Northwestern at Northern Lehigh
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Northwestern 4-2 (4-2 Colonial League); Northern Lehigh 5-1 (5-1 Colonial League)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: Palmerton def. Northwestern 21-14; Pen Argyl def. Northern Lehigh 14-8
NORTHWESTERN'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Ty Cunningham (has had a hand in a TD every week), RB Alex Bobbyn (6-103 rec last week), RB Payton Bachman (eight receptions last week)
NORTHERN LEHIGH'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Trevor Yashur (averaging over 113 rushing yards and 1.5 TDs a game), QB Dylan Hofmann (completing 59.6 percent of his passes this year)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Tigers have to figure out a way to stop Yashur. If they can do that, they also need to be aware of Hofmann's ability to throw and his knack for executing play-action fakes. Offensively, Northwestern may have trouble scoring against a defense that is holding teams to 6.5 points per game.
Northern Lehigh will be looking to play 'assignment football' this weekend. The Tigers have been hitting for big plays out of their triple-option and the Bulldogs have been preparing for it. The 'Dawgs will focus mainly on Cunningham and Bachman, but will also have to worry about Ben Snyder if he plays. On offense, Northern Lehigh will be looking to regain its confidence. The offense didn't gain a lot of yards last week and hope to regain their balanced attack this week.
FAST FACTS: The last time Northwestern and Northern Lehigh entered their annual matchup with both teams coming off losses was 2004. The Tigers had fallen to Pen Argyl, while the Bulldogs had lost to Saucon Valley. Northern Lehigh has won the last nine matchups between the two teams and has allowed under seven points-per-game, including four shutouts. Northwestern's last win came on November 15, 2002 when it won 21-3 in the District 11 Class AA title game.
QUOTABLE: "If they're not the best defense in the Colonial League, I don't know who is. We have to take advantage of every possession." Northwestern Head Coach Tom Linette
"This is the most exciting week of the year. It is a special game and is something you always get up for. This is no bounce back week for us or anything like that. Anyone that is familiar Northern Lehigh and Northwestern knows that this is our biggest game of the year." Northern Lehigh Head Coach Joe Tout
Mahanoy Area at Jim Thorpe
WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Panther Valley
RECORDS: Mahanoy Area 4-2 (2-2 Anthracite Football League); Jim Thorpe 0-6 (0-5 Anthracite Football League)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: Mahanoy Area def. Carson Long Institute 69-0; Minersville def. Jim Thorpe 66-42
MAHANOY'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Mike Gaval (3 TDs rush, 1 TD pass), RB Jordan Renfrow (TD run, KO TD), RB Neal Goodman (TD run, TD rec)
JIM THORPE'S IMPACT PLAYERS: WR PJ Johnson (has scored a TD each of the last three weeks), WR Khaaliq Lynch (seven receptions last week were more in a game this season), QB Pat Duvigneaud (leads the TN area with 863 passing yards)
KEYS TO THE GAME:The Olympians need to contain QB Mike Gaval. Gaval is a play-maker and the Bears offense runs through him so it's important for Thorpe to stop Gaval. The Olympians need to continue to be consistent in the passing game with TIMES NEWS area leading passer Pat Duvigneaud. The Olympians have a dangerous offense when firing on all cylinders, but the defense needs to step up if Thorpe wants to get a win.
FAST FACTS: Last week Mahanoy Area ran only 15 offensive plays and scored eight offensive touchdowns. The Bears' defense also forced six turnovers and also scored on a 90-yard interception return. Jim Thorpe gave up more than 60 points for the third time this year, but scored more then they have all season (42). Lynch (TD rec, KO TD) and Johnson (2 TDs rush, 1 TD rec) scored five of the team's six touchdowns last week. Since 2000, the Olympians are a perfect 11-0 against the Golden Bears.
