GAR next up for hungry 'Dawgs
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's defense will center around, front, from left, Kyle Greenawald, Kyle Schomp and Mike Buresh. Back, same order, David Getz, Kirk Bender and Trevor Yashur, when it takes the field against Wilkes-Barre GAR on Friday.
Northern Lehigh's first goal entering the 2010 football season was to win the Colonial League title and it did.
The next goal on the list for the Bulldogs was to win the District 11 Class 2A championship and they did.
Now, back in the state playoffs for the first time since they made it to the PIAA championship in 2003, they want to keep their season going a bit longer.
The Bulldogs (12-0) take their unbeaten streak to J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown on Friday night to host District 2 champion Wilkes-Barre GAR (11-1) at 7 o'clock in the first round of the PIAA 2A playoffs and are as focused as ever.
Last week, the Bulldogs played one of the biggest teams up front that they did all season and came away with a 25-23 victory.
This week, they go back to what they did all season when they face the Grenadiers, who head coach Joe Tout calls probably the fastest team they will have faced this year.
"When you get this far, every team you face is good," said Tout. "A big key now is that you just don't turn the ball over and you need to have consistent drives. We've been good at that so that's a big reason we've been able to have success."
GAR's strength is speed and it comes in the form of a great running back in Kurt Thomas who has rushed for 1,289 yards and 19 touchdowns this season and a solid quarterback in Darrell Crawford (1,235 yards rushing and 14 TDs), who also heads a defensive secondary that prides itself in being the best around, with 12 interceptions this season.
"What they'll do a lot of is four-wide sets, motion and their running zone," said Tout. "Our keys this week is two positions. Defensive end and outside linebacker. Those two positions have to hold their ground. They have to stay where they're at. If you take a bite on the fake, they get outside of you.
"Inside linebacker is also a key because although they run a zone, they run it inside more than any other team I've seen. It just comes down to we have to be gap responsible."
Mike Buresh and Kyle Greenawalt are the Northern Lehigh defensive ends that will have to slow play it. They'll have to stay at home and not chase plays which is something that they've done well all season.
Kyle Schomp, who had another big game last week against North Schuylkill, will have to control his gap. Outside linebackers Caleb Johnson, who is such a good all-around athlete, and Cody Remaley, along with corners Dave Getz and Trevor Yashur, will also have to counter the speed of the Grenadiers.
They'll also have to deal with GAR sophomore Christian Skrepenak, who is 6-foot-9, 355-pounds.
"Their team speed is pretty impressive," said Tout. "I wouldn't call them a big team across the board, but they're quick. They're strength is their linebackers and secondary.
"We're going to try to go back to our typical football, which is a lot of double tight, a lot of wing formation and just go straight ahead at them. If our offensive line plays like it did last week, we'll get push again."
GAR, under first-year head coach Paul Weidich Jr., started the season 6-0 before losing to Lake Lehman by four points. The Grenadiers got revenge in the district semis when they beat Lehman 42-15.
They have scored 40 or more points in five games and they've given up just 20 points three times and 21 once, which was last week in the 40-21 win over Lakeland.
Northern Lehigh, on the other hand, scored over 40 points seven times and over 50 points four times. Theygave up more than 20 points only three times this year and shut out their opponents three times. The Bulldogs are averaging 42.7 points per game and giving up just 13.8 per game and have the No. 1 ranked offense and defense in THE TIMES NEWS area.
Remaley, who leads the school in single season touchdowns with 34, has 224 points including eight PATs and six two-pointers. He has carred the ball 226 times for 1,989 yards.
Jake Kern has scored 20 TDs this season and has 127 points. He is also the team's second leading rusher with 785 yards on 64 carries. He is also the team's leading receiver, with 310 yards on 19 catches for five TDs.
Friday's winner will take on West Catholic next in the PIAA Class AAquarterfinals.