Jim Thorpe at Schuylkill Haven
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS ... Jim Thorpe (6-1 overall, 5-1 Anthracite Football League); Schuylkill Haven (5-2 overall, 4-2 Anthracite Football League)
JIM THORPE'S OFFENSE NEED TO ... untilize its team speed on the turf at Schuylkill Haven's Rotary Field. The Olympians have several skill people, including quarterback Terry Moll, running back Shane Edwards and wide reciever PJ Johnson, who possess excellent speed and should benefit from the artificial field.
JIM THORPE'S DEFENSE'S NEED TO ... win the battle in the trenches against a tough, physical Hurrican offense. Haven is know for playing smashmouth football and the Olympians front seven must be up to the challenge.
FAST FACT ... This will be the third consecutive year that Jim Thorpe has had to play its regular season game against the Hurricanes at Schuylkill Haven. That's because last year's game a scheduled Olympian home game had to be moved because Thorpe's field was deemed unplayable after several late-season rain storms hit the area.
QUOTEABLE ... "We have put ourselves in postion to be playing meaningful games late in the season. We just need to keep taking it one practice, one game at a time. Our sole focus this week is beating Schuylkill Haven." Jim Thorpe's Mark Rosenberger.
Northwestern at Pen Argyl
Saturday, 1:40 p.m.
RECORDS ... Northwestern (5-2 overall, 5-2 Colonial League); Pen Argyl (6-1 overall, 6-1 CL)
NORTHWESTERN'S OFFENSE NEED TO ... get nose tackle Kirby Mutton (6-3, 265) blocked. The Tigers also need to use their a passing game that has been mediocre all season. Receivers need to get open and the line needs to pass block and give quarterback Ben Snyder more time in the pocket.
NORTHWESTERN'S DEFENSE'S NEED TO ... slow down the Green Knight tandem of quarterback Nathan Hood and running back Dylan Evans. They are the primary threats in the most balanced offense in the Colonial League. They line up next to one another in a shotgun formation as Evans does most of his running on directs snaps with Hood blocking. Mutton, a center anchors a big offensive line.
FAST FACT ... Evans has rushed 142 times for 854 yards this season. Hood has completed 55 of 94 passes for 895 yards and five touchdowns. He's also run the ball 45 times for 159 yards.
QUOTEABLE ... "They're going to stand side by side and you have to pay close attention to which one gets the ball." Northwestern's Tom Linette.
Catasauqua at Palmerton
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Catasauqua (4-3 overall, 4-3 Colonial League); Palmerton (3-4 overall, 3-4 Colonial League)
PALMERTON'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO ... score when it gets in the red-zone - it's that simple. In their losses, the Bombers have way too many drives end near the goal line. They have to hit a second gear when they are close to get the momentum, not give it to their defense.
PALMERTON'S DEFENSE NEEDS TO ... have its offense keep the defense off the field because everyone knows it is much easier physically, and more importantly mentally, to be on offense most of the game.
FAST FACT ... Blue Bombers host Roughies for first time since 2007 ... Crucial game for both clubs since Bombers end with Pen Argyl and Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua ends with Northern Lehigh and Northwestern Lehigh ... Roughies and Bombers are both on two-game losing streaks ...
QUOTABLE ... "Our focus right now is getting a win this week vs Catty and keeping ourselves alive for an Eastern Conference playoff berth and a possible winning record." - Palmerton's Paul McArdle
Bangor at Northern Lehigh
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Bangor (6-1 overall, 6-1 Colonial League); Northern Lehigh (7-0 overall, 7-0 Colonial League)
NORTHERN LEHIGH'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO ... be aware of Bangor's multiple fronts. The Slaters have used numerous looks on defense, including a 4-3, 4-4, 5-3 and 5-2. The Bulldogs are also expecting to see a 6-2. With that in mind, the offensive line needs to know their blocking schemes and be prepared for the many looks.
NORTHERN LEHIGH'S DEFENSE NEEDS TO ... keep Scott LaValva in check. The Bulldogs needs to know where Bangor's answer to Cody Remaley is at all times. While Bangor has established other players during the time LaValva was hurt and on the bench, the senior who has gained 4,331 rushing yards in his career is a game-breaker.
FAST FACTS ... Northern Lehigh has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including a 49-7 victory a year ago ... This is the third time in the last eight seasons that the Bulldogs have started a season with seven straight wins. They also did it in 2003 and 2005. This is also the sixth time since 1998 that they have enjoyed a win streak this long. Other long win streaks include 2005 (10), 2003 (14), 2002 (9), 1999 (9) and 1998 (10).
QUOTABLE ... "They worry us. I think their skill positions match up with ours. In Scott LaValva and Cody, you're not going to find more dynamic players in our league. With (LaValva) being out the last three weeks, thay've found other kids. That makes them more dangerous now." - Northern Lehigh's Joe Tout
Shenandoah Valley at Marian
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Shenandoah Valley (4-3 overall, 4-2 Anthracite Football League); Marian (1-6 overall, 0-5 Anthracite Football League)
MARIAN'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO ... Play mistake-free football. Shenandoah Valley is peaking at the right time, having won four of its last five games, and is coming off a shutout victory over Panther Valley (a team which beat Marian 24-21 just a week prior). Starting quarterback Corey Quick is questionable for Friday night due to injury, and if he can't go, Ryan Karnish will step in for his third varsity start this season. The Colts also need to get their running game in gear and need a big game from starting tailback Paul Martin. Last week against Minersville, Marian averaged 1.9 yards per carry (36 carries for 70 yards).
