Nolehi rolls in state playoffs
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's Cody Remaley breaks loose for one of his first half touchdowns as Wilkes-Barre GAR's Shaliek Powell looks on. The Bulldogs rolled to a 50-14 victory in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
ALLENTOWN It really was a Black Friday for Wilkes-Barre GAR.
That's because Northern Lehigh accumulated yards like they were on sale and piled up points like they were a bargain.
The result was a door-busting 50-14 blowout victory for the Bulldogs in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA state football playoffs.
"I'm surprised. I really didn't see this coming," said Northern Lehigh coach Joe Tout. "I had seen GAR play and I was impressed with them. I never expected this to be a mercy rule game."
But thanks to a Bulldog offensive extravaganza that's exactly what happened.
Looking more like a video game offense ready to get plucked off the store shelf, Northern Lehigh blazed up and down the artificial surface at J. Birney Crum Stadium.
Almost every Bulldog scoring possession had its own version of a Midnight Madness sale a huge rush followed by a celebration.
None of Northern Lehigh's seven scoring drives were longer than 1:40 and four of them took less than a minute. The Bulldogs had six different running plays in the game that netted at least 40 yards.
"We saw Northern Lehigh play in person twice and had a couple of their other games on film so we knew they were a great football team," said GAR coach Paul Wiedlich. "Not only do they have great team speed, but their guys up front are very good as well.
"Their line did a nice job of opening holes for their runners and on the occasions when we were in position to make stops, No. 2 (Cody Remaley) and No. 7 (Jake Kern) broke tackles and then ran away from us."
Remaley did that time and time again as he had another incredible game, carry the ball 14 times for 258 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bulldog running back now has 2,247 yards for the season, breaking his own school single-season rushing mark that he set a year ago.
"We came in expecting this to be a real battle," said Remaley. "But our line did a great job of opening holes and all Jake, Dylan (Hofmann), Matt (Gill) and myself had to do was run through them.
"To be able to score 50 points and get a win as big as this in a state playoff game says a lot about our entire team. The offense, the defense, the special teams ... everyone contributed to this."
Kern also had a big game on the ground as he carried seven times for 148 yards and a touchdown. Gill contributed two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air.
"I'm impressed more and more with our guys," said Tout. "I thought North Schuylkill was a really fast team, but our team speed stood out against them last week.
"Tonight, we faced a GAR team that also was noted for their speed and once again we were consistently able to get the edge."
Kern was the first to get outside and make a big play for the Bulldogs. Running out of the Bulldog formation, he took a direct snap on No. Lehigh's second possession and raced 57 yards for a score midway through the opening quarter.
Remaley had a 61-yard run on the next possession to set up his own 12-yard TD. The Bulldogs made it 22-0 early in the second quarter when Hofmann hit Gill with a 38-yard scoring pass. Remaley capped the big first half with a 19-yard touchdown run that was setup by a 52-yard burst by Hofmann.
"Our runners did a great job of getting to the corner and then cutting back," said Tout. "GAR really has a fast flow to the ball and Cody and Jake are such experienced ballcarriers that they took advantage of that. They saw the cutback lanes and just burst through."
The big plays continued after intermission as Remaley added 86 and 41 yard touchdown runs in the third quarter and Gill added an eight-yard TD in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
"I don't really care about individual statistics," said Remaley. "But I was aware that last week against North Schuylkill was the only game all year I didn't get 100 yards rushing.
"Being a competitor, I used that as a little extra motivation for this week."
With the victory, Northern Lehigh will now face West Catholic in the State quarterfinals. It's a matchup of two of the top four ranked Class AA teams in the state.
It should be an event that people will be lining up to see.