● By Steven Hoffman
For a majority of the players on the Unionville football team, including the 21 seniors, preparations for the 2015 season started the minute the 2014 season ended. They ran for hours in the blustery cold of winter. When they weren’t running, they studied plays and watched tapes of opposing teams. They lifted weights in the spring. They practiced to the point of exhaustion under the hot summer sun. And now, in the fall, under the bright Friday night lights, they have excelled when it matters the most.
Unionville closed out the regular season with a 54-6 win over the Vanguards of Sun Valley on Nov. 6. The victory earned Unionville the Ches-Mont American Division crown, the fifth title in twelve years under head coach Pat Clark, and a berth in the district playoffs. The 8-2 Indians will host North Penn, also 8-2, on Friday night.
The win over Sun Valley was more entertaining than the 54-6 score might suggest. The game saw the starting quarterback run for a beautiful 83-yard touchdown and the star running back pass for a 30-yard score.
Unionville raced out to an early lead when senior wide receiver Tyler Marmo took a handoff and zipped through the Sun Valley defense for a 28-yard score to cap a drive that covered 47 yards on just four plays.
After going three-and-out on its first offensive series, Sun Valley picked up one first down on its second series—but the drive stalled after Unionville linebacker James Watson sacked quarterback Gabe Boccella. After the punt, Unionville took over at its own 38. Seven plays later, from the 30-yard line of Sun Valley, running back Brandon Boon took the handoff, rolled to the right, and lofted a pass in the direction of Elan Nash, who had positioned himself in the right corner of the end zone. Nash leaped up and snatched the ball out of the hands of a defender for the score. The point-after kick was wide so the score was 13-0.
With 1:50 left in the first quarter, the Vanguards embarked on their most impressive drive of the night, moving the ball from their own 26 all the way to the 10-yard line of Unionville. On first down, Boccella handed the ball off to Jon Kester. The running back powered his way through the initial line of defense, and for one brief instant it seemed like Kester would break into the clear and head for the end zone. But Unionville’s hustling defense quickly closed in and forced Kester to fumble the ball in his efforts to pick up extra yardage. The Indians recovered on their own seven-yard line.
Three plays later, quarterback Brendan Boyle faked a hand-off and raced 83 yards for a touchdown, giving Unionville a 20-0 lead.
In the closing minute of the first half, Boon added a dazzling 80-yard touchdown run to give the Indians a 27-0 lead. The senior finished the game with 148 yards on ten carries, as well as the touchdown pass.
Unionville started the third quarter on offense and Boyle engineered an efficient 69-yard drive that took just four plays for a 33-0 lead. Boyle threw a nice 34-yard pass over the top to Marmo for the score. The Unionville QB finished the game 6-6 for 68 yards.
One reason for the Indians’ success this year has been the consistent play of the special teams unit. They turned in another big play against Sun Valley—a blocked punt that linebacker Trevor Gardiner recovered in the end zone for another score. The play increased Unionville’s lead to 40-0, and most of the starters on both sides of the ball were able to enjoy the rest of the game from the sidelines.
The young Sun Valley team continued to battle, putting together a scoring drive early in the fourth quarter that was capped by a three-yard run by sophomore running back Caliph Jones.
Unionville added two late scores on big plays—an 85-yard kick return by Jack Adams and an 89-yard run by Dante Graham in the closing seconds of the games.
The Indians will begin the playoffs on a roll. They won the last five games of the season. After a 21-18 win over a tough Great Valley team in Week Seven, the Indians rolled off victories by scores of 42-7, 46-12, and now 54-6.
“It’s good to be playing well at this time of the year,” Clark said.
The Unionville coach was clearly proud of his players’ accomplishments.
This was not only the last game of the regular season, it was also Senior Night for Unionville—and a natural time for reflection.
Clark noted that he has known most of the senior players since they were seventh-graders. Having them win a title in their final season is special. Clark has known one senior—his son, Pat—just a little longer, which makes this squad’s accomplishments even more special.
“That’s something that I will cherish,” Clark explained.
Moments after the win, the Unionville players gathered together and chanted something the same way that they played this season—in unison: