Downingtown East overpowers Unionville, 42-5

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Cougars dominate upfront in battle of defending Ches Mont champs

Downingtown East's dominant defensive line often was able to power through and stop run plays in the backfield against Unionville, Friday. Here, Stephen Dilulio (44) and Jack Hayward (28) close in on Jack Adams (25). Jim Gill photo.

Downingtown East’s dominant defensive line often was able to power through and stop run plays in the backfield against Unionville, Friday. Here, Stephen Dilulio (44) and Jack Hayward (28) close in on Jack Adams (25). Jim Gill photo.

By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The two defending Ches Mont football league champions met Friday and left with very different paths ahead to try and repeat, as Downingtown East totally dismantled Unionville, 42-5.

For the 4-1 Cougars — whose only loss came to powerhouse North Penn — the path is clear, if not necessarily easy: beat Coatesville (which stomped Downingtown West, 48-9, Friday night) and undefeated Bishop Shanahan (which beat West Chester Henderson, 21-14, Friday) and they can defend their league title and potentially be a major player in the 6A District One playoffs.

For the 2-3 Indians, they have to find a way to overcome the loss (and a number of injuries plaguing the team right now) and focus on a stretch of winnable conference contests, starting Friday at Oxford, with 4-1 Great Valley (which takes on West Chester Rustin, this coming Friday) seeming the mostly likely barrier to both a second straight conference title and a berth in the 5A District One playoffs. Unionville and Great Valley play in two weeks.

Downingtown East’s dominating performance — and its display of raw power up front — has to bolster its 2016 hopes, even if the focus right now isn’t down the road, but on the next opponent, West Chester Henderson.

Cougars' running back Daniel Liaudatis (10) powers into the secondary, Friday against Unionville. Jim Gill photo.

Cougars’ running back Daniel Liaudatis (10) powers into the secondary, Friday against Unionville, as Aiden Boyle (11) tries to take him down. Jim Gill photo.

“We’re not very fancy,” East Head Coach Mike Matta said. “We’re physically tough. Our kids work in the weight room and weight train. It’s not like we do anything fancy, we come at you, and keep coming at you. Last year, I thought we were more talented, this year, I think we’re getting better every week, which is nice.”

Meanwhile, Unionville, playing one of the school’s toughest schedules ever, has to be worried about the toll being taken psychically and physically on the squad — the Indians have been banged up, with QB Alex Gorgone out for the near term (as well as his backup, Drew Lenkaitis) — and get ready to take on 1-4 Oxford, a team better than its record might indicate, having suffered three close losses before losing to Rustin 33-6, Friday night.

“They’re (Downigntown East) a good team, and physically, they outsized us,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “Our kids competed really well, we were in it for a while, but it got away from us at the end of the second quarter.”

Although a bit undermanned and outsized by the larger Cougars, the Indians showed a lot of fight early. After recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff, they drove down and took an early 3-0 lead on a 37-yard Matt Mainwaring field goal. Early on, while Indians’ back Jack Adams was bottled up, QB Joe Zubillaga found a few running alleys to get the ball moving.

Downingtown East Quarterback Bryce Lauletta was effective in the air, throwing for 243 yards. Jim Gill photo.

Downingtown East Quarterback Bryce Lauletta was effective in the air, throwing for 243 yards. Jim Gill photo.

But then Downingtown East exploited its power up front and mounted long drives for TDs on its next four possessions, behind the running of Daniel Liaudatis and the arm of QB Bryce Lauletta, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 243 yards, essentially putting the game away by halftime, at 28-3. The Cougar defense went into shut down mode — often getting into the Unionville backfield as the ball was being handed off, which killed the run game.

Two second half Unionville turnovers — one on a punt that appeared to hit a Unionville player’s helmet and an interception by Brassier Stocker — led to short TD scoring drives for the Cougars.

Neither coach seemed interested in looking back, though, already focused on the next opponent. In the case of Unionville, Oxford.

“They’re much improved, I think they have three losses, each by a point or two, and they’re a good team,” Clark said. “Every game in our league is going to be tough from here on in.”

As tempting as it might be to look ahead to what could be an epic match up against Coatesville later in the season, Matta said his team will be focused on one team and one team only: Henderson.

“We really never look past anyone,” Matta said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we really haven’t been upset many times. We’ve lost our share of games against teams that are better than us, but we really don’t lose to teams we’re better than, because we don’t look past them, we always think every team (coming up) is the greatest team on Earth.”

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