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DiGIOVANNI: Coatesville does its community proud throughout magical season

With the final two Chester County teams, Unionville and Coatesville, going down in their respective state semifinals, it is time to celebrate the incredible season we just witnessed.

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Last week, the Suburban Officials Association gave the first Ches-Mont League Stu Ferrier Sportsmanship Award to the team that showed the most sportsmanship during the 2017 season.

Ferrier, who died in 2004, was a long time football official and also handled the assignments for officials, as well as serving as athletic director at West Chester East. Ferrier was all about making high school sports better for the student athletes who play the games, and was one of the most sincere and kind people I have ever met.

The 2017 winner of the Stu Ferrier Sportsmanship award was Avon Grove, and Red Devils head coach Harry O’Neill said he was “honored” and “humbled” to accept an award bearing Ferrier’s name.

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As for the games last Friday. Unionville ran into a buzzsaw in Archbishop Wood. Wood is now 8-0 against the District 1 winner since the Philadelphia Catholic league joined the PIAA. The loss does not diminish a season in which Pat Clark’s team defeated Spring-Ford and Academy Park, then ran through the Ches-Mont American division before winning on the road against top-seeded Springfield (Delco) for the District 1 title.

I had the pleasure to cover St. Joseph’s Prep’s 53-49 win over Coatesville, and my list of observations is far too long to share. But at a time when people are putting down football as a sport for their kids to play, one only had to look at the scene at the end of the game to see they are wrong.

Coatesville put up a valiant effort against a nationally ranked team and almost came away with the biggest win in school history. But, the scene at the end of the game showed the Red Raiders are winners. The players and coaches were clearly upset, but on the field you had white, black and hispanic players and coaches hugging each other and talking about how they got to this point together, and that they drew their strength through being joined as one.

No other area team galvanized a community like the Red Raiders. The Coatesville crowd packed the home side of Kottmeyer Stadium one hour before kickoff and roared on every play, and the crowd was a cross section of people who were there to enjoy the great game of high school football, not to worry about politics, social status or the color of one’s skin.

Coatesville showed what a team can do for itself and what kind of positive effect the great game of high school football can have on a community and a group of young men who are now more than ready to go out in the world and hopefully make a difference.

That was a great week for high school football. And a great game.

Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.

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