While a big piece to the story of Bristol's second straight District One Class A football championship was the fact that junior running back Donte Simmons got every bit of the 108 yards needed — and more — to break the school's all-time rushing record, the Warriors' 19-6 triumph over Delco Christian wouldn't have been possible without the defense.
While the Bristol fans filling the stands at P-W waited patiently — for three quarters — for the Warriors' offense to get uncorked, the defense tossed a shutout after allowing the Knights a single touchdown on their game-opening drive.
Trailing 6-0 early in the game, it was the defense stopping DelCo senior halfback Ron Burrell at the Bristol 24 yard line on the Knights' second possession.
When the top-seeded Warriors went up 7-6 on their third possession on a 4-yard burst up the middle by senior RB Pierson Burton, it was the defense scooping up a fumble at midfield on DelCo's next drive with 48 seconds left in the half.
The defense then had to cover a Trevor Leone interception on an ill-advised pass made under pressure as the clocked turned to zeros before intermission. Making matters worse, Leone was hurt on the play and did not return.
Coming back from the break, the ' D' backed the Knights all the way back to their own 15 yard line before forcing the opposition to punt. With good field position near midfield and a big 20-yard burst off right tackle by Simmons, Bristol finally seemed primed to add to its score.
That was before Donte let go of the ball, however, at DC 35 yard line. Again, the defense came through, nearly pouncing on loose ball that sprung from the grasp of Knights running back Henry Miller. DC recovered but then, junior DB Isaiah Carroll tackled Burrell, the big back, for a 4-yard loss.
Bristol's next drive — it's last of the third quarter — would surely yield points and give the Warrior faithful something to hang onto going into the final frame. Four rushes by Simmons and an 8-yard aerial from backup quarterback R.J. Collins to Aiden Coughlin got Bristol all the way down to the Knights' 32 yard line.
While a Bristol holding penalty set the red and white back to the DC 41 and Collins tossed up an ill-advised pass from midfield on third-and-19, the Warriors benefitted from a 15-yard facemask penalty.
Bristol was flagged for a penalty of its own however, and a pass to Kyle Slivka-Fralin was trapped at the 20, giving the ball back to the Knights at their own 41 by the end of the period.
Again, the defense came though, forcing No. 2 seed DelCo into yet another 3-and-out and getting the ball back in the Knights' end of the field.
Taking over at the DC 45, Simmons took the ball to the 33 on consecutive rushes then Tyriq Wilson scampered nine yards downfield on a reverse. Donte capped off the scoring drive with back-to-back rushes that consumed 21 yards of the field, going in untouched on a 1-yard burst that gave Bristol at least a little breathing room with the score now at 13-6 after a missed extra point.
While the Knights drove the ball near the midfield mark on their next drive, on a pass to DC receiver Garrett VanderWaal that went for eight yards and adding another 15 on a roughing the quarterback call that gave DelCo the ball near midfield, again, the Warriors ' D' clamped down once again with Coughlan defending the 4th-and-10 pass to Burrell.
Taking over at the DC 47, Simmons got the next call as he dashed through the middle for 15 yards and probably would have reached paydirt if not for a shoestring tackle by a Knights defender.
The ball at the DC 20 yard line, Wilson and senior Dylan Shamwell teamed up to turn in the final plays of Bristol's final scoring drive of the day with Shamwell going untouched up the middle on an 8-yards touchdown burst with 3:31 to play.
The defense ended all doubt on the Knights' next drive, forcing the opponent to go 3-and-out on Shamwell's 4th-and-1 tackle of Miller, and eliminating DelCo (8-3) from postseason play.
For the Warriors, it's their second straight District 1 title, coming on the heels of a 27-24 win over Communications Tech in the 2012 championship.Tallying 184 yards on 24 carries, Simmons broke Bristol's all-time career rushing record of 4,330 yards held by 2010 graduate Woodrow Vorters, who set the mark in 2009 as a high school senior. Donte has another season to go before he graduates.
From here, the Warriors head to states where they'll face District 11 Champion Schuylkill Haven. Bristol went 1-1 in PIAAs last year, shutting out Williams Valley 20-0 before falling at the hands of Dunmore in the state semifinals.
DISTRICT 1 CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP
Bristol 19, DelCo Christian 6
(Nov. 16 at Plymouth-Whitemarsh)
BRISTOL 0 7 0 12 — 19
DELCO CHRISTIAN 6 0 0 0 — 6
DC: Ron Burrell 2-yd. run
B: Pierson Burton 4-yd run
B: Donte Simmons 1-yd run
B: Dylan Shamwell 8-yd. run