Season Preview: Downingtown West pounds Neshaminy, 28-7

New QB, same old result: Whippets are a powerhouse

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

downingtown_westDOWNINGTOWN — Heading into the 2014 season, Downingtown West football coach Mike Milano knew that he had a big hole to full. And, the Whippets’ quarterback Tyler McNulty knew that he had some big shoes to fill.

Last year, quarterback Nick Pagel led the Whippets to a Ches-Mont League National Division title with a 6-0 league record. West lost to Spring-Ford in the opening round of the District 1 Class AAAA layoffs and finished with an 8-3 overall record.

Even with the loss of Pagel, Milano enters the season with a good outlook — and with a 2-0 record, including an impressive 28-7 win against Suburban One power and the defending District 1 Class AAAA champion Neshaminy, Friday night, as three Whippets — Jake Barr, Braden Harper and McNulty — all rushed for more than 75 yards in the game.

He made the observation that the Ches-Mont team with the senior quarterback who has seen some reps in the previous season has gone on to win the league.

McNulty fills the bill. And, the Whippets have a lot of veteran players around him — including talented running backs Jimmy DiSantis and Barr. Actually, West has quite a few returning starters on both offense and defense.

The Whippets’ returning starters on the offensive side are tackle John West, guards Jackson Hale and Sam Drill, back Harper, wide receiver Tom Mattioni and backfield veterans Barr and DiSantis.

West’s defensive players who have starting experience are tackles Tom O’Brien, Mike Withka and Brandon Peterson, cornerbacks Ryan Schmitt and Tom Mattioni, free safety Jason Borosky and linebackers Brandon Myers and Lucas McMahon.

The Whippets appear to be passing some tough early tests before the Ches-Mont season gets underway. The first three games on their schedule are against Haverford High (a strong team from the Central League that is coming off a nine-win season), Neshaminy (the defending District 1 Class AAAA champion) and Mifflin (the defending District 6 Class AAAA champion).

The talented West squad has already passed its first test. Last weekend, the Whippets travelled to Delaware County to face Haverford and returned home with an impressive 31-2 win over the Fords.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Whippets exploded with a 28-point outburst in the second quarter. McNulty finished the game at 11-for-12 passing for 215 yards with two touchdown passes.

West’s defense also performed extremely well. The Whippets forced the Fords to fumble 10 times and also logged one interception. And, they kept Haverford’s offense off the scoreboard.

“2013 saw us win the Ches-Mont National title — even with seven sophomore starters,” commented Milano, who has spent 21 season as a head coach — two at Unionville, eight at Penncrest and 11 at Downingtown West.

“This year we have 16 starters returning and we are poised to improve upon last year’s success.  Our quarterback saw significant action last year while platooning with the league’s MVP, Nick Pagel.

“The key for us will be to get off to a fast start with a tough non-league schedule including Haverford, Neshaminy and Mifflin County High School.”

The Whippets have gotten off to a fast start and hope to keep it going over the next two weekends in their games against powerful defending district champion teams.

Then, on September 19, they begin their Ches-Mont League season at home against West Chester Henderson, a team Milano views as one of the top squads in the National Division. Milano also considers Downingtown East and Coatesville as two of his team’s toughest opponents this season.

Milano already has logged four championship seasons on his resume — 1994 District 1 Class AAA Championship with Unionville and Ches-Mont League National Division titles with Downingtown West in 2008, 2009 and 2013. Now, he is hoping to replicate the back-to-back title seasons the Whippets produced at the end of the last decade.

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