It's hard to believe, but the 2011 high school football season is already into the home stretch.
The first eight weeks of the season haven't been extremely successful for the majority of area teams. Heading into this week's action, Northern Lehigh is the only local team with a winning record. The Bulldogs (7-1) are also the only area team that appears likely to be headed to the District 11 playoffs.
But despite the lack of overall team success, the season has produced some outstanding individual highlights so far.
OVERTIME thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the top offensive performances of the season.
* The first interesting statistic is that the top two passing yardage games of the season belong to Pleasant Valley but they were turned in by two different quarterbacks. Bear sophomore Brandon Leap was projected to be the starting quarterback this season, but an injury sidelined him until week seven. Leap made a splash in his debut, throwing for 271 yards against East Stroudsburg North. While Leap was out, Troy Verway quarterbacked PV and he turned in the second best performance this season, passing for 248 yards against Wyoming Valley West.
* Of the top 10 passing yardage performances, three belong to Lehighton's Josh Agosto. That's even more impressive when you consider that Agosto, who was injured in the preseason and didn't return to the lineup until week five, has played just four games. Agosto passed 236 yards against East Stroudsburg South, 226 yards against Pocono Mountain East, and 187 yards against Pocono Moutain West.
* Pleasant Valley isn't the only school to have two different quarterbacks among the top performances. Lehighton's Anthony Farole, a receiver who turned into an emergency quarterback for the Indians joins Agosto on the list. Farole threw for 218 yards against Marian in the season opener.
* The only quarterback besides Agosto to appear more than once on the top 10 list is Jim Thorpe's Pat Duvigneaud. Duvigneaud threw for 239 yards against Minersville (the third highest total by an area QB this season) and 232 yards against Schuylkill Haven.
* Also making appearances in the top 10 are Mike Weaver of Panther Valley (233 yards against Shenandoah) and Ty Cunningham of Northwestern (209 yards against Palmerton).
* There have been five rushing performances of 200 yards or better this season and they have been turned in by five different running backs. Tamaqua's Jarred Muffley's 272 game against Shenandoah tops the list. Rounding out the top five are Marian's Paul Martin (245 yards against Lehighton); Northern Lehigh's Trevor Yashur (243 yards against Palisades); Northwestern's Ty Cunningham (233 yards against Wison); and Pleasant Valley's Rob Getz (211 yards against Honesdale).
* Area athletes have hit or surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark a total of 31 times this season.
* Marian's Paul Martin has four of the top 15 highest rushing totals this season. No one else apears in the top 15 more than twice.
* Tamaqua's Jarred Muffley has had five 100-yard games the most in the area.
* Marian is the only school to have two different runners in the top 10. Martin is on the list twice and Dylan Quirk once.
* Lehighton is the only school to have three different 100-yard rushers this season as Agosto, Farole and Jacen Nalesnik have all accomplished the feat.
* Six schools have had two different players hit the 100-yard mark. Marian (Martin, Quirk); Northwestern (Cunningham and Ben Snyder); Tamaqua (Muffley and Dalton Nunemacher); Northern Lehigh (Yashur and Dylan Hoffman); Jim Thorpe (Duvigneaud and P.J. Johnson); and Panther Valley (Weaver and Richie Smith).
* Palmerton is the only school without a 100-yard rusher this season.
* Marian's Quirk has the top rushing performance against a team with a winning record this season. Quirk rushed for 169 yards against Shenandoah (5-3). It is the ninth best area total overall.
* Northwestern's Cunningham is the only player to have a 200-yard passing game and a 200-yard rushing game this season
* Four other players had 200 yard passing games and 100 yard rushing games this season. Jim Thorpe's Duvigneaud, Panther Valley's Weaver; and Lehighton's Agosto and Farole.
* Lehighton's Nalesnik has had the most receptions and most receiving yardage in a game this season both of them occuring in the same game. Nalesnik's big night came against Pocono Mountain East when he caught 11 passes for 191 yards.
* There have been a total of 14 100-yard receiving games so far this season.
* Khaaliq Lynch of Jim Thorpe is the only player to hit the 100-yard receiving mark three times this season. Lynch had 183 yards against Schuylkill Haven; 131 yards against North Schuylkill; and 122 yards against Minersville.
* Nalesnik and Pleasant Valley's Getz have both topped the 100-yard mark twice.
