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QB rotation works for NW

Published September 22. 2011 05:01PM

Three weeks into the 2011 football season, only two of our nine local football teams are still unbeaten.

Marian's loss to Mahanoy Area last Friday night, left Northwestern and Northern Lehigh as the lone 3-0 teams in the TIMES NEWS coverage area.

This week's OVERTIME column will have some information on both the Tigers and Bulldogs, including a look at Northwestern's two-man rotation at the quarterback position.


There is an old saying in football that if you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.

But don't tell that to Northwestern coach Tom Linette. That's because Linette's adept management of a two-quarterback system through the Tigers' first three games has produced staggering offensive numbers.

Northwestern leads all area teams in both total offense and scoring. The Tigers are racking up over 357 yards a game in offense and scoring an average of 45.7 points a game.

Spearheading the high-powered Northwestern offense are quarterbacks Ben Snyder and Ty Cunningham.

The Tigers' QBs have combined to throw the ball 30 times in three games, completing 14 of those passes for 262 yards and five touchdowns. While those numbers might not have people calling Northwestern "Air-Linette," it's certainly a huge change from the Tigers' Delaware Wing-T days when it wasn't uncommon to see 30 passes being almost an entire season worth of attempts.

Northwestern has scrapped the Wing-T in favor of a spread offense with Snyder and Cunningham directing the attack out of the shotgun formation. No matter who is at quarterback, the Tigers' run a read option, which means the quarterbacks and running backs must be on the same page.

"We have one period every practice where we run our offense live so our quarterbacks consistently get a look at the defense and have to react to what they see," said Linette. "We're fortunate because we have a lot of very intelligent football players.

"That is extremely important when you are running they type of offense we run. Both Ben (Snyder) and Ty (Cunningham) do a great job of knowing their reads and executing the offense."

One major difference in the Tigers' quarterback situation and most other multi-quarterback offenses is that both Snyder and Cunningham are always on the field. When Snyder is the signalcaller, Cunningham is usually lined up next to him as a runningback. When Cunningham is at the controls, Snyder is often flanked out as a reciever. That means there isn't the constant alternating between the sideline and the huddle on a play-by-play or series-by-series basis.

"Both Ty and Ben are great athletes who can do it all," said Linette. "They both have the ability to run and throw the football.

"We wanted to find the best way to take advantage of their skills, and we think that running the spread offense and giving both of them snaps at the quarterback position does that. So far it has worked out very well for us."

The numbers back up Linette's assessment.

So far this season, Snyder is 8-for-21 passing for 128 yards and three touchdowns. He has also run the ball 16 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Cunningham is 6-for-9 through the air for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Cunningham has run the ball 38 times for 386 yards and seven TDs. The most impressive statistics might be the rushing averages of both players. Cunningham has averaged 10.2 yards per carry while Snyder is averaging 12.6 yards a carry.

When you combine the individual numbers for the two players with the point totals the team has put up, it's obvious that Northwestern's two-quuarterback system has been a huge success.


A LONG TIME COMING .... Lehighton's Jeremy Zellers returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown last Thursday in the Indians win over Panther Valley.

The last time a Lehighton player brought back a punt for a score was Sept. 16, 1994 (186 games ago) when Jeremy Schoenberger took one 88 yards to the house in a 28-8 win over Tamaqua.

Since Schoenberger's return, Lehighton had been punted to approxiately 670 times without bringing one back for a TD.


AIR TOUT .... Northern Lehigh's Dylan Hoffman threw three touchdown passes last Friday in the Bulldogs' win over Saucon Valley.

In the last 25 years, it was only the third time a Bulldog quarterback had three TDs passes in a game.

The other two times were Kris Krawchuk on Aug. 31, 2007 against Bangor and Bo Tkach on Oct. 6, 2000 also against Bangor.


40 SOMETHING ... Last week OVERTIME revealed to everyone the last time Northwestern scored 40+ points in back-to-back weeks.

Well, last Friday the Tigers reached 40+ points for a third time when they routed Wilson, 48-14.

The last time NW had scored 40+ points three times in row was 1996: Oct. 11 (67-0 vs. Salisbury), Oct. 4 (48-0 vs. Wilson) and Sept. 28 (41-6 vs. PA).


ON TARGET .. Pleasant Valley's Troy Verway completed 20 passes in Friday's loss against Wyoming Valley West.

Over the last 25 years, only five other TN area quarterbacks have completed 20 or more passes In a single game.

The other five are Jim Thorpe's Matt Long and Corey Cinicola, Marian's Brent "Chuck" Andrew, Pleasant Valley's Derrik Walling, and Lehighton's Brandon Williams.


ELITE COMPANY ... Northwestern's Ty Cunningham rushed for 233 yards on Friday against Wilson.

He is only the third Tiger over the past 20 years to rush for 225 yards or more in a single game.

The others were Ben Clymer (254 on 11/9/07) and Brett Snyder (266 on 9/8/05 and 240 on 9/22/05).


EIGHT WAS ENOUGH ... Last Friday night against Salisbury, Palmerton's Monty Szukics contributed to his team's victory by catching eight passes for 125 yards.

In the Bombers' last 200 games, this is only the second time a Palmerton player has caught eight or more passes in a single game. The only other one to achieve this feat was Austin Cseh, who hauled in nine passes against Wilson on Sept. 26, 2008.

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