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Written by: Alec Eskin on Sunday, December 5th, 2021
Photo taken by Tbone Smith (@trsmith296)
This season has high stakes for many reasons. Garnet Valley was coming off a year where the COVID pandemic took away a chance for a District Title, they had a very good senior group, but the most important one was that Head Coach Mike Ricci would be retiring at the end of this season after 35 years. Garnet Valley was able to make the most of it, winning their first District One Title since 2007 and going 14-0 for the first time in team history. This year was one for the ages. However, their season came to an end after losing to St. Joe’s Prep 49-13 where the fought every step of the way.
Garnet Valley started off the game getting two stops against SJP, one from within their own 35. However, SJP was able to figure out that tough Garnet Valley defense and did not have to punt once after their first two drives. Samaj Jones had six touchdowns in the game and was very hard for Garnet Valley’s defensive line too. In the passing game, it did not get much easier. Garnet Valley had to deal with two division one recruits in Keenan Nelson Jr. and Elijah Jones who were able to put Garnet Valley’s secondary on it heals. In the end, they allowed 49 points all year which is the most they allowed in a game this year. However, this should not define Garnet Valley’s defense. They were tough and fierce all year long and should be proud of what they accomplished. They were able to hold Coatesville to just 15 points the week before and only allowed 13 points to CB West a few weeks before that. They have held opponents to low scores for the vast majority of the year, but they just faced an extraordinarily good opponent. There is a lot for this defense to be very happy about after what they did this year.
On offense, it was very hard to block SJP’s defensive line. They were being stopped for short gains on the ground which has been their strength. SJP also had multiple an abundance of talent on that defensive line as well. It was a new battle where Garnet Valley had to fight for every yard through out the game. In the pass game, there were a lot of really good linebackers and defensive backs. One of which was linebacker Josiah Trotter, son of Eagles great Jeremiah Trotter, who is going to get multiple division one offers. He had a great game and was creating pressure in the Garnet Valley backfield all night long. This was a kind of defense that Garnet Valley has not seen all year and my not see it again for a while as it is a one of a kind, generational defense. They did have some good plays on the night. One very nice play that Garnet Valley had on offense this game was a great pass and catch from Max Busenkell to Ndozi Okolo for a 39 yard touchdown. The next one was a 29 yard touchdown run for Trevor Sacomandi, which was his first of the year. This offense was one of the best if not the best in District One and had scored over 40 points in every game of the playoffs before this game and had accomplished a lot this year that a lot of teams may never be able to.
Photo taken by Jeremy Park (@JeremyPark35)
SJP moves on to face Mount Lebanon in the PIAA 6A State Championship on Saturday at Hershey at 6:00 PM. Garnet Valley will end their season at 14-1 with the best winning percentage (93%) in Garnet Valley history. This team should be very proud of what they accomplished this year and all the players played at their highest levels. The Garnet Valley coaching staff is considered one of the best in the state and they deserve a lot of credit here too as they were able to get the most out of every single player. Coach Ricci will retire as one of the best coaches in Delco high school football history. It was a fantastic year for the players, coaches, and fans of the Garnet Valley football team as there are memories that were made this year which will last for a lifetime.
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