By Nathan Mayberg
GRAHAMSVILLE October 4, 2005 An 86-yard kickoff return touchdown by gritty running back Jonathan Counts, was all of the offense the visiting Eldred Yellowjackets needed Saturday afternoon in a 14-3 non-league win over the Tri-Valley Bears.
Eldred moved to 5-0 for the first time in at least 33 years, when Coach Frank Kean began working the sideline. Until this year, they had never started a season with a 4-0 mark in Keans tenure.
The Yellowjackets muscled their way to victory by overpowering the young, undersized offensive line of T-V(2-3) and putting their defense to a rest.
The Yellowjackets relied on their ground attack against the Bears.
Counts scored both of the Eldred TDs and carried the ball 21 times for 133 yards. His big day was due not only to his speed, strength and determination to take consistent hits, but also to an offensive line which blocked well for him.
But the story of the day was clearly the Yellowjackets defensive linemen, who were highly physical, and pressured T-V quarterback Joe Garigliano relentlessly. Eldred sacked Garigliano three times on the afternoon.
Despite all of the obstacles he faced, Garigliano escaped the Yellowjackets many times with his quick feet and quick release. He threw the ball exceptionally well, completing 15-of-28 passes for 152 yards.
One of the biggest surprises was the relatively quiet game by T-V running back Daniel Knox. Aside from a couple nice kickoff and punt returns, Knox was a non-factor, recording only 14 yards rushing.
T-V Coach Dave Viglione blamed the low number of yards on a stubborn Eldred defense, which prevented Knox from using his outside rushing game. That defense was led by seniors Jeremy DeForge, George Fountain, J.T. Vogt and Walter Kreidel, who were imposing throughout the contest. Sophomore Hilton Johnson was just as dangerous, as he recorded one sack and five tackles.
The T-V defense also played tough. Several players made solid tackles, including Knox, who had a sack and many tackles despite being banged up during an incomplete pass play.
The Bears received a positive boost from junior Gary North, who made several tackles on defense and made a 10-yard reception on a broken play.
In all, the game was turnover-laden with fumbles and miscues everywhere.
Kean, who has been on the sidelines for his team the last 33 years, summed up the game when he said, It was the defenses day today.
He credited his 11 seniors with leading the team to a win.
They wanted it too much, Kean said. We are physical. We beat them up at the line of scrimmage.
The veteran coach attributed the Yellowjackets aggressiveness to defensive coach John LiGreci.
In addition, Kean said many of the seniors have played together since seventh grade giving them another advantage.
I will miss them when they go, he said.
The coach also lauded the blockers who helped Counts to a big rushing day.
Our blocking scheme is one of the best around, he said.
Kean picked up recent Port Jervis graduate David Thompson as an intern to assist his team with blocking maneuvers. It has clearly paid off.
Kean also praised Counts for his performance.
He has a lot of heart, Kean said. He plays with reckless abandonment. He wants the ball all the time.
Viglione had a clear perspective on the game.
Size was the difference
they were very aggressive. They shut down our big plays, he said.
I give them credit, Viglione added. They played tough, aggressive football. Theyre big and strong. Were undersized.
Still, the coach was proud of the strong effort his team gave.
Our kids played tough and hard, Viglione said. They should be proud of that.