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DiGIOVANNI: Coatesville’s coming-out party was a sight to see

Week 7 of the season is in the books, and what a wild week it was.

Downingtown West scored the winning touchdown with less than one second to go to defeat West Chester East, and the Whippets kept their 6A playoff hopes alive.

For the second week in a row Great Valley failed to score in the red zone at the end of the game, helping Unionvile come away with a hard-fought victory that put the Indians in the driver’s seat for the Ches-Mont American Division title. Unionville holds the tiebreaker against both West Chester Rustin and Great Valley for the league title. Unionville head coach Pat Clark also garnered his 100th victory as Indians boss.

But, the big news out of the Ches-Mont League — and perhaps all of District 1 — was the 40-7 drubbing the Coatesville Red Raiders laid on Downingtown East. Coatesville jumped out to a 21-0 lead after just six minutes of play, scoring three touchdowns on just five offensive plays, effectively putting the Cougars out of the game right there. Remember, Downingtown East had allowed just 6.5 points per game in its previous five games before being torched by the Coatesville assault.

The Coatesville performance reminded me of the explosive 2012 Coatesville team that advanced to the PIAA Class AAAA final before falling to North Allegheny.

Freshman quarterback Ricky Ortega showed he is in a class by himself as far as Ches-Mont League quarterbacks go. He throws a deep ball better than any area signal-caller since Pat Devlin. Ortega’s performance Friday night was one to remember.

The big surprise of the night may have been the play of the Coatesville defense. The Red Raiders took everything away from the East offense and hit anything in blue and gold that moved. The Cougars were hampered by the absence of wideout Ethan Harris, who may be the one playmaker who could give Coatesville trouble, but even Harris in the lineup would not have altered the outcome.

The Red Raiders looked like the best team in District 1 Class 6A Friday night. Downingtown East played North Penn even for three quarters before falling, 23-7. No one is questioning the talent at undefeated Neshaminy, but Coatesville has outscored both Downingtown West and Downingtown East, 88-16, this season, and I seriously doubt if any other District 1 team could match that feat.

This was supposed to be a transition year for the underclassmen-heavy Red Raiders. Next year was supposed to be the season Coatesville made a deep run toward Hershey.

But all teams come of age at different times, and the 40-7 rout of a good Downingtown East team may just have been the night the Red Raiders grew up.

Coatesville will be favored in its last three games of the regular season, and should finish the year at 9-1. With one, or even two home games in the playoffs, it is not a stretch to see head coach Matt Oretga’s group back in the district final for the first time since 2014 (a loss to Pennsbury).

To cap the the evening, Coatesville won Friday night with class. Ortega ordered his son Ricky to take two consecutive kneeldowns with five minutes to go and the ball deep in Cougar territory. A score there would have put the game into the mercy rule, and would have been even tougher for the Downingtown faithful to take.

So, as Saturday’s headline screamed it was truly a “Wild Night.” And who knows, maybe it was just the first step of a very talented young team’s date with destiny in Hershey.

The trip has to start somewhere, and it looked to me like it started Friday night.

Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for The Daily Local News. You can reach him at Follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.



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