Explosive offense led by Hunt, Worley take Red Raiders to first district title since 1992
By Kyle Carrozza, Staff Writer, The Times
DOWNINGTOWN – Often, football can be a game of two halves. Two teams can start a game going blow for blow, matching each other’s touchdowns and staying relatively even for one half, only for a team to seize momentum, score, and dominate the second on the way to victory.
Such was the case in Coatesville’s Friday night win over Spring-Ford for the AAAA District 1 Championship in Downingtown.
Alternating scores in the first half of the game saw Spring-Ford’s offense keep their team within one or two touchdowns. But Coatesville’s 24-0 second half run propelled the Red Raiders to a 59-28 victory and their first District 1 title since 1992.
Two early scores gave the Red Raiders the lead in the first quarter. After stopping Spring-Ford’s opening drive, a quick slant from senior quarterback Emmett Hunt to senior wide receiver Dre Boggs put Coatesville up a touchdown, and junior defensive back Devonte Suber returned a fumble to make it two midway through the first quarter.
Just when it seemed that Coatesville would have another business-as-usual domination on their hands, Spring-Ford’s Tate Carter returned the following kickoff all the way to keep his team in the game.
The touchdown seemed like a reality check for the Red Raiders, but Hunt, the team’s leader all year, made sure his guys did not deflate.
“I went down the sideline and patted the guys on the back, and said, ‘Don’t worry; we got this,’” said Hunt.
Hunt backed his words up with his play. A 46-yard carry from junior running back Daquan Worley put Coatesville into Spring-Ford territory, and Hunt punched in a 1-yard keeper to cap off the next drive.
The teams traded touchdowns for the rest of the half. Coatesville’s versatile offense led to their success, and Spring-Ford’s consistency completing short passes allowed them to make plays against the Red Raiders’ usually smothering defense.
A Spring-Ford touchdown as time ran out in the first quarter cut Coatesville’s lead to 21-14. The deadly combination of Hunt and senior wide receiver Chris Jones opened the gap back up to two touchdowns.
“It’s fun getting the ball into somebody’s hands and watching them make plays,” said Hunt, who completed 13 of 18 with four touchdown passes.
Yet again, Spring-Ford answered. Their passing game plus penalties from Coatesville allowed the Rams to string together a 13-play drive to make it a one touchdown game with 4:19 left in the half.
But Coatesville’s next two drives, one at the end of the first half and one at the beginning of the second, allowed the Red Raiders to take control of the game.
“We saw on film that they play a lot of man coverage; I love it when teams play man and we can go out and make plays,” said Jones.
Make plays, they did. A good kickoff return by Boggs gave the Coatesville the ball near midfield. Key third down catches from Jones and senior wide receiver Vinnie Williams allowed the Red Raiders to move the ball and bleed the clock. With nine seconds left, Jones beat his man across the middle to put his team up 35-21.
Coatesville has thrived in these late first half situations, scoring with less than a minute left in each of their last three games. This capability is a testament to the skill of the offense as well as the leadership of the quarterback.
“He’s in total control and keeps getting better each week,” said Coach Matt Ortega. “There’s not going to be a better player in the area for a long time.”
Coatesville’s receiving the second half kickoff meant they had an opportunity to break the back-and-forth pattern of the first two quarters. And they took full advantage.
A 21-yard pass to Boggs was followed up with a 51-yard run from Worley to make the score 42-21 just two plays into the second half. The touchdown was Worley’s first of two to go with his 179-yards for the game.
“Our offense keeps flowing and flowing,” said Ortega.
Adding to the momentum swing, junior defensive back Isaiah Flamer made an interception to stop Spring-Ford from answering. The turnover led to a 17-yard field goal by senior kicker Jon Bollenbach.
The 45-21 lead allowed Coatesville’s defense to focus on the pass more, and they were able to make stops against the Rams offense that kept them off balance earlier.
“We walked our backers out a bit,” Ortega said about his halftime adjustments. “We were worried about the run in the first half.”
Conversely, Coatesville’s lead allowed them to run the ball more in the second half, leading to an 11-yard touchdown by Worley near the end of the third quarter. After another stop by the defense and a short punt from Spring-Ford, Coatesville was able to run the ball deep into their opponents’ territory and scored another with Hunt and Jones hooking up on a 7-yard pass.
Spring-Ford went on to add another touchdown to make it 59-28, but with 3:48 left, the touchdown only served to make the score nearly identical to last year’s 60-28 Red Raider playoff victory over the Rams.
After a Coatesville season that started 2-2 coaches fist bumped and players hugged, celebrating their District Championship on the home ground of Downingtown East, the last team they lost to.
“We always have confidence; we believe we can score at will,” said Jones, who finished the game with over 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Hunt never thought of the Red Raiders as a two-loss team.
“We always looked at it as we were three yards away from being 4-0,” said Hunt, referring to how close their two losses were.
After the game, a visibly delighted Coach Ortega accepted congratulations and gave congratulations to his assistant coaches but stayed focused on the remaining games.
“This feels great—enjoy it,” he said to his team, “but we’re back to work on Monday.”
Coatesville will play the winner between Saturday’s Parkland/La Salle College matchup. The game is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. next Friday in Downingtown again.