Downingtown East overpowers Avon Grove

WEST GROVE – In an age, and division, where the spread offense and zone blocking has almost become the norm, Downingtown East’s physical running game has an old-school feel to it.

With pulling guards, and sometimes tackles, on almost every running play, East challenges defenses to match its physicality. More times than not, the Cougars are dishing out the punishment.

Friday, against hosting Avon Grove, East used dominant stretch in the first half to spark a 44-6 Ches-Mont National Division win.

From late in the first quarter til midway through the second, the Cougars ran 21 plays for 172 yards and scored five times, all while holding the Red Devils to minus-10 yards on seven plays and two turnovers in that frame. The first four scores came on the ground, as East pounded and wore down Avon Grove.

“That’s who we are,’ East coach Mike Matta said. “We’re a physical football team and we like to run downhill. Our philosophy is work hard in the weight room and play physical football. Off-tackle power travels well. You can run it in the winter and the summer and whenever.’

The Red Devils (0-4 division, 0-7 overall) gave East (2-1, 5-2) trouble in the first quarter, forcing two punts and recovering a fumble. The Cougars, who were coming off a close loss Coatesville the week before in a game they felt slipped away, were able to find their way again when Jack Kincade scored the opening touchdown with 47 seconds left in the first.

“You have to give credit to (Avon Grove),’ Matta said. “They had a nice little scheme there in the beginning. I have to take my hat off to (Avon Grove coach) Harry (O’Neill) and his guys. They’re gonna be good. They’re doing things the right way and I appreciate how hard he works.’

But what has hindered the Red Devils all season struck once again in the second. Unable to sustain offensive drives, Avon Grove set the Cougars up with short fields. East’s average starting field position its first four drives of the second was the Avon Grove 24.

Kincade, Nik Aivado, Andrew Hudson and Keith Conner capitalized with scores for East, who jumped to a 34-0 lead at halftime.

“(East’s) first three touchdowns I don’t think they had to go more than 35 yards,’ O’Neill said. “Our guys played well the first quarter, as good as we’ve played offense and defense all year, but then we give up a 27-point second quarter.’

Kevin DiStefano had two sacks and a fumble recovery for East as they limited the National’s second leading rusher, Nate Jones, to just 35 yards in the first half.

“Once we came together and got going we were able to play Downingtown football,’ DiStefano said.

Caleb Fell and Tyler Buban intercepted passes for East, as the starters surrendered just over 100 total yards.

“We had them set up on the screen and Fells makes a great play,’ O’Neill said. “If we get it over him, Nate (Jones) might score. I saw (Fells) do it against West Chester East and I should’ve went to the other way. He’s really good.’

East likely needs two more wins to clinch a playoff spot, and a trip to Bishop Shanahan next Saturday starts the critical final stretch.


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