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Points galore

Published October 28. 2010 05:00PM

One look at the summaries from last weekend's area football games tells the story.

Pleasant Valley and East Stroudsburg South combined for 75 points, Jim Thorpe and Schuylkill Haven put up a total of 69, and Northwestern and Pen Argyl lit up the scoreboard for 63 points. Of the eight games involving TIMES NEWS area teams, the lowest scoring contest produced a total of 39 points and 11 of the teams involved in those games scored at least 27 points.

Don't look now, but this isn't your grandfather's high school football ... as a matter of fact it's not even your father's high school football.

Scores like this past week haven't been the exception either. They have been the norm this season.

OVERTIME did some research and the numbers bear out what we felt was a definite upswing in high school football scoring.

Through the first eight weeks of the season, contests involving area teams have produced an average of 47.29 points per game.

How does that number compare to past seasons?

During the 1980 season, games involving area teams averaged just 34.93 ppg. In 1990, the average was 37.69 ppg. In 2000, the numbers went up to 41.58 ppg.

So what has changed to increase scoring by a whopping 35 percent over the past 30 years?

In a word passing.

"Teams are throwing the ball so much more today than they were in the past and we are definitely one of those teams," said Lehighton coach George Ebbert, whose Indians changed to a spread offense this season. "You don't see the 'three yards and a cloud of dust' offenses you saw back in the 70s and 80s.

"Most teams in this area just don't have kids with the size and strength to shove the ball down an opponents throat like Lehighton did back in our wishbone days. If you can't do that, you have to find another way to move the ball."

That other way has become wide open offenses.

Area teams are running out of the Spread Formation, the Pistol Formation, and using four and five wide receiver sets.

This past week, both the Lehighton-Pocono Mountain West and the Pleasant Valley-East Stroudsburg South games produced 57 pass attempts and the Marian-Shenandoah game featured 63 passes. Heck, even Wing-T Northwestern put the ball in the air 18 times last week and threw for 250 yards.

"A lot of what you're seeing has been influenced by the college game," said Ebbert. "You have seen so many non-traditional powers in college football burst onto the scene in the past decade thanks to wide-open passing games. It has been a great equalizer for the teams that couldn't get the same type of athletes as the powerhouse programs did. I think that's what made it so appealing to high school coaches."

As more and more teams turn to the passing game and become even more effecient running it the scoring totals should continue to rise.

"I know my dad has told me it's not his style," Ebbert laughed. "But he coached in the 1960s.

"You do what you have to do. We feel that spreading the field and throwing the ball around gives us our best chance to win."

By the look of a lot of area offenses, Ebbert isn't the only one with that belief.


PAYTON'S PLACE ... Payton Bachman set a Northwestern High School record for receiving yards in a game on Saturday against Pen Argyl.

Bachman caught four passes for 135 yards. That broke Keith Edsall's previous mark of 134 yards set in 1980 against Jim Thorpe.

Bachman was just the seventh Tiger receiver in the last 20 years to top the 100-yard receiving mark in a game. Others who accomplished that feat were:

* Jake Bennett (five catches, 124 yards) on Nov. 9, 2007

* Preston Nelson (eight catches, 118 yards) on Sept. 16, 2005

* Garrett Lerner (seven catches, 115 yards) on Sept. 25, 2009

* Josh Snyder (two catches, 112 yards) on Aug. 29, 1997

* Austin Bleam (three catches, 109 yards) on Oct. 18, 2002

* Nick Eschbach (10 catches, 102 yards) on Nov. 14, 2003


AIR LINETTE ... Over the years, Northwestern has been known for its high-powered ground game out of the Delaware Wing-T offense.

But under rookie head coach Tom Linette, the Tigers are throwing the ball more this year than in the past.

Saturday, Northwestern had the second-highest amount of passing yards in school history when three different players combined for 251 yards through the air.

That trails only the the 264 passing yards the 1975 Tiger team racked up against Jim Thorpe.


OFF THE WALL(ING) NUMBERS ... Pleasant Valley's Derrik Walling had a game for the ages on Friday. Not only did the senior quarterback throw the game winning touchdown in the final minute to beat East Stroudsburg South, but he finished the contest with a school-record 349 yards passing.

That total is the most by a TIMES NEWS area player since individual stats started appearing in the paper (1988) and is believed to be the most ever.

Since 1988, area quarterbacks have passed for over 300 yards just nine times. The category is dominated by Panther Valley's Cazzie Kosciolek and Jim Thorpe's Matt Long who did it three times each. Here are the quarterbacks other than Walling who have amassed 300 or more yards in a game:

* Matt Long, Jim Thorpe (342 yards) on Oct. 29, 1999 vs. Pius X

* Cazzie Kosciolek, Panther Vy. (326 yards) on Aug. 30, 1991 at Lehighton

* Cazzie Kosciolek, Panther Vy. (325 yards) on Nov. 6, 1992 vs. Blue Mtn.

* Matt Long, Jim Thorpe (311 yards) on Sept. 23, 2000 at CMVT

* Cazzie Kosciolek, Panther Vy. (307 yards) on Nov. 14, 1992 at Jim Thorpe

* Matt Long, Jim Thorpe (306 yards) on Sept. 8, 2000 at Mahanoy Area

* Stan Dakosty, Marian (304 yards) on Nov. 13, 1999 at Salisbury

* Corey Cinicola. Jim Thorpe (301 yards) on Oct. 3, 2008 at Minersville

* Craig Goida, Panther Vy. (300 yards) on Sept. 8, 1989 vs. Mt. Carmel


FOUR FOR FAROLE .... While Pleasant Valley's Walling was setting the all-time single-game passing yardage record, Lehighton's Anthony Farole had a performance that tied an all-time Lehighton single game record.

The Indian receiver hauled in four touchdown passes during his eight reception, 155-yard night. That performance matched the four TD catches that Chris Green hauled in for Lehighton back on Nov. 23, 1991 against Central Catholic in the District 11 Class AAA championship game.

The huge performance gives Farole seven TD catches for the season making him just the fifth Lehighton player in the last 20 years to reach that mark. Others are:

* Shane McAvoy (14 in 2007; 7 in 2006)

* Chris Green (10 in 1991)

* Jeremy Schoenberger (8 in 1994)

* JT Keer (7 in 2009)

During that same 20-year time period, only four other Indians have had at least 150-yards receiving in a game. They are:

* Chris Green (eight catches, 245 yards) on Nov. 23, 1991

* JT Keer (six catches, 189 yards) on Oct. 2, 2009

* Shane McEvoy (six catches, 164 yards) on Nov. 2, 2007; (eight catches, 154 yards) on Sept. 28, 2007

* Dwayne Fisher (four catches, 150 yards) on Oct. 13, 1989


DOUBLE TROUBLE ... Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky (140) and Grif Griffiths (127) both ran for over 100 yards against Panther Valley on Friday night.

The last time the Blue Raiders had a pair of backs gain 100+ yards in the same game was Nov. 3, 2000 when Shawn Hodge had 197 yards and Alex Zukus had 103 in a 40-29 win over Schuylkill Valley.


JOHNSON AND JOHNSON ... Jim Thorpe's PJ Johnson had two long touchdown runs in Friday's loss to Schuylkill Haven. Johnson's TD runs covered 76 and 40 yards.

The last time an Olympian player had two rushing touchdowns of 40 or more yards in the same game was Oct. 22, 2004 when Jason Figura had scoring runs of 52 and 62 yards against Schuylkill Haven.

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