By BRAD SPAHR
KENNETT SQUARE - A week ago the Great Valley High School football team suffered a disappointing loss to Unionville in a game that they desperately needed to win in order to have a shot at qualifying for the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.
With their post-season hopes all but dashed because of that setback at the hands of Unionville, it would've been understandable for the Patriots to have a tough time getting up for their Week 10 game on the road against a below five hundred Kennett squad.
Not the case, however. Not even close.
Great Valley buckled up their chin straps and bounced back in impressive fashion on Friday night, completely dominating the host Blue Demons by a score of 33-7 to post a Ches-Mont League American Division victory.
The Patriots (4-2 American, 7-3 overall) still have extremely slim hopes of earning a district playoff berth. They need a ton of help for that to happen. If it doesn't, they'll close out their regular season next Friday night with a contingency game at home against Pottstown. They'll have a chance to do something special next week, either way, as they try to become only the 10th team in the 51-year history of the Great Valley program to win eight or more games in a season.
"I'm really proud of this team,' said Patriots coach Mike Choi. "There was definitely a hangover after losing to Unionville last week. We wanted to go to the playoffs, and we knew that probably wasn't going to happen now.
"But this is a still a really good football team. These kids have a lot of character, and they knew they had to put last week behind them. They showed a lot of pride and heart tonight, and this was a really rewarding victory for them. I'm awfully proud of the effort and fight they gave me.'
Great Valley rushed for 343 yards in the contest, was outstanding all night long on defense, and preyed off numerous mistakes by Kennett (2-4, 3-7). The Patriots led 19-0 at halftime, and later increased that advantage to 26-0 late in the third quarter.
There were plenty of big plays offensively for Great Valley as well, as they scored on three separate runs of 30-plus yards.
Quarterback Sean Fitzpatrick led the charge on that side of the ball. The senior signal caller rushed for two touchdowns, and 90 yards on just six carries
Fitzpatrick's 31-yard scoring run with 3:30 left in the first quarter gave the Patriots a 6-0 lead. Not long after he broke off a terrific 73-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0 with 10:30 remaining in the second period.
Senior running back Cyree Ames got in on the fun later in the quarter, busting a 60-yard touchdown run with 4:26 to go in the half to make it 19-0.
Senior running back Chris Temple also had an outstanding night, rushing for a game-high 93 yards on 10 carries. Temple's 7-yard touchdown run with 5:31 left in the third quarter gave Great Valley a 26-0 lead.
"This was a great team win,' said Fitzpatrick. "We had a tough loss last week, but we wanted to come back tonight and give it everything we had, and we did that.
"Our offense just pounded the ball. We made a lot of big plays, and our offensive line was great all game.'
It was a tough night for Kennett in their season finale, as they managed only 200 total yards of offense, 82 of which came on a terrific touchdown run by senior Brett Rose, making the score 26-7 with 4:59 to play in the third quarter.
Blue Demons' starting quarterback, sophomore Nick Dunlevy, was intercepted on his first and only pass attempt of the game. Dunlevy then suffered an injury early in the opening quarter. His replacement, senior quarterback Jordan Jones, then was intercepted on the first play after he entered the game. Jones finished 3-of-11 through the air for 31 yards and three interceptions.
In all, Kennett turned the ball over six times.
Great Valley's Jerome Nelson closed out the scoring with 2:11 left in the game when he scored on a 14-yard touchdown run.
The Patriots' defense really came to play. Junior defensive back River Johnson had a huge game as he finished with three interceptions. Junior defensive back Nasir Adderley also picked off a pass. Junior defensive lineman Ryan Buchholz was a beast up front, recording two sacks to go along with a slew of tackles. Fellow defensive lineman Austin Lenker also added a sack.
Great Valley entered the game in 20th place in the District 1 Class AAAA power rankings. The top-16 teams after this weekend's games will qualify for the playoffs.
If they don't, the Patriots will be looking to close out their regular season on Friday night with a home game against Pottstown, with a chance to finish the year a very impressive 8-3 overall. Their only losses this fall came at the hands of some of the best teams in the district — West Chester Rustin, Unionville and Downingtown West.
"We've done a lot of good things this season,' said Choi. "These kids have a lot to be proud of.'
Great Valley 33
Great Valley 6 13 7 7 -- 33
Kennett 0 0 7 0 -- 7
GV-Fitzpatrick 31 run (Kick failed)
GV-Fitzpatrick 73 run (Berger kick)
GV-Ames 60 run (Kick failed)
GV-Temple 7 run (Berger kick)
K-B. Rose 82 run (B. Rose kick)
GV-Nelson 14 run (Berger kick)
GV KFirst downs 10 7
Yards rushing 311 169
Yards passing 32 31
Total yards 343 200
Passing 6-10-1 3-12-4
Fumbles-Lost 4-0 5-2
Penalties 7-75 3-25
Punts-Avg. 6-31.8 3-20.6
RUSHING - Great Valley: Temple 10-93, TD; Fitzpatrick 6-90, 2 TDs; Ames 4-55, TD; R. Johnson 3-38; Hubley 4-28; Nelson 2-19, TD; Ludwig 1-(-12). Kennett: B. Rose 5-93, TD; Jones 17-43; Clarke 4-27; Turner 4-5; Dunlevy 2-5; I. Jones 1-(-4).
PASSING - Great Valley: Fitzpatrick 3-5, 14 yds; Ludwig 3-5, 18 yds, INT. Kennett: Dunlevy 0-1, INT; Jones 3-11, 31 yds, 3 INTs.
RECEIVING - Great Valley: Strang 3-22; Ames 2-3; Adderley 1-7. Kennett: Middleton 3-31.
SACKS - Great Valley: Buchholz 2, Lenker. Kennett: Tomasetti.
INTERCEPTIONS - Great Valley: R. Johnson 3, Adderley. Kennett: Turner.