A 34-28 overtime loss against Haverford High in Week 6 last season cost Garnet Valley a piece of the Central League championship. Marple Newtown, Ridley, and Springfield (Delco) ended up sharing top honors.
Now, senior fullback Matt Lassik and the Jaguars have a much-awaited shot at redemption against the Fords.
In a battle of unbeatens, Garnet Valley (5-0 overall, 4-0 league) will host Haverford (5-0, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Moe DeFrank Stadium. The teams are tied atop the standings with Springfield.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Lassik, a second-year starter, has carried 76 times for 495 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Lassik and senior halfback Danny Guy, who has rushed 72 times for 482 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and five scores, form a stellar one-two punch in a triple-option attack.
“I think we have pretty similar running styles,” Lassik said. “But I’m more of an inside runner and he’s a threat to bounce it outside.”
Lassik netted 881 yards and 12 TDs on 138 attempts last season as the Jaguars went 11-3 overall, 7-2 in the league, and advanced to the PIAA District 1 Class 6A final before losing to North Penn, 48-38. He carried 35 times for a career-high 244 yards and four scores in a 44-27 win over Perkiomen Valley in a district semifinal.
Lassik, who played youth football for the Brandywine Youth Club, said he “dropped about 10 pounds in the offseason to get faster.”
Clearing space for Lassik and Guy is a line made up of center Tom Mahoney, guards Jake Erley and Ryan Shomo, tackles Esso Adigwe and Kyle McCullough, and rotating tight ends Adam Oldrati, Jon Ricci, and Shane Van Horn.
Junior Cole Paris took over at quarterback when senior Ryan Hamby went down with a shoulder injury in the second quarter of 24-14 victory over Ridley three weeks ago. “I think Cole has stepped in and performed really well,” Lassik said. “He knows the ins and outs of our offense.”
A Garnet Valley defense that has yielded 11.2 points per game is led up front by tackles Josh Ciarrocchi and Griffin Salus and ends Oldrati and Cade Brennan. Support comes from linebackers Mark Moriarty and Zach Shankle, cornerback Kevin Doherty, and free safety Jason Rose.
The Jaguars are focused on applying consistent pressure on Haverford QB Jake Ruane and keeping close tabs on dynamic wideout Jordan Mosley.
Of Mosley, a Maryland recruit, Lassik said, “He’s definitely one of the area’s top receivers. He’s very dangerous. But I have confidence that our defensive backs can keep him from making big plays.”
Outside of football, Lassik is one of about 40 peer counselors at Garnet Valley. The group assists other students in the school district and surrounding community.
Lassik worked much of last school year with a fourth grader who was dealing with family issues. “It was great any time I could put a smile on his face,” Lassik said. “It would make my day.”
With an eye on being a state trooper, the 17-year-old, one of Dan and Patty Anne Lassik’s nine children, plans to major in criminal justice in college.
The game at a glance
Last season. Jake Ruane’s 7-yard touchdown pass was the difference in Haverford High’s 34-28 overtime win over Garnet Valley.
Longtime coaches. Joe Gallagher is in his 25th season in charge at Haverford; Mike Ricci has been at Garnet Valley’s helm for 31 years.
Other threats. In addition to Matt Lassik and Danny Guy, quarterback Cole Palis and halfback Colin Robinson are solid rushers for the Jaguars.
Savvy QB. Ruane, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior, has completed 58 of 88 passes for 772 yards and 10 TDs.
Ground success. Garnet Valley has rushed 256 times for 1,587 yards (an average of 6.2 yards per carry) and 18 TDs.
Two-way force. Haverford wideout Jordan Mosley has 17 catches for 280 yards and four scores. The Maryland recruit has made three interceptions at free safety.
Pick. Haverford, 26-19.