Northwestern's remaining opponents Pen Argyl, Bangor and Catasauqua have a combined record of 13-8, while the teams they've already played have a combined mark of 19-30 this season, making the road ahead a tough one.
It starts this week when the Tigers host Pen Argyl, who Northwestern just passed in the District 11 rankings, to take a hold of the fourth and final district playoff spot. The change in the rankings came from Northwestern's win over rival Northern Lehigh last week, while the Green Knights fell to undefeated Catasauqua.
The Rough Riders (7-0) have pretty much had their way with their Colonial League opponents this season, but Pen Argyl (4-3) were able to at least contain the Catasauqua offense to a reasonable level 29 points which is roughly three touchdowns less than the Roughies average this season. That same defense will present challenges for Northwestern, whose offense has averaged just under 27 points per game this season.
The Tigers struggled offensively early in their 28-0 win over Northern Lehigh last week when they tried to run right at the Bulldogs defense. In the second-half, they moved the ball outside and found lots of running room for lead rusher Harry Hall, who finished with 151 yards rushing. Northwestern will need to find some cracks in the Knights armor again this week to have success.
"Those guys are clicking on all cylinders," said coach Josh Snyder about Pen Argyl. "We saw them play against Northern Lehigh last week [Oct. 5] and they're a good football team and have been pounding the ball this season and they threw for 250-some yards in that game, so they're balanced and tough."
With a slim hold on the fourth and final playoff spot, Northwestern will have to battle through the rest of the season to maintain their ranking and earn a return to the post-season.
"These are all playoff games. It's a tough stretch and this is where we find out just how good we are," explained Snyder. "Hopefully, we'll get healthy and get some guys back and be able to battle these guys at full strength."
Northwestern was without Cameron Richardson for the second straight week. Richardson suffered a foot injury against Notre Dame and hasn't played since. Snyder had him practice prior to last week's game, but he wasn't 100 percent and Snyder decided to hold him out one more week, but it's thought that he should return to the lineup for this week's game.
While the Green Knights, who were District 11 Champions last season and are used to playing in pressure situations, the Tigers are venturing into new territory.
"We haven't played a big game around here in a while and they don't get any bigger than this one will be for us," said Snyder. "There will obviously be a lot of playoff scenarios with this game and it's a challenge, but we'll be ready for it."