Coatesville is a runaway train heading into December
The course began last December, moments after the Coatesville football team walked off the field for the last time in 2017, on the short end of an exciting 53-49 shootout in the PIAA Class 6A state semifinal to St. Joseph’s Prep.
The Red Raiders vowed to themselves that they didn’t want to endure that feeling again.
Perhaps it explains why Coatesville has been so dominant this season. The Red Raiders rolled over a very good Garnet Valley team, 42-7, in the PIAA District 1 Class 6A semifinals Friday night, setting up a District 1 championship game with North Penn.
What the Red Raiders (13-0) did to Garnet Valley has been typical. They’ve racked up 600 points in 13 games, averaging 46.1 points a game, scoring 40 or more in 10 of their 13 victories, while giving up a scant 138 points, which averages out to 10.6 points a game. Coatesville has two shutouts and hasn’t given up more than 21 in a game this year, beating opponents by an average of 35.5 points a game.
Against Garnet Valley (12-1), the Red Raiders amassed 325 yards rushing—with 227 yards coming from Michigan State-bound star senior tailback Aaron Young.
As Thanksgiving nears, the frightening part for anyone facing Coatesville is that the Red Raiders seem to be just skimming the surface of how good they can actually be.
“We went into the Garnet Valley game feeling confident offensively. We thought we could run the ball, but Garnet Valley’s offense was really rolling and we thought we would have problems defending them,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said. “We came out making the plays on defense, and I think that was the difference.”
“This team is very similar to our 2012 team, which was a team that got better every week. It came down to the defense and offensive line and the kids getting comfortable with the schemes we ran throughout the year. They knew their reads and keys and how to get to the ball. You know your team’s getting better, especially in an extended season. Because of that, it all comes together. The big thing in 2012 was our offensive line, and like this year, we wanted to give our offensive line a chance. It’s Pennsylvania football in November—you have to be able to run the ball.”
The Coatesville-Garnet Valley game could have been closer. The Jaguars lost a fumble and fell victim to a pick-six inside the red zone.
“That’s a team that you can’t afford to make any mistakes against,” said Jags’ coach Mike Ricci, whose team won its first Central League championship in five years. They’ve gone 35-6 over the last three years, reaching the district finals in 2016 and ’17, and the semifinals this year. “I have a great senior class, and they provided great leadership for us. The seniors always play a pivotal role in our program. We’ve been fortunate to have outstanding senior leaders—and this team is no different.”
“Coatesville is a very good team. They’re very explosive. They can score from anywhere on the field—and at any time, offensively and defensively. They’re playing at a very high level. They have the complete package. They do a great job of taking away other teams’ strengths.”
Coatesville led Garnet Valley 21-0 by halftime. Young was closing in on 170 yards by then. The Red Raiders put the game into the mercy rule early in the fourth quarter.
So now, if the course continues as Coatesville expects, the Red Raiders will take on a stubborn North Penn for their second-straight district champion this Friday on their way to a rematch with St. Joe’s Prep. This time will be in the state finals.
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