Even when a football team isn't having a great season, the approach of a rivalry game can certainly boost morale.
That is exactly the case for the Marian and Panther Valley gridiron squads so far this season. The Colts are sitting at 2-3 and the Panthers 1-4, which is not exactly the position you want to be in halfway through the regular season.
However, a backyard brawl is precisely what both of these teams may need to help ease their current struggles. Even more importantly, a win against an arch rival is always a good foundation to build on.
One would think, the Colts are in the best position this week to bring home a "W after winning back-to-back games against Conwell-Egan and North Schuylkill. But, the injury bug has crept up and bit the blue and gold once again this season, as starting quarterback KJ Snerr will miss Friday's game with a shoulder injury. Snerr had to leave last week's game against the Spartans after racking up 162 yards rushing and two touchdowns. "Mr. do it all" Lukas Damian will most likely fill in for Snerr this week, but their is no doubt that the Colts are a better offensive unit with Snerr behind center and Damian serving as a receiver and blocker.
If Damian isn't chosen to be under center then it will be Sophomore Dean Richards taking the reigns of the offense. Richards is 3-for-10 for 29 yards on the season and has rushed for 55 yards.
To put in perspective how much of a loss Snerr is, the sophomore has been responsible for 395 total yards and four touchdowns in Marian's last two games
"There is no doubt we've been playing better football," said Marian coach Stan Dakosty. "We're playing with more aggressiveness and a lot more confidence. Unfortunately, we have to go into this match-up with our rival without our starting quarterback. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we have a strong-minded group of young men that will be ready to go on Friday night."
The Snerr injury aside, the Marian offense still has enough athletes to put points on the board, especially against a Panther Valley defense that has given up 42.6 points per game and 440 yards per contest.
As for Panther Valley, its defense might be struggling, but its offense ranks fourth in the TIMES NEWS area. Quarterback Kyle Ferryman is as quick as they come and has rushed for 642 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Running back Richard Nase has rushed for 519 yards, averaging over seven yards per carry and has also rushed for seven touchdowns. The Panthers are able to put up the big play and have shown that against every team they have played this season.
"We have had some offensive success this year and we've been able to put up the big play, but I just want to see our boys go out and win a big ball game," said Panthers coach Lon Hazlet. "We haven't played well in the second half of games and we stressed to the guys this week that we need to finish teams off. We know we need to play our best Friday, this is a team that put up 27 points on a tough North Schuylkill bunch, so we all need to be ready to go come Friday."
In reality, it's going to be a challenge for both defenses to get a lot of stops as the Colts "D" has struggled this season as well. They've given up over 330 yards per game and close to four touchdowns per contest. As most football enthuists know, when both defenses are struggling then it becomes all about turnovers. So, whatever team can create more turnovers will most likely take this one home.