They are different.
They are the same.
They don’t have Ricky Ortega and Dapree Bryant anymore.
They still are Coatesville.
Sparked by sophomore quarterback Harrison Susi and a young, dynamic defense, Coatesville beat Downingtown East 20-14 Friday night to clinch first place in the Ches-Mont League National Division in this coronavirus-shortened season.
“You’ll remember this season the rest of your life,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega told his team after the victory before a few hundred spectators in the Red Raiders' stadium. "You’ll remember COVID. You’ll remember everybody saying you are too young.
“This season is special because you are special.”
Coatesville (3-0) was expected to take a step back in 2020 after four sensational seasons that featured quarterback Ricky Ortega, the coach’s son who threw for 125 career touchdown passes, and Bryant, the Philadelphia area’s all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdown catches.
Both Ricky Ortega and Bryant are freshmen at Villanova.
“When we lose people, we get stronger,” Coatesville senior Abdul-Sabur Stewart said. “Because the guys who were here before us taught us, 'If you are going to go play football, play it the right way.”
Stewart caught 11 passes for 105 yards and made the game’s most spectacular play, a leaping grab of a 21-yard pass from Susi for a touchdown on the final snap of the first half.
“Greatest feeling in the world,” Stewart said of his touchdown catch.
Susi, an athletic left-hander, ran 14 times for 91 yards and a touchdown and was 17-for-25 passing for 162 yards and another score as Coatesville stayed in the hunt for one of the four berths in the abbreviated District 1, Class 6A tournament, which starts Nov. 6.
Junior Josh Asante ran 21 times for 99 yards and score and sophomore quarterback Jamy Jenkins passed for 146 of his 161 yards in the second half for Downingtown East (1-2).
The Cougars rallied from a 20-0 deficit and had possession at their own 46, down by six with a little less than three minutes to play.
But Coatesville’s defense made one last stand, with junior linebacker Nolan O’Hara making the key tackle on fourth down. Senior Prophet Shockley and junior Lebron Bessick lifted interceptions for Coatesville, while junior Chayse Scott and freshman Francisco Hall led the defensive front.
“Our kids believe,” Matt Ortega said. "They work hard. They come to work every day. They take coaching. They listen. They enjoy being around each other. It’s just a special group.
“With a short season, we were a little worried because we felt like this team would grow throughout the year. But man, we’ve come out and played some pretty dang-gone good football in this short time period.”
Downingtown East 0 0 7 7 – 14
Coatesville 7 7 6 0 – 20
C: Ashon Wesley 1 run (Ryan Ashbee kick)
C: Abdul-Sabur Stewart 21 pass from Harrison Susi (Ashbee kick)
C: Susi 1 run (kick fail)
D: Josh Asante 14 run (Joel Mindek kick)
D: Mike Giardino 16 pass from Jamy Jenkins (Mindek kick)