This article can be found published on the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
WEST GROVE – Possession is nine-tenths of the law and Great Valley (2-0) showed that against Avon Grove Friday night as they denied the Red Devils from holding onto the ball for long and came away with a 42-13 victory.
Senior quarterback Zach Ludwig led the charge for the Patriots and had a supporting cast both in the air and on the ground to give Great Valley over 300 yards in the game.
“We couldn’t even get the ball back enough times to win,” said Avon Grove head coach Harry O’Neill. “That’s a pretty good football team, no doubt about it, but they’re not that much better than us. We made some mistakes.”
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The biggest mistake, in O’Neill’s mind, came on a 4th-and-1 early on in the game when he decided to have the team go for it instead of punting.
Unfortunately for Avon Grove, they failed to convert and gave the ball back to Great Valley to charge down the field for another touchdown.
“That one is on me,” O’Neill said. “My decision to go for it … was a huge momentum swing. I was pretty confident in our offense. I thought we could get the first down.”
Instead, Great Valley tacked on six touchdowns in the game, with Ludwig logging 136 yards in the air for three touchdowns and added a fourth when he held onto the ball for a 10-yard run.
“We’re not asking Zach to do too much,” said Great Valley head coach Dan Ellis. “He’s playing well and he’s making smart decisions with the ball and that’s all we ask from our quarterbacks – be efficient. He was very efficient tonight. Anytime you can get a quarterback to do those kinds of things, you’re going to be happy.”
Offensively, the Patriots have numerous players to turn to and in this game, hulking senior Ryan Buchholz made three big receptions, two of which for touchdowns of 27 and 26 yards.
On the ground, senior Nasir Adderley carried the ball five times for 104 yards, with a big 49-yard touchdown mixed in, and senior River Johnson ran with the football 15 times – more than any player on the field – for 53 yards.
“We didn’t know how the kids were going to respond when we started,” Ellis said. “We’re new and we’re doing things differently. As I said to the kids, anytime that you can get a win, you’re happy about getting a win. There’s still a lot that we can improve on and that’s the message to the kids.”
O’Neill, taking full responsibility for the loss, could see the determination in his team’s eyes, despite trailing by a large margin.
“My starters didn’t want to come out of the game,” he said. “They’re asking if we’re going to onside kick when the clock’s running. They’re starting to develop the attitude that we’re not the same old Avon Grove.
“They’re not pouting after a 42-13 loss. They’re disappointed, but when I’m talking to them, all their eyes are still looking at me. They’re not hanging their heads with an ‘Oh crap, here we go again.’”
The Red Devils will look to turn the page on another tough loss to start the season as they prepare to face Unionville next week.
“There’s no doubt the kids never quit,” O’Neill said. “They’re rock solid. I told them I owe them one because that one is on me. We weren’t prepared well enough. Their effort and attitude has been great. They’ll bounce back again. They’ll be the same team they were. They play hard.”