Ches-Mont League preview

Downingtown East coach Mike Matta is getting awfully comfortable with a Lauletta taking snaps from behind center.

Senior Kyle Lauletta will start for Matta again this season, after throwing for 1,971 yards and 23 touchdowns last year. He took the reins from his brother Trey, who started the previous three seasons for Matta's Cougars and is going into his sophomore year at Bucknell.

Catching passes from Lauletta will be Michigan State recruit Jay Harris, who caught 53 balls for 717 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cougars in 2011.

Ryley Angeline, a junior, rushed for 600 yards in the last five games of the season last year and will be a key in the team's run-first offensive approach.

But the player who Matta says really makes the team go is defensive tackle Josh Ganzelli, who also will see time on the offensive line.

On a team stacked with talent on both sides of the ball, look for senior defensive end Elijah Griffin, senior cornerback Eddie Kozlowski, and senior linebackers Nelson Lee Lucas-Murphy and Wade Mastrog also to make a big impact for the Ches-Mont League National Division favorites.

Seeking to compete against the Cougars in the National are seemingly perennial picks to sit atop the Ches-Mont, Coatesville and Downingtown West.

The Red Raiders are coming off a 9-3 season, and coach Matt Ortega hopes he can continue to turn the program around in just his third season.

Downingtown West isn't returning many starters, but coach Mike Milano says he thinks his defense is much stronger than in recent years.

Led by veteran Tino Bunhu at defensive back and senior nose tackle Dan Speca, the Whippets will play a 4-3 defense this season as opposed to a 3-4. Milano thinks the change is vital to having more success against the run.

After finishing 8-3 overall and winning the National Division with a 6-0 mark last season, West Chester Henderson has a new coach, Steve Mitten, who took over after veteran Joe Walsh stepped down.

Mitten might have his work cut out, because the Warriors lost 22 seniors from last year's championship team.

West Chester Rustin has topped the American Division standings two seasons in a row, but coach Mike St. Clair expects the coming season to be one for rebuilding, full of new faces and learning experiences.

The Golden Knights lost 20 seniors from last year's 9-2 squad, including 15 starters. St. Clair said that his offense will rely heavily on the dual running attack of seniors Matt Lamberjack and Adam Burke.

On defense, the Golden Knights will have to use their speed, as opposed to last year's team, which depended on its size and strength to outmuscle opponents.

With so many question marks on the Rustin roster, look for Unionville or Great Valley to claim the American championship.

Games to watch include Coatesville playing Downingtown East at home, and in American Division action, Unionville welcoming Rustin. Both games will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 21.

   - Kate Harman