In 2004, the Jim Thorpe Olympians football team went 10-0 in the regular season and did so by dominating on the defensive side of the ball. That defense was deemed the "The Red Swarm" and that nickname became the backbone for the Olympians' football program for several years.
In recent years, the Thorpe defense somehow lost that intensity and it showed as the Olympians statistically served as the worst defense in the Anthracite Football League over the last two seasons.
However, Jim Thorpe's (5-1, 4-0 AFL) performance on Friday night and their performance so far this season indicate that the Olympians are back on track to becoming that feared defensive unit once again.
Thorpe held Minersville to just 139 yards of total offense and just 2.8 yards per carry on the ground to pummel the Miners 47-0 for their fourth AFL victory of the season.
The Miners (0-6) actually dominated the time of possession in the first quarter, running 18 plays to Thorpe's four. A Deonte St. Hill fumble around the five minute mark stopped the Olympians only drive of the quarter.
The Olympians "D" was terrific in the first, much like they were for the entire ball game and like this season has indicated it was just a matter of time before the Olympians offense got going.
Jim Thorpe quarterback and TIMES NEWS leading rusher Ryan Saunders II proved that to be true as he led the Olympians to 21 points in the second quarter. Saunders scored on rushes of 43 and 50 yards and hooked up with St. Hill for a 31 yard strike for a score. Just like that, the Olympians were up 21-0.
"They controlled the ball early on in the game," said Rosenberger. "We gave up some third down conversions on that first drive, but after that our defense really settled in. We're excited about pitching a shutout for the first time this season, that's a great accomplishment. We were able to get our offense going in the second as well with some big plays, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Real great effort tonight from our guys, our staff is really proud of the way the kids played tonight."
Jim Thorpe quarterback Ryan Saunders II once again showed why he is one of the best players in the Anthracite Football League this season, rushing seven times for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Saunders II had Cadillac size holes to run through and that is, of course, a testament to the JT offensive line.
Through Saunders and St. Hill's efforts this season it's easy to forget a unit like the offensive line and although they might not be in the spotlight they truly are the big reason for Thorpe's success on the ground.
"Our offensive lineman have been doing an incredible job for us this season," said Rosenberger. "A lot of times they don't get the credit they deserve, but those guys are why we've been having so much success this season offensively. If you ask our three backs in Saunders, St. Hill, and Robbie Heller they will be the first to tell you that also."
The Olympians tacked on 26 more points in the third and fourth quarters, holding Minersville in check for the remainder of the evening.
With the win Jim Thorpe will now face Mahanoy Area (5-0, 4-0 AFL) in a battle of unbeaten teams in the AFL next Friday.