By PETER DiGIOVANNI
The night of the season is here in the National Division of the Ches-Mont League and the standings could be in for major shakeup with two huge game headling week eight of the scholastic football season.
First up is the battle for Downingtown as the Downingtown East vs. Downingtown West tussle is not only for bragging rights, it is for first place in the Ches-Mont National. East is 7-0 overall, 3-0 in league play, while the Whippets are 6-1 and 3-0, so to say this is a big one is an understatement.
The Cougars are favored because along eith beating some tough nonleague foes, they have an offense that no one has stopped this season. But West allows just under six points a game and has a tough, no nonsense defense that has accumulated three shutouts. According to West head coach Mike Milano, the unit is ready for this huge challenge.
“The key to the East offense is their quarterback Kyle Lauletta,” Milano said. “He has good decision making, is accurate and can hurt you with his legs also. They like to spread you out and then Lauletta hurts you inside.
“He has a definite weapon in (Jay) Harris, and the role players are all chipping in. The key is to keep them off the field and we will try to do that. We are going to have to have a balance on offense to keep the ball away from them.
“But this is a fun game and me and the kids and my staff love this game. It is great for Downingtown and if you can’t enjoy this game, you don’t belong in high school football. I told the kids that in 10 years of this game we were never favored and we are 5-4, and that is a pretty good thing. And for the last eight of nine years we have faced a Division 1 quarterback. From Pat Devlin to Trey (Lauletta) to now face Kyle. We are excited and ready to go.”
The Whippets may not have as explosive an offense as the Cougars do, but quarterback Nick Pagel has been efficient and has thrown just two interceptions.
Pick: Not many people give the Whippets a chance in this one, but not here. Defense wins big games and West has plenty of defense to rely on. The Cougars should still win, but it is going to be close. East 21, West 14.
Coatesville (2-1, 5-2) visits W.C. Henderson (2-1, 6-1) in a key division game as the Red Raiders do not want another loss dampening their District 1 playoff hopes. After falling to Downingtown East, Coatesville has allowed just seven points in its last three wins.
The Red Raiders have not even played their regulars for more than a half recently, and head coach Matt Ortega says his kids cannot wait to play a full game.
“The last three weeks we have taken our guys out at halftime,” Oretga said. “They are chomping at the bit to play a full game. And the good thing is our defense is getting better every week. These kids are battle tested and the defense is confident in the scheme and playing better football each week.
“Henderson is a very solid football team with a good defense and they are physical. They won the league last year and defensively they have not missed a beat.”
Henderson’s defense rose to the task again last week as they throttled Rustin, 21-3. The game will feature sublime individual performers like Emmett Hunt of Coatesville and Spencer Rymiszewski from Henderson.
Pick: It’s the offense of Coatesville versus a Henderson defense that allows a county-best five points a game is a great matchup. Go with Coatesville, 20-14.
at Octorara (1-6), 7 p.m.
After downing Great Valley in overtime last week, do not expect them to trip up here. The Braves, who had trouble with the run against Oxford, may be in for a long night against the duo of Jordan Lardani and Jordan Jones.
Pick: Kennett 35, Octorara 7.
at Conestoga (4-3), 7 p.m.
The Pioneers’ district playoff hopes are on life support, but they should get the win at home.
Pick: Conestoga 34, Harriton 14.
at Great Valley (4-3), 7 p.m.
Great Valley lost a heartbreaker to Kennett in overtime last week and are desperate for a win to keep playoff hopes alive. The Indians look to stay perfect in the American Division
Pick: Upset alert. Great Valley 24, Unionville 21.
Malvern Prep (4-2)
at Penn Charter (3-3), 3:30 p.m.
The Friars will have to contend with 6-foot-9, 280-pound,Notre Dame-bound Mike McGlinchy, who anchors the Quakers’ offensive and defensive front.
But Malvern has too much depth for Penn Charter.
Pick: Malvern 26, Penn Charter 14.
Avon Grove (1-6) at
Salesianum (Del.) (7-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Red Devils have a tall task ahead of them as they face the top-ranked team in Delaware. The Sallies have scored 40 or more points in each of their last three games, while Avon Grove is coming off a 50-13 defeat at the hands of Downingtown West.
Pick: Salesianum 42, Avon Grove 14.
at W.C. Rustin (5-2), 2 p.m.
Oxford has a very potent running game and Rustin is smarting from the Henderson loss last week. Not a good time for the Hornets to face an angry Golden Knights squad.
Pick: W.C. Rustin 28, Oxford 14.
West Chester East (1-6)
at Bishop Shanahan (2-4), 1 p.m.
The Vikings have too much speed for the Eagles, but the East defense has to step up and do a better job.
Pick: Bishop Shanahan 28, W.C. East 27.
Follow Peter DiGiovanni at twitter.com/dlnsports