Thursday, December 6, 2012
Coatesville ready for toughest test yet
By PETER DiGIOVANNI
Coatesville has one more foe to take on before playing for a state title, but it will be a formidable one.
Tonight, at Downingtown West’s Kottmeyer Stadium at 7 p.m, the District 1 champion Red Raiders tackle District 12 behemoth La Salle in the PIAA Class AAAA Eastern Final. The survivor will face the North Allegheny-Wilson West Lawn winner at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday, December 15, at 6 p.m. for the AAAA crown.
The Red Raiders are looking to make their first appearance in the state final after losing semifinals to Cumberland Valley (22-6) in 1992 and Wilson (32-30) in 1990. The Philadelphia Catholic League power is making its fourth appearance in the semifinals, having gone 2-1.
The Red Raiders (12-2) went through the District 1 playoffs like General Sherman marching through Atlanta. Coatesville, winners of 10 straight games, has scored 202 points in four playoff wins, but will be tested by a stout Explorers defense which has allowed just 13 points per game this season.
The Explorers (11-2) looked very impressive in last weekend’s quarterfinal win over Parkland. La Salle defeated the Trojans, 28-7, recording 12 sacks along the way.
Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega talked about how important it will be to give quarterback Emmmett Hunt time, something that has not been an issue yet this season.
“We have done a great job protecting Emmett this season,” Ortega said. “We are going to work this week on containing pressure. I think LaSalle will not only rush their front four, but they will bring pressure on top of that. They really got after the quarterback in the Parkland game and when you look at them on film, you see they love to pressure the quarterback. We know their number one goal is to pressure Emmett (Hunt).”
Ortega knows that when La Salle has the ball, they have playmakers that can do some damage as well.
“This is the best team we have faced this year by far and I feel they are a great team. They not only have a very good defense, they have a good kicking game and their offense is good. Their receiver (Sean Coleman) is always open. They use him a lot like we use Chris Jones. He is going to have to be watched because he is very good. But, we have prepared for this spot all season and we feel we are prepared for a team as good as LaSalle.”
La Salle quarterback Chris Kane has thrown for 2,092 yards and 26 touchdown passes compared to Hunt’s 2,674 yards and 40 TD passes. On the ground, Coatesville’s DaQuan Worley has amassed 1,467 yards and 17 touchdowns and always seems to find the right holes to run through. Sophomore Jimmy Herron leads the way for La Salle with 782 yards and six TDs. He is also a threat in the pass game.
The kicking game is almost even. LaSalle’s Ryan Winslow, a University of Pittsburgh recruit, has five field goals and is very dependable as is Coatesville junior Jon Bollenbach, who has three field goals.
Pick: The key to this football game and a coveted trip to Hershey is if the Coatesville offensive line can hold up to the pressure applied by linemen Jon Naji and Sean Hoffmann. They are the big guns for the Explorers up front. No one in District 1 has laid a glove on Hunt, so this is where the game will be won.
LaSalle also likes to run the Wildcat formation with Herron. The Explorers will use Coleman in the backfield. I said in September that LaSalle would represent the East in the Class AAAA title game, but Coatesville may have too many playmakers for the Explorers to contain. The Explorers have played a more difficult schedule, taking on St. Joseph’s Prep twice and blowing out Malvern Prep, but it may be the Red Raiders’ time. Coatesville 28, LaSalle 24.