Plenty to be decided before postseason
With 4 weeks until playoffs, plenty to be decided in Chesco
September football has come and gone, and thanks to the earlier season start, there is now a four-week sprint to the postseason in October.
In the last unofficial District 1 playoff rankings, nine Ches-Mont League teams were “in” the 16team brackets for Class 6A and Class 5A, seven of which were in 5A. Some friendly fire will likely eliminate a couple, and it will be interesting to see if perennial playoff teams having a down year — Downingtown West and West Chester Rustin — can continue to play spoiler and even make a run.
As a reminder, with the new classifications, Class 6A and 5A qualify 16 teams to the postseason, while the 4A bracket will have four teams.
There is a lot that can happen in the next four weeks, but it appears the unofficial National Division championship game will happen Friday between Downingtown East (2-0 division, 5-1 overall) and Coatesville (3-0, 5-1).
The Cougars lost a lot on offense to graduation, and while they have been efficient with their ramrod style, the defense
has been its typical stingy self. The defensive unit has given up just six touchdowns this season and 17 points combined in the last four games.
Junior quarterback Bryce Lauletta has improved after a challenging nonleague schedule, and Ethan Harris has become one of the most dynamic playmakers in the area from the wide receiver position.
Coatesville is young, but loaded with talent. Sophomore running back Aaron Young is the biggest star of the league thus far, averaging 10.5 yards a carry for an area-leading 757 yards, and he’s scored nine of his 15 rushing touchdowns in the last two weeks.
The running game and short passing attack has allowed freshman quarterback Ricky Ortega transition into his role of making quick decisions and getting the ball to his talented athletes in space.
Bishop Shanahan (2-1, 5-1) was flying high, breezing through its nonleague slate and first two National Division foes before Downingtown West humbled the Eagles Friday with a 34-7 defeat.
Nick Skulski, the only returning starter at QB in the National this season, has paired with Brendan Dearing to be one of the more potent duos in the league. The Eagles look to have a good shot at a firstround home game in the Class 5A playoffs, but backto-back games against Downingtown East and Coatesville will add to a tougher second half.
Coming into the West game, Shanahan was giving up barely over a touchdown a game, and that, mixed with a diverse offense, could serve the Eagles well in the 5A playoffs.
West Chester Henderson (0-3, 3-3) got off to a 3-0 start, but has lost the last three. The Warriors have a manageable path to the playoffs with Avon Grove, West, Great Valley and West Chester East, as winning three of four would almost guarantee a playoff spot.
CJ Preston is having his best year as a runner, and Ryan Brida is part of the Warriors’ defense that always seems to get the max out of its talent.
West Chester East (12, 3-3) celebrated a milestone win over West Chester Rustin earlier in the North Penn’s Justis Henley pulls in a pass ahead of Downingtown East’s Chris Day. season, and has been led by its defense for a change. Jared Cooper has continued his progression as a top back in the area with 484 yards this season. The Downingtowns and Henderson stand in the way of the Vikings’ first trip to the postseason since 2006.
West (1-1, 2-4) played a brutal nonleague schedule and started off 0-3. The Whippets gave up 179 points, defensively, in the first five games before holding Shanahan to seven.
If QB Kyle Geiser and running back Mike Riddick are both healthy, the Whippets are a dangerous team, and getting to 5-4 with West Chester East, Henderson and Avon Grove the next three weeks is not out of the question. Doing so might set up a win-and-you’rein scenario against the crosstown Cougars, in a rivalry where the records mean little.
Avon Grove is 3-3, but in the 6A standings, reaching the playoffs will be tough, especially with Henderson, Coatesville, West and Shanahan remaining.
The American Division is bewildering this fall.
Unionville (2-0, 3-3) is the lone undefeated team in divisional play, but 3-3 overall. The Indians have scored just 65 points offensively this season, and receiver Joe Zubillaga has had to fill in at QB due to injuries.
In Unionville’s losses to Spring-Ford, Academy Park and Downingtown East, it’s given up 84 combined points. While the three wins have all been Unionville shutouts.
Unionville hosts Great Valley Friday in a contest that will likely be the biggest remaining game in the division. If the Indians can manage a win, they’d be the frontrunners to win the division for the second straight year.
Great Valley (2-1, 4-2) has some of the best skill
in the area with QB Rob Geiss, running back Mark DeRobertis and receiver Ryan Hubley. The Patriots’ achilles heel is matching up with physical foes.
Against Glen Mills, the Pats gave up 350 rushing yards, and this past Friday, West Chester Rustin continued its dominance over Great Valley with a 31-27 win.
In coach Dan Ellis’ offense, the skilled trio will continue to put up big numbers and score, but the Pats’ chances of winning a league title and having success in the postseason will be tied to how physical they can play against the better teams.
The Rustin loss typically wouldn’t have been a surprise if Rustin was having a typical year. The Golden Knights have won their last two after losing their first four and are 2-4 for the first time since their inaugural year in 2006.
Rustin was puzzling in its first four games, unable to run the ball in its trademark style, adding up to just 32 points from its offense in that stretch. In the last two, the Golden Knights have put up 64 points, with Joe Dougherty taking over at QB and Brandon Frazier stepping in as the lead running back.
The Golden Knights will be rooting for Great Valley Friday for a chance at a three-way tie for the American Division title, but will have to get by Kennett, Octorara and 5-1 Sun Valley first. In Week 10, Rustin hosts Coatesville in a game that will have major playoff implications for both.
The rest of the American has had its moments but appears a few steps behind the top three. Sun Valley is 5-1 overall, but got torched, 45-21, by Great Valley.
Kennett running back Myles Robinson, QB Jake Dilcher and tight end Kerry Tomasetti are the Blue Demons’ best collection of skill in the last few years, but Kennett just doesn’t have enough size and strength to hang with the big boys, and is 3-3.
Oxford is 1-5, but had second-half leads against Henderson and Sun Valley.
Octorara, the lone 4A school in the league, is 1-5, but might have to win out against Sun Valley, Rustin, Unionville and Oxford to be in the top four for the playoffs.
Great Vallley quarterback Rob Geiss connects to Ryan Hubley for a touchdown in the third quarter at Sun Valley on Sept. 23. Great Valley won by a score of 45-21.
Coatesville’s Aaron Young and the Red Raiders are rolling, especially on offense.