QUOTABLE: "We got better last week, but we need to better on defense. We have to play discipline football this week because if we have one breakdown on defense Mahanoy will hurt us. We just have to get better on defense and build from the positives we had last week. The kids aren't practicing like an 0-6 team and are looking forward to getting their first win." Jim Thorpe Head Coach Mark Rosenberger
Stroudsburg at Lehighton
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Stroudsburg 4-2 (1-1 Mountain Valley Conference); Lehighton 2-4 (0-3 Mountain Valley Conference)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: Wilkes-Barre Coughlin def. Stroudsburg 24-21; East Stroudsburg South def. Lehighton 27-22
STROUDSBURG'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Rob Bennie (4-18-109-2 TDs pass, 21-210-TD rush), RB Andrew Brome (16-65 rush), WR Javaughn Patterson (2-88-2 TDs rec)
LEHIGHTON'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Jacen Nalesnik (18 receptions for 275 yards and five TDs in the last two weeks), QB Josh Agosto (has thrown for over 226 yards in both games since returning from injury), WR Anthony Farole (7-119 rec last week)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Lehighton will have its hands full with Bennie and must play disciplined football. Stroudsburg runs a spread offense and seems to let Bennie drop back and take off at will. He is also accurate enough with his arm to make the defense respect the pass. The Indians' defense will need to keep up on its assignments Friday. Since returning from injury, Agosto has brought life back to the Lehighton offense. It is not a coincidence that Nalesnik has hauled in 18 receptions during that time. The Indians' offense will go as far as those two take them.
FAST FACTS: Bennie leads the MVC in rushing with 801 yards. He has done so on just 88 carries, which makes for a stunning 9.1 yards-per-rush average. Lehighton is currently on a three-game losing streak. The Indians have lost those games by a total of just 13 points. Nalesnik caught two touchdowns for the second consecutive week. The Mounties have won the last four games versus the Indians.
QUOTABLE: "We are not hanging our heads. We have been working on correcting our mistakes and we hope to bring that into this game. We are going to give Stroudsburg everything we have and see what happens." - Lehighton Head Coach George Ebbert
Minersville at Marian
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Minersville 5-1 (4-1 Anthracite Football League); Marian 3-3 (2-2 Anthracite Football League)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: Minersville def. Jim Thorpe 66-42; Marian def. Panther Valley 50-13
MINERSVILLE'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Cole Weachock (10-211-2 TDs rush, TD pass), RB Chris Murphy (8-122-3 TDs rush), RB Billy Powanda (20-194-2 TDs rush)
MARIAN'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Paul Martin (scored four TDs last week, giving him 13 on the year), QB Ryan Karnish (has thrown a TD in each of the last two weeks)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Minersville is playing well up front and has some big offensive linemen. They pave the way for Weachock, the Miners' biggest strength on offense. Their offense is playing with a lot of confidence and has been propelling them over the last few weeks. Minersville's linemen transition to the defensive line as well, where they will present a physical style for the Colts' O-Linemen. Marian's offense was a little more balanced last week, which Dakosty feels is critical at this time of year.
FAST FACTS: Minersville has won four straight games and has averaged nearly 41 points-per-game in the process. The Miners haven't scored 66 points in a game dating back to at least 2004-05. Marian has averaged nearly 37 points in its three wins, while averaging 13.3 in its three losses. Last year Minersville knocked off Marian 28-17 and snapped a ten-game losing streak to the Colts dating back to 2002.
QUOTABLE: "This is a big Anthracite and District 11 game for us. We have been cutting out our mistakes lately and this will be a good test against a quality, long-time opponent. If we want to get to the playoffs, then we are going to have to beat teams like Minersville." Marian Head Coach Stan Dakosty.
ES North at Pleasant Valley
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: East Stroudsburg North 4-2 (2-0 Mountain Valley Conference); Pleasant Valley 3-3 (1-1 Mountain Valley Conference)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: East Stroudsburg North def. Pocono Mt. East 20-13; Pocono Mountain West def. Pleasant Valley 14-7
EAST STROUDSBURG'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Joe Clouse (122-2 TDs rush), QB Joe Romano
PLEASANT VALLEY'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Rob Getz (had scored a TD in every game this season and leads the TN area with 14), QB Brandon Leap (will be making the first start of his career)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Pleasant Valley has allowed a 100-yard rusher each of the last four weeks and that could spell doom against Clouse. Clouse is a big, powerful back that has a nose for the endzone. The T'Wolves run a Veer rushing attack with three backs, so it will be important for the Bears to play disciplined defensive football and follow the ball. Leap, who has been out been out with an injured hand and came in for the first time last week, will be making his first start under center. The sophomore has a very strong arm and is capable of moving out of the pocket, but lacks game experience. How quickly he settles down will be key for the Bears' offense. Look for Getz to get the ball early on to help ease Leap's nerves.
