There have been six previous TIMES NEWS Player of the Week awards given out so far in the 2012 high school football season.
The previous award winners are no doubt deserving of the honor, but for Tamaqua running back Dalton Nunemacher this has felt like a long time coming.
Receiving the award around the Halloween season is more than fitting for the Raiders' senior. Nunemacher has been nothing short of the opposition's worst nightmare since week one of the season. However, it was Dalton "the nightmare" Nunemacher's performance against Schuylkill Haven last week that has earned him the week seven TN Player of the Week.
Nunemacher has been putting up all around numbers almost every week in 2012, but his play against the 'Canes could not be ignored. "The nightmare" came to play, rushing for 96 yards and a score, catching two balls for 86 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown reception, and also returned a punt 41 yards for six. His three scores helped Tamaqua (7-0, 5-0 AFL) stay on track in their hopes of winning the Anthracite League title with a 27-6 win over the Hurricanes.
"Dalton has been a big play kid for us since day one," said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. "The kid has been tremendous on all sides of the ball whether it be on special teams, offense, or defense. He really has been the difference for us between winning and losing a couple times this season."
Nunemacher has been there this season when the Raiders have been on the ropes. In Tamaqua's first game of the season against Jim Thorpe the Raiders were trailing 21-18 with the JT offense threatening from their own 14. Thorpe QB Pat Duvigneaud threw a dart across the middle, but the pass was deflected and waiting with open arms was Nunemacher, who took it back 96 yards for the score. The Raiders went on to post a 34-29 victory.
Nunemacher again helped save the Raiders against Shenandoah Valley. The Blue Devils had cut the Tamaqua lead to 14-12 on a 1-yard run by Kevin Karpovich with 3:06 left in the third quarter. Nunemacher showed his resiliency once again, recovering a bouncing Blue Devils kickoff and returning it 95 yards for a touchdown, extending their lead to 20-12. The Raiders once again escaped on the road with a 26-18 AFL win.
"Those two plays alone in the beginning of the year are the difference between us maybe being 1-2 and 3-0," said Bonner. "Last year Dalton started to come on strong towards the end of the year and we knew coming into this season that he was going to be our athlete out there on the football field. He can play multiple positions and he's the guy that leads that stable of running backs for us. He's been the spark for that group since the get go."
Nunemacher leads a ground attack that is averaging 274 yards per game. He's responsible for 85 yards of that per contest at just over 7 yards per carry. However, the most impressive part of Nunemacher's offensive arsenal may be his ability to catch the football. He has 15 catches for 406 yards on the year and if you do the math that comes to a video game type number of 27 yards per catch. Not counting return yardage Nunemacher has been responsible for 1,006 yards of total offense and 18 touchdowns. His 18 scores lead the TIMES NEWS area.
"It feels good to be doing well this year, but it really comes down to the way the guys around me have been playing," said Nunemacher. "Our offensive line and defensive line have been great all year and have put me in the position to make plays. I also have to say that I put in a lot of work this off-season. I went to about 12 football camps and really stepped it up in the weightroom. I think that has also helped me become a better football player this season."
Nunemacher is just one of many Raiders that have been making noise this season. Tamaqua is 7-0 for the first time since 1927 and they look to be getting stronger as the weeks march on. The ultimate goal is for the Raiders to finish with a zero in the loss column and also to have that AFL trophy sitting in their case in front of the gymnasium.
"Of course we want to finish undefeated and win the Anthracite, but we are not overlooking anybody," said Nunemacher. "We need to take it one game at a time and this week we have a tough Panther Valley team to play. We just have to continue to stay focused and play solid football week in and week out."