Free spirit Healy to guide Downingtown East’s ofeense

DOWNINGTOWN >> He used to be the kid that got the obvious, almost cliche, comparisons to X-Games star, Shawn White.
But before a family wedding in the offseason, Saunders Healy got the ultimatum from mom that those flowing red locks must go. Now, with his helmet covering what used to be his calling card, Healy is out to be known for his play on the field, of course with his own flair.
As the 2015 season opens today, Downingtown East begins its quest to return to the top of the Ches-Mont National Division and beyond. With the expectations high, the Cougars have the star power, with Cary Angeline, and the high standards held by coach Mike Matta. How far East can go may very well come down to its senior quarterback, and Healy’s disposition and skill set could be just what the Cougars need.
“Every quarterback brings his own personality to the offense, and (Healy) is a free-flowing, running kind of guy,” Matta said. “He makes plays with his legs and his arm, but his biggest strengths are his poise and his competitive zeal.”
“He’s laid-back and with his long hair, he’s kind of a cool guy. He’s a big jokester and a prankster, but people miss the key ingredient and that’s that he’s very competitive and he wants to win.”
East has had its fair share of athletic quarterbacks with Pat Devlin and Trey and Kyle Lauletta. Healy is a different kind of wildcard in that he hardly has a book on him yet and he has that ad-lib playmaking ability with his feet.
“Definitely having (Devlin and Trey Lauletta) there at camp helped me with reads,” Healy said. “There’s been so many good quarterbacks here that there’s big shoes to fill, but that makes me work hard to be the next big name to come through.”
Whether it be by personnel decisions or scheme shifts, the National Division will be full of quarterbacks fleet of foot this fall. Coatesville’s Jordan Young and West Chester East’s Jon Jon Roberts are throw-first QBs with the ability to run, while West Chester Henderson’s Matt Dinacci mans the option offense. Downingtown West will ride Thomas Mattioni, who played receiver the past two seasons and makes the Whippets even harder to prepare for.
As vulnerable as Angeline already makes opposing defenses feel, adding Healy, a Division 1 lacrosse commit to Towson University, to the mix could be a whole other challenge.
“Saunders is so dynamic,” Angeline said. “He’s a great athlete with an amazing arm and he’s real fast. He gives us another element at quarterback this year. I think he opens things up for everyone.”
Healy missed the first seven games in 2014 with a broken foot. He ended up with 26 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown, while going 8-for-12 for 41 yards passing. It was hardly anything to catch anyone’s attention, but a play against Quakertown in the second round of the playoffs last fall did just that. Healy took a QB draw off the left tackle, stuck his foot in the ground and burst past defenders for a 26-yard gain, giving Matta enough to feel good about moving forward.
“I don’t know if I’d be as confident if we didn’t see something from (Healy) last year under pressure,” Matta said. “The other thing is, I’ve know him since he was in third grade and my son (Pat) has been playing with him since then and Cary since fifth grade, so I know these seniors really well. I’ve know a lot of these kids since they were little kids, so I know the group well and that gives me a little more of a comfort level.”
Angeline, who of course is on his way to the University of Southern California next fall, will be the focal point of every opposing game plan. With East’s power running game not going anywhere, Healy and running back Jack Kincade are going to have their opportunities. Healy is thrilled to have a receiver in Angeline that “is pretty much always open.”
While the pressure could easily mount with such lofty goals, Angeline is grateful for the kind of leader Healy is.
“Saunders is my boy and he’s one of the funniest, most laid-back kids,” Angeline said. “He’s a character. It’s kinda funny, he eases out the coaches a little bit.”
The first-year starter is confident his new status won’t change his mindset.
“When I’m with my friends obviously I’m joking a lot and I’m pretty laid-back,” Healy said. “I stay pretty calm on the field, but I’m still urgent in my head and when it comes to leading and getting urgent in high-pressure times I can rally the team up.”
The third and final of the Lauletta brother, Bryce, is on the roster now as a sophomore. And while Bryce is the heir apparent to follow in his brothers’ footsteps, Healy is expected to be anything but a placeholder.
Rather, he might just be a trendsetter.

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