Can Blue Bombers end skid?
It's been a long time since Palmerton has beaten Palisades in a varsity football game.
"When I got the head job seven years ago, we had a losing streak to every team in the Colonial League so we had a checklist in the coaches' office and we crossed off teams as we beat them," Palmerton head coach Paul McArdle noted. "If we still had that list Palisades would still be unchecked."
McArdle enters Friday night's game with a record of 0-8 against the Pirates and the Blue Bombers have lost 12 straight to the Purple and Black. The last time Palmerton defeated Palisades was in 1999 when it won a 12-10 decision in double overtime.
In the last three regular season meetings, the Pirates have scored 48, 42 and 47 points. Palisades also owns wins of 26-21 and 14-0 in the 2007 and 2008 District 11 2A championships.
"It's a little different now with their coaching staff change, but it is still important to our kids to get this win," said McArdle, whose team has won two in a row to go into this game with a 2-2 record. "We told them that there were many great players who came through here the last several years who never beat Palisades and that they can make a mark for themselves with a win this week."
Brian Gilbert, who rebuilt the Palisades football program the past 10 years, resigned at the end of last season and is now an assistant at Whitehall.
The Pirates have opened up 0-4 and have scored just 17 points.
Josh Parris, the team's leading receiver last year, has moved to quarterback. Skylar Carr, a two-way lineman, is the only other returning starter for head coach Jim Brady's club. Brady was the defensive coordinator at Wilson.
Palmerton's offense has put some points on the board and seems to be moving in the right direction.
"We have to continue to move the chains and most importantly finish drives with touchdowns," said McArdle.
McArdle is happy with the progress shown last week.
"To start the game we were without our best receiver, one of our best linemen, and then by halftime our fullback - two of them being captains," he said. "Zach Freed's leadership emerged, Jeo Rodriguez caught two big touchdown passes, and our line paved the way for Viggy (Alex Vignone) and the other backs to roll up 250 yards rushing."
Defensively, the Bombers have to limit their mental mistakes that have led to some easy touchdowns on big plays.
"Last week against Saucon we had guys that lined up incorrectly or watched the backfield action instead of reading their keys and it allowed Saucon to make a big comeback attempt at the end of the game," McArdle said. "We need our players to be much more disciplined."
The team suffered a big loss last week when Levi Serfass, the fullback and also the team's leading tackler, broke his leg and saw his season come to an end.
"It is one of those times in sports that is just not fair," said McArdle. "Levi is a guy who did everything we asked of him since he came into the program years ago. He was dedicated in the weightroom, never missed playbook meetings or voluntary workouts and is a National Honor Society student. To have it end so suddenly is just hard to take.
"I think you will see Aaron Cook step his play up." said McArdle. "He was kind of Levi's wingman, now he will be the anchor in the middle. Jarrod Harry has been having and All-League type year and is our emotional leader on 'D and having Christian (Marcin) back will be a huge plus for our secondary."
If all goes well, the Bombers will be more than happy to get the Palisades "monkey" off of their backs.