The second round of the District 1 playoffs takes place Friday, and the area has six teams still alive in their respective quests for district and state honors. Five Chester County teams will go on the road Friday, where it is very difficult to win in the playoffs, while fourth-seeded Coatesville has a stern home test with No. 5 Ridley.
Ridley at Coatesville
Ridley and Coatesville have traditionally been two of the strongest District 1 programs over the years, and Coatesville, which has won nine straight games since a Week 2 loss to Cumberland Valley, will have to play its best football. Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega talked about what challenge the Green Raiders present.
“Ridley’s defense is very active and they are quick,” Ortega said. “When you watch them on film you can tell they are very well coached by Coach (Dave) Wood. They play disciplined defense and their defense scored two touchdowns in their first round win over Plymouth-Whitemarsh. They are one of the most storied programs in District 1 and this Ridley team reminds me of the 2008 team we played in my first year here. It will be a very good game with them.”
Ridley’s only loss this season was to the top seed in 5A, Springfield (Delco), and the Green Raiders’ defense has pitched four shutouts and only has given up 96 points in 11 games. But, I do not think the Green Raiders have seen the sped and athleticism that Coatesville presents. And during the nine-game winning streak, Coatesville has averaged 40.5 points per game. Aaron Young is averaging 11 yards per carry for Coatesville and quarterback Ricky Ortega is not playing like a freshman.
The Pick: Coatesville 34, Ridley 17
Downingtown East at Perkiomen Valley
Downingtown East has to travel to play a Perkiomen Valley team that features star quarterback Stephen Sturm, who has thrown for 2,843 yards and 36 touchdowns during the regular season. Wide receiver Justin Jaworski missed three games during the season and still led the district with 61 catches for 1,203 yards. Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta talked about how potent the Vikings offense is and what his team has to do.
“Perkiomen Valley has an outstanding quarterback and they run a great scheme,” Matta said. “They also have a lot of very good skill players and a couple of pretty big linemen. We definitely have our work cut out for us. We need to control the ball on offense and hope for some breaks.”
The Pick: Perkiomen Valley 31, Downingtown East 21
Great Valley at Springfield (Delco)
The eighth-seeded Patriots visit the top-seeded Cougars, who have just one loss this season, a 24-21 decision to Garnet Valley. Great Valley has the edge with quarterback Robert Geiss, who threw for 2.257 yards during the regular season. Wide receiver Ryan Hubley hauled in 47 balls for 957 yards in the 10-game regular season. Great Valley head coach Dan Ellis knows how tough the Cougars will be on their home field.
“The thing with Springfield is that their kids play so hard,” Ellis said. “They are tough kids and we have to match their physicality. After a little down stretch during the regular season we seem to have our continuity back. We are going to try to put stress on their defense with a short passing game and we hope to be able to run the football.”
The Pick: Springfield 21, Great Valley 17
West Chester Henderson at Upper Dublin
Upper Dublin is the fourth seed and defending District 1 4A champions, but that squad lost 24 seniors to graduation.
“Upper Dublin is very legitimate,” said Henderson coach Steve Mitten. “Bret Stover is a great coach. He was the quarterback on the best team Millersville ever had and he is a very accomplished player, coach and offensive mind. He is a Dan Ellis type of guy. They have very good skill people and we will try to keep them off the field with running the ball with C.J. (Preston). And our special teams will be key and coach Jeff Bott has done a great job for us this year with the special teams play.”
The Pick: West Chester Henderson 28, Upper Dublin 21
Bishop Shanahan at Academy Park
Academy Park is the defending district champion and No. 3 seed. The Knights are very tough on their home field and the No. 7 Eagles, who looked very impressive in their first round win over West Chester Rustin, will have their hands full with the Knights.
“Academy Park has athletes all over the field,” said Shanahan coach Paul Meyers said. “We need to stop their running game. The quarterback can throw the ball a little bit but I don’t think it is constant enough. Defensively, they are really quick and physical like a mini Coatesville team. I think we can throw on them and run some things to slow down their aggressiveness like screens, shovels, draws and so on. We must also play smart and always be ready for anything. they will onsides kick, run no-huddle, run fake punts and throw double passes. They like to run a lot of gadget plays.”
Bishop Shanahan quarterback Nick Skulski is a duel threat with over 1,300 yards passing and 600 yards rushing during the regular season, and he might be the difference here.
The Pick: Bishop Shanahan 28, Academy Park 24
West Chester East at Marple Newtown
West Chester East must travel to face the high flying Tigers, who average 37 points per game. Quarterback Anthony Paoletti threw for 2,229 yards and 21 touchdowns during the regular season. The Tigers also possess two fine receivers in Cameron Mathes, who hauled in 41 passes for 817 yards during the regular season, and Dash Dulgerian who hauled in 36 balls for 796 yards.
“Marple Newtown has a very balanced offensive attack,” said East coach Dave Gueriera. “They have a very strong-armed quarterback and great athletes surrounding him. We need to be fundamentally sound in all aspects of our defense and limit his time in the pocket. We need to bring the same physicality to Marple Newtown that we brought to the Unionville game”
East will be hampered if receiver Alex Hirsch cannot play again due to injury, but I think this Vikings team has enough to pull the upset here.
The Pick: West Chester East 28, Marple Newtown 27