With division title hopes gone, Indians need wins to make state playoffs
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Ultimately, it wasn’t any one thing, but a lot of small things that ended Unionville High School’s hopes of repeating as Ches Mont American Division football champs — as the Indians were defeated by West Chester Rustin, 34-20, Friday night.
Although there were issues in a number of facets of the game, largely it came down to the line of scrimmage where the Knights (8-0, 4-0 Ches Mont) controlled the game. The Indians (6-2, 3-1) couldn’t stop Terry Loper, the league’s best running back, and they couldn’t run the ball themselves.
“We could never get momentum,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “And it was to their credit. And any mistake we made, they took advantage of it. They played a much better football game than we played tonight.”
With division title hopes out — Rustin now looks likely to win its fifth league title in six years — Unionville will at minimum need one more win against tough Great Valley (6-2, 3-1) and Oxford (6-2, 3-1) and maybe both wins to make the District 1, AAAA playoffs.
“We’re only guaranteed two more games,” Clark said. “And if we don’t win both, we’re going to finish in fourth place, which we’ve never done in 10 years. So we need to wake up. We need to coach better, we need to play better, because we just didn’t get the job done tonight at all.”
Loper gashed Unionville for 183 yards — often running the same sweep play, much of it coming in five and six yard bites.
“He’s a good back, and we couldn’t get stops when we needed to get stops,” Clark said.
On the other side, the Indians couldn’t do much of anything on the ground — senior Garrett Scargill found little in the way of holes when he hit the line, forcing quarterback Alex Pechin to go to the air. While Pechin threw for 201 yards, he also threw two interceptions and struggled most of the night for time to get his receivers open.
From the opening kickoff — which left Unionville buried at its own 8 — the offense struggled to move the ball and defense didn’t seem to have answer to Loper or the roadgraders up front for Rustin. After a three-and-out, the Knights behind Loper, pounded right down the field. Although a failed extra point attempt and a 42-yard field goal by Pechin left the game 6-3 at the end of one quarter, the scoreboard didn’t truly reflect what was happening on the field.
Unfortunately, the second quarter rectified that.
After Loper converted a 4th-and-1 into a 42-yard scoring run and then three plays later, Ethan Ridgeway picked off a Pechin pass, giving the Knights the ball on the Unionville 16. Ridgeway scored on the next play — and the game went from close to well, not, at 21-3, in the space of a couple of minutes.
Pechin added another field goal in the closing seconds of the half, but the Indians were looking at 20-6 deficit knowing that Rustin would get the ball to start the second half.
The Knights, seeing the opportunity to largely put the game away, embarked on another ground war, clock-eating drive, featuring Loper. Quarterback Dave Fithian hit bruising tight end Matt Hosking with a 16-yard pass to cap the drive and give Rustin a 27-6 lead.
To its credit, Unionville didn’t quit — and managed its best drive of the game, driven by sideline passes from Pechin to David Daly and Chris Koehler, finally finding the end zone on a 22-yard pass to Koehler.
Any momentum from that score dissipated quickly: a T.J. Kirk 47-yard TD run for the Knights put the game away, just three minutes later.
Austin Hofman-Reardon capped the Indians’ scoring with a one-yard run in the final minutes.