The Henderson Warriors fell to third seeded Interboro in a valiant effort Friday night, dropping a 14-12 decision to Interboro in the AAA District I Championship Game before a loud, near-capacity crowd at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.
The Warriors were plagued by injuries, with the most notable being to senior standout Spencer Rymiszewski, who suffered an ankle injury in the pre-Thanksgiving upset of Pottsgrove. It wasn’t of much concern because of the presence of last weeks’ breakout star replacement for Rymiszewski, sophomore Tre Green. But Green suffered an injury to the his ribs early in the first quarter.
As the game unfolded, the Henderson Warriors found themselves playing from behind. Interboro overplayed the run all game, which made it very difficult for the notoriously run-oriented Henderson offense to make consistent progress upfield. Henderson was also plagued by a multitude of penalties called on the Warriors all throughout the game.
Interboro struck first late in the first quarter as Austin Quay took a pitch around the right side for a four yard touchdown. Mike Cristaldi, whose punting would prove to be a key factor in the fourth quarter, hit the extra point, and Interboro took a 7-0 lead.
Henderson answered with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that included five first downs, with one of them being a clutch fourth down conversion on a James Bady pass to Phil Mitten for 12 yards. Two plays later, Chris Mitten took a pitch around the left side and crashed into the end zone for the touchdown. What turned out to be a key play in the game followed, with penalties turning the extra point attempt into a 39-yard kick that Sean Engle pushed just right of the goal.
Interboro was back on the scoreboard before the end of the half. The Bucs started with great field position at the Henderson 37 yard line. They advanced the ball up to the Henderson 20, but Henderson sophomore Bryan White responded with a nine yard sack setting up a difficult fourth and 15 on the 29 yard line. Interboro quarterback Nick Rentos dropped back and found sophomore wide out Mark Everton in the right corner of the end zone for a back-breaking touchdown. After a successful PAT the score read 14-6 with Interboro in the lead at the half.
The Warriors’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half and the offense managed another Chris Mitten touchdown early in the fourth quarter but the two point conversion attempt to tie the game failed.
The Warriors had one last gasp in the final minute, making it all the way from their own two yard line to the Interboro 36 behind senior quarterback James Bady, Rymiszewski and the Mitten brothers. Unfortunately the season came to a close as a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
“We thought we could do it. Thought we could move on to next week. It’s tough to see it all be over,” said Rymiszewski, whose gimpy ankle appeared to worsen as the game wore on. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t pull it out tonight. We fought hard. I think we showed that.”
“They made the plays they needed to,” offered Steve Mitten, the first-year head coach who maintained the tradition of high-quality football at Henderson in 2012. “We made some mistakes and you can’t afford to do that. Interboro is so solid. They are a deserving champion.”
“What was the difference? A play here and a play there,” offered Interboro coach Steve Lennox, whose team is a traditional Del-Val League powerhouse. “Henderson executes real well and you have to be very disciplined against them. Their quarterback is a threat, they have terrific skill players and their defense poses problems.”
“We were excited to get into the post-season and we thought we could make some noise and we did,” offered Mitten as the season came to a close. “If you had said when we started that we’d go 9-4 and earn a trip to the District Championship Game, would I have taken it? Sure. But the reality is we wanted the W tonight and we fell short.”
The season also came to a close for a host of Henderson seniors. “I’m so appreciative for what I’ve been able to be a part of here at Henderson,” added Rymiszewski, the team leader. “It’s a great program and I’m really going to miss it.”
The other seniors who played their final game for the Warriors included Matt Eichman, Adam Weaver and Declan Kane, who were among several standouts Friday night, plus Chris Mitten, Tom Delaney, James Hagan, Derek Matonti, Mike Medykiewicz, Myles Lathan, James Farilli and Jimmy LaBelle.