McCarrolls go head-to-head
There were no championships on the line this past Friday night when Pocono Mountain West beat Lehighton, 16-14.
But there was a definite "bowl game atmosphere."
With Tom McCarroll coaching Lehighton and his uncle Jim McCarroll coaching Pocono Mountain West, the matchup became McCarroll Bowl #1. The two coaching staffs actually wore t-shirts that said exactly that.
"That was my uncle Jim's idea," said rookie Indian coach Tom McCarroll. "He called me over the summer after I got the Lehighton job and told me that when he was an assistant up at Wyoming Valley West, they had a game when family members were coaching against each other and they did the t-shirts. We thought it would be a fun idea to do it for this game.
"It worked out well. We had the helmets of both teams on the shirts and both coaching staffs wore them for the game. Some of our family members even got in on it and bought some shirts."
Tom McCarroll said other than the t-shirts and the large amount of family members that attended the game, it was "business as usual" for him both before and during the game.
"About the only time I thought about it was after the game," said Tom McCarroll. "Our kids played great and so did West. When Jim and I met on the field after the game, I think we were both proud of how our teams battled and we mentioned that to each other."
Although the outcome might not have turned out the way Tom McCarroll had hoped, he said it was still nice to have the chance to go against his uncle.
"Jim is my father's youngest brother and is just seven years older than I am," explained Tom McCarroll. "So we had a relationship that was more like brothers than uncle and nephew when we were growing up."
Both McCarrolls played their high school football at Marian. Jim then went on to play football at Bloomsburg University and after graduating returned to take his first assistant coaching position at Marian. Tom was a member of that team.
"I think it was my junior year at Marian that Jim coached our defensive backs and receivers and they were the two positions I played," said Tom McCarroll. "I really enjoyed playing for him and I could tell even then that he had what it takes to be a great coach."
After graduating from Marian, Tom McCarroll went on to play football at Colgate. Since then, he has followed a course very similar to his uncle, becoming a teacher and football coach.
"I also started my coaching career at Marian and right around that time is when Jim was named head coach at Pocono Mountain West," said Tom McCarroll.
"We actually tried to work it out so that I could be on his staff, but my teaching schedule at the time made it impossible."
Tom served as an assistant coach at Marian, Catasauqua and Whitehall before getting the Lehighton head coaching job this season. Although he was never able to join his uncle's staff, Tom has definitely taken advantage of Jim's football coaching experience.
"We've attended coaching clinics together over the years and I've always called him anytime I had any coaching questions," said Tom McCarroll. "I'll call him a couple of times during the season just to pick his brain. Jim has such outstanding football knowledge and he's been great about sharing his thoughts and ideas with me anytime I've had a question."
After talking with Tom McCarroll, it's obvious that his uncle Jim has had an important role in his football career both as a player and a coach. It's also obvious that Tom wants a little payback.
"I'm looking forward to McCarroll Bowl #2, he laughed. "Because I need to even the family scoreboard."
BACK-TO-BACK ... Tamaqua's 49-0 victory over Minersville on Friday night was its second straight shutout. The win over the Miners came on the heels of a 46-0 blanking of Panther Valley the previous week.
The back-to-back shutouts marked the first time since 1986 that a Blue Raider team has accomplished that feat.
During that 1986 season, Tamaqua actually posted three straight shutouts, beating Lehighton, 2-0 (9/12); Pottsville, 14-0 (9/19); and Danville, 26-0 (9/26).
RETURN BUSINESS ... Panther Valley's Richard Nase returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in his team's loss to North Schuylkill on Friday night. It was the second time this season that Nase has returned a kickoff for a TD.
The last Panther player to return a pair of kickoffs for a score in the same season was Joel Porambo, who did it against both Pine Grove and Jim Thorpe in 2004.
EXTENDING A STREAK ... Northern Lehigh managed just one touchdown in its loss to Catasauqua on Friday night, but in doing so the Bulldogs were able to extend a long streak.
Northern Lehigh has now gone 59 consecutive games without being shut out, the longest current streak among TIMES NEWS area team.
The last time the Bulldogs were blanked was Nov. 2, 2007 when it lost to Palmerton, 35-0.
Friday was the fifth time during the streak that Northern Lehigh scored seven points or less.
BIG COMEBACK ... Pleasant Valley trailed East Stroudsburg North 15-0 and 21-6 last Friday before rallying for a 30-21 victory.
In the last 25 seasons, that comeback marked just the 10th time a TIMES NEWS area team trailed by as many as 15 points and came back to win.
Panther Valley rallied from 21 back on Sept. 22, 1990 and from 16 behind on Aug. 30, 1991, while Jim Thorpe turned a 20-point deficit into a win on Oct. 20, 2009 and battled back from a 17-point hole on Nov. 5, 1994. Lehighton posted a 19-point comeback on Sept, 21, 2007 and trailed by 15 points on Sept. 12, 2003 before posting a win. Marian (10/25/02), Tamaqua (9/2/00) and Northwestern (10/27/06) also had big rallies.
Friday night's comeback was the largest by a Pleasant Valley team since at least 1978 and may be the biggest in their history.
QUITE A HAUL ... Pleasant Valley's Andrew Romeo caught two more touchdown passes in last week's victory over East Stroudsburg North. That brings Romeo's season total to 10 TD receptions.
According to Lehigh Valley high school football historian Duke Helm, Romeo's total is a new school record.
Friday night's performance pushed Romeo past both Rich Irving (2010) and Anthony Bumbulsky (2009). in the Bear record books.