Rivals play in Tamaqua, Palmerton
NO. LEHIGH AT PALMERTON
Friday, 7 p.m.
Northern Lehigh (7-2 overall, 7-2 Colonial League); Palmerton (1-8 overall, 1-8 Colonial League)
KEYS TO THE GAME
* Bulldogs go back to fundamentals this week after the loss to Catasauqua. Head Coach Joe Tout said his team isn't carrying the ball well right now. The Bulldogs got away with it against Bangor, fumbling the ball but recovering it. That didn't happen against the Roughies. The Bulldogs must avoid turning the ball over against the Bombers.
* Bombers come into the game with nothing to lose, so Bulldogs have to prepare for a lot of different looks this week. They'll have to be ready offensively for any kind of defensive formations, the Bombers throw at them.
* Bombers had the better end of the stats last week at Pen Argyl, but six turnovers proved costly. They'll have to play a mistake free game on Friday night to have a shot at the win.
Blue Bombers have defeated the Bulldogs the past three years by scores of 34-11, 35-0, 27-0 leaving Nolehi mentor Tout searching for his first win in the "Battle of Blue Mountain" ... prior to that, Northern Lehigh had won eight in a row and 10 of 11 ... Northern Lehigh's loss to Catasauqua ended a six-game win streak ... Palmerton, with its loss at Pen Argyl last Saturday, has now lost five in a row, the first time since it lost five straight during the 2004 season. The last time the Bombers lost six straight was during the 0-10 2003 campaign ... Bombers have used a lot of underclassmen as of late with a lot of kids going just one way, getting experience for the future. Travis Wolfe returned for his first action since breaking his collarbone in a pre-season scrimmage, freshman Alex Vignone has shown a lot of promise, John Snyder, another freshman got his first start on the offensive line and sophomore Mitchell Good got his first start at tight end.
"If we played like we did Friday against Catasauqua, we're not going to beat them (Palmerton). We're going to have a physical week of practice. We're hungry for this one. It's been too long since we got a win against them. They've had our number the last couple of years." - No. Lehigh coach Joe Tout
"We have to play our best game of the year and put four quarters together. We haven't done it all year long and if we do it in Week 10 and come out of there with a close game or even a win,it would be a nice way to send our four seniors out and a nice springboard for the off-season." - Palmerton coach Paul McArdle
MARIAN AT TAMAQUA
Friday, 7 p.m.
Marian 3-6 (3-4 AFL), Tamaqua 7-2 (5-2 AFL)
KEYS TO THE GAME
*Marian will look to slow down Tamaqua's power running game. The Blue Raiders average 207.6 yards per game on the ground and are capable of wearing down defenses and controlling the clock.
*Tamaqua will focus its attention on Marian's big play performers, running back Paul Martin and wide receiver Joe Kloap, who have scored 14 of the Colts' 26 TDs this season.
*The Raiders need to finish off drives. Last week against Minersville Tamaqua held a 225-8 advantage in total yards in the first half, yet had only a 14-0 lead before Peter Conforti's blocked punt to open the third quarter led to its third TD in a 28-0 win.
*Turnover factor: Marian has committed 18 for the season, one more than its opponents, while Tamaqua has 14, two less than the opposition.
Tamaqua has clinched its first-ever District 11 Class AA playoff berth and is ranked fifth this week. The Raiders need a victory and a loss by fourth-ranked Panther Valley, which faces Minersville (1-8) to earn a home game for the opening round. If both win, chances are good for a rematch of the Tamaqua-PV week eight meeting in Lansford ... The District 11 Class A four-team field is set with Pius X, Williams Valley, Tri-Valley and Schuylkill Haven. Marian is currently 8th in Eastern Conference Southern I (Class A), although six teams above it are headed to Districts. It appears Lourdes Regional and Shenandoah Valley will take two of the four EC Class A berths ... Colts have won 2 of 3 but let last week's game with Jim Thorpe slip away into a 37-34 loss despite bolting to a 20-0 lead ... the leading rusher for each team has a chance to reach the 1,000 yard mark for the season this week. Coming into the game, Tamaqua's Grif Griffiths has 992 yards rushing (5.3 per carry) and Marian's Paul Martin has 930 yards (5.5 per carry) ... Raiders are allowing 13.7 points per game and an area-low 159.3 yards of total offense ... This Friday is Senior Night on Stadium Hill, with 11 Raider senior gridders being honored, as well as senior band and cheerleaders. Marian has 14 seniors on this year's squad ... Marian leads the all-time series 18-6, but last year's 31-21 Tamaqua win at Hometown snapped a four-game Colts' winning streak vs. the Raiders ... Tamaqua High marketing class is holding a White Out Hunger promotion for the game in which anyone bringing four canned goods for The Salvation Army food bank will receive free admission. Fans are also encouraged to wear white.
"Tamaqua is impressive on both sides of the ball and is a very sound football team. We are playing a team that is one of the higher echelon teams in the Anthracite League, so it will be a challenge. We'll need to bring our 'A' game, eliminate mistakes and play four full quarters." - Marian head coach Stan Dakosty
"Marian is always a quality team, and they have been improving. We ran a lot of Power I at them last year and we want to add other dimensions as well. Our goal is to finish the regular season strong and continue to have momentum for the playoffs." - Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner
N'WESTERN AT CATASAUQUA
Friday, 7 p.m.
