Balanced offense, stout defense power Indians to 4th win
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
WEST CHESTER — Any doubt about the quality of Unionville High School’s 2013 football team, raised after a surprising week-one loss, is quickly being erased by the combination of a stout defense and what may be the most explosive offense in Chester County.
Both were on full display Friday night as the Indians (4-1) dominated a solid West Chester Henderson team, 37-3.
And while the numbers tell a lot of the story — more than 400 yards of total offense, split just about 50-50 between running and passing — it was the Unionville defense that may have quietly been more impressive.
“Our defense is really starting to come around,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “It makes a huge difference.
“(Defensive coordinator) Harry (O’Neill) did a great job again with them. But we were real physical, we ran to the ball. We were aggressive. when you run of defense and are physical, good things are going to happen.”
And yet, the offensive numbers were impressive. Junior quarterback Alex Pechin completed 13 of 20 passes for 224 yards and two TDs — a departure for the normally run-oriented Indians’ offense. But the run game was there two: Garrett Scargill was impressive between the tackles, gaining 80 yards on 16 carries, while Pechin added another 73 yards. Along with Dom DiBiaggio and Austin Hoffman-Reardon, Unionville amassed 214 yards on the ground.
“I think we had great balance on offense tonight,” Clark said.
Although the strong-armed Pechin remains a work in progress — he still rushed a couple of passes — the junior is showing signs of becoming one of the county’s elite throwing quarterbacks, and clearly, the Indians have their sights set on repeating as Ches Mont American Division champions.
“We have to continue to play at a high level of intensity,” Clark said. “Our kids are real focused on making another run for a league championship.”
And maybe less heralded, Unionville’s offensive and defensive lines were more than a match for their bigger counterparts from Henderson, controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the game.
“I’m really proud of our kids up front,” Clark said. “They put the work in year round in the weight room.”
With the offense putting up big numbers early and putting Henderson into a deep hole — down 14-0 before the end of the first quarter — the defense throttled the Warriors’ option offense, forcing them into throwing situations and they didn’t fare well. Henderson QB Matt Dinacci threw two first-half interceptions, and could have thrown a couple more, but the ball went through the hands of Unionville defenders.
Unionville came out strong and completely dominated the first quarter. Mike Sarver picked off a Dinacci pass on the third play of the game on the Unionville 21, and the Indians were in business. In just under four minutes, they drove 79 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a Pechin to Scargill pass from 16 yards out.
After holding Henderson to a three-and-out, Unionville rolled out another 10-play drive, this time for 53 yards, capped by Scargill’s 5-yard run.
Henderson threatened to get back into the game, driving the ball to the Unionville 32, but Elan Nash picked off a Dinacci pass, and a couple of Pechin passes later — the last being a 39-yard scoring strike to Scargill, the Indians held a commanding 21-0 lead.
The Warriors (2-3) really were never able to mount another strong drive — in fact their only scoring drive, a late first half field goal by Steve Thompson, was set up by a big kickoff return, giving them the ball on the the Unionville 43 with just over five minutes left in the first half. And that drive stalled, as the Indians’ defense stiffened inside the 10.
Putting salt in the would, with just over a minute left in the half, Unionville quickly drove down the field and got is own field goal, a 31-yard kick by Pechin, to make it 24-3 at the half.
After throwing the ball 17 times in the first half, Unionville reverted to a more traditional offense, grinding out both yardage and the clock in the second half.
A run-powered drive bridging the third and fourth quarter ate more than seven minutes off the clock, capped with a Pechin 3-yard dive.
In fact on their final scoring drive, the Indians didn’t pass once, pounding the ball some 60 yards and eating nearly eight minutes off the clock to close out the fourth quarter, with Hoffman-Reardon scoring from six yards out.
With rival Kennett visiting next week, coming off a 48-27 win over Sun Valley, the Indians defense could be facing an even tougher test trying to contain the Blue Demon’s high-powered offense.