Same district, different leagues

A recap of the games the Aces football team has played so far, Harriton’s situation with leaving the Central League, and a look into the future of the program.

Following the conclusion of a disappointing season in 2021, the Lower Merion football team looks to capitalize on an opportunity to prove their worth. Although the team lost multiple skillful seniors, notably Jay Zhang, Jack Lledo, and Paul Liang, the Aces have filled their roles with talented, up-and-coming young players who have the potential to break out as stars. However, the Aces have had a tough time manufacturing wins, mustering just one in the first four games. 

Kicking off the 2022 season, Lower Merion looked forward to a favorable matchup against the Pottstown Trojans, an out-of-conference opponent. Prior to this face off, the Trojans were in shambles, having lost 14 straight games. To the Trojans’ misfortune, the end to this streak would have to wait. Facing little adversity throughout the game, the Aces amounted to a thirty-five point lead through the first three quarters. This spurt would taper off in the fourth, however the Aces’ defense was able to clamp down the Trojans through the buzzer.

Despite the strong start to the season, the tables turned quickly for the Aces. Commencing their in-conference play, Lower Merion matched up against the Conestoga Pioneers. Although the Pioneers finished on top, the Aces’ spirited play kept the margin to just one point by the end of the game. However, the Aces’ misfortune continued. Lower Merion proceeded to surrender a combined 45-point deficit in back-to-back crushing defeats against Marple Newtown and Upper Darby. 

Nevertheless, “the culture inside the program is changing,” claims two-year captain Xavier Archawski ’23. As stated by Andrew Cook ’24, the Aces’ “will to fight” against “some of the best teams in [the] area” is a part of the team’s culture that is ingrained in their mindset, regardless of their status. This top dog mentality has been fed into the Aces’ program, setting forth the mindset to never “back down from a fight,” as Cook puts it. Consequently, despite not having the strongest team out there, the Aces continue to brawl against their Central League opponents, unlike their Lower Merion Township counterpart.

In spite of the Aces’ struggles in the Central League, the Harriton Rams expose that the circumstances could be much worse. Prior to this season, the Rams had lost eighteen consecutive games by a mind blowing margin of 670 points. That’s over thirty-seven points a game! According to Archawski, players within the Aces’ program “joked about how they would need to choose their opponents in order to win. Ironically, this is what happened.” Over the summer, Harriton, along with the league’s approval, decided to discontinue Central League play until 2024. According to Shawn Albert, Harriton’s athletic director, this settlement allows the Rams to “build our program” by providing “competition relative to our current number [of] participants and experience levels.” Despite the advantageous talent-bolstering schedule, the Rams “need a lot more than schedule changes in order to see some success,” remarks Archawski. Although the Rams’ future is unclear, one thing for certain is that they got tired of being embarrassed week-in and week-out.

While the Aces may be in turmoil early on this season, the end of the tunnel is in sight. Many young, inexperienced stars fill the Aces’ depth chart, awaiting their turn to shine on the field. Nonetheless, the program needs to “gain support from more than just a small [minority] of the LM population” in order to see success, asserts Archawski.

Graphics by Julia Zorc ’24/staff
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