Coatesville is the pick to win District 1 Class 6A football title again | Rick O’Brien
The Red Raiders aim to defend their championship. Last year, Matt Ortega's squad rallied to beat Garnet Valley, 35-25, for top honors.
The football playoffs begin in earnest this weekend, with 33 games involving area teams on the slate.
Here's our take out on how the PIAA District 1 Class 6A tournament will play out.
Even though it's not the top seed in the 16-team field, No. 2 Coatesville is favored to to successfully defend its title and earn the program's third crown in the last seven years.
The Red Raiders (10-0) average 47.2 points behind a quick-strike offense spurred by quarterback Ricky Ortega, running back Aaron Young, and wide receiver Dapree Bryant.
Ortega has completed 98 of 143 passes for 1,772 yards and 30 touchdowns; the Michigan State-bound Young has carried 101 times for 1,024 yards and 17 scores; and Bryant has made 43 catches for 822 yards and 14 TDs.
No. 1 seed North Penn and No. 3 Garnet Valley are contenders as well, with both also sporting 10-0 records.
North Penn has captured seven district crowns since 2002. Last season, Garnet Valley advanced to the district final before falling to Coatesville, 35-25.
North Penn has a triple-headed rushing monster in halfback Shamar Edwards (143 carries for 1,122 yards, 11 TDs), fullback Julian White (90 for 600, 14), and QB Solomon Robinson (100 for 421, 5).
Garnet Valley's triple-option offense is spurred by running backs Colin Robinson (116 for 774, 15 TDs), Dominic Labricciosa (85 for 496, 3) and Danny Bradley (62 for 459, 5), and QB Cole Palis (50 for 402, 3).
No. 4 seed Downingtown West (9-1) has fared well despite losing its starting QB, junior and Division I prospect Will Howard to a hand injury in a 42-14 loss to to Coatesville on Oct. 5.
Downingtown West, with converted tight end Ryan Wetzel moving under center, followed that with a 28-7 triumph over Downingtown East a week later.
A possible dark horse is No. 9 seed Neshaminy (7-3), which has won its last five games by a combined score of 145-21. Its losses are against three top-10 seeds: North Penn, Downingtown West, and No. 5 Harry S Truman.
Our first-round predictions, in bracket order: North Penn over No. 16 Ridley; Neshaminy over No. 9 Haverford High; No. 4 Downingtown West over No. 13 Upper Darby; No. 12 Council Rock South over Truman; Coatesville over No. 15 Central Bucks East; Garnet Valley over No. 14 Pennsbury; and No. 6 Perkiomen Valley over No. 11 Quakertown.
The quarterfinal winners: North Penn over Neshaminy; Downingtown West over C.R. South; Coatesville over Downingtown East; and Garnet Valley over Perkiomen Valley.
The semifinal victors: Downingtown West's defense slows North Penn's vaunted ground attack and ekes out a high-scoring victory; and Coatesville, with its swift offense making it hard for Garnet Valley to keep up, punches a return ticket to the final.
In the championship tilt between Ches-Mont League National Division rivals Downingtown West and Coatesville, the Red Raiders impress on both sides of the ball and easily prevail, 47-21.
The site of Friday night's matchup between Ridley and host North Penn has been moved to Wissahickon. The start time remains 7 p.m.
The switch was made because there's a heavy chance of rain for Friday night. North Penn plays on a grass field and Wissahickon has a turf surface.