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Super soph Ortega leads Coatesville romp in opener

Philadelphia >> Coatesville quarterback Ricky Ortega, who threw 25 touchdown passes last year as a freshman, showed no signs of a sophomore slump Friday evening in the Red Raiders’ 34-13 season-opening win against host Simon Gratz.
The scintillating sophomore scored three first-half touchdowns, on runs of 11, 21 and 38 yards; then fired two TD passes, one of them 94 yards, as Coatesville, ranked No. 4 in the PA Prep Live Top 20 football rankings, raced to a 27-7 halftime lead. In the first half, Ortega and mercurial junior running back Aaron Young combined for 142 yards rushing.
“[Ortega] has gotten bigger, faster and stronger since last season, and his legs are his strength,” said Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega. “We expect our offense to produce [with Ortega and Young]. But what I was most pleased about tonight was that other guys answered the bell. When Gratz tried to stop Aaron, we had other players who could beat you.”
Sophomore wide receiver Dapree Bryant was one of the Red Raiders who answered the bell Friday evening at Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium, grabbing seven passes for 185 yards, and scoring touchdowns on his last two catches. On several of his catches, he leaped high to make athletic one-handed grabs.
Bryant’s final catch of the evening was a picture-perfect 94 yard touchdown. Bryant outran single coverage, Ortega hit him perfectly in stride at midfield, and the sophomore wide receiver raced all the way to the end zone. Originally, Bryant was supposed to block on the play, but quarterback Ortega changed the play at the line of scrimmage.
Ricky Ortega said, “I was ready to take the snap under center [instead of our usual shotgun] and I saw that Gratz defenders were moving up. I saw the one-on-one coverage [on Bryant], so I changed the play.”
“Ricky was getting good protection from the offensive line,” said Matt Ortega. “They’re a great group of kids, and we’ll go as far as our offensive line takes us.”
In the first quarter, Coatesville scored on its first two drives. On their first TD drive, the Red Raiders twice had to convert on fourth down to keep the drive going. The second time was on a fourth-and-10 from the Gratz 11 yard line, when Ortega twisted and turned through a small hole up the middle for the game’s first touchdown.
The second touchdown came when Ortega faced a third-and-2 situation from the Gratz 21 yard line.
“I went back to pass, saw that the defenders had all dropped back, and found an opening,” said Ortega, who maneuvered his way into the end zone.
Midway through the second quarter, Ortega put the visitors ahead 20-0 with a 38 yard touchdown run on an option counter play down the right side.
With 51 seconds to play in the first half, and Coatesville holding a 20-7 lead, Ortega faced a fourth-and-5 at the Gratz 18 yard line. Bryant was wide open in the back of the end zone, and Ortega hit him with a perfect strike for a touchdown and a 27-7 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Coatesville defense was containing Gratz senior quarterback Amir Gillis, who like Ortega is a fine runner.
“I thought we did a better job of containing Gillis this time than the last time we played them [a 51-14 win],” said Matt Ortega. “We did a few things tonight that we need to straighten out, we made some dumb penalties, but now we’re really looking forward to playing [state power] Cumberland Valley next week.”

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