At Stake: AAAA Eastern. Pa., State Championship
Coaches: Drew Gordon for LaSalle/ 7th year and Matt Ortega, Coatesville/3rd year.
Common Opponents: Coatesville lost to Malvern in week 2, 19-14 and LaSalle defeated Malvern 38-6 in week 4
Weather Forecast: high 30’s brisk
Venue/Time: Walt Kottmeyer Stadium, Downingtown, Pa., Friday, December 7, 7:00 PM. Kottmeyer is a District 1 venue and Coatesville has played there twice this year including last week’s title game. Coatesville is within 15 minutes of Downingtown. LaSalle is almost an hour away
How They Got There: Coatesville won the District 1 championship averaging over 50 points a game throughout the playoffs. They could easily be 14-0 and lost both their games at the end vs. Downingtown East and Malvern. LaSalle comes off an emotional PCL championship victory three weeks back vs. undefeated St. Joe’s Prep and Frankford.
Offense: LaSalle has more offensive weapons but Coatesville has more game breakers. Coatesville has the most potent spread offense seen in these parts in years. Quarterback Emmitt Hunt is SEPA’s leading passer and has amassed 2,700 passing yards and 40 touchdowns and only one interception. His main targets are Chris Jones and Dre Boggs. Combined they have 35 touchdowns and both are serious threats to take it to the house at any time. Their main RB is Daquan Worley who has over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns and has a number of long touchdown runs as well. This foursome is the most feared in all of SEPA. After a week two loss to Malvern, offensive coordinator Nick Felus more of a spread offense where they have been much more proficient.
LaSalle offensive coordinator Brett Gordon runs many different offensive formations. Outside of the regular season game versus St. Joe’s, they have never scored less than three touchdowns per game. Chris Kane is under center and has thrown for 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns. His main threat is three year starter Sean Coleman who has 15 TD’s. The bigger the game, the better Coleman plays. Sophomore Jimmy Herron is the other main wide out and he also runs an assortment of plays out of the shotgun formation and has 14 TD’s. The running attack is split amongst Jarred Herrmann, Mike Eife and Jordan Meachum. Eife is more ground and pound, Meachum a burner and Herrmann is a very reliable receiver out of the backfield.
Offensive Line: Coatesville lines up Titus Richards, Dylan Morgan, Joe Phillips, Andrew Baker Colin Raysor and Tight End Tyler Burke in front of Hunt. Hunt had plenty of time to throw in the last two weeks via their pass protection. The drive blocking this group provides (especially to its right) allowed Worley to break thru to the second level. This group will need to give Hunt some time to throw because of the athleticism and quickness of LaSalle’s front four or five.
LaSalle has more depth and size in their line, rotating Tom Spiteri, Pat Hoffman, Dave Losier, Connor Resch, Bill Frusco and Luke Persichetti. Last week’s starting center Tom Geppert will not play after suffering a knee injury last week. This group is an excellent “point of attack” line and play very well as a group in pass protection for Kane.
Defense: LaSalle gives up an average of 12 points a game under coordinator John Steinmetz revolving door of substitutions both on the line and the defensive backfield. Last year’s leading tackler, Spiteri is healthy and now going both ways patrolling the defensive line with Andrew Carlone, Pat Hoffman, Bill Frusco, Losier, Eife, Ryan Coonahan and Naji up front. Nagi had six sacks in the Parkland game but Coatesville will have TE Burke (who normally lines up on the right) staying in to block him. Their back seven are a very athletic, playmaking group including Dad Poquie, Zaire Franklin, Coleman, Herron, Cris Rocco and Mike Koller. Franklin is a big hitter getting D1 looks. Gordon’s major concern during the season was poor tackling. The team did a much better job in both departments in the last month.
Coatesville’s front includes Mike Boykin (11 sacks), Richards, Morgan, Phillips and Baker. Their back seven is a very athletic group in Burke, Steve Pawling, Worley, Jason Totoram, Isaih Flamer and Jay Stocker. Defensive coordinator Tim Lucci mixed in four and five man fronts in their game versus Spring-Ford and kept both of their 1,000 yard rushers (Jarred Jones and Yousef Lundi) to less than 60 yards on the ground combined. Burke is always on the field and is in on a majority of the tackles.
Special Teams: LaSalle has one of the best kickers in SEPA in University of Pitt commit Ryan Winslow. He can handle 40 yard attempts and can punt for over 40 yards when needed. Coleman handles the returns and has made big returns out of nothing.
Coatesville has Boggs and Jones handling most of the returns and both are game breakers with multiple returns for touchdowns. Jon Bollenback handles the kicking duties and although not as big a leg as Winslow, has extreme accuracy on short to medium distance field goals.
Intangibles: LaSalle’s defense hasn’t seen as explosive an offense as Coatesville, but Coatesville will not have seen as good a defense as LaSalle. Steinmetz called a gem of a game last week versus Parkland by mixing in different zone and man coverages. Parkland only threw three times in their District title win versus Delaware Valley but planned to pass a lot more last week. LaSalle had a better plan and very quick athletes throughout their defense to stymie anything Parkland tried. Their defensive line is surprisingly quick and contains the edge better than most teams.
Coatesville has three sensational play makers that have the ability to make something out of nothing (Worley, Boggs and Jones). On this side of the ball it will come down to how many times these three can overtake LaSalle’s LB’s and DB’s once they pass the first level. Hunt, for his part will not have as much time in the pocket and will probably rely more on quick timing patterns.
LaSalle will move the ball offensively on Coatesville especially in the air. Coatesville has committed a number of penalties the last couple weeks and that could hurt them in this game, especially with a disciplined Explorer team coming in. The Coatesville team that lost to Malvern is a completely different team now. Clear weather and no wind should benefit Coatesville more. Steinmetz may opt to blitz Hunt up the middle while attempting to contain the edge.
Ted Silary has contributed to this story
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