FNF to air live at NW
Two of the Colonial League's best football teams. The area's best high school football highlight show.
Put them together and what do you get?
Friday Night Football live from Northwestern Lehigh's Tiger Stadium coming to your living room Friday, Oct. 15 at 10:30 p.m.
For the first time in its eight-year history, Blue Ridge TV13's Emmy-awarding winning high school football highlights show will hit the road for a live telecast following the Northern Lehigh at Northwestern game in Week 7.
Northwestern athletic director Jason Zimmerman, who got the ball rolling for the show when he took the idea for it to show co-host Mark McKeehan, expects an atmosphere akin to ESPN's College Game Day.
"Our community loves its football," he said. "The Northern Lehigh community loves its football. What better way to get our kids recognized and show off a true high school football game atmosphere?"
Zimmerman is proud of his school and its team, as well as its opponent in the game. He said he wouldn't want to do something like this with any school other than Northern Lehigh.
Both schools' bands have been invited to participate in the show and any players, students, parents or fans are invited to attend. The show will air inside Tiger Stadium, so those in attendance can watch as it unfolds.
McKeehan and co-host "Big Game" Lou Rusnock will be on the field and are encouraging students and fans to fill the bleachers behind them to create that Game Day atmosphere.
"We've always tried to pattern FNF after what ESPN and bigger networks do," Rusnock said. "Just because the athletes we're covering aren't millionaires with world class speed doesn't mean they don't deserve the chance to be in a big spotlight.
"Doing FNF from Northwestern is another step toward providing the viewers of BRC with the best high school sports coverage we possibly can. It's exciting that for one week, we'll have a chance to do that on a bigger stage. With the support of the community, this can be a real special night for both teams."
That night's show will also feature on-air appearances by the winning team's coach and players as well as plenty of crowd interaction.
Zimmerman has offered his full support, pledging to keep concession stands open later and provide assistance in helping the show run smoothly.
"Blue Ridge has always been great partners and ambassadors of high school athletics," Zimmerman said. "They are all about covering our kids. Working with BRC has been great. This is an opportunity for these kids that, regardless of the efforts put forth by my office, they deserve this chance."
McKeehan and Rusnock are excited about their first road gig. Ever since Zimmerman approached them with the idea last season, they've been trying to find a way make it happen. Now that it's a go, they're both counting the days.
"Northwestern has always been one of our favorite venues to watch high school football," said McKeehan. "That coupled with the fact the Tigers are playing Northern Lehigh, and it will be the perfect atmosphere for a live Friday Night Football. We literally can't wait for October 15th."
WHAT A WEEK ... Week six of the football season provided OVERTIME with plenty to write about. Northern Lehigh prevailed in a battle of Colonial League unbeatens with Pen Argyl in a game that could be replayed a few weeks down the road in the District 11 Class AA playoffs ... North Schuylkill, another Class AA power, flexed its muscles against Tamaqua ... Jim Thorpe and Northwestern improved their records to 5-1 and stayed in District 11 playoff contention in what is shaping up to be a loaded Class AA field ... Panther Valley used a clutch performance from Nick McArdle, the fifth quarterback it has been forced to used this season (that's right, the FIFTH), to edge rival Marian ... and Pleasant Valley continued to put up impressive offensive numberss
READY, WALLING AND ABLE ... Derrik Walling of Pleasant Valley became the 10th TIMES NEWS area quarterback since 1988 to throw for 280 or more yards in a game when he went 16-for-23 for 281 yards and four touchdowns against Pocono Mountain West on Friday night.
The other nine quarterback to accomplish that were: Matt Long, Jim Thorpe; Cazzie Kosciolek, Panther Valley; Stan Dakosty, Marian; Corey Cinicola, Jim Thorpe; Craig Goida, Panther Valley; Geoff Kruczek, Tamaqua; Kyle Hunter, Lehighton; Brent Andrew, Marian; and Eric Schrantz, Jim Thorpe.
KICKING IT AROUND ... Malik Krcic of Pleasant Valley kicked two field goals in Pleasant Valley's win over PM West. It marked the eighth time over the past 20 years that a TIMES NEWS area kicker had multiple field goals in a game.
The other seven are:
Ryan Habick, Pleasant Valley (3) on 9/25/09; Chris Horn, Northwestern (3) on 9/8/06; Tyler O'Shura, Jim Thorpe (3) on 9/30/05; Cory Whitehead, Lehighton (2) 1/06; Jordan Grube, Northwestern (2) on 9/28/02; Jeremy Rex, Northwestern (2) on 1/97; and Eric Haydt, Palmerton (2) on 10/31/92.
TY THE TIGER ... Northwestern's Ty Cunningham ran for 186 yards in Friday's win over Palmerton.
The last time a Tiger had that many rushing yards in a game was Nov. 9, 2007 when Ben Clymer had 254 against Lehighton.
SCORING STREAK SNAPPED ... Tamaqua was shut out by North Schuylkill last Friday, 49-0.
That ended a string of 36 straight games in which the Raiders hadn't been blanked. The streak started after a 41-0 loss to Lehighton on Sept. 7, 2007.
The TN team with the longest run without being shut out now belongs to Northern Lehigh. The Bulldogs have gone 30 straight games without ending with a 0 on the scoreboard. The last team to hold Nolehi without a point was Palmerton in a 35-0 decision on Nov. 2, 2007.
EMMETT MCCALL and ROD HECKMAN also contributed to this column