* Pleasant Valley is the only team with three different players to have 100-yard receiving games. The Bears' Getz, Andrew Romeo and Sekou Jones all accomplished the feat. Getz had 140 yards against Honesdale and 102 yards against Wyoming Valley West. Romeo had 129 yards against ES North; and Jones had 123 yards against Wyoming Valley West.
* Lehighton (Nalesnik and Farole) and Palmerton (Monty Szukics and Dallas Miata) both have had two different players record 100-yard receiving games.
* Palmerton's Szukics and Pleasant Valley's Jones have had the second highest number of receptions in a game eight. Szukics hauled in his eight passes for 125 yards against Salisbury while Jones caught eight passes for 123 yards against Wyoming Valley West.
* The most incredible display of versatility this season has been turned in by Lehighton's Farole. The receiver turned quarterback turned receiver has had a 200-yard passing game, a 100-yard rushing game and a 100-yard receiving game.
OFFENSE RULES ... Week eight of the high school football season featured some impressive offensive displays. A number of the performances by area athletes are highlighted in this week's OVERTIME column. By it wasn't just individual athletes who turned in big numbers, teams came up with huge efforts as well.
In the eight games involving area teams, the winning team scored at least 30 points in seven of them. The only game last week that didn't have at least one team top the 30-point mark was Northern Lehigh's 20-7 victory over Bangor.
Among TIMES NEWS area teams, Tamaqua scored 39 points, Lehighton had 38, Marian had 35 and Jim Thorpe had 30. Pen Argyl (42 against Northwestern), East Stroudsburg South (37 against Pleasant Valley) and Catasauqua (35 against Palmerton) put up big numbers against local teams.
CENTURY MARK ... Lehighton's Jacen Nalesnik caught an 88-yard touchdown pass in Friday's game against Pocono Mountain West. Nalesnik also booted a field goal and four extra-points to account for 13 of the Indians' points.
Nalesnik, who now has 101 points on the season, is just the ninth Lehighton player in the last 41 years to score 100 or more points in a season.
Robbie Frey was the last Indian to turn the trick, accomplishing the feat in 2006. Other Lehighton players who have scored at least 100 points since 1970 are, Joe Semanoff, Chris Green, Dwayne Fisher, Clayton "Skimmer" Andrews, Todd Wolfe, Kevin Snyder and Larry Mertz.
VERY SPECIAL TEAMS ... One of the biggest plays during Northern Lehigh's 20-7 victory over previously unbeaten Bangor on Friday night was a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by the Bulldogs' Dylan Hofmann. The score came late in the first half and snapped a scoreless tie.
Hofmann's punt return for a TD was the longest by a Northern Lehigh player since Matt Sujack returned one 96 yards for a score on Oct. 14, 2005 against Saucon Valley.
The punt return for a touchdown was nothing new for the Bulldogs. Since 1995, Northern Lehigh now has a TIMES NEWS area best 20 punt returns for touchdowns. The next closest team is Jim Thorpe with 10.
FOUR SCORE ... Tamaqua's Jarred Muffley ran for four touchdowns against Panther Valley on Friday night.
The last time a Blue Raider rushed for four scores in a game was 107 games ago when Alex Zukas scored four times against Mahanoy Area on Sept. 21, 2001.
AIR-ROSENBERGER ... Although Jim Thorpe (1-8) has struggled to produce wins this season, one area where the Olympians have excelled is in the passing game.
Jim Thorpe has thrown 18 touchdowns passes this season, which is easily the best among area teams. Pleasant Valley and Lehighton, with 13 TD passes each, are the next closest. Other local teams and their touchdown passing numbers are Northern Lehigh (9), Northwestern (7), Marian (5), Panther Valley (5), Palmerton (4), and Tamaqua (1).
The fact that the Olympians have been successful through the air is something that has happened quite often during Mark Rosenberger's tenure at Jim Thorpe. Since Rosenberger took over as head coach in 1998, the Olympians have had 185 touchdown passes (in 145 games). That is significantly more than any other area school during that time period. Marian is next on the list with 151 TD passes in the 13 year span. It is followed by Lehighton (148), Pleasant Valley (116), Panther Valley (104), Northern Lehigh (102), Tamaqua (100), Palmerton (96) and Northwestern (86).
PICKED OFF ... Tamaqua had four interceptions in its win over Panther Valley last week, with three of them being made by Dalton Nunemacher.
The last time the Blue Raiders had four interceptions in a game was Oct. 19, 2001, also against the Panthers.
Marian also had four interceptions this past week. The last time the Colts had four picks was Nov. 2, 2007 at Tamaqua.