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Chester County Press

Harris scores 4 TDs in Downingtown East’s 42-0 win over Kennett

09/27/2023 03:07PM ● By Richard Gaw

Moments after seeing his team soundly defeated by a far more talented club last Friday night, Kennett High School Head Football Coach Lance Frazier gathered his dejected club at the South Street side of Kennett Stadium and looked into their eyes.

“So, you guys ready to run the table?” he asked them. “If we run the table, we qualify for playoffs. Who’s with me?” Frazier did not have to ask the Blue Demons twice.

This singular buy-in of commitment to go undefeated for the remainder of the 2023 season came on the heels of Kennett’s 42-0 loss to undefeated Downingtown East, who dominated both sides of the ball throughout a game that was highlighted by four rushing touchdowns by halfback Ayden Harris.

The Cougars’ scoring came frequently, and it began early. On the second play of the game, Downingtown East capitalized on a bad snap to recover the ball on the Kennett 14-yard line. A pass from quarterback JJ Helverson to fullback Michael Brown moved the ball to the 8-yard line, and with 10:45 remaining in the first quarter, Harris bullied his way to the end zone that jumped the Cougars out to a 7-0 lead.

After inheriting the ball at midfield on their next possession, Harris picked up 12 yards on a fourth-and-one at the 41-yard line. A pass to wide receiver Caden Walsh moved the chains to the 5-yard line, and with 6:50 remaining in the quarter, Harris ran untouched into the end zone to push the Downingtown East lead to 14-0.

On Kennett’s next set of plays, freshman quarterback Garrett McCracken (who was subbing for starter Chase Patalano, who was injured during a 38-0 loss to Bayard Rustin on Oct. 14) flicked a pass over the middle that was picked off by linebacker Owen Lammy and returned to the 23-yard line, that set up a TD strike on the first play from Helverson to fullback Ryan McSherry with 5:35 left in the quarter. The Cougars continued their early scoring barrage on Harris’s 30-yard touchdown run with 3:25 left in the quarter, who then followed it up with an 8-yard TD run with 1:31 left that gave Downingtown East an insurmountable 35-0 lead at the start of the second quarter.

Before halftime – and a scoreless second half when the mercy rule went into effect and the Cougars politely chose to sit on the ball – Downingtown East tacked on its last touchdown when back-up quarterback Mason Ippolito finished off impressive runs by Lammy to plunge one-yard for the score with 8:54 left in the first half.

Despite the loss, Frazier said he and his coaching staff got an early preview of what the Kennett football program will look like in the coming seasons.

“I saw a lot of young guys get an opportunity to play,” he said. “We have a lot of starters out, and all we wanted to see as a coaching staff was to see who was going to step up and surprise us. In the second half, we saw guys begin to compete and see what is down the road for them.

“Our kids give us every last drop of what they have in them, year in and year out, and we’re just blessed to have guys who play hard for us.”

For Kennett (2-1 in the Ches-Mont American and 2-3 overall), the task of going undefeated for the remainder of the season and qualify for post-season play will be a mountainous pursuit, as they will have to face conference foes Unionville, West Chester East, Sun Valley and Great Valley, as well as Interboro at Homecoming on Sept. 29. 

“We have to take one game at a time,” Frazier said. “We have Interboro next Friday for Homecoming, and they are physical, they are tough and they have size, which is something we don’t have, so we are going to prepare for that game like we are preparing for a playoff game.” 

Downingtown East, now 5-0 with a share of the Ches-Mont National Division lead with undefeated rival Downingtown West, will host Oxford on Sept. 29.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].