Griffiths sparks Raider rebound
Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner (left) congratulates Blue Raiders senior running back Grif Griffiths for receiving THE TIMES NEWS Player of the Week award. Griffiths rushed 19 times for 161 yards and 3 TDs in the Raiders' 29-7 win over Minersville. JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS
After Tamaqua qualified for the postseason the past two years, expectations were high on Stadium Hill entering this season.
Tamaqua was returning its entire backfield, including leading rusher Grif Griffiths, who gained 1,333 yards on the ground and scored 14 touchdowns last year.
However, the Blue Raiders got off to an 0-3 start and dropped six of their first seven games. Four of those losses came by a TD or less.
The Raiders could haved packed it in and looked towards next season, but Griffiths and company weren't going to give up on this year.
Tamaqua has rebounded to post convincing wins over Panther Valley and Minersville to improve to 3-6 heading into Friday's season finale at Marian.
Griffiths has done his part to spark the resurgence.
The 5-9, 189 pound senior has displayed the power and breakaway ability that has made him Tamaqua's second all-time leading rusher with 2,628 yards, behind Alex Zukus' 3,462.
Against the Battlin' Miners, Griffiths carried 19 times for 161 yards and three TDs, scoring on runs of 14, 37 and 11 yards as the Raiders rolled to a 29-7 triumph.
It was the ninth time in his career that Griffiths has surpassed the century mark in rushing in a game and earned him TIMES NEWS Player of the Week honors.
"We had a rough start," admitted Griffiths. "It's my senior year, and I just wanted to go out and give it my all, just like the rest of our seniors and our other players wanted to do.
"We are starting to play with more confidence now. We are still a young team (the Raiders have just eight seniors), and our line is coming together as a group now."
Griffiths has teamed with senior fullback Lakitsky to lead the Raiders' attack. The G&G Express not only leads the running game, they are the top tacklers on defense from their linebacker slots.
"Garth is the main part of my running game," stated Griffiths. "He opens it up for me and our other running backs, too."
"Those two guys have been playing varsity since they were freshmen, and they are used to having success," said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. "We are hoping to finish the year on a high note for them.
"When we started 1-6, it would have been easy to give up on the year. If we finish 4-6, it's definitely a testament to their character."
Griffiths is not the type to rest on past laurels.
"Grif is one of those players who matured early physically, but he has worked hard to get better each year, in the offseason and in the weight room," mentioned Bonner.
"As a running back, he has become better at seeing the open field. He has cutback ability and can improvise when he has the chance. His blocking has also definitely improved. He and Garth block for each other and complement each other."
Griffiths is hoping to continue his gridiron career on the collegiate level.
"I've had some offers, and I am keeping my options open," said Griffiths. "I definitely would like to pursue football."
"He's been getting looks, and he has the potential to play on the next level if that is something he chooses to do," remarked Bonner.