|Staff photo by Brad Spahr/West Chester Henderson’s Derek Matonti fights for extra yardage during the first quarter of Friday night’s National Division win over West Chester East.|
By NEIL GEOGHEGAN
WEST CHESTER – Some things just never seem to change -- like the notion that West Chester Henderson is going to pound the football.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, that’s exactly what the Warriors did on Friday evening, and there wasn’t much crosstown rival West Chester East could do about it. Paced by junior halfback Garrett Girafalco, Henderson rolled up 355 yards on the ground en route to a dominating 36-0 win over the visiting Vikings in the Ches-Mont League opener for both at J. Oscar Dicks Stadium.
“It was typical Henderson,” said East’s second year head coach Dan Ellis. “I know there’s a new head coach and a few tweaks in philosophy, but (head coach Steve) Mitten has been on their staff for so long, he is not changing the core of what Henderson is.”
Girafalco didn’t play a down in the first quarter and still ran for 122 yards on 18 carries while sharing time in the backfield with Derek Matonti (77 yards, 13 carries).
“I just have to jump in there and make the most out of my chances,” Girafalco said.
“We are lucky to have two effective runners,” Mitten pointed out. “Garrett has a little more wiggle to him and Derek runs tough and is a bruiser. It doesn’t seem to matter which one is in there, we don’t miss a beat.”
The Warriors improved to 4-0 and have now topped the Vikings in the last six meetings. East fell to 0-4.
“I am a Henderson grad and I’ve been at games against East for years and years, going back to Thanksgiving games and when we used to play them twice a year when the Ches-Mont had four teams,” Mitten recalled. “It’s always a big game.”
Matonti opened the scoring by capping off a ground-based 10-play, 63-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring plunge in the first quarter. And when East was whistled for offsides on the PAT, Matonti bulled in for the two-point conversion.
On the next possession, the Mitten brothers were the story as Phil hauled in a 40-yard pass from quarterback James Bady to convert a third-and-31, which led to a 5-yard TD run by Chris. Henderson then made it 22-0 at the half when Giralco gobbled up 65 of a 70-yard march on 10 carries, setting up a keeper by Bady with 2:07 in the half.
“I am really proud of all the hard work Garrett did in the offseason preparing for this,” Mitten said. “It’s not something that just happened. It’s really paying off now for him.”
Senior Spencer Rymiszewski picked off a pass late in the third quarter, and later converted it into another TD on a 33-yard option pitch to make it 29-0. In the fourth, with most of the starters on the sidelines, the Warriors drove 94 yards to round out the scoring.
“East is an improving team,” Mitten said. “Coach Ellis has them going in the right direction and when that freshman quarterback gets a little experience, he is going to be a problem for a lot of people in our league.”
Mitten was referring to signal-caller Jon Jon Roberts, who showed a few flashes mixed in with some rookie mistakes. He connected on 4-of-5 pass attempts for 43 yards during the final two minutes of the first half to set up a 30-yard field goal, but Rymiszewski blocked it as time expired. The only other scoring threat for the Vikings came at the very end, and time ran out again.
“We played some really good defense, and then we gave up a third-down-and-30,” Ellis complained. “That’s where we are right now: about four plays away on both sides of the ball. We are so young, we just aren’t good enough to overcome the mistakes we are making right now.
“We have to get to the point where we aren’t shooting ourselves in the foot, and it’s coming. There is going a point where the light bulb is going to go off.”
W.C. Henderson 36, W.C. East 0
W.C. East 0 0 0 0 -- 0
W.C. Henderson 8 14 7 7 -- 36
H – Matonti 3 run (Matonti run)
H – C. Mitten 5 run (Engle kick)
H – Bady 3 run (Engle kick)
H – Rymeszewski 33 run (Engle kick)
H – Armstrong 9 run (Engle kick)
First downs 10 17
Yards rushing 106 355
Yards passing 85 54
Total yards 191 409
Passing 8-20-2 3-5-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties 4-27 11-100
Punts-Avg. 5-30 1-40
RUSHING - E: Costa 7-44; Roberts 8-16; Jackson 8-39; Manes 1-7. H: Matonti 13-17, TD; Rymiszewski 3-43, TD; C. Mitten 5-8, TD; Bady 6-52, TD; P. Mitten 1-0; Girafalco 18-122; Green 3-29; Armstrong 2-24, TD.
PASSING - E: Roberts 8-20-2, 85 yards. H: Bady 3-4-1, 54 yards; Costello 0-1-0.
RECEIVING - E: Corialos 2-12; McKenna 3-33; Ritrovato 3-28; Jackson 1-11. H: P. Mitten 3-54.
SACKS - none.
INTERCEPTIONS - E: Downey. H: Rymeszewski, Lott.