The NHS football team has gotten off to a huge start this season. With expectations high from last year, the New Hope-Solebury Lions lost five of their six starting offensive lineman. This put the strength of the program into question.
While the veterans have speed and athleticism, the very young and inexperienced offensive line was seen as a potential weakness. It was a huge question whether the Lions would be able to move the ball against some of the bigger teams in our league. Starting off the Lions were away at Nativity BVM. With a nice performance they put up 35 points and the defense started where they left off last year as the best defense in the league after the 35-0 shutout.
For the home season opener, the Lions hosted Morrisville. Beating them the year before on a last second interception return by last year’s defensive standout Cody Foy, this game was not supposed to be a blowout like week one was. With the newspapers all picking Morrisville, the New Hope-Solebury Lions were just left to prove everyone wrong.
“We know how good we are and that’s all that matters,” said coach Ditullio before the game.
Surprisingly, the game wasn’t as close as the reporters anticipated. New Hope went into the locker room at the half up 42 and they continued what they are accustomed to doing on the defensive side of the ball with a zero spot on the scoreboard. In the second half the varsity was pulled and the second stringers finished out the 49-7 blowout.
After two big wins, the Bristol Warriors were set to beat New Hope for the second consecutive year after their great year last year which ended at states where they finished in the top five. Playing behind their all-state running back Donte Simmons and all-league quarterback Trevor Leone, Bristol was looking to run all over the Lions in front of their home crowd. With the newspapers again ranting about the opposing team, the Lions were the underdogs yet again.
Although New Hope got no respect or recognition, they had some stars of their own. Behind quarterback Connor Hayden, running back Joseph Dwight, and the speedy receiver Jason Devenuto the Lions offense was able to give New Hope-Solebury an early lead. Hayden started the game with a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from the scrimmage line, which sparked the Lions. Hayden followed his run up with a 46-yard touchdown pass to the underrated running back Joseph Dwight who also added two punt returns for touchdowns later in the game. After a trio of Bristol touchdowns in the second quarter, it seemed like the momentum had shifted to Bristol’s side. The Lions were not done yet though. Before intermission Hayden threw his second touchdown pass to DeVenuto to put the Lions back up 22-18. With huge games from both Bristol stars Simmons and Leone, the Warriors were able to rattle off 270 yards on the ground and 383 yards in the air. With big performances from their two best players, it still wasn’t enough to hold off Hayden and the Lions as their dynamic offense put up 35 points, which was their lowest scoring game of the season after they hosted Wilmington Friends during week four and put up 36 points on the scoreboard.
The Lion’s fierce play has allowed them to become the first ever New Hope football team to start off 4-0 after a big win at home against Wilmington Friends.
Week 5 was a tough week for the Lions as they fell for the first time of the season to Academy of the New Church by a final score of 35-22 after being ahead with 5 minutes to go in regulation. Although the tough loss stung, we were still without three key starters, and it was a non league game, which means New Hope keeps first place in the BAL race.
With players getting healthy for the New Hope Lions, they were able to get back on track after the forfeit win vs Calvary Christian and a huge away victory against BAL powerhouse Delco Christian in a down to the wire game that combined for 83 points. New Hope was able to sneak away with the one point win behind quarterback Connor Hayden who played spectacular for the Lions offense, racking up 42 points and single handedly taking the must win BAL game.
After the big Delco win the Lions set off to have another BAL showdown with Jenkintown. For New Hope this would be their last home game until Thanksgiving’s “Battle of the Bridges” game and also Senior Night. The Lions ran all over Jenkintown shutting them out 33-0 in front of their home crowd. New Hope looks to continue their great play as they still have some tough opponents including the highly anticipated “Battle of the Bridges” game that promises to be a good one at Lions stadium on Nov. 28.
Photo Courtesy of Mr. Covino