A look at the 20 years of Downingtown East/West; All-East/All-West teams

It has been 20 seasons since the Downingtown school district split its high school into two, forming Downingtown East and Downingtown West.

The big move in 2003 broke up one of the biggest high schools in District 1, as well as one of the strongest football programs in the area. While many disliked the decision, one of the silver linings was doubling the opportunity for athletes to see the field. 

Sure, the days of being a powerhouse like those Whippets from the 1990s have not returned, but the two programs have given Downingtown, a football-proud community, something to appreciate.

Only three times has Downingtown not been represented in the district playoffs — 2003, 2004 and COVID-shortened 2020. Nine of the previous 19 seasons both East and West qualified for the playoffs.

Downingtown East’s Connor Noble and Downingtown West’s Alex Rosano. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

The Cougars have had the more consistent success, as they head to their 16th postseason in 20 seasons. East has an overall record of 162-63-1, while going 15-15 in the playoffs. The Cougars reached one district final, losing to North Penn in 2005, and have been knocked out by the eventual district champ in six of 15 trips.

The Whippets have had a couple more dips, but have also reached a higher ceiling. West is 141-75-1, overall, but is 13-10 in the playoffs. That winning record was buoyed by the Whippets’ run in 2019, when they defeated Coatesville for the District 1-6A title.

Maybe more impressive than anything, and also the biggest reason for the sustained success, East and West have only had one head coach, with Mike Matta leading the Cougars and Mike Milano guiding the Whippets. 

Downingtown East’s Stanley Bryant and Downingtown West’s Sean Pelkisson. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

When the Cougars and Whippets meet up in their shared venue, Kottmeyer Stadium, it’s affectionately called The Battle of the Brandywine. 

The game is a must-see event for the community, but with bragging rights up for grabs, it’s as highly-contested a battle as one will see.

East and West will meet up for the 19th time, Friday at 7 p.m. The only time they did not play was in 2007, when the game was cancelled after Downingtown East senior, Mohammadreza Daneshpooy was killed in a car accident the weekend prior to their game.

The Cougars have won 11 of the 18 head-to-heads. There have been some dandies, as well. The rivalry started with a 13-10 win by West, on the back of two rushing touchdowns by Brett Owens.

After West won the first, Pat Devlin established East as a force, winning two in a row, before West earned a win in 2006.

The 2009 game, otherwise known as the “Tommy Woodward game,” was highlighted by four interceptions by Woodward, one for a touchdown, to give West a 26-14 win. East, West and Avon Grove shared the Ches-Mont National Division title that year.

A view of the 2008 game that was suspended due to inclement weather. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

East won the next three, including the 2012 game that was suspended for 40 minutes due to lightning.

In 2013, West used a two-point conversion with two minutes left to garner a 29-28 victory.

The Cougars put together another four-game win streak from 2014-2017, with the biggest Battle of the Brandywine in the midst of it. In 2015, both teams entered week 10 with 9-0 records. When the dust settled, Cary Angeline led East to a 21-14 win, but the spectacle was the climax of the season, as West lost in the first round of the playoffs and East in the second.

Downingtown East’s Cary Angeline. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

West finally got its big name quarterback, but in 2018, Will Howard was out with an injury. In stepped Ryan Wetzel, who guided the Whippets to a surprising 28-7 win and run to the district semifinals.
It would be a preamble of what was to come, when Howard returned in 2019 and propelled West to a 63-35 win in the highest-scoring contest in the series.

Downingtown West’s Ryan Wetzel (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

East has won the last two, using a last-minute TD from Jamy Jenkins to Louis Rossetti to win 35-28.

There have been some incredible talent to come out of the home locker room at Kottmeyer, so here’s a try at the “All-East” and “All-West” teams from the first two decades:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply