Sequels of a classic rarely live up to the standard set by the first one.
It’s impossible to imagine that Coatesville-Downingtown East II could even sniff the amount of drama and brilliance displayed just three weeks ago.
For No. 4 Coatesville and No. 5 East, any theatrical greatness is an afterthought: at this point it’s all about defeating their arch rival and moving on to the District 1-6A semifinals.
With Coatesville pulling out an epic win in the final three seconds the first time around, every little detail was magnified, from kickoff philosophies to countering what the opposing defense sold out to stop.
East is 1-3 in its history in playoff rematches, while Coatesville is 3-0 under coach Matt Ortega. As the winter temperatures show up for the first time this season, the Cougars and their physical, all-weather style, are hoping revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.
Now, a look back to find out what we can expect in round two.
On East’s second possession, a 16-yard reception by Connor Noble against Coatesville’s man to man coverage got the Cougars away from its own end zone. Playing man coverage, the Raiders were able to keep nine and sometimes even 10 within seven yards of scrimmage. With little room to run, quarterback Bryce Lauletta opened things up with a 18 yard-scramble, with 15 more coming on a late hit penalty. The next play, East ran its first counter trey to the left side. Coatesville’s front held the line, but its play-side linebacker and safety over-pursued to the edge and Garvey Jonassaint cut right inside them and raced for a 25-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Downingtown East 7, Coatesville 0
Coatesville fielded a short kick off, as East elected not to kick it deep to Aaron Young all night. As a result, the Red Raiders’ average starting field position after kickoffs was their 39. The first play of the drive, slot receiver Dapree Bryant came in deep motion to his right. Quarterback Ricky Ortega faked a handoff to Young, which got the play-side linebacker to take just one step inside. Ortega then pitched to Bryant with a full head of steam and that play-side linebacker could only get a flailing hand on him. Bryant did the rest, weaving through the defense for a 55-yard touchdown run.
Downingtown East 7, Coatesville 7
After trading punts a couple times, Coatesville took over near midfield and Ortega hit Young on a 40-yard pass down the sideline. The play was called back due to holding, but three plays later, the Raiders caught their own break with a facemask on second-and-26. Coatesville broke out its empty formation for the first time against East’s three-man front, and Ortega thrived in it. On the drive he had a scramble for 16 and a counter for 34. After another holding penalty, Young ducked inside the defensive end and darted 11 yards on an inside zone play for the score.
Coatesville 14, Downingtown East 7
East used another strong kick return (the Cougars averaged 32.6 yards per return) to set itself up at its own 46. The Cougars moved their way to the Coatesville 23 in five plays, setting up a second-and-seven. For the second time in the game, East ran its counter trey to the left and for the second time Jonassaint took it to the house. With Coatesville stuffing the box, as soon as right guard Ryan Reynolds pulled and sealed the defensive end, Jonassaint was one-on-one against the safety and the junior Cougar won once again.
Coatesville 14, Downingtown East 14
Coming out of halftime, East got going again, quickly. Lauletta found a wide-open Noble for a 33-yard gain off of play action. Lauletta was 6-for-11 for 94 yards on play action passes, while going 5-for-8 for 38 yards on standard dropbacks. Later in the drive, East had a fourth-and-one and the Coatesville 10. Can you guess what the play call was? That’s right, counter left. Since it was short yardage, the Raiders’ nose tackle cut the center, giving the pulling guard and tackle an easy path to the edge. Noble had a pancake on the down block, Reynolds had a nice kick out and Jonassaint went in untouched.
Downingtown East 21, Coatesville 14
East went with an onsides kick, which squirted out from the pile and was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by Coatesville. However, an inadvertent whistle negated the result. Coatesville returned to empty formation, putting the game back in Ortega’s hands. The sophomore was 8-for-9 for 133 yards and a touchdown from empty, while going 5-for-11 for 43 otherwise. Seven runs and three completions by Ortega culminated in a one-yard quarterback sneak. The extra point sailed wide.
