The dream ends: Coatesville falls in state title game

Powerhouse North Allegheny dominates, 63-28, snaps Raiders’ 11-game win streak

By Kyle Carrozza, Staff Writer, The Times

Dejected seniors Chris Jones, Dre Boggs and Emmett Hunt express heartbreak in the closing minutes of Saturday’s PIAA AAAA state championship game at Hersheypark Stadium. Although the Red Raidres lost, they became the first team in school history to win the Eastern Pennsylvania title.

HERSHEY – Good teams make mistakes. Athletes are, after all, part of this very fallible species known as human. Sometimes, the team finds a way to overcome, or the team wins anyway, making the mistakes seem less significant, marginal in the grand scheme. Other times, as in Coatesville’s loss to North Allegheny Saturday night’s state final, mistakes are magnified; they seem more important given the importance of the game.

Keeping this in mind, fans, students, and players should remember that Saturday night was just one game; regardless of importance or outcome, one game does not define a season.

Saturday night’s 63-28 defeat in Hersheypark Stadium leaves Coatesville with a 13-3 final record. In a season that started 2-2, the Red Raiders won 11 in a row, produced one of the most feared offenses in the state, and to the surprise of many analysts, made their first trip to a state championship matchup. Finishing runner up out of 146 AAAA teams in the state — and as the Eastern Pennsylvania AAAA champion — Coatesville has much to be proud of this year.

After dominating most of their games from the beginning, the Red Raiders found themselves on the wrong end of early touchdowns Saturday night. Behind a strong offensive line and a play where the quarterback — senior Matt Leftwich — had the option of throwing the ball to the flats or running it himself, North Allegheny scored on the game’s opening drive.

Coatesville quarterback Emmett Hunt powers in for a score; even though down early, the Red Raiders fought back.

“They were one of the best offensive lines we’ve faced all year,” said junior linebacker Tyler Burke.

Coatesville looked like it would answer, driving the ball down to the Tigers’ 20 when they had the ball, but two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns put North Allegheny up 21-0 just over eight minutes into the game. While turnovers are never good for an offense, both fumbles were the results of players — Dre Boggs and Emmett Hunt — trying to do too much, fighting intensely for every yard they could gain.

“The turnovers on offense in the first half put us behind,” said Coach Matt Ortega. “We can’t do that against a team like that.”

Throughout the night, North Allegheny kept the ball out of the hands of the Red Raiders’ dangerous return men, opting instead to squib or kick the ball out of bounds. However, the following kick, scooped up by junior Isaiah Flamer, allowed Coatesville to start on their opponents’ 6. A run by junior running back Daquan Worley and a sneak by senior quarterback Emmett Hunt gave Coatesville their first points of the night.

Still the Red Raiders could not come up with an answer for the Tigers’ powerful running game, allowing them to make the score 35-7 with 5:35 left in the second quarter.

But Worley was not ready to give up yet.

Coatesville’s Dre Boggs loses the handle on a first-quarter fumble that was returned for a North Allegheny score.

Lining up at his cornerback position, Worley ended North Allegheny’s late second quarter drive by forcing a fumble. A Coatesville recovery game them the ball at their own 11. On the following play, Worley lined up at running back and took the ball through the defense for an 89-yard touchdown run.

“Dylan Morgan, Mike Boykin, Daquan Worley, they’re all emotional leaders. They never give up and always try to make the next play,” said Ortega.

The run made it 35-14 going into the half. Coatesville was down three touchdowns but did not seem resigned to its fate.

Receiving the halftime kickoff, the Red Raiders looked to put themselves back into the game. Thanks to some good passing by Hunt and consistent runs by Worley, who finished with 159 yards, Coatesville was able to punch in another, allowing them to come within two touchdowns.

But that was as close as they would get.

North Allegheny’s power allowed it to run the ball and the clock throughout the second half. After they added another touchdown to make it 42-21, they forced yet another turnover, intercepting a screen pass, which seemed to take the little momentum Coatesville had left.

“We were battling the whole way, but the interception on the screen pass took the life out of the team,” said Ortega.

North Allegheny’s power could be seen on both sides of the ball. Their penetration throughout the game put more pressure on Hunt than he has seen all year. The Red Raiders’ dangerous passing game never got into the rhythm it has found against most other teams.

“The only way to control our offense is to dominate the front four and create pressure,” said Ortega.

Coatesville added another touchdown in the fourth quarter when senior wide receiver Dre Boggs beat his man to a jump ball for a 43-yard reception, but the game was already out of reach.

“We worked so hard and couldn’t get it done,” said Burke. Still, he was able to recognize the accomplishments of his team. “We can keep our heads high; we got further than any team before us.”

In a year where the team was written off early in the season, Coatesville did come a long way. Though they were not able to secure a win in their final game, 13 other victories, most of them by wide margins, suggest a very good team and a groundbreaking year for the Red Raiders.

“Be proud of yourselves, each other, the program, and the community,” Coach Ortega said to his team after the game.

The community certainly showed its pride in the team. What looked to be about 8,000 people made the hour-and-a-half trip to Hershey. Clad in black and red, they endured near-freezing temperatures to show their support. Maybe the team did not pull this one off, but their achievements go beyond the football field. Their cause united a city. Their teamwork defined community. Their accomplishments marked their place in the tradition known as Coatesville Pride.

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