The most impressive teams from Week 1 were as follows (in no particular order):
Sun Valley: While unranked to start the season, the Vanguards have played themselves, at the very least, into the Super 7 picture. To be honest, they beat a woeful football program in Lower Merion, but if you’re going to win a game in which you’re heavily favorite, doing so in dominating fashion is the way. A breakout performance by Kijana Gordon (166 rush yards) and a fine all-around game from athlete Juwan Chandler (two interceptions, including a 91-yard TD return) gave the Vanguards their second straight 1-0 start. All told, Sun Valley’s defense racked up five turnovers and forced four fumbles. I’m not ready to call the Vanguards world-beaters quite yet, but a good start is a good start, regardless of competition.
Academy Park: Of the seven teams that debuted in the Super 7, No. 6 Academy Park was probably one the most impressive of the bunch. The Knights dominated from the moment the coin was tossed. A punt block for a touchdown and an 82-yard touchdown run by Jerry Lanier put the Knights in control. Defensively, they allowed zip. (Marple scored against AP’s backups.) An extemely satisfying opening night for the reigning Del Val League champs.
Garnet Valley: The Jaguars whooped Unionville, 35-14, quite the surprise considering the teams play closely-contested openers every year, so it seems. After Unionville jumped to a 7-0 lead, the Jaguars relied on running back Jake Irving and a strong performance by their secondary, as all four of Garnet Valley’s picks came from their DBs. With both teams working in new quarterbacks, it wasn’t a big surprise seeing the Jags lean on their ground attack, led by Irving and Vince Razzano (three TDs).
Ridley: The reviews of the Green Raiders’ 21-6 win over Glen Mills were mixed at best. While this inexperienced team showed typical Ridleygrit on defense, the offense left a lot to be desired. However, after a porous first half, senior quarterback Collin Wright hooked up with Sean Hackett and Tito Orji for touchdown passes as the Raiders would pull away. Glen Mills — which features a solid backfield headlined by returning starter Shaheem Dow — rushed 33 times for 145 yards. Not bad for a Week 1 performance, but Ridley has to cut that number down going forward. The bright spots included junior Ryan Dougherty (brother of two-time All-Delco Shane), who had a fantastic game at linebacker. Ridley’s D forced four fumbles and one interception.
Others: You have to hand it to Upper Darby, which erased a two-touchdown halftime defict against Bonner-Prendergast en route to winning a thrilling, 28-27 overtime decision. New QB Chris Rossiter stole the show (276 total yards)… Springfield fought fire with fire at Interboro. It was an ugly game for both offenses, but the Cougars showed plenty of moxie and out-toughened the Bucs, 13-7. If young quarterback Charlie Carbin develops and playmakers emerge, the Cougars could be in store for a memorable season. The offensive line and front seven, especially, were dominant…Penncrest was the only team to shut anybody out, claiming a 20-0 win over Upper Merion. The Lions defense was flawless, limiting UM to a measly 115 total yards of offense. Episcopal Academy tailed off a bit in the second half, but overall looked pretty impressive in its 30-22 victory over Catholic League AAAA’s Father Judge.
And, for good measure, the biggest disappointment from Week 1 has was Cardinal O’Hara. I think it’s safe to say the Lions will get their Boardwalk Bowl loss to Archbishop Ryan out of their system as soon as possible and play a much cleaner game Friday night at Academy Park. They’re way too talented to think otherwise.