PHILADELPHIA — Chester's football team rushed the ball well at times Saturday, played good defense for the most part and came up with some big plays on special teams. But the Clippers still ended up losing to William Penn Charter, 16-8, in a nonleague game every player and coach on the Chester sideline believed they should have won.
"We bullied this team the entire game,' coach Chuck Crews said. "Up and down the field, up and down the field, we bullied them.'
But it was still a loss. Players and Crews admitted the same two problems still plague this program: Penalties and a lack of a winning attitude.
Crews said he believes his players are starting to understand why programs like Ridley and Interboro always seem to manage to have winning seasons even when the talent may not be the best.
"There has been a tradition of losing that has gone on a little too long,' Crews said. "And our kids are now learning how to fight back. We just had some inopportune penalties that killed a couple drives.
"Whether they are legitimate or they're not ... we have to play a perfect ball game. And that is what we have to build to.'
The Clippers (1-4) took an 8-7 lead in the third quarter on a one-yard run by junior quarterback Tae'Juan Payne capping a 10-play, 69-yard drive.
It was the only drive on which Chester did not commit a penalty the entire game. In total, Chester rang up 105 yards on nine penalties; five of the infractions were 15-yarders.
Crews said he is "tearing his hair out, what little there is left' over the mistakes and missed opportunities, but is convinced this group is finally getting it by first not blaming each other.
"I love the fact that they stayed together even early on when it got a little chippy,' Crews said. "They kept their heads and even though we got the 15s, and we made it through healthy and that is the most important thing.'
Penn Charter came back to take the lead for good on its next drive, going 65 yards on nine plays ending with a nine-yard run by workhorse back Corey Kelley, who finished with 107 yards on 27 carries.
Ed Nelson led the Clippers with 72 yards on 12 carries including a 22-yard run that set up Payne's touchdown.
Nelson, a sophomore echoed his coach's thoughts.
"I think we need to work on finishing and little things like when we get penalties late in the game when we get tired,' Nelson said. "We make mental mistakes and I think we need to work on stuff like that. This (kind of loss) is not the only this game, we've let a few other games slip through our fingers.'
Nelson said he watches other programs that win with consistency and believes the talent the Clippers have is just as good.
"They are the same teams as us,' Nelson said. "We've got all the pieces, they've got all the pieces, we're still trying figure ourselves out I guess.'
Nelson said the underclassmen on the squad want to start winning to show the seniors they wan to change the losing culture that has been the theme of Chester football.
"We have seniors that I look up to,' Nelson said. "And I am determined not to let them down.'
Crews went on to talk about how the Chester football team and the good character of his players should be seen as a positive in the community.
"Our children dispel the Chester myth,' Crews said. "There is not a child on that sideline I would not have in my house or trust with my wallet. But if you watch TV and look at the newspaper there is nothing good in our city. There is a whole lot of good on that sideline. I pump my chest out every day talking about that. There is nothing greater than to lead these kids into battle every week. And when we (finally) flick the switch, it is going to be something to see.'
Crews then went back to talking about football and dealing with the fourth loss of the season and the start of play in the Del Val League .
"We'll lick our wounds and get ready for Penn Wood,' Crews said. "Everybody is 0-0 in the league. I'm happy with what I've got on my sideline as opposed to a lot of other coaches. I have a great group of kids, I have great senior leadership I have an excellent staff and consistent parental support. What else can a football coach ask for?'