Surprising Coatesville Readies For Powerful La Salle
Week of Dec. 7, 2012:
1. La Salle (Record: 12-1. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 14.)
2. St. Joseph’s Prep (Record: 10-1. Season over.)
3. Archbishop Wood (Record: 11-2. Previous Week: 3. Weeks Rated: 14.)
4. Coatesville (Record: 12-2. Previous Week: 7. Weeks Rated: 9.)
5. Episcopal Academy (Record: 10-0. Season over.)
6. Imhotep Charter (Record: 14-0. Previous Week: 5. Weeks Rated: 14.)
7. Spring-Ford (Record: 12-3. Season over.)
8. Pennridge (Record: 12-2. Season over.)
9. Downingtown East (Record: 10-1. Season over.)
10. Interboro (Record: 11-2. Season over.)
By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Matt Ortega had a problem early this season. The Coatesville coach was convinced his team can pound the ball and be successful. Through four games he found out otherwise, and did something rare—changing his scheme to a spread offense to use the Red Raiders’ considerable speed.
The move bolted the No. 9 seed in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs to the district championship, Coatesville’s first since 1992 and third overall, winning 10-straight games along the way and beating every team by the mercy rule except one.
Now the Red Raiders will play perennial power La Salle tonight at 7 p.m. at Downingtown West’s Kottmeyer Stadium in the PIAA Class AAAA state semifinals.
Coatesville averaged 50.5 points in its four district playoff games, including 63 against Neshaminy in the district semifinals. La Salle, however, hasn’t given up more than 27 points in a game this year.
Ortega credits his offensive line of left tackle Joe Phillips (senior), left guard Titus Richards (junior), center Andrew Baker (senior), right guard Dylan Morgan (senior), right tackle Colin Raysor (junior) and tight end Tyler Burke (junior) for the roll his team is on, along with the super play of 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior quarterback Emmett Hunt and senior receiver Chris Jones.
Ortega should take some credit himself. He saw the power run game wasn’t working and implemented the spread, which was a portion of the Coatesville attack plan.
“We always had it, we just had to figure it out,” Hunt said. “The coaches brought it to our attention after we lost 19-14 to Malvern Prep; they thought we weren’t getting the results with the power game, but the coaches let us have some input and they thought the no-huddle, spread offense would work better. We’re a fast team and we weren’t using the entire field like we could. This has been a lot of fun and it’s been fun watching this thing come alive.”
Still, Coatesville faces a mighty task in La Salle, which has been to the state championship in two of the last three years, winning the state title in 2009 and finishing as state runner-up in 2010.
“La Salle, defensively, will be the best team we’ll see all year, especially their front six, so it will be a challenge,” Ortega said. “We’re riding a 10-game winning streak, but watching La Salle on film, they’re the first team to match our speed. They’re the best team in the state.
“We’ve been on a great roll, but I came back to reality when I turned on the film and I saw La Salle. We’re going to have to do some things and be prepared for how their defense plays. I’m pulling hair how to stop their wideouts and run game. But I like how confident our kids are right now—they believe they can beat anybody. It’s not arrogant, they just feel confident in each other.”
The players aren’t ready to let this magic ride stop now. Said Jones, “This feels great; it hasn’t hit any of us that we playing in December. We understand where we are, but we’re not done yet.”
“We feel like we’re the underdogs going into the La Salle game,” Hunt said. “We’re like the new guys here and La Salle has been here before. I grew up with all of my teammates, La Salle gets kids from everywhere, so there is a pride thing working. We’re playing for Coatesville. We’re playing to go to Week 16.”