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Comeback magic runs dry for Coatesville

DOWNINGTOWN—Throughout the postseason, Coatesville has gotten used to playing from behind. In every game, the Red Raiders fell behind early, only to turn things up a notch as the game wore on, and come away with a victory.

Friday night, it was déjà vu all over again, as some early miscues left Coatesville in a 21-0 hole to Downingtown West. But yet again, the Red Raiders stormed right back in it, cutting the Whippet lead to as little as a touchdown.

Unfortunately for the Coatesville faithful packing the visitor’s stands, that would be as close as Coatesville would get, and Downingtown West won the re-match, clinching a District 1, Class 6A title in the process.

Ricky Ortega celebrates following a touchdown pass (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

The defeat marks the final game of star quarterback Ricky Ortega’s high school career, and a remarkable run of success the likes of which are unmatched in the history of Coatesville football, with District championships, and deep state tournament runs along the way.

Ortega went out throwing haymakers, finishing the game with 348 yards through the air. Fittingly enough, the final two passes of Ortega’s career went for a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

It has been a family affair in Coatesville the past four years, with Ricky’s dad Matt prowling the sidelines as head coach.

“We battled through a lot of adversity this year, and kept pushing,” said the elder Ortega. “Downingtown West was the better team tonight, but that doesn’t change the fact that this was the best three years of Coatesville football in history.”

Matt Ortega (BillRudick for MediaNews Group)

Balancing the roles of coach and father can be tricky, but the Ortegas handled it as well as Ricky handled opposing secondaries.

“At the end of the day, I tried to coach him like he was any other player,” said Coach Ortega. “But tonight, I’m going to treat him like he’s my son.”

There were always three generations of Ortegas on the sidelines, as Matt’s father Richard could always be found, cheering on his son and grandson.

“It has been an amazing four years,” said Richard. “I can’t even being to tell you how much it has meant to me to get to watch the past four years.”

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