By PETER DiGIOVANNI
Week six is here and that means that half of the regular season is over for area football squads. Among the more interesting games tonight includes key Central League and Ches-Mont League matchups and a tough trip to Delaware for Downingtown East as they take on a very solid St. Mark’s team.
First up is undefeated (5-0) West Chester Henderson as they invade Kottmeyer Stadium to take on 4-1 Downingtown West. The winner of this clash will take the lead position as the team to chase Downingtown East for the National Division title.
Henderson has beeen playing superb defense led by Adam Weaver at linebacker and the Mitten twins, Chris and Phil, along with Spencer Rymiszewski in arguably the best secondary in the Ches-Mont. Head coach Steve Mitten is very wary of the Whippets and talked about what kind of a challenge Downingtown West will be for his club.
“Downingtown West is always so well prepared by Mike Milano,” Mitten said. “He moves people around, there is so much motion and people moving on almost every play. They execute their offense so well and Mike knows it so well it is very hard to prepare for. Coach Milano tests everything you know when you try to prepare for his offense.
“We seem to always play close games with Downingtown West and this should be no different. This is a very big challenge for us as we get into the heart of our schedule.”
Pick: Tough one to predict here and Mitten is right, these games always seem to go down to the end, but I’ll take Henderson 24-21.
In an importanty Central League clash, Conestoga, which has won two in a row -- both shutouts -- plays Penncrest, coming off a mild upset of Strath Haven. Conestoga head coach John Vogan talked about how physical the Lions are.
“They are a tough team that hits you on every play,” Vogan said. “They have a three-year starter at quarterback in Shane Donnelly and now they have some pieces around him. We have to be ready to match them physically.”
While the Pioneers will features the talents of QB Joe Viviano and receiver Andrew DeStefano, Vogan has been impressed with one other player.
“One guy who has really played well for us is Marcus Burton, who is running the football well and finding holes that are not there,” he added. “He worked incredibly hard in the weight room in the offseason and has made himself into a very good running back and he has picked us up the last two games.”
Pick: Conestoga 28, Penncrest 14.
Downingtown East (5-0)
at St.Mark’s (Del.) (4-0), 7 p.m.
The Spartans are generally regarded as among the three best teams in Delaware and they have a defense which is very senior laden. St. Mark’s has a good win over Dover and they are coming off a seven-point victory over Caesar Rodney, who defeated Downingtown West two weeks ago. The Cougars have score 42 points in four of their five games.
Pick: Downingtown East 21, St. Mark’s 13.
Bishop Shanahan (2-2)
at Coatesville (3-2), 7 p.m.
You probably could not look much better than Coatesville did in a 42-0 wipeout of Unionville last week. Quarterback Emmett Hunt has still not thrown an interception this season. After scoring 57 points two weeks ago against Avon Grove, the Eagles gave up 50 to Henderson last week.
Pick: Coatesville 42, Bishop Shanahan 7.
West Chester Rustin (4-1)
at Great Valley (4-1), 7 p.m.
Great Valley is the latest team to take a big shot at the four-time defending American Division champs. The Pats rushed for over 400 yards last week at Oxford. The Rustin defense will not allow that.
Pick: W.C. Rustin 28, Great Valley 20.
at Haverford High, (4-1), 7 p.m.
Haverford has a fine senior quarterback in Eddie Durkin and that should be enough for the Fords to prevail here.
Pick: Haverford 35, Octorara 14.
Oxford (3-2) at Unionville (4-1), 7 p.m.
Oxford started the season 3-0 and now have lost two in a row and they get the pleasure of playing a very mad Indians bunch coming off the Coatesville pasting.
Pick: Unionville 34, Oxford 7.
Malvern Prep (2-2)
at Upper Darby (2-3), 7 p.m.
The Friars would seem to hold all the cards in this one. The Royals beat Lower Merion last week, but has given up 117 points in their last three games. Malvern had a week to get over its loss to state power La Salle.
Pick: Malvern Prep 31, Upper Darby 14.
West Chester East (1-4)
at Avon Grove (0-5), 2:30 p.m.
This pits two teams who are struggling so far this season, but East has more offense than the Red Devils and the Vikings should win on the road.
Pick: W.C. East 28, Avon Grove 21.
Sun Valley (4-1) at Kennett, 3:30 p.m.
You cannot play any harder and lose than Kennett did against Rustin last week, blowing a fourth-period lead. Sun Valley is not a joke anymore and this should be a tight one.
Pick: Kennett 21, Sun Valley 16.
Follow Peter DiGiovanni at twitter.com/dlnsports