TWO-A-DAYS: Downingtown East ready to rely on running game, big bodies up front, for success

UWCHLAN >> Since the inception of the Downingtown East football program back in 2001, Cougar head coach Mike Matta’s squad has consistently been one of the strongest in District 1.

Downingtown East quarterback Brendan Littlepage runs through a play Tuesday. (PETE BANNAN – MNG)

Downingtown East has long prided itself on its offseason weight room commitment. When a team tangles with the Cougars, it must be ready for a tough physical battle up front, and better be able to stop the vaunted Cougar running game. Oh, and it helps to run the football effectively on the other side, as well, if you want to have a chance against East.

This 2020 edition of the Downingtown East football team is no different. A big, strong offensive line, a bevy of tough running backs that usually run between the tackles, and a beefed up and fired up defense, are all trademarks of Cougar football under Matta.

East is coming off a season where it shared the Ches-Mont League National Division title with Downingtown West and Coatesville, and advanced to the second round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs before bowing out to Haverford. This year, the expectations are still quite high, and Matta talked about some things he likes about this edition of the Cougars.

“We have had a lot of good offensive lines and this one has a chance to be one of the better ones we have had around here,” Matta said. “They are big and strong and right now they look good. We also have quite a few guys who can run the football. We have Stanley Bryant and Josh Asante is coming back from injury and we have some young guys we think we can count on. We feel we have a lot of depth at the running back position and we will try to move the football on the ground a lot.”

Bryant is a tough, slashing runner who rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season, and is also one of the better linebackers in District 1. Bryant can hit the holes quickly and he also can skirt the ends of opposing defenses. Asante has great speed, and the usual tough Downingtown East running attack should be primed for another very good season.

Downingtown East football players warm up Tuesday. (PETE BANNAN – MNG)

Two big pegs for the Cougars on the offensive line opening up those running lanes are senior Caelan Krasley, who stands at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, and is one of the best linemen in the area. Junior George Bousum also will anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and Matta has high hopes for both of them.

Bryant will anchor the Cougars’ linebacking corps and the Downingtown East senior is a ferocious hitter and has good speed he uses to cover running backs coming out of the opposing backfield.

The Downingtown East secondary has some new faces, but one returning member of the Cougar defensive backfield is Cannon Lucas-Murphy, who is a very good cover man. Kevin Fagan is coming back from injury and he will be counted on by Matta in the Cougar secondary.

One position that is still up for grabs for the Cougars is quarterback. Senior Brendan Littlepage and sophomore Jamy Jenkins are in a battle to be the Cougars’ signal caller. Littlepage will also start at safety in the Downingtown East secondary.

So, the hopes are high once again at Downingtown East, and with good reason.

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