Coatesville, Henderson gear up for big tests
Coatesville, Henderson set for district semis against top-ranked opponents
There are only two local scholastic football teams still alive in their respective district playoffs as this weekend saw four area teams go down to defeat, all on the road. Only West Chester Henderson (5A) and Coatesville — the only area team with a home game — survived the weekend.
The two winning teams did it their way. The West Chester Henderson win over Upper Dublin was a typical Warrior win. The Warrior defense won the skirmish at the line of scrimmage while special teams stole the show late to seal the Warrior victory.
Kavond Jones broke through the Upper Dublin line and blocked a punt in the fourth to give Henderson the football at the Upper Dublin 20-yard-line. Then, Bryce McEhliney drilled the winning field goal and the Warriors have another road playoff win to add to their long list over the years. Junior running back C.J. Preston had another big night as the Warrior star rushed for 136 yards on 22 carries. Henderson is a tough as nails, gritty bunch and they have a big shot to upend the top seed in 5A, Springfield (Delco)
this Friday. The road is not an intimidating place for the Henderson Warriors.
The Coatesville win over Ridley showed how much talent and quick strike ability the Red raiders posses. When Aaron young gains 240 yards on the ground and is not the big story of the night, then you know something is brewing, something special in Coatesville.
Freshman quarterback Ricky Ortega stole the show as he scored three rushing touchdowns and threw for two more scores. It is not a surprise anymore to see Ortega do these things. The surprise is that this is his first year playing at the varsity level and he makes things look so easy. Ridley did not lay a hand on him on any of his three touchdown runs. And why Ridley chose to single cover Avery Young is a still a mystery to me, but the Green Raiders found out what real speed can do to a defense.
Now, the Red Raiders must make the trip most Ches-Mont League teams dread. The long trip up the turnpike to take on head coach Dick Beck and the top seeded Knights of North Penn. It usually does not end well for the various Ches-Mont League schools when they play North Penn in November as Avon Grove, Downingtown East and Downingtown West teams of the recent past can attest.
North Penn has never lost a playoff game at Crawford Stadium where it is still grass and dirt, with a little mud and ice thrown in. But, this Coatesville team is too young, too brash and too talented to worry about all those things. This Coatesville team has speed, confidence, ability and just enough swagger to pull this off and advance to the District 1 6A title game against either Garnet Valley or the Steven Sturm led Perkiomen Valley Vikings. A lot of people said the Red Raiders were a year away because of their youth. Maybe their youth is a benefit. The Red raiders, especially Ortega, have no fear and that is dangerous.
With West Chester East, Great Valley, Bishop Shanahan and Downingtown East all going down to defeat this weekend to end their respective seasons, a look at the teams may give an answer as to why their seasons ended so soon.
Great Valley ran into a very tough defensive team in Sprinfield (Delco) and when quarterback Robert Geiss left the game with an injury, that was basically it for the Patriots. Bishop Shanahan went into Academy Park and battled for 48 minutes but the speed of the home team won out in the end. Nonetheless, Eagles quarterback Nick Skulski had a great year as he almost willed the eagles into the semifinal round.
Downingtown East is not a team that can score quickly and although the Cougars can pressure a quarterback, Sturm and receiver Justin Jaworski were just too much for the slower-footed Cougars. But, another quarterfinal playoff run for East under head coach Mike Matta. West Chester East had the most heartbreaking loss of the weekend as a blocked point after conversion dropped the Vikings by a single point in double overtime to Marple Newtown. Viking football is in good hands with head coach Dave Gueriera as the Vikings won a playoff game for the first time in 10 years.
Coatesville’s Ricky Ortega runs in a 24-yard touchdown during the first quarter of Friday night’s 41-21 win over Ridley.