Chilly weather, exciting football playoffs on tap

Quarterback Ricky Ortega (right) and Coatesville are set for Friday night’s PIAA District 1 Class 6A quarterfinal playoff vs. Downingtown East.

A strong cold front is expected for Friday night, with a predicted temperature in the low 30s and winds between 10 and 15 m.p.h.

The wind is “the biggest issue,” said St. Joseph’s Prep coach Gabe Infante, whose squad takes on La Salle in the Catholic League Class 6A final at 7 p.m. Friday at Northeast. “It definitely can affect your play-calling.”

In addition to La Salle vs. St. Joe’s Prep, several other intriguing playoff matchups are likely to be played in chilly conditions.

The PIAA District 1 Class 6A quarterfinal round features Downingtown East at Coatesville; North Penn at Garnet Valley; Pennsbury at Neshaminy; and Pennridge at Perkiomen Valley.

Three weeks ago, Coatesville escaped Downingtown East, 38-27, on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ricky Ortega to Dapree Bryant with only seven seconds remaining.

North Penn battles run-happy Garnet Valley in a rematch of last year’s district final, which the host Knights won, 48-28, in Lansdale.

This marks the second time Pennsbury and Neshaminy are squaring off in the last two weeks. The visiting Redskins rallied late and nipped the Falcons, 21-20, on a trick play with 36 seconds to go.

Pennridge and Pekiomen Valley are likewise meeting for a second time. The host Rams blanked the Vikings, 29-0, in a nonleague matchup on Sept. 8.

Downingtown East’s defense will be tested by a potent Coatesville offense that averages 43.5 points per game. The group is fueled by Ortega, Bryant, and fellow receivers Avery Young, Mekhi Alexander, and Khatero Summers, and halfback Aaron Young.

Downingtown East, with a massive offensive line, is also no slouch when it comes to finding the end zone. With Bryce Lauletta at the controls, the Cougars average 40.5 points.

Lauletta is supported by running backs Garvey Jonassaint and Tim Aivado and multipurpose threat Brassir Stocker. The trio has combined for 2,873 rushing yards and 40 scores.

In a District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal, strong-armed QB Anthony Paoletti and Merple Newtown travel to undefeated Upper Moreland.

Paoletti, who is bound for Delaware, has thrown for 2,192 yards and 20 TDs. Upper Moreland has a terrific one-two rushing punch in halfbacks Sterlen Barr (1,400 rushing yards, 18 TDs) and Caleb Mead (1,256, 19).

Speedy playmakers abound in Saturday evening’s Public League Class 4A final between Bartram and Imhotep Charter.

Bartram is sparked by QB Mahmud Dioubate and receiver Ibrahim Diaoune; Imhotep counters with backs Isheem Young, Carl Jones, Kristian Marche and Khadarius Sampson, and wideout Yusuf Terry.

Pick Six

Friday

No. 4 Downingtown East (10-1) at No. 3 Coatesville (10-1), 7 p.m. Look for the weather to keep the Cougars and Red Raiders from lighting up the scoreboard. Pick: Coatesville, 24-21.

No. 7 North Penn (9-2) at No. 9 Garnet Valley (10-1), 7 p.m. K.J. Kartwright’s emergences as a bruising rusher helps the Knights edge the Jaguars. Pick: North Penn, 28-27.

No. 11 Pennsbury (9-2) at No. 10 Neshaminy (10-1), 7 p.m. This time, QB Zach DeMarchis and the Falcons move in front late and keep the lead. Pick: Pennsbury, 20-17.

Marple Newtown (7-4) at No. 16 Upper Moreland (10-0), 7 p.m. Paoletti gives the Golden Bears defense its stiffest test of the season. Pick: Upper Moreland, 26-21.

Saturday

No. 20 Bartram vs. No. 5 Imhotep, at Northwest Philly Super Site, 6 p.m. The Panthers keep Dioubate from breaking many long gains. Pick: Imhotep, 36-16.

No. 25 West Catholic (8-3) vs. No. 17 Neumann-Goretti (9-0), at South Philly Super Site, 6 p.m. Can Jacir Savoy and the Burrs reverse a 20-6 loss to the Saints? Pick: Neuman-Goretti, 22-20.