Whippets outlast Blue Demons
KENNETT SQUARE >> The Downingtown West football squad needed a win – any win -- in the worst way on Friday at Kennett. And the Whippets got it done, 38-20, even though several key players, including their starting quarterback, went down with injuries along the way.
Dropping the season’s first three games would make anybody a little desperate, and West simply isn’t used to having to wait until week four to notch its initial victory. And with ChesMont National rival Coatesville up next, the Whippets could not have picked a better week to build a little momentum.
“When things aren’t going well,
everybody doubts everything,” said Downingtown West head coach Mike Milano. “You doubt scheme, you doubt the guys next you, and you doubt your coaches. So it’s good to get rid of some of that doubt and get better.”
The Whippets (1-3 overall) raced out to a 25-point halftime lead, thanks to an electrifying 90-yard kickoff return by senior Cole Zapf, and the defense held the host Blue Demons to 1-for-5 on fourth downs. With senior runner Michael Riddick leading the way, the West offense rolled up 219 rushing yards and ran it in for four touchdowns.
“It may sound corny, but we just said to keep on grinding,” Milano said. “This wasn’t a (Ches-Mont) National game, but we treated this like a playoff game. Next week everything counts.
“I’m happy for my kids. We gave two games away earlier this season and made enough mistakes to beat ourselves, and then we lost to a really good Neshaminy team.”
All of those lingering doubts could have taken hold, especially after starting quarterback Kyle Geiser was knocked out of the game midway through the first half with an injury. But in came junior Mitchell Micale -- who Milano called: “our little J.V. kid,” – and he wound up completing his only two passes for 21 yards, and added 55 more yards on the ground.
“I am especially happy for Mitchell Macale,” Milano said. “He stepped up.
“On his second or third snap, we were third and 18 near midfield, and we wondered if we should just run it and get off the field, or trust him. Well, we trusted him and he read a play out – option one, option two, option three – and pulled it down and ran it for 33-yards. It was a bigbig play.”
The bounce-back win was also impressive because it came against a game Kennett squad that has obviously shown improvement so far this season. In fact, the Blue Demons outgained West 364267.
“We have some bright spots, but we are touchand-go here and there,” said Kennett head coach Doug Langley.
“West is a tough team, and we knew that. We just wanted to make sure we came in and put a good foot forward – and I think we did.”
With junior quarterback Jake Dilcher accounting for 273 yards of total offense, the Demons (2-2 overall) were not an easy out, although Kennett did score a pair of touchdowns in the final three minutes of play that may have padded the statistics a bit.
Langley liked the way his team finished the game. Milano, however, wasn’t thrilled with the ending.
“I’ve got my J.V. in and they kept their varsity out there,” Milano said. “There is a proper way to surrender, and you don’t do it with ones against twos, and onside kicks, and trying to look great at the end.
“But I’m OK with it. My young kids got on the field and got some experience.”
The play of the game came on the last play of the first quarter. The Blue Demons had just scored to pull within 10-6, but Zapf took the ensuing kickoff the distance to immediately change the complexion of the game.
“That was a deflator right there,” Langley said.
“Anytime you get a big special team’s play like that it’s huge. In any football game at any level, those are big plays,” added Milano.
“Kennett had just scored, so it was a big momentum-changer,” Zapf said about the first special teams touchdown of his career. “Everybody started to get excited and we started making plays.”
Soon thereafter, a big fourth down defensive stop near midfield by the Whippets Evan Richard gave the West offense a short field. And Riddick eventually ran it in for his second of three first half touchdowns, and suddenly the Whippets were in command 24-6.
“We came out a little flat, but that kick return got everybody going. It gave us energy,” said Riddick, who finished with 93 tough yards on 23 carries.
On its next possession, Kennett failed to convert on fourth down once again, and that led to another Riddick scoring run, and a 31-6 halftime lead. Riddick also found the end zone from seven yards out to cap the game’s opening drive.
Myles Robinson accounted for 37 yards in the Demons only scoring march of the first half, and the senior runner scored on a three-yard run. But the PAT was blocked. Kennett also fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, which led to a 42-yard field goal by Massimo Biscardi.
“We are still trying to improve on the mental side of it,” Langley said. “To make sure we understand how hard we need to practice and then carry that though the week into Friday.”
Robinson wound up with 91 yards on 17 carries, and receiver Kerry Tomasetti added four catches for 62 yards and a TD.
It didn’t take very long after the contest for West’s attention to turn to Coatesville.
“We struggled for three weeks and coach kept saying, ‘you are beating yourselves,’” Riddick said. “Tonight we had dudes step up, like Mitchell Macale. It feels good.
“Now we get a chance to prove to the rest in the Ches-Mont that we are still a good team.”