LONDON GROVE >> Virtually all of the pregame data – like results against common opponents and scoring margin — indicated a mismatch, with Ches-Mont National unbeaten Coatesville visiting an Avon Grove squad still looking for its first division victory. And it certainly didn’t take very long for the powerful Red Raiders to turn that perceived advantage into a reality.
A week after dismantling its biggest division threat, Downingtown East, by 33 points, Coatesville was probably due for a letdown on Friday. But there was absolutely no evidence of that as the Raiders cruised to a 38-14 win that was more lopsided than the final score.
“We preached all week that we needed to come out, finish and play to our ability,” said Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega. “Right now it’s all about keeping the train moving forward. You don’t want to have a letdown this time of year.”
The Red Raiders (5-0, 7-1 overall) have secured at least a share of the Ches-Mont National crown. Bishop Shanahan is up next week, but Coatesville is already peeking ahead to the PIAA playoffs.
“Right now we are playing for playoff position,” Ortega said.
“Every Ches-Mont game is important, so we treat everybody the same and try to get the win regardless,” added junior wideout Avery Young.
The Raiders raced out to a 38-0 halftime lead, and then Ortega rested his starters. And, perhaps, the squad’s most potent weapon — sophomore running back Aaron Young – did not have a single rushing attempt, and Coatesville still wound up with 200-plus more yards of offense than the Red Raiders (0-4, 3-5).
“Aaron is still a little banged up,” Ortega explained. “He could have played if we had pushed it, but there was no need to do that.”
The offensive star was quarterback Ricky Ortega, the coach’s son. Playing in just the first half, the freshman completed 12 of 13 pass attempts for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He added 33 more yards on the ground and another TD.
“I am much more comfortable than I was at the beginning of the season. I’m not as scared and nervous,” Ricky Ortega said.
“We play at such a high tempo at practice, he gets a bunch of throws in every day and it seems to be coming together for him,” Matt Ortega added. “He is starting to grasp the offense more and more and it is showing.”
It was, undoubtedly, a tough assignment on Senior Night for Avon Grove, and it was all the more difficult as the Devils had to go without injured starting quarterback Joey Borcky. Junior Shane Wolford filled in.
“We are getting there but we are not (Coatesville),” Red Devils’ head coach Harry O’Neill acknowledged. “They have much better talent-base than we do. Hopefully we can see what they do and try to replicate it.
“We didn’t want them to big-play us to death like they’ve done to everybody else, and at least we made them earn their points. I’m not big on morale victories, but at least we didn’t quit.”
But with Ortega leading the way, the first half was just about as one-sided as it gets in the Ches-Mont. The Raiders scored on all five possessions during the first two quarters, rolling up 357 yards of offense and limiting Avon Grove to a mere 43 yards.
Just in the first quarter alone, Jadan Hudson scored his first of two short TD runs, and then Ortega found the end zone on a 4-yard keeper, and later hit Aaron Young on a 19-yard scoring toss that came on fourth down.
“We weren’t going to underestimate Avon Grove,” Ricky Ortega said. “We talked before the game about coming out and playing hard like we normally do.”
Hudson had two more scores in the second quarter, including a 13-yard strike from Ortega, to make it 35-0, and Coatesville’s Willie Barsee booted a 20-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
“Our offense just keeps executing and getting better and better every week,” Ricky Ortega said. “Everything we ran in practice seemed to be open in this game.”
Avon Grove’s Zachary Long grabbed a 16-yard pass from Wolford to end the shutout in the third, and defender Dylan Poole rounded out the scoring in the fourth with an interception and a 45-yard return for a touchdown.
Despite emptying the bench in the second half, the Raiders surrendered a total of 141 yards, and just 62 on the ground.
“People don’t talk about our defense much, but they’ve been stepping up and playing really well,” Ricky Ortega said.
“We know our offense is strong right now, so we are trying to get this defense better and better so that they can catch up,” Matt Ortega added. “I saw early in the season that this group could be very good, but we’ve had to figure some things out, refined our scheme a little bit and it is showing the last few weeks.”
Hudson finished with 62 yards on the ground and Avery Young chipped in with four catches for 69 yards – and all of it came in the first half.
“Every time we step on the field, we are playing for many things: a Ches-Mont championship, our city, our fans and our families,” said Avery Young.