Rick O'Brien: Downingtowns to square off in conference duel

West's Whippets have come on strong after an 0-3 start, and should give East's Cougars a fight.

Posted: October 22, 2010

A month ago, the seventh installment of the Battle of the Brandywine looked as if it might be a Week 8 snoozefest.

While Downingtown East had rebounded from an opening loss to PIAA Class AAA power Allentown Central Catholic with two impressive victories, next-door neighbor Downingtown West was staring at an 0-3 record and had been outscored by 59-20.

But the East-West series, to be renewed at 7 Friday night at sure-to-be-packed Kottmeyer Stadium, regained its luster when West rebounded with four straight victories.

Now, first place in the Ches-Mont League National Conference is at stake, as East and West come in with 3-0 league records. The victor, should it win its final two league games, would be the conference's outright champion.

"It's a great rivalry," East coach Mike Matta said. "A lot of the kids have played together in one sport or another while growing up. There's a lot of familiarity."

East, averaging 236 rushing yards and 33 points per game, is 6-1 overall and ranked No. 6 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer. The Cougars' high-powered offense features tailback Drew Harris, quarterback Trey Lauletta, and receiver Tyler Kroft.

With a boost from emerging sophomore halfback Dante Horrell, West, looking more like last year's 10-2 squad, is 4-3. The Whippets lead the series, 4-2.

Last year, aided by five interceptions, West triumphed, 26-14, on a soggy turf for its third straight win in the series. (The teams did not meet in 2007, instead taking time to mourn the death of an East senior linebacker, killed in a car accident.)

"I mismanaged the game," Matta said of last season. "My play-calling was off-kilter. For some reason, I tried a lot of gadget plays that didn't work, and that snowballed."

In seven appearances this season, Harris, who netted 152 yards on 38 carries against West last year, has rushed 142 times for 987 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Lauletta, a dual-threat quarterback who is hearing from several Ivy League programs, has completed 48 of 100 passes for 797 yards and seven TDs. He has rushed for 288 yards.

In West's spread/wing-T attack, the 6-foot, 180-pound Horrell has carried 110 times for 521 yards and four touchdowns. Ken Fuhrman has completed 41 of 71 throws for 413 yards and nine TDs. His top target is wideout Louis Smith (23 catches, 325 yards).

Of Fuhrman, Matta said, "He's a pretty poised kid. Since he's been in there, they've been able to throw the ball pretty well."

The Whippets have overcome a poor start, but we expect the Cougars, equipped with a defense to squelch West's trickery, to get their first win in the series since 2005. Pick: East, 30-13.

Last week: 11-3. Overall: 70-35.

Bok (5-2, 4-2) vs. Del-Val Charter (5-2, 5-1), at Simon Gratz, 6 p.m. Friday. It's playoff time already? In this Public League Class AA semifinal, look for Shaquil Sammons and the Wildcats to beat the Warriors for a second time. Pick: Bok, 26-12.

Strath HavenĀ (6-1, 6-0) at Upper Darby (5-2, 5-1), 7 p.m. Friday. The Panthers and Royals look to keep pace in the Central League standings with defending champ Ridley (7-0, 6-0). Pick: Strath Haven, 23-21.

No. 3 North Penn (6-1, 4-0) at Souderton (5-2, 4-0), 7 p.m. Friday. The Suburban One League Continental Conference title is on the line at Indian Field, which the Knights have used to host PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoff games. Pick: North Penn, 33-21.

St. Joseph's Prep (3-4, 1-1) vs. No. 9 Roman Catholic (5-2, 2-1), at Germantown, 7 p.m. Friday. For the Cahillites, quarterback Mike Keir, tight end-linebacker Abdul Basil, and two-way back Chris Cruz return from injuries. Pick: Roman, 27-7.

Other games to watch:

Simon Gratz (6-1, 4-1) at Roxborough (5-2, 3-2), 3 p.m. Friday. Pick: Gratz, 23-6.

Coatesville (5-2, 2-1) at West Chester Henderson (5-2, 2-1), 7 p.m. Friday. Pick: Coatesville, 26-14.

Springfield, Delaware County (5-2, 5-1) at Conestoga (4-3, 3-3), 7 p.m. Friday. Pick: Conestoga, 31-20.

Spring-Ford (5-2, 3-2) at Boyertown (7-0, 5-0), 7 p.m. Friday. Pick: Spring-Ford, 14-7.

Communications Tech (4-2, 4-2) vs. Imhotep Charter (6-2, 5-1), at Simon Gratz, 3 p.m. Friday. Pick: Imhotep, 27-6.

Haverford School (1-6, 1-0) at Penn Charter (2-4, 0-1), 3:45 p.m. Friday. Pick: Penn Charter, 23-16.

No. 4 Archbishop Wood (7-0, 1-0) vs. Monsignor Bonner (4-3, 0-1), at Upper Darby, 1 p.m. Saturday. Pick: Wood, 34-13.


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.

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