Although the weather was clear and calm at Panther Valley Stadium last night, there was a storm brewing on the field. The Hurricanes of Schuylkill Haven, coming off their stopping North Schuylkill's 33-game regular season winning streak last week, met "thunder and lightning," Panther Valley's vaunted running duo of Richie Smith and Kyle Ferryman.
Weathermen will say that hurricanes pack extremely strong forces and that's what it must have appeared to Panther Valley as Schuylkill Haven routed the Panthers 37-0. In a penalty-marred first half, Haven scored first when sophomore Ryan Fink returned a punt for a 55-yard touchdown. The Canes never looked back.
"There's a lot of pressure to succeed when you play football at Haven," said Coach Mike Farr. "Our staff stresses to our players to have fun and I think they played that way tonight."
There was no fun on the PV side as the Cane defense continued to stuff the Panther offense, holding them to no serious scoring threats in the first half. Haven then jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a nine play, 54 yard drive capped off by William Casella's 17 yard run.
Casella, also a sophomore, gained 125 yards on the night. He gave credit to his coaches' preparation.
"We had a great scouting report on PV and it definitely helped us on both sides of the ball," he said.
After a Panther punt, the Hurricanes drove 76 yards in nine plays and scored on an eight-yard Casella run to take a 21-0 lead with 46 seconds to go in the half.
"I wish I knew why we could not execute," said Panther Valley Coach Lon Hazlet. "They gained the momentum after the punt return
"Give them all the credit. They're strong kids who run downhill. They wore us down."
The second half began no better than the first for the Panthers. An over-the-head snap on a punt resulted in a safety for Schuylkill Haven and the Hurricanes offense then got the ball. Four plays and 59 yards later, John Heffner scampered eight yards into the end zone to give the Haven a commanding lead.
"We like to think of each game as a milestone and this puts us at 3-2," said Farr.
When asked if defeating North Schuylkill last week and ending their long streak gave them extra confidence tonight, Farr replied, "Our kids weren't really aware of their streak. Tonight it was about holding everyone accountable and I think the field conditions (wet and slippery) were better for our type of offense compared to their offense."
Panther Valley managed some late third quarter offense and drove to the Haven 21 yard line before a fourth down screen pass and a great one-handed catch by Kyle Ferryman fell just short of a first down.
The Canes then put a stamp on the final score by marching 89 yards in 14 plays to score on a Fink 13 yard run.
This last touchdown completed a highly successful game for Fink who never comes off the field and even plays on all the special teams.
"We have great heart and determination, " said Fink. "And tonight our O-line dominated during our long touchdown drives."
All that Panther Coach Hazlet could say was, "The buck stops here," (pointing at himself.)