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Expect La Salle, Wood, Imhotep to advance

It will be Coatesville's lightning-quick, score-at-will offense against La Salle's hard-charging, smothering defense.

It will be Coatesville's lightning-quick, score-at-will offense against La Salle's hard-charging, smothering defense.

The Red Raiders arrive for Friday night's PIAA Class AAAA state semifinal, set for 7 p.m. at Downingtown West, with a spread attack averaging 50 points in the postseason.

The Explorers' steadily improving defense is coming off its best effort of the season. Last week against Parkland, the group, with 11 sacks, dumped the Trojans for losses on 18 plays.

Will Coatesville's explosive offense have the final say? Or will La Salle's rugged-as-anything defense get the last laugh?

Or will another element - the Red Raiders' underrated defense, the Explorers' efficient passing game, or the teams' special-teams units - decide which squad punches a ticket to Hershey?

For the 12-2 Red Raiders, Emmett Hunt has completed 130 of 200 passes (65 percent) for an area-best 2,748 yards and 40 touchdowns, with just one interception.

Hunt's top targets are speedy wideouts Chris Jones (62 catches for 1,393 yards, 22 TDs) and Dre Boggs (30 for 740, 12). Both are breakaway threats.

Also in the mix for Coatesville, which racked up 59 points against Spring-Ford and 63 vs. Neshaminy, are halfback Daquan Worley (186 carries for 1,453 yards, 17 TDs) and similarly fast wideout Vinnie Williams.

Last week against Spring-Ford, Jones' TD catches covered 22, 14, and 8 yards; Worley had a pair of scores, including a 51-yard burst; and Boggs set up a third-quarter tally with a 51-yard kickoff return.

For 12-1 La Salle, cornerbacks Chris Rocco and Dad Poquie will need to keep Jones and Boggs from turning short tosses into long gains. And a front four headlined by end Jon Naji (five sacks vs. Parkland) must put heat on Hunt.

Coatesville's offensive line will no doubt put up more resistance than Parkland's did. That said, the Explorers will have to be better in man-to-man and zone coverages.

Hunt, with his staggering numbers, has gained much of the pregame ink. But La Salle's Chris Kane, while not as flashy, has likewise shined. He has hit on 154 of 255 throws for 2,257 yards and 28 TDs.

Kane's primary target is wideout Sean Coleman. Another underneath or over-the-middle option is sophomore Jimmy Herron, who carried 14 times out of the wildcat formation against Parkland.

We expect La Salle's playoff experience and defensive savvy to trump Coatesville's high-octane offense.

Pick: La Salle, 31-21.

Last week: 4-0. Overall: 105-36 (.745).


Class AAA state semifinal: Archbishop Wood (11-2) vs. Allentown Central Catholic (9-5), at Banko Field in Bethlehem, 7 p.m. This is a semifinal-round rubber match. ACC rolled, 49-27, in 2010; Wood cruised, 70-14, last year.

Wood's bid to return to Hershey hinges heavily on its ability to corral Colin McDermott. The 6-foot, 200-pound running back has carried 431 times for 3,121 yards and 40 TDs.

Said Wood coach Steve Devlin: "He's tough, he's got great vision, and he's always fighting for that extra yard."

ACC's defense has yielded an average of only 4.8 points in four playoff games. But Wood's offensive line, creating openings for tailback Andrew Guckin, poses a different kind of challenge for the District 11 champs.

Pick: Wood, 34-14.


Class AA state semifinal: Wyomissing (14-0) vs. Imhotep Charter (14-0), at Johnston Memorial Stadium in Mount Airy, 1 p.m. Want scoring? The Spartans, of District 3, and Panthers are each averaging 40-plus points a game.

Wyomissing's wing-T scheme has netted 4,421 yards on the ground. The ball is spread among fullback and Notre Dame recruit Alex Anzalone (133 carries for 1,248 yards, 28 TDs) and halfbacks Mason Smith and Justin Causa.

"They want to run the ball and control the clock," Imhotep coach Albie Crosby said. "Our goal is to control the run and get them off the field."

Pick: Imhotep, 36-23.