Northwestern 6-3 overall (5-3 Colonial League); Catty 7-2 (7-2 Colonial League)
KEYS T O THE GAME
* Northwestern has to contain Catty quarterback Brandon Lesko, who leads the team in rushing and has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season
* The Tigers need to match the Rough Riders physical play on the line of scrimmage
* Catty's spread offense will need to find a way to put up points against a tough Northwestern defense
* The Roughies can't let Northwestern get an early lead and settle into a ball control game
Catty has not lost a game that Lesko has started and finished. He was knocked out of the Saucon Valley game while his team was winning. It went on to lose that game and its next one, to Bangor, while the quarterback was still sidelined….Lesko (6-3, 210) runs more like a fullback than a quarterback. He has a team-high 159 carries for 696 yards and six scores. He has more than three times as many runs as any other Rough Rider. He's completed 57 of 106 passes with just four interceptions. Four different Catty players have caught three or more touchdown passes….The Roughies run a spread offense, but they're as physical as most teams that like to pound the ball.
"A lot of times when people spread you out, they don't want to hit you. [The Rough Riders] spread you out and punch you in the chin," Northwestern head coach Bob Mitchell.
MINERSVILLE AT PANTHER VY.
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
Minersville 1-8 (1-6 AFL); Panther Valley 7-2 (6-1 AFL)
KEYS TO THE GAME
* For Panther Valley, this game will be just as much mental as it is physical. The Panthers need to come in focused and can't underestimate a Minersville team that has struggled all season long. If Panther Valley gets playoff fever and is caught looking past the Battlin' Miners, this could have all the makings of a "trap game".
* The Panthers are clearly the superior team across the board, so they just need to play within themselves and not make mistakes. The key question that needs to be answered is how will the Panthers bounce back from last week's heartbreaking loss to North Schuylkill?
* Casey Lawrence and the Panthers wide receivers should be licking their chops for this one. The Minersville defense is tough inside and they like to blitz, which should create opportunities in the Panthers' passing game. The Battlin' Miners are allowing 124 passing yards per game over the last four weeks, while Panther Valley is averaging 119 passing yards per game on the season.
Since 1997, Minersville leads the all-time series 7-5, although the Panthers came away with a 28-7 victory last year ... The Panthers defense has not given up more than two touchdowns in a game all season. Minersville has allowed its opponents to score at least three touchdowns in every game this season ... The Battlin' Miners lone win this season has come against Mahanoy Area (31-22) where they had to rally from a 14-13 halftime deficit. Panther Valley defeated the Golden Bears 48-8 on opening night, where they led 40-0 in the second quarter ... Panther Valley's offense has scored 116 of its 261 points in the second quarter this season (44.4-percent) ... The Panthers defense has given up 50-percent of it points (41 of 82 points allowed) in the fourth quarter ... Minersville averages 11.9 points and 28.3 points allowed per game ... Minersville has been shut out in each of its previous two games (against Tri-Valley and Tamaqua) ... Minersville averages 175.4 yards of offense, and gives up 309.8 per game ... Running back Storm Walcott leads Minersville with 105 carries for 544 yards and six touchdowns. Quarterback Zack Dixon is 35-for-106 passing for 484 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions .. Panther Valley's Jake Dunn has four interceptions this season, including a 70-yard return for a touchdown... Currently, Panther Valley is seeded fourth in the District 11 Class AA rankings ... A Panther win will guarantee themselves the fourth seed and a home District 11 playoff game next Saturday night. The home playoff game will be against fifth-seeded Tamaqua if the Blue Raiders are able to beat Marian on Friday night ... A Panthers loss and a Tamaqua win will give home field advantage to the Blue Raiders next weekend ... Palisades can still mathematically overtake Tamaqua for the fifth seed although that scenario is highly unlikely.
"The most important thing for us is to refocus and regroup. We might not be playing for an Anthracite Football League Championship this week, but we are playing for a home playoff game and that's something that every kid and coach in this program is well aware of." - Panther Valley coach Frank Damian.
STROUDSBURG AT PLEASANT VY.
Friday, 7 p.m.
Stroudsburg 3-6 (3-2 MVC); Pleasant Valley 4-5 (3-2 MVC)
KEYS TO THE GAME
* On defense, Pleasant Valley must do a solid job tackling. The Bears have struggled against the run, and Stroudsburg relies mainly on a ground attack. Getting to the ball carrier and brining him down on first contact will greatly improve PV's chances.
* Whatever the Mounties try to take away, the Bears will have to counter with success. If Stroudsburg loads the box, PV must throw to win. If the Mounties drop back in coverage, the Bears will run the ball with Rob Getz.
* Traditional Stroudsburg is big up front and controls the trenches. Pleasant Valley must hold its own on the line and match their toughness.
Stroudsburg has won the last five matchups in rather convincing style. The Mounties gained a 38-7 victory a year ago and have outscored Pleasant Valley 166-41 over that time span. The Bears' last win in the series was 2003 (49-7) ... Stroudsburg, which is mainly a running team, actually threw the ball four times in its first 10 plays last week in a win against Pocono Mountain West. One of those passes was a 50-yard TD from quarterback Robert Bennie to Kyle Labar ... The Mounties' top rushing threat is Jeremy Desire, who has run for 577 yards on 115 carries. Michael Costanza has 333 yards on 84 attempts. Bennie is 33-of-76 throwing the ball for 454 yards. He has five TD passes and has been picked off six times. Matthew Transue is team's leading tackler with 86 ... Bears have not been shut out this season. If they can score against Stroudsburg, it would mark the first year since 1999 it went through a season without being blanked ... In the four previous years, PV has had only four MVC wins. A win over the Mounties Friday would give the Bears four MVC wins this season ... Derrik Walling is the first PV quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in a season since Brent Standorf had 1,068 in 2000. Walling's nine TD passes are the most since C.J. Haffner threw nine in 2003.
"We know Stroudsburg is a very tough mental and physical football team. We have to focus on execution of our schemes and be great at what we do. They are going to run the ball. If we don't tackle, we don't win. In football, you need to run, block and tackle and that's what we need to do." - Pleasant Valley head coach Jim Terwilliger