Bryson Hall’s No. 88 jersey was draped over one of the benches at the Garnet Valley sideline during last Friday’s District 1 Class 6A semifinals.
It was the Jaguars’ simple but thoughtful way of remembering a beloved teammate. Hall, a senior wide receiver/defensive back, died Nov. 13. He was 17 years old.
It’s been a difficult five days before the game against Downingtown East. The Jags won convincingly 28-17 and advanced to the District 1 championship game for the second straight year. The GV players and coaches pulled together and won one for Hall.
“It was hard. We all love Bryson so much,” senior quarterback Matt Mesaros said. “We played together, that was our word. We went out and played for him.”
“It really defines the unity of Garnet Valley and how we are a family,” said senior running back/linebacker Joe Checchio. “Everyone was there for each other, everyone stood together. I just love this team so much.”
First-year head coach Eric Van Wyk said he’s never been prouder to be a coach.
“The safe haven was the exercise,” he said. “They had the opportunity to just focus on football for a few hours a day. And apart from that, they stuck together every day at school. They are a resilient group.”
The top-ranked Jaguars (12-0) host the No. 11 Central Bucks Bucks (8-4) for the district championship. The teams kicked off the 2022 season against each other in Van Wyk’s coaching debut with a 14-7 win. GV also defeated CB West, 41-13, in a district tournament game last fall.
The Jags come into play on a 22-game win streak at home. They have not lost a game on home soil since a 48-27 setback against Coatesville in the district semifinals on November 15, 2019.
The Bucks rallied in the second half last week to reverse No. 2 Perkiomen Valley 14-13. They limited the Vikings to 43 yards in total attack in the second half. Ganz Cooper’s quarterback sneak from a yard tied the game, and Ryan Clemens’ extra point put the Bucks ahead in the third quarter. CB West, who have endured a 3-1 start to the season, are playing for a District 1 title for the first time in 22 years.
Jason Bernard advanced the Jags with 145 yards and 15 carries in the 28-17 win over Downingtown East. Checchio, Jack Westburg and Luke Mingioni are also a threat on the ground. Mesaros added 74 yards and was 7 of 10 with 92 yards through the air. The double threat has rushed for 1,190 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The winner advances to the PIAA Class 6A semi-finals to play against either District 12 Champion St. Joseph’s Prep or District 11 Champion Parkland.
Bonner vs. Crestwood at Northeast HS, 1 p.m
Last Saturday, the brothers won Delco’s Class 4A District Championship squad battle to advance to the PIAA Quarterfinals.
Led by running backs Avery Hankey and Isaiah Session, who combined for 217 yards and four TDs, Bonner clinched his program record with a 33-21 win over Interboro and earned the 11th win. The brothers, twice trailing 14 points in the second quarter, scored 26 unanswered goals.
Last week marked only the third time this season that the brothers have conceded 21 points in a game. After a 14-12 loss to Haverford School that would result in an unbeaten campaign in Week 2, Bonner has gone on to have 10 straight wins. Jack Muldoon was recently named Coach of the Year by the Philadelphia Catholic League.
The Crestwood Comets (12-1) won the District 2 Championship with a 13-7 decision over Valley View. Senior running back Noah Schultz, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards, had 183 yards and two TDs in the district finals.
The winner goes up against the District 3 champion in the state semifinals.