Plenty to be de­cided be­fore post­sea­son

With 4 weeks un­til play­offs, plenty to be de­cided in Chesco

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Heck­en­berger nate­heck­en­berger@gmail.com @nheck­en­berger on Twit­ter

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.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Coatesville’s Aaron Young and the Red Raiders are rolling, es­pe­cially on of­fense.

BOB RAINES--DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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