Rosenberger impressed with NL line
Jim Thorpe's Phil Schron
Everyone in District 11 knows about the accomplishments of Northern Lehigh's Cody Remaley.
After all, not many running backs eclipse 6,000 rushing yards in their career.
Many others are aware that Jake Kern, the Bulldogs' most versatile player, can also go the distance any time he touches the ball.
While those two have grabbed most of the headlines throughout their perfect 10-0 season, Jim Thorpe head coach Mark Rosenberger is more impressed with the real reason the two have been able to post impressive numbers in 2010.
"The first thing I noticed watching them is not any of the skill kids, it's the linemen," said Rosenberger, whose Olympians (8-2) will face Northern Lehigh Saturday in the District 11 Class AA semifinals. "They fly to the line of scrimmage, they break out of the huddle and they come off the ball. They're not necessarily the biggest kids, but they come off the ball and they stick you.
"That's where it starts. Their offensive line does a great job of opening up holes. Their tight ends do a great job blocking ... Personally the first thing I noticed was the line."
That line of James Geronokis, Andrew Ruth, Daniel Ruth, Carl Sahlberg, Kyle Heiser and tight ends Mike Buresh, Caleb Johnson and Nick Valentini have helped the Bulldogs average over 300 yards rushing a game this season. It's also the main focus of Rosenberger and his team this coming weekend.
"It's no secret as to what they're going to do," said Rosenberger. "They like to toss, they like to blast ... and they like the counter trey. The bottom line is you have to stop the C-gap. They try to run the heck out of the C-gap with the counter trey and that inside toss they run.
"We're going to try some different things. We're going to bring some kids up (to the line of scrimmage). We're going to keep some kids back. You have to try and get to them before Remaley gets started. You have to try and get them to go East-West and not North-South. We have to try and slow them down and have them make cuts and we have to swarm to the football. We can't give them a hole. If we give them a hole, it's going to be a 70-yard touchdown."
Nolehi's backs have run through plenty of those holes this year. The Bulldogs own 28 touchdowns of 40-or-more yards. They have accumulated 1,632 yards just on their rushing touchdowns.
Remaley currently has 1,802 yards on 181 carries while Kern has 577 on just 43 attempts. Kern also has 15 catches for 233 yards.
"Obviously everyone knows about Remaley and how great he is, but then you look at Kern," said Rosenberger. "He's probably their best all-around player when it comes to athleticism. He can do anything on the field on both sides of the ball. (Fullback Matt) Gill is a big-time blocker as well. Their line is outstanding, their skill kids are exceptional, their quarterback (Dylan Hofmann) does a nice job throwing the ball when they throw it. Their offense is second-to-none."
Jim Thorpe, meanwhile, also knows how to move the ball. The Olympians' offense, engineered by quarterback Terry Moll and led by the 1,304 rushing yards from Shane Edwards, is expecting to gain yardage. But just moving the ball against the Bulldogs' defense isn't good enough if they want to advance.
"They have a great defense," said Rosenberger. "They give up yardage, but the great part about their defense is that they bend but they don't break. People may move the ball against them but when they get near the red zone, they totally turn them off. They're very tenacious on both sides of the football. Gill is an outstanding linebacker for them. He's probably the heart of their defense.
"We've gotta do what we do. We have to be able to run the football. That's our identity. We're not going to change for anybody. The team that can control of the line of scrimmage will have a good chance of winning the football game."
Whoever does win on Saturday will be playing for a district title against either Pen Argyl or North Schuylkill next weekend.
"Right now the kids are excited about the opportunity they have Saturday night," said Rosenberger, who compares the Bulldogs to North Schuylkill and Schuylkill Haven. "No one in this part of the state is giving us a chance to win this football game. We have nothing to lose. We're going to throw all our chips in and go out and do our best."