of the game. Not only did he catch passes on offense and find his way to the QB on defense, but the 6’5” Lutz skied some high-arching punts when given the opportunity.
As I mentioned above, the Spartans employed an exquisitely balanced offensive system, rushing the ball 28 times and passing 34 times. The entire offense showed that they had a part to play, as 9 players either rushed or received passes. Sophomore RB/WR Sean Judge played a big part, coming in motion on most of the plays he was in, and keeping the defense from keying in on any one weapon. Del Val’s linebackers had a difficult time handling Junior TE LJ Wesneski, who caught three touchdown passes and always seemed to be wide open on the goal line.
I must confess that a confluence of events – my father’s birthday, a missed alarm clock, and a looming line of thunderstorms – kept me from getting to my other scheduled game of the weekend, Bethlehem Catholic 40, Pleasant Valley 38. Looking back on things, it might actually been a good thing that I didn’t end up going, because the stress of another nail-biter might have killed me.
Notes on DelVal-WVW:
Although not particularly easy to get to from Wilkes-Barre, I was quite impressed with Delaware Valley’s facilities. Parking was easy and plentiful, the field was wide-open and well-maintained, and the stadium was right next to a Wendy’s and McDonald’s, providing some nice, unhealthy options for the football fan on the go… Speaking of food, the concessions were pretty run of the mill (fries, hot dogs, burgers). I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the pizza, which they had run out of by the time I tried to order… We have an early leader for Best Band: Wyoming Valley West’s group, playing “Happy” and “Roar”, had a rich, full sound. I’m not entirely sold on the Color Guard’s neon pink-and-green tops with what appeared to be… zebra stripe(?) bottoms, but, hey, to each their own… Del Val’s cheerleaders win the award for most flips. They were all cartwheeling and somersaulting as much as they could… Another category I’m going to award this year is Best Program. I forgot to mention it in the last Ruby Review because, by the time I went to buy a Crestwood program, they had sold out and were scrambling to print another run…
Rest of District 2
Coming off their difficult meeting, Berwick and Crestwood each had themselves a slightly easier time, beating Pottsville and Abington Heights by 32 and 31 points, respectively… Look at Dallas! 2-0, after edging Wallenpaupack 14-13… Hanover Area’s scored 93 points through their first two contests; it gets tougher next week when they head to Old Forge, who’s allowed 14 through their first two… Watch out for the Coughlin Crusaders. They may give Crestwood more of a test than most people expect…
Look at my Selinsgrove Seals! They smacked Mount Carmel 61-6 at the Silver Bowl, rushing for nearly 500 yards and managing to creep their way into PFN’s AAA Honorable Mentions!… Montoursville, who cleaned up then-AAA Number 2 South Williamsport last week, laid an egg against the Lewisburg Green Dragons, losing 19-10… Speaking of South Williamsport, they got back on track against Towanda to the tune of 42-0… Whoever decided to put Loyalsock and Central Columbia on TV knew what they were doing, as the Lancers beat the Blue Jays 56-42…
Again, my apologies for not making it to Bethlehem! I won’t rule out a Halloween appearance if Becahi and ACC both continue to perform… Mahanoy Area snagged a surprising win over Schuylkill Haven, 38-21… On the topic of Allentown Central Catholic, it’ll be interesting to see if they can mount any principled defense to Parkland next week. The Vikings, presumably still reeling from a heartbreaking 42-41 overtime defeat at the hands of Whitehall, will have to go against their second-straight Quad-A power when they welcome the Parkland Trojans, who defeated their first two opponents 49-7 and 49-0…
Two weeks in and I’m already scrapping my schedule. I figured that would happen; I just didn’t think it would happen this fast. This Friday, I’m going to make my way to Hanover Area at Old Forge, and then I’ll pay a visit to Parkland at Allentown Central Catholic on Saturday night. That should free me up to see my first District 4 game two weeks from now, when Loyalsock and South Williamsport, two teams desperately trying to salvage their anticipated dream seasons, will meet.
PAST RUBY REVIEWS:
Ruby Review: Crestwood 28, Berwick 20
Ruby Review: Introduction
As always, hit me up on the comments here or on Twitter (@JoeRuby1009). Thanks for reading!
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