Garnet Valley’s Aaron Parenti, right, tries to get by Conestoga defenders Alex Silverstein, foreground, and Dimitri Robinson during Friday’s
Garnet Valley's Aaron Parenti, right, tries to get by Conestoga defenders Alex Silverstein, foreground, and Dimitri Robinson during Friday's game.

CONCORD — When the final whistle blew on Garnet Valley's 30-0 win over Conestoga, the tub of Gatorade stayed still, just another spectator standing in approval of a historic moment. The victory clinched a perfect regular season for the Jaguars (10-0, 9-0), their first since 1980, and a Central League title.

In such situations, the Gatorade usually plays an important role. So why did Jags coach Mike Ricci, unlike so many champions before him, stay dry?"I don't know if we could get to him,' quarterback Christian Portale said. "He's too quick.'

Garnet Valley’s Zach Nelson, 27, is brought down by Conestoga’s James Carter, left, and Alex Silverstein.
Garnet Valley's Zach Nelson, 27, is brought down by Conestoga's James Carter, left, and Alex Silverstein. (Robert J. Gurecki)

These Jaguars have their eyes set on bigger goals. And why not? The win over Conestoga (6-4, 5-4) was only the latest blowout in a season full of them.All jokes aside, Portale's goal is clear: "We want a Gatorade bath in December.'Ricci, slightly dampened only by the mist that had settled on Moe DeFrank Stadium, was as subdued as his players."We're thrilled to finish the season undefeated,' Ricci said. "But we want to continue to take it week to week, keep playing good football.'That kind of good football went missing for much of the first half. To their credit, the Pioneers stymied the Jaguars in the opening 24 minutes, holding Garnet Valley to a measly 10 points and forcing Portale into only his second interception of the season.


"They were playing good defense,' Ricci said. "We had the ball in their territory a number of times but couldn't execute. That's because of them.'Garnet Valley was further hindered by the loss of star tailback Jake Irving, who limped off the field after only five carries. Irving returned to the sidelines wearing a walking boot, although it's unknown whether he'll play next week.A Vincent Razzano three-yard rush and a Brandon Dowd 30-yard field goal marked the only scoring of the first half.
Garnet Valley’s Zach Nelson steps his way through the Conestoga defense Friday night.
Garnet Valley's Zach Nelson steps his way through the Conestoga defense Friday night.
While Conestoga's defense remained stout, their offense struggled to move the ball against a ferocious Jaguars' defensive front. With a combination of blind stunts and varying blitzes, linebacker Tyler Shankle and Garnet Valley made their presence felt in the Conestoga backfield. They sacked Pioneers quarterback Timothy Miller four times on the night and held Conestoga to 22 yards total on the ground.In the second half, the Jaguar juggernaut returned on offense. Razzano, Portale and tight end John McGrogan continuously pounded the ball up the middle. Garnet Valley's midline option was working to perfection. The offensive line, a story all season, dominated the trenches, opening holes for chunks of yardage at a time. It was, according to Portale, "punishing football.'Razzano scored twice from direct snaps at the goal line. He added a third second half touchdown late in the third quarter to give him four on the night and complete Garnet Valley's scoring. Razzano finished with 114 yards on 20 carries. As a team, the Jaguars rushed for 362.Conestoga put forth a tremendous effort, but like the rest of the Central League this season, came up well short against the Jags.

"We played them tough in both halves,' Pioneers coach John Vogan said. "They just executed better than us in the second half.'Garnet Valley moves on to the District 1AAAA playoffs having outscored their opponents 381-102. Friday's win, however, was their first shutout."It's a great feeling,' Shankle gushed. "One of our goals each and every week is to shutout the opponent. We finally got one.'Portale, who aside from the interception had a typically efficient performance, throwing for 118 yards and rushing for 48 more, described the moments following the win as "surreal.'"We set a goal early in the season to win the league,' he went on to say. "It's awesome.'Save for a few raucous cheers for the television cameras, though, the Jaguars remained calm. They exchanged hugs and high fives and little more. The celebrations can wait for bigger things. So too, can the Gatorade.