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Downingtown East uses usual recipe to get out to 7-1 start

The big game in the area this week pits undefeated Coatesville visiting Kottmeyer Stadium to take on a 7-1 Downingtown East squad.

The Cougars’ only loss came back in week two when they dropped a 32-31 decision to State College. Downingtown East played that game without starting senior quarterback Jamy Jenkins, who missed three games with a fractured wrist, and still cannot take snaps from under center.

Downingtown East is always one of the top teams in District 1. This season is no different as the Cougars are currently sitting in the No. 7 spot in the 6A bracket of the District 1 playoff standings.

It is the usual prescription for East football. The Cougars have a very strong offensive line and they use it to send bruising back Bo Horvtah right at you. Throw in Owen Lammy and Mike Waite, who is tougher than a five dollar steak, and the Cougars’ rushers epitomize tough Downingtown football players.

You could say that basically for the entire East roster as they take its cue from head coach Mike Matta.

Matta has been the only head coach in the 21-year history of Cougars football and his imprint is on every bit of the program.
And fairly or unfairly, this squad will be judged on how they do against Coatesville tonight and arch rival Downingtown West next week. It’s a very tough end-of-season schedule for a squad that traditionally starts out very fast, but has trouble maintaining things in the latter stages of the season.

I have a feeling this version of East is different. They have a very talented quarterback in Jenkins and a receiving corps that might not be the fleetest in the Ches-Mont League, but is very dependable. They keep defenses honest and both Coatesville and Downingtown West likely will not be able to load the box against this version of the Cougars.

No matter the outcome of its next two games, something should be said for the prolonged consistency of Downingtown East football. They are constantly one of the best 6A teams in District 1 and always come to play. They usually do not beat themselves and they compete for the entire 48 minutes.

In high school football, there are degrees of how good certain seasons are because of graduation. And how good the 2022 Downingtown East squad is will be judged in two weeks after big games with the Red Raiders and Whippets, who are arguably two of the top three or four squads in District 1. Is this a special group of Cougars or not?

No matter the outcome of these two contests, the program should be praised for its continued excellence season after season and the way they approach each and every game.

Under the guidance of its head coach, Downingtown East never overlooks any opponent and is never afraid to take on the best teams in the state during the nonleague portion of its schedule. People joke that Matta would play NFL teams if he could not find a high school team to play.

So, with East currently sitting at 7-1, the jury is still out. The worst the Cougars can be is 7-3 for the regular season if they drop the next two games.

People have been spoiled enough that a possible 7-3 record will not be good enough. and it certainly will not be for Matta, who has brought the program to the point where a 7-3 season is not good enough. That is the lofty standard Downingtown East football has reached.

It has been done by a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. I don’t know what the next two weeks will bring, but rest assured that win or lose, the Cougars are still one of the top teams in the district and will be a tough out come district playoff time.

No one can ever take them lightly, the Cougars are every opponent’s big game during the season. We will find out how big in the next two weeks. Excellence has its advantages and drawbacks, it might not be fair to be down on a team that finishes the regular season at a possible 7-3.

But, Matta and the Cougars would not have it any other way. They do not run from challenges, they embrace them. It has always been that way at Downingtown East and as long as Matta is in charge, it always will be the way. Continued excellence will do that, and that is where the program is at, season after season.

Peter DiGiovanni covers football for the Daily Local News. He can be reached at Follow him at PeteDLN on Twitter.

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