DOWNINGTOWN – Coming off one of the most impressive district road wins so far this football season, Downingtown West headed into Friday’s Ches-Mont opener on a roll. But the Whippets discovered that Coatesville has the ability to halt momentum, and do it in what seems like the blink of an eye.
Ranked seventh in the latest Pa PrepLive Top-20, the Red Raiders scored 21 points in the opening seven minutes, widened the margin to four touchdowns after the first quarter, and an went on to cruise to a 42-7 decision at Kottmeyer Stadium that was never in doubt.
“The goal was to come here and play our best game, and we did that,” said Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega. “It was our best on special teams and defense. It was good to put all three phases together.”
As expected, the Raiders (1-0, 3-1 overall) were explosive on offense. Sophomore quarterback Ricky Ortega racked up 257 passing yards and four TDs, including two to senior wideout Avery Young. But the big story came on defense, where the Raiders limited West to 111 yards of offense, scored a defensive touchdown and set up another with a turnover deep in Whippets’ territory.
“This was our most complete performance this season,” Ricky Ortega said.
“We knew we would be able to move the ball on offense, but we challenged our defense and they answered the bell,” Matt Ortega added.
“This defense can be very good. None of our offensive line plays on defense, so we are fresh in there and they can concentrate on that side of the ball.”
Just seven days after an eyebrow raising victory at Neshaminy, the youthful Whippets (0-1, 2-2) got off to a dreadful start and it snowballed from there. At halftime, West trailed 35-0 and was able to muster just 31 yards of offense.
“We took a step backwards – we just did,” acknowledged Whippets’ head coach Mike Milano. “But I have great faith that my kids will rebound.
“We are playing with nine sophomore starters, so you are going to be up and down. The growth curve was enormous from week one to two and three. But we haven’t seen that kind of speed and talent yet. We sure saw it tonight.”
The Raiders looked sharp from the start, marching 90 yards on the opening possession. Aaron Young converted a fourth down during the drive and scored on the next play from five yards out. And it was 14-0 in a flash when Coatesville defensive lineman Tione Holmes tipped and picked off a middle screen pass and scored on the Whippets’ first series.
“Our running back fell down and our quarterback threw it where he thought he would be,” Milano explained.
“(Tione) is a kid that is super-talented,” Matt Ortega said of Holmes, a 220-pound junior end. “He is getting better every week and we are excited about his future.”
Already a bit stunned, Andrew Ciliberto promptly coughed up the football on West’s next play from scrimmage, and Coatesville’s John Clifford pounced on the loose ball at the Downingtown 19. Three plays later, Avery Young hauled in a one-handed seven-yard toss from Ortega.
“We turned it over on two out of our first four plays, and all of the sudden it was 21-0 against a really good football team,” Milano said.
The Red Raiders added a pair of long TD tosses from Ortega before the end of the first half. The first was a 67-yard strike to Dapree Bryant, followed by a 40-yarder to Aaron Young.
“It didn’t surprise me that we were up (35-0) because we are capable of playing like that,” Ricky Ortega said. “On offense, I have a lot of weapons out there and there isn’t a weak link at all.
“We thought it would be more of a battle. (West) played good, but we played better.”
The Coatesville starters stayed in for the first series of the second half, and Ortega connected with Avery Young for another TD. The Whippets avoided the shutout when backup QB Mitchell Micale scored on a keeper midway through the final period.
“(West) is a young team,” Matt Ortega said. “They will be great in a year or two. We felt we had the upper hand in experience and if we could get off to a great start, we could put them in a bad situation.”
Coatesville now leads the all-time series with Downingtown/Downingtown West 61-51-6. The Raiders hold a much narrower margin, 9-7, since the Downingtown split. They travel to winless West Chester Henderson next Friday.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Ricky Ortega said.
“Our kids showed that they are taking this thing one game at a time,” Matt Ortega added. “They came out and took care of business.”