A few years ago, Jarren McBryde really wasn’t doing anything.
The 2013 Atlantic City High School graduate was at NCAA Division II Virginia Union University but wasn’t academically eligible to play football. So the Brigantine resident just came home.
“I was on the couch,” he said. “I was playing Xbox and looking for a job.”
Then, Delaware Valley assistant football coach Mike Isgro, a 2006 Absegami graduate who had been a football standout, reached out to McBryde, asking if he wanted to check out the Division III program.
“It clicked, and I ended up here,” McBryde said.
The 23-year-old sophomore safety is one of the leaders on the Aggies (12-0), who will try to advance further than they ever have in the national tournament at noon Saturday when they host The College at Brockport (New York).
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Delaware Valley, based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, won the Middle-Atlantic Conference with a 9-0 record to earn its seventh trip to the national tournament. It’s the furthest the Aggies have been since a pair of 12-1 seasons in 2004 and 2005 ended in quarterfinal losses to Rowan.
Brockport hadn’t made the tournament since 2003 but boasts an impressive team. The Golden Eagles average 40.6 points per game and have gained 471.1 yards. The defense has allowed just 12.2 points per game and 233.3 yards per game.
Delaware Valley’s defense also includes junior starting defensive lineman Christian Snowden, a 2015 St. Joseph graduate from Williamstown. Both he and McBryde were named first-team MAC All-Stars.
Also on the Aggies is injured freshman defensive back Jamir Prevard, a first-team All-Star on special teams. He has missed the previous two games due to injury, and his status for Saturday’s game was uncertain.
The Aggies have allowed just 8.8 points per game this season, second in the country only to defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (7.3). The Aggies also are second in pass efficiency defense (81.56 rating), fifth in turnovers gained (32), 12th in total defense (248.8 yards per game), 13th in rushing (80.7 yards per game) and fourth in defensive touchdowns (six).
“We’ve played pretty well,” said Snowden, 20. “This year, compared to last year, we’ve played like a family. We’ve stuck with each other throughout the good and the bad.”
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The one word the Aggies have preached all season is “finish.” It started on the first day of practice, Aug. 7, has stayed true through this week.
“We have to finish,” McBryde said. “We only have a couple more games left. We’re not done yet. We have to keep this thing going on.”
Snowden, 6-foot and 240 pounds, is fourth on the team with 52 tackles, including 13.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He’s also recovered three fumbles and forced one.
“I wasn’t expecting it, honestly,” Snowden said of his spot on the all-conference team. “It’s just the hard work. I don’t want to put the spotlight on me. My teammates helped me make those plays. I want to give the credit to them. Without them, I wouldn’t be first-team. It’s a great honor.”
McBryde (6-0, 195), referred to as “Grandpa” by his teammates because he’s a bit older than most of them, has four interceptions, four pass breakups and 35 tackles.
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“It feels amazing to be apart of this,” McBryde said, “with my story and everything ending up here and being given the chance. We brought the MAC home and have a chance to bring a national championship here. That would be amazing.”
Note: Other area athletes on the Aggies: freshman kicker Pat Moran, freshman quarterback Jesse Milza, freshman offensive lineman Robert Belk, freshman linebacker Avory Cruse, sophomore linebacker Jalil Burrell (all from Cedar Creek), sophomore wide receiver Vinnie Nelson (Absegami), junior fullback Zach McGuckin and sophojmore defensive lineman Mike Merlino (both from St. Joseph), freshman offensive lineman Ryan Bakker (Southern Regional) and freshman defensive lineman Joey Trombetta (Middle Township).