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PETE’S PICKS: West Chester Rustin will end Unionville’s Ches-Mont American streak

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We have arrived at Week 8 of the season with only three regular season games to go before the district playoffs begin.

The one that jumps out, of course, is the Battle of the Brandywine, as Downingtown East meets Downingtown West in a battle where friends become enemies for 48 minutes.

But there’s also a huge Ches-Mont American Division clash for first place as Unionville visits West Chester Rustin in a battle that likely will determine the American champion.

Unionville at West Chester Rustin

Golden Knights head coach Mike St. Clair knows all too well how tough the Indians are as Unionville has won the past three American championships.

“Unionville is a very well coached team,” St. Clair said. “(Head coach) Pat (Clark), puts his players in position to succeed. They have a very diverse offense that does not allow you to key on any one person. We are going to have to defend the entire field for 48 minutes.”

Unionville is a proud program and the Indians do not want to give up their streak of championships. Rustin has a dynamic running game led by Michael Covert, who rushed for 130 yards last week in the Golden Knights’ 49-13 win over Oxford. Rustin quarterback Will Pileggi can throw the football when needed and I just think the Golden Knights are more well balanced than the Indians.

Pick: West Chester Rustin 24, Unionville 21

Downingtown East at Downingtown West

The Battle Of Brandywine pits the undefeated Cougars against a one-loss West team still reeling from the loss of star quarterback Will Howard, who broke his wrist in the Whippets’ 42-14 loss to Coatesville last week. Downingtown East has won the last four meetings, so the Whippets are hungry. Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta knows, even without Howard, the Whippets will be a handful.

“This is the biggest game of the year for our kids every year,” Matta said. “And West will not be able to do some things they would be able to do with Howard but they are not going to roll over. They are going to come after us and we are going to have to be ready. They have some very good players over there.”

Before Howard’s injury I liked the Whippets, but now I will go with the Cougars in a close one.

Pick: Downingtown East 28, Downingtown West 17

Avon Grove at Bishop Shanahan

Two teams coming off losses and both squads are fighting for their respective playoff lives. Avon Grove has the bigger front line while the Eagles seem to have the edge in skill players.

Pick: Avon Grove 21, Bishop Shanahan 14

Coatesville at West Chester East

West Chester East is my pick as the most improved team in the Ches-Mont, but Coatesville just plays on a different level than any other Ches-Mont League team. The Red Raiders sacked Downingtown West quarterback Will Howard four times and had the Whippets signal caller running for his life the entire game. Look for another big game from Coatesville quarterback Ricky Ortega, who has thrown 19 touchdown passes so far this season.

Pick: Coatesville 42, West Chester East 14

West Chester Henderson at Kennett

Kennett is vastly improved under first-year head coach Lance Frazier and the Blue Demons just got nipped by defending American champion Unionville, 10-7, last week. Kennett quarterback Sam Forte has a good arm and Mitch Kosara is a threat at the wide receiver position.

Pick: Kennett 28, West Chester Henderson 20

Great Valley at Oxford

Great Valley broke its five game losing streak with a 49-41 win over Sun Valley last week. Patriot quarterback Jake Prevost threw for 376 yards and Josh Burgess caught 11 balls on the night. Both teams desperately need this game to qualify for the 5A playoffs.

Pick: Great Valley 34, Oxford 31

Conestoga at Harriton

A battle of the cellar dwellers in the Central League, but Conestoga should be able to move the football against a very porous Rams defense. Conestoga picks up its second win of the season.

Pick: Conestoga 31, Harriton 14

Malvern Prep at Penn Charter

Malvern Prep cruised to a 35-7 win over Avon Grove last week in a game the Friars led, 35-0, at halftime. Malvern Prep opens up its defense of the Inter-Academic League title and the host Quakers just do not have the players to match the likes of Lonnie White, Drew Gunther and Quincy Watson.

Pick: Malvern Prep 35, Penn Charter 21

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