Spartans rip PV
The last thing the rest of the District 11 Class AA football field wants to see is North Schuylkill developing a new weapon.
The Spartans already possess an air-tight defense, a powerful inside running game, and several backs with breakaway speed.
North Schuylkill flexed all of those muscles in a 54-0 mercy-rule victory over Panther Valley on Friday night.
The Spartans also gave their passing attack a few reps and while it might not have looked ripped it certainly had some definition.
"We wanted to throw the ball a little more tonight," said North Schuylkill coach Rick Geist. "It was just something we felt we needed to work on with the playoffs coming up.
"I thought Ryan (Henning) made some good passes. He just needs some confidence."
Although Henning's numbers were's exceptional, he did throw for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half. His numbers would have been even bette rif not for numerous drops by the Spartan receivers.
"We know we have a lot of weapons in our backfield," said Geist. "Sometimes it seems like their aren't enough carries to go around. Ed (Pavalko), Ethan (Motsney) and Scott (Houser) are all great runners and tonight with got Kody (Flail) back after he missed several games with an injury.
"But we still think its important to have a passing game we can count on in the postseason. Tonight, I saw some good things, but I wasn't happy with our receivers. We need better focus. We dropped way too many balls."
The Spartans showed how effective their passing game could be on their first scoring drive. Faced with 4th-and-10 and 3rd-and-24 play calls, Geist put the ball in Henning's hands. The junior quarterback delivered as he found Houser for a 21-yard gain on a screen pass and then hit him again for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Touchdown runs by Pavalko and Flail followed before Henning hit Motsney with a 16-yard TD pass to make it 27-0 at halftime.
"We got a turnover on their first possession and had them in a big hole a couple of times on their second possession," said Panther Valley coach Frank Damian. "But it's a testament to them that they found a way to covert them and put it in the end zone. That's what good teams do. After that first touchdown, things kind of snowballed.
"There is a reason they are the No. 3 ranked Class AA team in the state. They are that good."
North Schuylkill scored twice in the opening four minutes of the second half to kick in the mercy rule.
"We knew what we were going up against," said Damian. "But I thought our kids played with more enthusiasm and intensity than last week. We didn't quit. Despite the score, we played hard the entire game.
"North Schuylkill is just a great team."
A great team that is pumped up for the playoffs.
"It's nice to get another Anthracite League championship," said Geist. "The kids are enjoying it.
"We just have to keep improving and get ready for the postseason."