DOWNINGTOWN EAST 27, FRANKFORD 14
Downingtown East coach Mike Matta described Justin Cohen as "the cerebral type" and said Kevin DiStefano is "a physical kind of player."
From the way the juniors performed in Saturday afternoon's opener against Frankford, it appears that combination of smarts and ruggedness will serve the Cougars well in the defensive backfield over the next two seasons.
With Cohen posting three interceptions and DiStefano making a key fumble recovery, East downed the penalty- and turnover-prone Pioneers, 27-14, in a nonleague tilt at Large and Dyre Streets.
The 5-foot-8, 155-pound Cohen, a free safety, and the 5-10, 175-pound DiStefano, stationed nearby at strong safety, each registered eight tackles. "They've been stepping up big time for us," East teammate Ryley] Angeline said afterward.
Cohen (seven solo tackles) and DiStefano (four) both honed their ball-hawking skills while playing youth football for the Marsh Creek Eagles. "We're pretty good at communicating with each other," Cohen said.
Of his less-than-imposing stature, Cohen, an erstwhile lacrosse player who started down the stretch of last year's 10-1 campaign, said, "I use my size to get below people. The lowest man wins."
Early in the third quarter, with East ahead by 14-7 and Frankford at its own 10, DiStefano stripped Damion Samuels of the ball after a right-side screen pass, and fell on it at the 1. Quarterback Ryan Rumer scored from there.
"We had switched up our coverage schemes, and we were prepared for the play they called," DiStefano said. "It was a good call by our coaches."
Frankford coughed the ball up five times and committed 12 penalties for a combined loss of 129 yards. In a third-quarter series, the defending Public League Class AAAA champs were flagged five times for 56 yards.
"There were a lot of mental mistakes, fatigue-type mistakes," Pioneers boss Will Doggett said. "Part of that is that we have a lot of kids going both ways."
In the fourth quarter, after Frankford QB Marquise Poston scored on a 2-yard keeper to trim the gap to 21-14, Angeline, positioned at outside linebacker, picked off Poston's over-the-middle toss and scored from the 17.
"I saw the quarterback look at the big receiver [6-7 tight end Rob Simmons], and I knew he was throwing to him," Angeline said. "I jumped on it."
Angeline, a Delaware commit, rushed 16 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Rumer, a junior southpaw and first-year starter, hit tight end Mike Reichwein for a 5-yard score late in the first half.
Downingtown East 7 7 7 6-27
Frankford 0 7 0 7-14
DE: Ryley Angeline 4 run (Drew Brennan kick)
DE: Mike Reichwein 5 pass from Ryan Rumer (Brennan kick)
F: Damion Samuels 88 kickoff return (Prince Cooper kick)
DE: Rumer 1 run (Brennan kick)
F: Marquise Poston 2 run (Cooper kick)
DE: R. Angeline 17 interception return (kick failed)