The Pleasant Valley football team faced a pretty tough opponent this past weekend in the Wyomissing Spartans. The Spartans were no run-of-the-mill squad, being ranked number three in class AA in Pennsylvania according to the Harrisburg Patriot News.
As If the Bears traveling to the number three ranked AA team wasn't challenging enough, they still had the chore of dealing with big-time college recruit Alex Anzalone. The future member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has been highly regarded by almost every college football prospect database and he showed why last Saturday afternoon.
Anzalone is ranked as the number one high school football player in the state of Pennsylvania by Rivals.com and 48th overall in the nation. The senior has led the Spartans to an undefeated season so far in 2012 and helped them escape last weekend from a Pleasant Valley squad that came to play.
Anzalone's will serve as a linebacker at the next level for the Fighting Irish, but as most sports enthusiasts know in high school it's best to put the ball in the hands of your most gifted athlete. There is no question Anzalone is just that for the Spartans and they didn't hesitate to give him the rock to get back into the ball game.
Pleasant Valley actually led 14-7 at the half before the 6-3 235-pound Anzalone scored on runs of 50 and 52 yards on Wyomissing's first two possessions of the second half. It was the first play and only play the Spartans would need on those possessions as Wyomissing was able to take a 21-14 lead and eventually came away with a 31-27 victory. Anzalone rushed for 182 of his 202 yards in the second half and only needed 14 carries to do so.
"I knew I had to step up and make a play for my team and my teammates," said Anzalone. "I knew I had to play more physical and use my size to my advantage and my speed as well. It's tough to play both ways and special teams at a high-level against a good caliber opponent like Pleasant Valley. I just knew I had to tough it out and elevate my game in order for us to get back in the lead."
The big plays by Anzalone showed not only why talent-wise he is the best player in the state of PA, but that he has great character as well. The pressure of shouldering the load of a football team can be very difficult and even stressful for a young athlete, but Anzalone has some pretty broad shoulder and doesn't seem to mind the responsibility.
"Every time I touch the ball I try to score, especially when we're trailing, but at the same time I have to be patient too," said Anzalone. "When I'm in the open field I really think I can do some damage and that's when I'm at my best. We have a good football team here and I know I'm a leader for us so it's important for me to make big plays when we're facing adversity."
50-50 ... Tamaqua's 54-14 victory over Annville-Cleaona on Friday night gave it back-to-back 50+ point performances. A week earlier, the Blue Raiders put up 53 points against Mahanoy Area.
Scoring 50 or more points in a game is rare and doing it in back-to-back weeks doesn't happen very often.
As a matter of fact, doing it at Tamaqua happens approximately once a century or once in 85 years to be exact. The last time the Raiders accomplished the feat was way back in 1926 when they opened the season with a 97-0 win over St. Clair and then followed that with a 66-0 victory over Schuylkill Haven.
SHUTOUT/BLOWOUT .... Lehighton gave rookie head coach Tom McCarroll the first victory of his career on Friday night with a 42-0 rout of Dieruff.
It's been over a decade since an Indian team has recorded a shutout victory that was more lopsided.
The last time a Lehighton team posted a shutout by 42 points or more came on Sept. 1, 2001 when it defeated Panther Valley, 49-0.
GREAT NATE ,,, Tamaqua quarterback Nate Edmonds was about as efficient as you can be through the air in the Raiders' rout of Annville-Cleona.
Edmonds attempted just three passes in the game and all of them went for touchdowns. Edmonds was 3-for-3 for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the first time a Tamaqua player threw three TD passes in a game since Oct. 29, 2007 when Ryan Palsgrove did it against Minersville.
A year ago, the Raiders threw just three touchdown passes the entire season. They have already thrown for eight TDs this year.
DOUBLE TROUBLE ... Pleasant Valley gave highly-ranked Wyomissing quite a battle before suffering a 31-27 loss of Saturday.
In the game, the Bears' Andrew Romeo and Sekou Jones both topped the 100-yard receiving mark. Romeo had 153 yards receiving and Jones had 113 yards.
It's just the second time since 1988 (the year the TIMES NEWS began keeping individual stats on football games) that a pair of Pleasant Valley players have gone over the 100-yard receiving mark in the same game. The only other time it happened was Sept. 16, 2011 in a game against Wyoming Valley West. Sekou Jones was also one of the players who accomplished the feat in that game, racking up 123 yards receiving. Rob Getz added 102 yards.
GETTING OFFENSIVE ... Tamaqua rolled up 566 yards of total offense in its victory over Annville-Cleona. That total is the third most by an area team since 1987.
Lehighton's 587 yards against Whitehall on Sept. 15, 2000 and Northwestern's 574 yards against Lehighton on Nov. 9, 2007 were the only higher total offense performances.
This was only the second time since 1987 that Tamaqua had more than 500 yards of offense in a game. The other time was Nov. 6, 2009 when the raiders racked up 538 yards against Marian.
TV TIMEOUT ... There will be plenty of opportunties to watch local football teams on television this weekend. BRC TV-13 will be airing a pair of games that feature three TIMES NEWS area teams while My Network Tv WQMY will also be televising a game with local significance.
BRC TV-13 will bring in a pair of live games on Friday at 7 p.m. On channel 13, Pen Argyl will face Northern Lehigh. On channel 113, Marian and Panther Valley will meet. WQMY-TV will be doing the Tamaqua-North Schuylkill showdown on tape delay. The game will be shown on Saturday at both 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.