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Football Friday preview: Can Downingtown East upset explosive Coatesville?

Coatesville (9-0) can clinch its third straight Ches-Mont League National Division crown with a win over Downingtown East (8-1).

Downingtown East quarterback Luke Davis. runs for yardage in a 33-21 nonleague win over Perkiomen Valley on Sept. 1.
Downingtown East quarterback Luke Davis. runs for yardage in a 33-21 nonleague win over Perkiomen Valley on Sept. 1.Read moreMICHELE MAZZA

Mike Matta said this is likely the best overall Coatesville team he has faced in his 16 years as Downingtown East's head football coach.

It's hard to argue with him.

The undefeated and high-powered Red Raiders, who are ranked No. 2 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Inquirer, have averaged 47.8 points per game.

Matt Ortega's squad has impressed on defense as well, limiting foes to an average of 10.6 points. The unit has yielded 14 or fewer points in seven of its nine lopsided victories.

East will try to stun host Coatesville when the traditional powers square off in a Ches-Mont League National Division contest at 7 p.m. Friday.

"As good as they are, we're not going to be afraid of them," Matta said. "We won't just go through the motions, I promise you that."

The Cougars (8-1, 5-1) could forge a three-way tie for the National Division title if they upset the Red Raiders (9-0, 6-0) and Downingtown West (8-1, 5-1) defeats West Chester East (5-4, 3-4). Coatesville is bidding for its third straight division title and fourth in the last five years.

East goes into the regular-season finale ranked No. 8 in the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoff-point standings; Coatesville is No. 2, close behind fellow unbeaten North Penn (9-0); and West is No. 4.

The Cougars look to generate offense against the Red Raiders behind quarterback Luke Davis, running backs Garvey Jonassaint and Zack Hamilton, wide receiver Jake Riley, and tight end Connor Noble.

"They have two of the top running backs in the county, and their quarterback is a threat as a passer and runner," Ortega said.

The Red Raiders' quick-strike offense is powered by QB Ricky Ortega, Michigan State-bound running back Aaron Young, and receivers Dapree Bryant, Dymere Miller, and Frank Sherman.

Ortega has completed 86 of 128 passes for 1,603 yards and 27 touchdowns. The junior has scholarship offers from Air Force, Army, Morgan State, and Villanova, among others.

"He's such a good playmaker," Matta said. "He's got a strong arm, he runs well and is hard to tackle, and he extends plays."

East's defense is anchored by a linebacking corps made up of Stuart Regitz, Kyle Egan, and Stanley Bryant.

Ortega will test a secondary that features cornerbacks Stephen Long and Jett Lucas-Murphy, and safeties James Basilii and Justin Townsend.

Defensively, Coatesville relies heavily on ends Tione Holmes and Jimmy Limper, middle linebacker Nik Thompson, and backs Young, Bryant, and C.J. Brown.