CONCORD — The game ended, the lights dimmed, the band played on and the fireworks, many of them, bright and loud and persistent, soared beyond the goalpost as the Garnet Valley High football players laughed and applauded and enjoyed the moment.
It was almost as if they'd won something, something big, something worthy of such a festive display. Then again, perhaps they had. For with a 47-7 victory over Penncrest, in a Central League match of unbeaten teams worthy of pregame headlines and an overflow crowd, the Jaguars had to have won the right to think this: There is something memorable going on, and who knows where it could end?
"Our goal every year is to get in the playoffs,' said linebacker Tyler Shankle. "And then take it from there.'
That's how it could end, how it should end, for a team that rolled onto enchanted Phil Marion Field and defeated Ridley in mercy-rule style, then won by 40 Friday in a game that might have been more balanced if not for so many Penncrest penalties. Instead it was another demonstration of the Jaguars' two-way dominance. In its 6-0 start, Garnet Valley has not scored fewer than 27 points, and it has scored 41 or more in each of its last four games.
With that comes the option to start thinking big, real big, end-of-the-season ride-around-town in a fire-engine big. That's how dominating Garnet Valley appears, how quickly it can strike offensively and, more than anything Friday, how it can defend.
Because it's how such events tend to be sold, the G.V.-Penncrest confrontation had a simple presentation. It would be a chance for Penncrest's defense, which had allowed just 35 total points in its 5-0 start, against the Jags' pyrotechnic offense.
All that did was inspire the Jags' defense.
"We did have something to prove,' said defensive lineman Gavin Woods, who was involved in three sacks, one solo. "We said that in practice all week, and we pushed every day to get better and better, which is what we did.
"We wanted to prove who was the No. 1 defense — to show who was better. And that's what we did.'
If that's accurate, and there was no reason to quarrel Friday, then Garnet Valley already has made a down payment on a position in Central League, if not Delaware County, high school football lore, deep and proud as that is. For few teams score as frequently as the Jags, then swarm as effectively on defense. They have four games remaining, none easy, including a possible headache in three weeks when they visit Joe Gallagher's peaking Fords in Haverford.
But with 47 seniors in the program, the Jags can practice against a dedicated, veteran, motivated scout team that often could be superior to what they encounter on a game night. Friday, they simply appeared prepared for everything Penncrest tried.
"The leadership that they display is just tremendous,' coach Mike Ricci said. "And it allows us to execute our offense and our defense because of the looks we get in practice. We get full-speed action and that really helps us come game time.'
Strath Haven, ever proud, is next for the Jags, who are committed to the one-at-a-time plan. Ricci, around Delco football long enough to have seen everything, wouldn't have it any other way, anyway. So, no, there will be no public announcements of state-championship plans to match the other booming postgame goings-on.
Just the same, those were two 5-0 teams confronting one another Friday, and the Jags won by the Big 4-0, being blistering fast on offense, nicely edgy on defense and relatively mistake-free, with Vincent Razzano rolling for four touchdowns.
"Every week, we just want to come out and show everybody that we are the best,' Shankle said. "I think we did that tonight, and that it says it for itself.'
With that, the Jags celebrated, enjoying the fireworks, posing afterward for class photos, almost as if to validate that it was, indeed, a night to savor.
"This team,' Shankle said, "I can see going a long way.'
For one more night, at least, that was almost as easy to see as that colorful postgame sky.