CALN >> It is easy to neglect the Coatesville defense.
It’s in our nature to give more attention to the people who score than those who prevent scoring. You will probably never see a sneaker commercial with tag line: “Chicks dig the Cover 2 zone.”
And it’s also easy when the Red Raiders put up video game-like numbers that would give a scoreboard operator a case of Carpal tunnel syndrome.
But, for the first half of Friday’s District 1 Class 6A quarterfinal against Downingtown East, the defense made a statement as large as any explosive Aaron Young run or Ricky Ortega deep pass.
If the Cougars came into the night thinking they could score with the Red Raiders, by halftime, the answer was a resounding “no.”
They started early, on the very first series, stopping the run and putting the pressure on East quarterback Bryce Lauletta.
“They played really good,” said Coatesville coach Matt Ortega. “Our defensive coordinator E.J. Moyer has a great staff with Anthony Young our secondary coach and our D-line coach Steve Brazzle. We’re a tight group and those guys work so hard over the weekend to put a game plan together. We came out and executed in the first half.”
One of the crowning achievements of the group came late in the second quarter when the Cougars had a fourth-and-three at the Red Raiders’ 36-yard line.
Almost as soon as Garvey Jonassaint received the handoff, the play was doomed. As he tried to hit the hole to his left, he was met by three defenders and thrown for a two-yard loss.
When the Cougars went to the air, Lauletta was continually harassed and pressured. The Red Raiders blitzed East repeatedly, which resulted in free rushers pouring in on Lauletta.
He was sacked five times — four of them going to talented senior Alex Raimondo.
“Our coaches came up with a plan and we knew it would work,” said Raimondo. “That’s exactly what we though would happen.
“We were blitzing. We made sure we played Coatesville football and did what we usually do and brought the pressure.”
Ortega was effusive in his praise of his linemen.
“I think he is the best defensive player in the Ches-Mont,” he said. “He’s not the biggest, but I’ve never had a kid who dominates an offensive line like he does.”
John Clifford, Tione Holmes and Nik Thompson were also stellar for the Red Raiders, while Avery Young pulled down an interception.
They held the Cougars to a single touchdown in the first half as they raced out to a 20-7 halftime lead.
But, to Downingtown East’s credit, they did not stop. The Cougars put up 35 points in the second half. The most spectacular of them was an 86-yard burst by Brassir Stocker.
“They lost focus,” Ortega added. “We were D-ing them up in the first half. We had a great gameplan.”
The march to a state title continues with an unexpected home game next Friday against Pennsbury.
“That’s crazy that can happen,” said Raimondo.
And the defense will be there front and center. Don’t miss them.
Bryan Davis is a staff writer for Digital First Media and Pa. Prep Live. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @btdavis25.
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