By Brian Carroll
“That’s why they play the games…” In last week’s 50-yard Line column, Strath Haven and Garnet Valley seemed to be a relatively even match-up “on paper”, with nearly identical statistics, approaches on offense, and more. But after 48 minutes of football last Friday, it became clear to everyone in the Central League and beyond that this year’s version of the Jaguars is not only the team to beat in the Central League, but is perhaps Coach Ricci’s best team since their 2007 state finalist, and a favorite in the 6A division in District 1 and beyond. After taking their first loss of the season, Strath Haven will look to bounce back on the road this week against a Springfield Cougar squad on a two-game winning streak.
Led by Head Coach Chris Britton, the Cougars have gained momentum in recent weeks after an opening night loss to Pioneer Athletic Conference 6A power Perkiomen Valley. With a 42-6 win over Harriton, followed by a competitive and close 33-28 loss against undefeated Ridley, Springfield has since rattled off two straight wins over Radnor (23-14) and Upper Darby (21-0) with a stifling defense and an offense that features a variety of weapons. In last week’s shutout over the Royals, the Cougar defenders piled up five sacks, forced three turnovers, and never allowed Upper Darby inside their 40-yard line. That set up the offense, led by junior, quarterback #8 Jake Rama, with good field position most of the night. Rama completed 17 of 24 passes for 199-yards and a touchdown to go with one interception. And while the running game averaged less than two yards per carry amongst four different ball carriers, it was effective enough to keep the defense honest and allow Rama to sling it to six different receivers and keep the Royals’ defense on its heels.