FAST FACTS: Since dropping its first two games of the year, North has rebounded to win four in a row. The Timberwolves have averaged nearly 34 points-per-game in those wins. Clouse leads the MVC with 12 rushing touchdowns on the year. He is third in yards with 683. Pleasant Valley leads the all-time series 6-3 and has won the last two meetings. Getz leads the TIMES NEWS area with 14 total touchdowns.
QUOTABLE: "Last week was a wake-up call for our offense. PM West came out and pretty much bottled us up the whole night. We have had a week to work on things and we fully expect to get things rolling this week. Still, ES North has been playing well all year and they will pose a real challenge for our defense." Pleasant Valley Head Coach Jim Terwilliger
Tamaqua at Schuylkill Haven
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Tamaqua 2-4 (2-2 Anthracite Football League); Schuylkill Haven 2-4 (1-4 Anthracite Football League)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: North Schuylkill def. Tamaqua 12-7; Shenandoah Valley def. Schuylkill Haven 27-6
TAMAQUA'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Jarred Muffley (has three 100-yd games this year), QB Matt DelBorrello, RB Dalton Nunemacher (leads the TN area in yards-per-carry at 10.13), DL Josh Nemeth, DL Nick Hollenbach
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN'S IMPACT PLAYERS: RB Brandon Cooper (10-122-TD rush), RB William Casella
KEYS TO THE GAME: Cooper and Casella are two tough backs that run hard at all times. Haven doesn't do anything special, as the 'Canes line up and look to pound the ball directly at the defense. Tamaqua will have to take away what Haven does well, which is run the ball. On offense, the Raiders will do what they do and that is run the ball as well. Tamaqua threw the ball a little better last wee, but its game is the run. They have the backs to do it and will continue to ride their legs as long as possible.
FAST FACTS: Freshman Brett Biever made his first start at quarterback for Schuylkill Haven after fellow freshman Ryan Fink suffered a season-ending injury. Both teams haven't scored much when they lose. Tamaqua has averaged 12 points in its four losses, while Haven has averaged a measly 6.5. The Hurricanes' are 9-1 against Tamaqua since 2001. The Raiders' only win in that time was in 2009 when they won 13-7 in OT.
QUOTABLE: "We have had a tough time with Haven and here we both are at 2-4. Both teams are looking for a win and are hoping to turn things around. We played tough last week, but it was still a loss. We want to bounce back this week and get things going in the right direction heading into the end of the year." Tamaqua Head Coach Sam Bonner
Shenandoah at Panther Valley
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Shenandoah Valley 4-2 (3-2 Anthracite Football League); Panther Valley 1-5 (1-3 Anthracite Football League)
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: Shenandoah Valley def. Schuylkill Haven 27-6; Marian def. Panther Valley 50-13
SHENANDOAH'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Chris Palubinsky (6-15-102-2 TDs pass), RB Eric Whalen (19-190-2 TDs rush), WR Nick Merva (TD rec), WR Billy Moyer (TD rec)
PANTHER VALLEY'S IMPACT PLAYERS: QB Mike Weaver (TD each of last two weeks), QB/RB Nick McArdle
KEYS TO THE GAME: Shenandoah has a handful of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Whalen has shown the ability to rush for nearly 200 yards in a game, so the Panthers' main focus will be on him. However, when Blue Devils do decide to pass, Palubinsky likes to look in the direction of Merva and Moyer. Each has caught numerous touchdowns on the season and will make it even harder on Panther Valley's defense.
Weaver and McArdle will have to come up with some big plays on offense is they want to keep up with the Devils.
FAST FACTS: Shenandoah Valley allowed just 50 total yards and one first down in the second half last week against Schuylkill Haven. The Devils' only two losses have come at the hands of North Schuylkill (6-0) and Minersville (5-1). Only once this season, when they were shut out by North Schuylkill in week one, have they scored less than 24 points in a game. Shenandoah has won seven of the last nine mettings, with Panther Valley's two wins coming in 2008 and 2009.
QUOTABLE: Unable to reach for comment.