Downingtown East 21, Coatesville 20
Coatesville forced a punt and went right back to empty. The Raiders were driving when two of their 12 penalties (for 145 yards) had them in a third-and-22 at the East 39. Being pressured, Ortega climbed the pocket and found Avery Young down the seam for a 36-yard gain. On first-and-goal from the three, Bryant took a zone handoff and raced left, beating the outside linebacker, who had dipped inside the defensive end, to reach the corner of the end zone. Coatesville is forced to go for two but the pass is incomplete.
Coatesville 26, Downingtown East 21
With time ticking away, East’s special teams came up big again, as Donny Hicks deflected a Coatesville punt to give the Cougars the ball at their own 45. East went to its bread and butter, running counter on four of the nine plays, including a fourth-and-one from the three. The final try, a counter to the left, Brassir Stocker found just enough of an alley to put the Cougars up again. East ran counter to the left behind tackle Garrett Farmer and guard Carter Regitz 10 times for 89 yards and all four touchdowns. To the right, East ran the counter six times for 28 yards. The counter on the two-point conversion was stuffed, though.
Downingtown East 27, Coatesville 26
Once again East decided to kick off short, setting up Coatesville at its 40 with 40 seconds to go. On second down, Ortega found Bryant down the sideline for a 29-yard gain to the East 25. With eight seconds left, Bryant ran another go route. Five yards in he gave a quick juke inside which froze the cornerback just long enough that Bryant got past him. The play-side safety’s attention was drawn by skinny posts ran by the two slot receivers. With no one over top, Ortega perfectly placed to Bryant the game-winning 25-yard touchdown.
Coatesville 32, Downingtown East 27
Coatesville then scored as East attempted to lateral the ball around on the kick return. Now, in the rematch, the Red Raiders will have to find a way to limit East’s counter, especially to the left side. In the cold, tackling those bruising backs will be even less enjoyable. East needs to find answers when Coatesville goes fully spread and lets Ortega make plays, as well as containing Aaron Young (81 yards on 14 carries) for a second time.
A quick look at the other two local matchups in Class 5A:
No. 3 Unionville (10-1) vs. No. 11 Strath Haven (6-5)
The Panthers are fresh off a come-from-behind upset win over Bishop Shanahan last week and bring a potent run game to the fray. Zach Hussein leads that attack with 1,059 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.
Unionville has scored over 40 points in three straight weeks will look to set the tempo against a Haven team has struggled to score enough against better defenses. Unionville’s defense has only given up 12.8 points per game and is plus-five in turnover margin in its 10 wins this season.
Unionville is fourth in the area in rush yards per game (231.8) and recently Joe Fariello has joined the party, getting his first eight carries of the season the last two weeks, amounting to 181 yards and four touchdowns while filling in for an injured Jack Adams.
The Indians have a great opportunity at home to pick up their first second-round win under Pat Clark to set up a semifinal matchup against the winner of No. 2 Upper Moreland and No. 7 Marple Newtown.
No. 9 West Chester Rustin (7-4) at No. 1 Springfield (Delco) (11-0)
The Golden Knights earned some revenge last week, taking out Great Valley after falling to the Patriots in week nine. The sledding will get much tougher this week down in Delco against last year’s 5A district runner-up, Springfield.
The Cougars are stingy on defense, giving up just 9.2 points per game this year. Offensively, Springfield is no slouch either, boasting 1,000-yard rusher Ja’Den McKenzie and one of Delco’s most efficient passers, Jack Psenicska, who has thrown for 1,613 yards and 19 TDs as a junior. Kyle Long has 32 receptions for 613 yards and seven scores.
Rustin ran for 394 yards last week, and while that’s very unlikely against Springfield’s staunch defense, the Knights have to be effective on the ground to have a shot. Running backs Nick Benoit and Ty Pringle have totaled 300 and 306 yards, respectively, the last two weeks, and they are the keys for Rustin’s attack.
Springfield plays the old school football that Rustin would prefer to play, as well. It will take a vintage Golden Knight effort for them to out-old school the Cougars.
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