Bulldogs only team in D11s
Welcome to the postseason edition of OVERTIME.
It wasn't an extremely successful season for area teams as only Northern Lehigh qualified for the District 11 playoffs and only Tamaqua made the Eastern Conference playoffs.
This is just the second time in the last 16 years that only one area team has reached Districts. The other time during that span when it happened was 2005. This year's district representation is a far cry from 2006 and 2007 when six area teams reached the district playoffs the highest amount of local teams ever.
Northern Lehigh's outstanding season extended the run of consecutive seasons that at least one TIMES NEWS area team qualified for Districts playoffs to 21 years. As a matter of fact, since the District 11 football playoffs were instituted in 1984, there have been just two seasons (1986 and 1990) that the area failed to qualify at least one team. In both of those seasons, Marian had a good enough record to make districts, but opted instead for the Eastern Conference playoffs, which carried more prestige at the time.
Marian won the EC playoffs and finished with a 13-0 record in 1986, but that was before there were state playoffs. In 1990, the Colts lost the EC title game, but still went on to the state playoffs, where they captured the only football State Championship ever won by a TIMES NEWS area school.
In recent years, Northern Lehigh has been far and away the most dominant program in the area. Under the guidance of Jim Tkach and Joe Tout, the Bulldogs have been a fixture in District 11 playoffs. Since 1998, they have qualified for districts in 13 of 14 seasons, with their only non-district appearance coming in 2008.
During that 14-year span, no other area team has qualified for districts more than five times something that Lehighton, Marian and Northwestern have all done. They are followed by Jim Thorpe (four times); Palmerton (three); Panther Valley (two); and Pleasant Valley and Tamaqua (once each).
WEAVER GOES THE DISTANCE ... Panther Valley's Mike Weaver achieved one of the most exciting plays in football Friday night against Minersville, returning a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.
Over the last 25 years, Weaver is just the seventh Panther player to return a kickoff to the house.
The other PV players to accomplish the feat include: Jake Dunn, Justin King, Joel Porambo (twice), Matt Micholik, Mike Turrano and Brad Miller.
TOUT GETS 50TH ... On Friday night, Northern Lehigh's Joe Tout earned his 50th win as head coach of the Bulldogs.
Since 1979, Tout is the ninth coach to earn his 50th win. The other eight are Tom Bonner, Tony Caracio, Stan Dakosty, Manny Guedes, Bob Mitchell, Dave Parsons, Mark Rosenberger and Jim Tkach.
Tout earned his 50th win in just 69 games. Of the other eight, only two others did it as fast. Dakosty gained his 50th in only 67 games while Parsons also needed 69 games to reach No. 50.
MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE ... Last Friday against Jim Thorpe, Jacen Nalesnik had a game he'll always remember
The junior ran for 254 yards on just 14 carries, caught three passes for 50 yards, scored six touchdowns and kicked five extra points.
Since 1988, Nalesnik is just the sixth Indian to gain 250 or more rushing yards in a game. The others are Robbie Frey, Joe Semanoff, Vinnie Andrews, Dave Muffley and Todd Wolfe. Also, among TN backs that have rushed for 250 yards or more since 1988, no one has done so in fewer carries. Last year, Northern Lehigh's Cody Remaley also had a game in which he carried 14 times and reached 258 yards.
Nalesnik's 41 points scored may be the TIMES NEWS all-time record for one player in a game. Dating back to 1995, the most in one game by a player was Joe Semanoff of Lehighton, who had 40 against Whitehall on Sept. 15, 2000. From 1995 to the present, only Nalesnik, Semanoff and Northern Lehigh's Ryan Hluschak (2002) scored six touchdowns in a game.
OVERTIME TIGERS ... Northwestern's overtime loss to Catasauqua Friday was the first OT game in the TIMES NEWS area this season.
There was also only one overtime game among TN teams a year ago (Jim Thorpe def. Mahanoy Area).
The Tigers' last OT game was Oct. 17, 2008 when it fell in double OT to Northern Lehigh, 27-24.
Northwestern has now been in six overtime games, tied for the most among TN teams with Marian, Panther Valley and Tamaqua.
Since overtime has been used in the PIAA, this is the 35th OT game among TN teams.
Marian and Lehighton are the area teams with the most OT wins - four.
AGOSTO, HOFMANN BIG NIGHTS ... Lehighton's Josh Agosto and Northern Lehigh's Dylan Hofmann had extremely efficient games on Friday night. Both quarterbacks had three touchdown passes on just five completions.
Since 1996, they are among the most efficient performances by quarterbacks.
Two other Indian quarterbacks actually were even better than Agosto and Hofmann as both Nate Freeman (Sept. 10, 2004 against Tamaqua) and Dedan Brozino (Sept. 1, 2001 against Panther Valley) had three TD passes on just four completions. Pleasant Valley's Derrik Walling (Sept. 10, 2010 against Honesdale) and Casey Lawrence (Oct. 16, 2009 against Shenandoah) also had three touchdowns on just five completions.
Jim Thorpe's Corey Cinicola might have done those quarterbacks a little better by having five touchdown passes on a limited number of completions. On Sept. 5, 2008 against Mahanoy Area, Cinicola needed just nine completions to throw the five TDs.