EAST STROUDSBURG Over his long tenure as head coach, East Stroudsburg South's Ed Christian has enjoyed playing Lehighton.
So in the final league matchup between the two schools, he decided to give the Indians a going-away present.
Needless to say, Tom McCarroll and his club wasn't thrilled with it.
The surprise was an option play that the Cavaliers haven't used all year. And the two times Christian ran it, his team produced long touchdown runs.
One of those scores, a 57-yard burst from Ryan Nazario on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, changed the complexion of a close game and led South to a convincing 34-7 Mountain Valley Conference victory.
The win assured the Cavs (8-0; 7-0) at least a tie for the MVC championship while Lehighton dropped to 4-4 overall and 3-4 in the MVC.
"It's a triple option and we're reading it," said Christian. "We haven't gotten to this point until today. We've done it in practice but we put it in for this ballgame. And it looked pretty good.
"The one to start the second half was the key play, I think."
The reason for its importance was because of the effort the Indians put forth in the first two quarters.
While South opened up a 13-0 advantange on the strength of a Nico Petrone 26-yard touchdown run and a swing pass to Ben Nieves that went for a 62-yard score, Lehighton hung tough and managed to move the ball against the top-ranked team in District 11's Class AAAA.
The Indians put together an impressive drive at the end of the second quarter that resulted in a 32-yard Tyler Cann TD run. The march consisted of eight plays, went 76 yards, and was also helped by a 24-yard blast by Wyatt Clements.
"We were able to move the ball a little bit, and control the line of scrimmage there," said McCarroll, whose team trailed just 13-7 at the break. "We left a few plays out on the field but at halftime we felt pretty good about things.
"Unfortunate things happened. You play a good team like that and if you don't really keep things in line, things will fall apart like they did to us in the second half."
Nazario's long sprint to the end zone wasn't the only problem Lehighton had after intermission. Besides not moving the ball as well as they had earlier, the Indians were burned two more times on big plays in the fourth quarter. One of those big plays came on the triple-option again, as Demetrius Lanier broke free down the sideline for a 54-yard tally and a 27-7 lead with 6:11 left to play.
South sealed the contest a few minutes later when it took advantage of an Indian turnover. Freshman quarterback Jacob Cirillo hit a wide-open Mike DelCorso for a 43-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach.
"We played well in the first half with them but one half is not going to get it done," said McCarroll, whose team only had 48 yards in the second half compared to 164 in the first. "My message to them now is we have two weeks, and they're two very important weeks for us. We've set goals for ourselves and they're still obtainable.
"We just need to make sure we bounce back and regroup ... Petrone is extremely dangerous and to a degree we did contain him but they have a lot of weapons. They have guys who can stretch the field and are some great athletes."
Speaking of athletes, Christain was also complimentary of his opponent.
"Lehighton is typical Lehighton," he Christian. "When we looked at films we saw their motors never stopped. They play hard, typical Lehighton football. That's what I'm going to miss. When you went to Lehighton, whether it was home or away, you knew you were going to get hit."