Bulldogs set sights on Burrs
bob ford/times news The offensive line has lifted Northern Lehigh's running game to record numbers this season. The Bulldogs have rushed for over 4,000 yards this season, averaging 317.1 yards a game on the ground. Leading the way up front have been, from left, guard Andrew Ruth, tackle Kyle Heiser, tackle Carl Sahlberg, guard Andrew Ruth and center James Geronikos.
Compiling a 13-0 record for any football team would be more than gratifying ... not for Northern Lehigh, however.
A convincing 50-14 victory over Wilkes-Barre GAR in the opening round of the PIAA AA playoffs last week has made the Bulldogs even hungrier.
Next up will be District 12 champion West Catholic (10-2) in the quarterfinal round this Friday at 7 p.m. at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.
The Burrs won the district title two weeks ago by beating Bok Tech 34-6 for their ninth win in a row. In six of those wins, they scored 40 or more points.
West Catholic's two losses came during the first three weeks of the season when it fell to Roman Catholic 23-14 and LaSalle 14-7.
"They don't run a whole lot, but they run everything well," said Northern Lehigh coach Joe Tout when asked about the Burrs offensive attack. "They love Pro-formation, a lot of Iso, a lot of Keep. They like to run.
"I think their strength is that they have three quality tailbacks. They don't have one ball carrier who is going to run the ball. They're going to mix it up. We just have to be fundamental and play our gap."
Brandon Hollomon, a 5-11, 155-pound senior is the team's leading rusher with 1090 yards on 97 carries for 15 touchdowns and a 11.2 yards per carry average.
Joshua Mathis, a 5-5 145-pound senior, has picked up 800 yards on the ground on 118 carries and has scored nine TDS, while Dave Williams, a 5-11, 180-pound sophomore, has rushed for 531 yards on 61 carries for 13 touchdowns.
"I think West Catholic is comparable to North Schuylkill," Tout added. "They don't want to throw the ball, they want to run the ball.
"When they do throw, they have a stud wideout (Jaelen Strong-Rankin). He's a kid that we have to know where he's at. If they're going to throw, they look to him. I would compare him to Kuwan Scott of Wilson. He's definitely a Division I player."
Strong-Rankin has caught 26 passes for 635 yards and eight touchdowns.
Anthony Reid, the Burrs quarterback, has completed 77 of 132 passes for 1,265 yards and 13 touchdowns and has thrown just three interceptions.
"When we headed into the North Schuylkill game, we knew that it would be our most physical game thus far," said Tout. "When we played GAR last week, we said here is going to be a speed team. I think West Catholic is a mixture of that.
"They have a lot of athletic kids that run to the ball. They give you different fronts. We think it's a 3-4 and they blitz a lot.
"Our goal is to just go at them. We may not be able to run toss because they really widen their ends. But if they do that, we should be able to run our power plays."
Don't look for a big variation from the Bulldogs right now. It would be senseless to make a lot of wholesale changes to a team that has won all 13 games it has played this season.
The Bulldogs have put up 562 points, averaging 43.2 ppg. while giving up just 179 points for a 13.8 ppg. average. The offense, putting up an average of 373.9 yards per game, is led by Cody Remaley's 2,247 yards on the ground and Jake Kern's 933 yards rushing. Kern is also the leading receiver on the team with 19 catches for 310 yards. The Nolehi defense is giving up an average of 226.6 yards per game.
Tout thought the team might have been a little nervous on its first offense series last week, but saw it didn't take long for his players to get down to business.
"Probably when they first stepped out on the field they might have been a little shaky, but once they hit someone they got the jitters out," he noted.
The Bulldogs have played in front of big crowds at home this year against Pen Argyl and North Schuylkill so they'll be ready for almost anything. There's no reason to get off the "Road to Hershey" now.