Unionville overpowers Sun Valley, 42-7, locks up postseason slot

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Unionville’s Connor Schilling breaks through for what would prove to be a 96-yard TD run.

By Al Tustin, Sports Editor, The Times

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Despite its most challenging football season in more than a decade, Unionville lives to fight another day.

Combining an overpowering run game — and two long TD runs by junior Connor Schilling — the Indians dominated Sun Valley, 42-7, Friday night earning a berth in the District One, 5A playoffs, starting Friday night. Unionville is the defending District One, 5A champion.

Where (4-6, 4-1) Unionville will play remains up in the air as of this writing, as it found itself in a three-way tie with Oxford and Strath Haven for the 11-13 seeds — and the tiebreak situation is a bit murky. If Unionville gets the 12th seed, it will travel to arch rival No. 5 West Chester Rustin — if not it will face a rematch at No. 4 Academy Park or take on No. 6 Springfield. The final seedings will be determined at the District One seeding meeting, Sunday morning.

Unionville’s Nick Schnaars powers in for a first half TD.

While the Indians await their playoff fate, it is clear that a light switch turned on for the young team last week against powerhouse Downingtown East — despite the loss, Unionville displayed its old run-option form and was able move the ball against one of the area’s top defenses — a trend that continued Friday night. With the run game and continued strong defensive play, Unionville seems to have rounded into the form that has eluded them much of the season.

“I thought we got a complete effort tonight,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “We’ve finally matured, we played well in all phases of the game. Our ability to run the football, which has been inconsistent all year, that really helped us.”

Schilling had a breakout game — rushing for 212 yards and three scores, including an electric 96-yard run in the first half. In addition to Schilling, senior QB Nick Schnaars proved very effective in running the read-option for the second straight week, scoring a pair of touchdowns himself, including one on a 45-yard run. Senior Joe Fariello added a 59-yard TD run as part of the ground onslaught.

Unionville’s Eli Lyons just missed an interception.

For the Vanguards (3-7, 0-5), on a night where they needed a win to have any hope of making the District One playoffs, little went right.

After an exchange of possessions, Sun Valley found itself buried deep in its own end after a great punt by Unionville’s Westin Grimm. Unable to move the ball, Anthony Ellis’ punt only made it to the Sun Valley 27, where the Indians took over and quickly scored, on Schnaars’ 6-yard run. With a Dominic Braithwaite (who was 6-for-6 on extra point tries) extra point, Unionville led 7-0 late in the first quarter.

The Vanguards looked like they might catch a break when they were able to take the ensuing kickoff and drive down the field. But Ellis, the QB, was sacked by Cole Sheehan and Ryan Son, pushing them out of field goal range and forcing a punt. Still, Sun Valley buried Unionville on its own 4.

Then Schilling found a bit of daylight, broke a tackle and raced up the left sideline for a score — stunning the Vanguards, if only momentarily.

Unionville’s Joe Fariello loses the handle — he was able to recover the ball, though.

Sun Valley fought its way back into the game, when Schnaars was picked off by Don Valente at the Unionville 26. Ellis capped a short drive, scoring from eight yards out to make it 14-7.

Unionville moved quickly to dash any hopes. After Schilling ran for 17 yards, Schnaars scored on a 45-yard run to make it 21-7. The Indians ate up the final four minutes of the half with a long drive, capped by Schilling’s one yard run to make it 28-7.

The Indians all but put the game away on the first series of the second half when Fairello ripped off his 59-yard TD run. Schilling capped the night with his second long scoring run of the night, this one for 63 yards to make it 42-7.

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