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PIAA 6A state semifinal notebook: Memorable ride for D-West seniors

Caln >> A few minutes after Downingtown West’s 65-44 loss to Central Dauphin in the PIAA 6A state football semifinal Friday evening at Coatesville High School, several key Whippet seniors reflected on their memorable 2019 campaign.
Downingtown West senior quarterback Will Howard, who completed his first nine passes Friday evening and threw for 185 yards in the first half against Central Dauphin, said, “It’s been a helluva ride this season; these dudes are my brothers for life. I wouldn’t exchange this ride for anything else. It’s been a lot of fun, and I feel like our senior class has set a standard for years to come, and hopefully Julian [junior Julian Williams] and these other guys will set a standard and carry on the tradition.”
Whippet senior back Tyriq Lewis, who ran for two touchdowns Friday and broke off a 65-yard kickoff return to set up another six-pointer, said, “It’s been quite a ride, quite a ride, coming to work every day with the guys in our group. It’s been a helluva ride with everybody – our players, our coaches, our booster club and our families – and I can’t thank the Downingtown community enough for supporting us through it all.”
At this point, Lewis choked back a few tears, then added, “This season was something special. [Our senior class] knew we had it in us; we knew that it was just a matter of time, and I think we proved this season that we were something special.”
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District 3 champion Central Dauphin allowed only 12 points per game coming into the PIAA 6A state semifinal, but Friday’s contest turned out to be a different matter.
“Downingtown West has a fantastic offense; they can run, they can throw, and they were hard to stop tonight,” said Ram head coach Glen McNamee. “They have a lot of versatile skill players who can do a lot of things. Their coaches take advantage of that, and that makes them very multiple and very difficult to deal with.
“In the second half, against a great quarterback like [Will Howard] we knew we needed to get pressure. To [West’s] credit, they protected well and had some well-designed plays, but eventually we were able to get that pressure and create some confusion, and got those turnovers [two interceptions] in the third quarter, which was absolutely huge.
“We really wanted to win up front in the trenches. At the end of the day, football has evolved a lot and people can do a whole lot of stuff on offense and defense, but you know what? Winning in the trenches is as important as it’s ever been.
“Give credit to West’s special teams – they set themselves up very nicely with some big kick returns – Julian Williams has been doing it all year, and if you look at his big returns, they’ve been very timely, they’ve come when the team needs to come back. And he did it again tonight.”
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Whippet junior wide receiver/defensive back Julian Williams scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass in the first half, and was a second-half thorn in Central Dauphin’s side on second-half kickoff returns. Unlike Howard and Lewis, Williams will be returning next fall, but it didn’t make Friday’s defeat any less painful for him.
“We put a lot into this season,” said an emotional Williams after the game. “Our senior class is special, they have a bunch of great players, and we’ve been working together all season for this moment, and it really [hurts] to fall short.”
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Even though Central Dauphin held a four-touchdown lead midway through the fourth quarter, some D-West fans stayed to the very end of the contest. Emma Hess, a captain on the Downingtown West cheerleading squad, noted, “They [the players] stuck it out and put up a good fight tonight. It’s been a lot of fun cheering for this team – they’ve had such a good season.”
Several former Downingtown West football players watched the game from the Whippet sidelines to cheer on their former team. Nicholas Entress, a former Whippet fullback (Class of 2017), standing in a knot of former D-West gridders that included David Jorgensen (Class of 2017, tight end), Kenny Costello (Class of 2017, running back/cornerback) and Ryan Hammond (Class of 2019, defensive tackle), watched the Whippets take the field for pre-game warmups and noted, “These kids are really hungry – they want it tonight.”
The contest also drew some Coatesville High School fans, among them John Mattson, who said, “I haven’t missed a football game at Coatesville since the late 1980s.”

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