It was a show along the lines of a script that Coatesville High School head coach Matt Ortega and his Red Raiders had seen before.
Take the opening possession of the game, mix some run plays with a couple of timely passes and before you know it, you're celebrating in the end zone.
Then when you strip the ball from the opposing team on its first possession and dart 80 yards down the sideline for a touchdown with less than six minutes expired, you have a 14-0 lead and all of the momentum that is so vital in big games.
This time, however, in the PIAA AAAA state championship game the team with the 14-point lead wasn’t Coatesville.
North Allegheny senior quarterback Mack Leftwich, who will be attending the University of Texas El Paso, led the Tigers (16-0) down the field in efficient fashion before hitting Skylar Cox on an 8-yard touchdown strike, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Despite moving the ball down the field on their opening possession, the Red Raiders found themselves chasing Brendan Coniker down the sideline after he stripped the ball out of the hands of Dre Boggs while fighting for more yardage.
The District 1 champs were suddenly in a 14-0 hole that would get deeper just two minutes later, when Kevin Edwards pried the ball loose from the Red Raiders and ran untouched for 52 yards and the score.
“To play my final game with this team of guys was amazing,” said Michigan recruit Patrick Kugler. “I am both happy and sad, as I am really going to miss being with these guys. I just love my coaches. They are the ones who make this possible.”
All season long and as far back as 2010, a recurring theme for the Tigers has been “their quarterback is too small."
On the biggest stage that Pennsylvania high school football has to offer, Leftwich, at 5 feet, 11 inches, shut up the naysayers for one last time as he completed 16 of 20 passing attempts for 199 yards with one touchdown on the ground and another through the air.
“Nobody has wanted to give this team the credit they deserve,” said Tigers head coach Art Walker Jr. “It’s always, 'Their QB is too small,' (or) 'They aren't fast enough,' etc. This is a team has done something no other team has done.”
“This group of guys has played five seasons' worth of games in three years, “ added Walker.” They have won the state title twice, completed the only undefeated season in school history and had a combined record of 45-2 in that time. That says it all.”
Coatesville battled back, scoring its first touchdown on an Emmitt Hunt run from one yard out. The Red Raiders also made perhaps the biggest play of the game when Daquan Worley forced a fumble at the Red Raiders' 17-yard line. The Tigers led 35-7, following the first of three touchdown runs scored by Alex DeCiantis (21 carries, 115 yards) in a 22-yard sprint to the corner of the end zone.
On the second play from scrimmage, Worley then broke free and ran 89 yards for the score, giving Coatesville new life as the Tigers pursued the running clock that comes with a 35-point lead.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Red Raiders marched the length of the field, cutting the lead to 14 when Hunt dove into pay dirt from one yard out. That was as close as the tilt would get, as North Allegheny posted four touchdowns in an 11-minute span to cement their second state championship in three years.
“We kept battling. We never quit,” said Coatesville linebacker Tyler Burke. “We had a couple of things go their way early, and we just couldn’t get back to even. We have had a great season and that team is very good. This has been an amazing run.”
Coatesville 7 7 7 7 -28
North Allegheny 28 7 14 14 -63
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