Tamaqua head football coach Sam Bonner wore a big smile on his face as he stood on the turf at Men of Marian Stadium in Hometown on Saturday night.
The Blue Raiders had just shut out the Colts by a 12-0 score to no only win the Anthracite Football League championship, but finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record.
It's the first undefeated and untied season at the school since 1927. The 1962 Raiders won the Eastern Conference championship, but finished with a tie.
Tamaqua will now host Pen Argyl on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a District 11 2A semifinal. Marian will travel to Tri-Valley on Saturday for a District 11 Class A semifinal at 7 p.m.
Two perfect passes by Tamaqua quarterback Nate Edmonds to receivers Tyler Kress and Dustin Vandermartin for touchdowns was all the Raiders needed to accomplish the feat. A strong defense, combined with some bullish running by Dalton Nunemacher did the rest.
"The senior class did a great job during the course of the year," said Bonner when asked about the undefeated season. "We said going in we'd go as far as the seniors would take us and every one of them has done a great job for us. It's great for the kids, it's great for the town. I know everyone is excited and we're looking forward to moving on."
Both teams battled back and forth through the first quarter with each getting into the red zone without scoring.
"Marian did a great job," said Bonner. "We knew they had a tough defense coming in. We had some opportunities that were left on the field, but our kids made the plays when they had to make the plays."
The Raiders finally found the end zone with 7:03 left in the first half taking over on the Marian 41 after a Colt punt.
A 17-yard completion from Edmonds to Vandermartin moved the ball down to the 24. On the next play, Edmonds found Krell open over the middle and he stretched into the end zone for the score. A pass attempt for the conversion was no good, keeping it at 6-0.
The Colts had a couple of four and outs the rest of the half, having their offense hampered a bit by losing tailbacks Dylan Quirk and Anthony Agosti, to injuries.
"We kind of found ourself behind the eight-ball," said Marian head coach Stan Dakosty. "We lost our two tailbacks and it took us out of our rhythm. Lets call a spade a spade. You lose two tailbacks, two d-backs against a team like this is going to be tough. We have a week now to make adjustments if we don't have those kids and hopefully bounce back."
The Raiders put together a 9-play, 58-yard drive on their first possession of the third quarter, with Nunemacher carrying the ball seven times for 28 yards before Edmonds found Vandermartin behind the Marian secondary for a 24-yard scoring strike. A run for the two-point conversion failed and with 6:12 on the clock, Tamaqua took its 12-0 lead.
"They knew we were running the ball well so we thought we could catch them," said Bonner. "Edmonds put it where he had to and Dustin made the catch."
It looked like the Colts were going to answer right back as Corey Quick hooked up with Lukas Damian for a 53-yard completion on first down following the kickoff. This gave Marian the ball at the Tamaqua 20. A couple of illegal procedure penalties got the Colts out of sync and they turned the ball back to the Raiders on the 28.
Tamaqua stuck to the running game in the 4th quarter and had the ball 8:13 during the final stretch.
"I want to congratulate Coach Bonner and Tamaqua," said Dakosty. "They've had a great year and I wish them good luck in the playoffs."