MARIAN'S DEFENSE NEEDS TO ... Pick its poison in trying to contain a Shenandoah offense thats hurts teams both on the ground and through the air. Eric Whalen is the Blue Devils' leading rusher with 682 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Chris Palubinsky has passed for 1,086 yards and 10 TD's on the year. Receivers Colin Karahuta, Billy Moyer and Nick Merva have combined for 57 receptions and 992 yards (and have caught all 10 of Palubinsky's scoring strikes). The Colts must also be able to endure some more lineup reshuffling. After losing starting linebacker and leading tackler Anthony Damiano two weeks ago, Marian's other starting linebacker, Jordan Weber, is coming off an injury and is questionable for Friday night's game.
FAST FACTS ... Marian enters Friday night's Homecoming game having lost six straight contests. The last time the Colts lost six or more games in a row in a single season was in 1972, when Joe Bressi's squad lost its last seven games to finish 2-8. The six-game skid is head coach Stan Dakosty's longest losing streak in 34 years since he took over the team in 1977 ... Shenandoah Valley's three losses this season have come against teams with a combined record of 19-2 (North Schuylkill, Reading Holy Name and Jim Thorpe).
QUOTABLE ... "This has been an extremely frustrating year, but everyone is still working hard and no one has given up. It's Homecoming week and the kids are excited, so we're going to go out there and give out best effort against a very good Shenandoah team." - Marian's Stan Dakosty.
Pocono Mountain West at Lehighton
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Pocono Mountain West 3-4 overall (1-2 Mountain Valley Conference); Lehighton 2-5 overall (0-4 Mountain Valley Conference)
LEHIGHTON'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO … pick up its running game a bit. It didn't help matters the Indians' ground game took a hit with the lost of Giuseppe Caruso with an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Lehighton needs to look to balance out its offensive attack this week after relying heavily on the pass in a 23-21 setback a week ago.
LEHIGHTON'S DEFENSE NEEDS TO … focus on shutting down PM West's main threat Terence Quiteh. Ebbert stated the Panthers like to put him in the backfield all by himself, put 10 blockers in front of him and let him run loose. All Quiteh has to do is find a hole, but Ebbert stated he won't go down with an arm tackle. So, the Indians need to get a total grasp on him, so he doesn't have a 224 yards on 29 carries, and three touchdowns, like Quiteh did in a 27-15 win over Tunkhannock last week.
FAST FACTS … Pocono Mountain West has won the last three meetings between the two Mountain Valley Conference foes, including a 21-14 victory last year in Pocono Summit. The last time the Indians knocked off the Panthers was back in 2006 where they gained a 42-14 win.
QUOTABLE … "We're trying to cut down on mistakes. We've got a chance to win the last three games if we play well. So, we're just trying to become a better football team each week. If we play better than we did last week, us stopping their winning streak will take care of itself." – Lehighton's George Ebbert.
Panther Valley at Tamaqua
Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Panther Valley 1-6 (1-4 Anthracite Football League), Tamaqua 1-6 (1-4 Anthracite Football League)
PANTHER VALLEY'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO ... regain the momentum it had in rallying in the fourth quarter for its lone victory against Marian. Since then, the Panthers have been shut out. It will help the Panthers if they can find their chief receiving weapon, Brock Mitchell, open in the secondary.
PANTHER VALLEY'S DEFENSE NEEDS TO ... limit Tamaqua's power running tandem of Grif Griffiths and Garth Lakitsky inside and Jarred Muffley on the perimeter in order to force the Blue Raiders into third and long situations.
TAMAQUA'S OFFENSE NEEDS TO ... use its size advantage up front to pound away and wear down the Panther defense. That could open things up for some big runs. The Raiders could benefit from another big game from Muffley, who rushed for 94 yards and 2 TDs vs. Schuylkill Haven last week.
TAMAQUA's DEFENSE NEEDS TO ... keep pressure on QB Nick McArdle to disrupt the Panthers' pistol attack to prevent it from taking advantage of Mitchell's size in the passing game.
FAST FACTS ... Panther Valley head coach Frank Damian announced this week he is removing himself as coach on the sidelines for Friday, due to unspecified circumstances. Attempts by THE TIMES NEWS to reach Damian for further comment about this week's game were unsuccessful ... a year ago, both teams had 6-1 records heading into their regular season meeting ... Tamaqua leads the series with Panther Valley 24-22-1 but the Panthers won both games last year, including a 33-26 OT win in Lansford in the District 11 Class AA quarterfinals.
QUOTABLE ... "Last year's playoff game is still fresh in our minds. It was a great football game but tough to be on the losing end. Having our season end that way is something we haven't forgotten." - Tamaqua's Sam Bonner