St. Joseph's Prep's stout defense to battle Coatesville's high-octane offense

Quarterback Ricky Ortega (1) and Coatesville will be tested by St. Joseph’s Prep’s stifling defense in Friday’s Class 6A semifinal.

St. Joseph’s Prep’s smothering defense and Coatesville’s explosive offense will go head to head in a PIAA Class 6A football semifinal.

The Hawks (12-0) square off against the Red Raiders (13-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Downingtown West’s Kottmeyer Stadium for the right to play for statewide glory. The Prep is seeking its fourth title in the last five seasons. Coatesville is trying to earn the program’s first crown.

On Saturday afternoon, the Hawks advanced – and notched their 26th consecutive victory – with a 49-14 romp over District 11’s Parkland.

The Hawks limited the previously undefeated Trojans to 30 yards rushing on 22 attempts. They sacked quarterback Michael Ruisch five times.

“That unit plays so well together,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said of the Hwaks. “Their guys are aggressive and always in the right position to make plays.”

The Red Raiders rallied to beat Garnet Valley, 35-28, in last week’s thrilling District 1 final. The difference was Avery Young’s interception and 72-yard return for a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining.

“The Prep is scary because they’re good in all phases of the game,” Ortega said. “But I don’t think any team can take us lightly. There’s a reason we’ve won 13 games. Both teams come in with a lot of confidence.”

Against Parkland, the Prep’s defense was led by linebackers Phil O’Connor and Bradley Cobaugh, ends Rayshad Wallace (three sacks) and Jake Feehery, and cornerback Zach Bougess.

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Senior linebacker Phil Connor (10) has totaled 68 tackles, with seven sacks, this season.

Coatesville’s potent offense averages 44 points per game. The team has scored at least 42 points in 10 of its last 12 outings.

“I don’t think we’ve faced any team quite like this,” Hawks coach Gabe Infante said. “They have such big-play potential. What strikes me is how quickly they can put points on the board.”

The Red Raiders are spurred by dual-threat quarterback Ricky Ortega, tailback Aaron Young, and receivers Avery Young, Dapree Bryant, Mekhi Alexander, and Kahtero Summers.

“It’s going to be a chess match,” Infante said. “As the game goes on, we’re going to have to figure out what the best matchups are for us.”

Ortega, a sophomore and the coach’s son, has hit on 166 of 264 throws for 2,841 yards and 36 touchdowns. “When you have a quarterback like him, it puts a strain on your defense,” Infante said.

Aaron Young has carried 160 times for 1,632 yards and 33 scores, and Bryant has 52 receptions for 1,171 yards and 19 touchdowns. Of Young, who has multiple Division I scholarship offers, Infante said, “He can run away from you or through you.”

The Prep’s hurry-up, spread attack is led by quarterback Marquez McCray, halfbacks Marques Mason and Kolbe Burrell, and receivers Brandon Sanders, Johnny Freeman, and James Cherry.

Game at a Glance

No. 1 St. Joseph’s Prep (12-0) vs. No. 3 Coatesville (13-1), at Downingtown West, 7 p.m. Friday.

Twitter: Follow @ozoneinq for live updates.

Streaming: www.blogtalkradio.com/WSJP.

Up front: Coatesville’s offensive charge is led by center Ricky Rodriguez (5-10, 215) and tackles Ricky Santiago (6-2, 220) and Chris McBride (6-2, 250).

Back line: A Prep secondary that will tested by a fleet wide receiving corps features Zach Bougess, Devon Dickerson, Dawson DeIuliis, and DeJuan Dandridge.

A step away: The Red Raiders are trying to reach Hershey for the second time. They fell in the 2012 Class 4A final to North Allegheny, 63-28.

Pick: Prep, 42-21.