CALN — It’s a luxury know by only a few play-callers, to not just have a go-to plan B, but even a C, D and even E.
Coatesville’s offensive coordinator, Jim Cantafio, is one of those lucky men thanks to a quartet of receivers that is elevating the offense to legendary level.
Sophomore Dapree Bryant became a star this fall and seniors Kahtero Summers, Avery Young and Mekhi Alexander have proven the perfect complements in a very explosive passing attack.
“It’s great because there’s not a weak link,” Coatesville quarterback Ricky Ortega said. “You can’t stop everyone.”
The Red Raiders have scored 539 points this season, just five less than the 1996 Downingtown state championship team tallied through 12 games, and 101 more than the 2012 state runner-up Coatesville team after a dozen games.
Junior running back Aaron Young has obviously been a driving force in the offense with 1,541 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground, but the quartet of pass catchers keeps defenses from loading the box or keying on one man.
“You can tell (defenses) just back all the way up and don’t know where the ball is going,” Bryant said. “When our offense gets rolling it’s just fun.”
As a freshman, Bryant showed glimpses of his future stardom in the postseason, hauling in eight receptions for 212 yards and three scores in three games.
He picked right up where he left off, and is the Ches-Mont National Division’s leading receiver with 44 catches for 842 yards and 13 scores. Even with all those weapons on offense, when Cantafio needs an x-factor against a strong team he dials up his speedy sophomore.
Bryant has gotten carries in just three games all season, not coincidentally, against Cumberland Valley and both Downingtown East games. Last week Bryant eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time, and has 237 yards and four TDs on 19 carries for the season.
“With Ricky and Aaron running the ball and the other receivers, it’s so hard to single us up and Dapree is the fastest and quickest,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said. “He’s so hard to stop. Teams can’t double anyone and we know how hard it is to cover guys out of the slot, even at the college and NFL levels.”
Defenses have attempted to limit Bryant’s effectiveness, and Summers has stepped up of late. In his last three games, Summers has 12 receptions for 218 yards and four of his five TDs this season.
“Coach says catch every ball that’s in the air,” Summers said. “Make every opportunity count because you got Aaron Young in the backfield, you might not get many opportunities.”
Last week, against East, Summers broke out for six catches for 97 yards and a pair of TDs.
“He’s been making plays lately and we knew if he started making plays, you can’t double anyone up,” Matt Ortega said. “Now Ricky has confidence to throw him the ball and Kahtero has the confidence to make plays.”
Imagine the luxury of having a Rutgers University committ, Avery Young, as a third option. He’s added 26 catches for 383 yards and five touchdowns. Alexander, meanwhile, has made a full recovery from a torn ACL against North Penn in last year’s district semifinal, and he’s totaled 18 receptions for 272 yards and five more TDs.
“They all can change routes very well and do a great job,” Ricky Ortega said. “We can signal calls before the play and we’re all on the same page. Everyone knows where to be.”
It’s hard not to play the comparison game at Coatesville with this year’s team looking so similar to the 2012 squad. There may not be a Chris Jones quite yet, but as a unit, this quartet is just as effective.
At the quarterback position, the comparison is eerily close. In 2012, through 12 games, Emmitt Hunt passed for 2,212 yards, 32 TDs and two interceptions, while Ricky Ortega currently has 2,436 yards, 32 TDs and two interceptions. Ortega has also added 668 yards and seven TDs on the ground.
That’s not bad company to keep, and the Red Raiders are hoping their season ends in Hershey once again.