Lehighton falls to Poc. Mt. East
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Tom Ruzicka is pulled down by Pocono Mountain East's Steven Dienno (3) and Stavion Mitchell (21).
It's usually hard to find many positives in a lopsided loss.
But a closer look at Lehighton's 41-0 defeat at the hands of Pocono Mountain East does reveal a sliver of a silver lining.
Despite the rout, the Indians' defense turned in a solid first half and continues to make strides. Also, the Tribe's running game showed more signs of improvement.
"Our defense played a great first half," said Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll, whose team trailed 14-0 at the break. "They gave us a lot of opportunities. Our defense has really improved in every single game. They really came in fired up.
"We're still a work in progress. Our line did a decent job in terms of running the ball. Our passing game struggled, though."
Unfortunately for the Indians, their opponents passing game didn't struggle.
Cardinal quarterback Evan Fardella ended up throwing for 178 yards and three touchdowns to help his team improve to 2-1.
"We went all last year without him because he got hurt in Week One, but he's a real good athlete and he makes plays," said PM East mentor Phil Dorn. "I think he has a better understanding this year that he doesn't have to do everything on his own."
Fardella actually didn't have to do a thing for his team to take a lead.
After Pocono's offense was forced into two three-and-outs, its defense came through in a big way. Steven Dienno stepped in front of an Indian pass and returned the interception 18 yards for the game's first score.
Fardella did manage to put one scoring drive together against Lehighton's defense in the opening half, as he moved his team 60 yards and tossed a four-yard touchdown to Jason Parchment. But that was all they could muster early on.
"Lehighton's young but they have a bunch of tough kids," said Dorn. "It's always a tough environment to play ... Their kids are tough and they stuck us, but I think after a while maybe some of our speed, some of our athleticism and some of our strength may have taken over."
Did it ever.
Two big runs from tailback Devyn Papa set up Fardella's 27-yard touchdown throw to Parchment late in the third quarter. That score upped the margin to 21-0.
Two minutes later, the Cards signal-caller went up top again and found a wide-open Kyle Harris for a 47-yard scoring strike.
"They have some nice athletes, and they did some nice things but again defensively we did a nice job containing them in the first half," said McCarroll. "Offensively we just didn't help out our defense at all. We were in position to make plays and we didn't make them."
The Indians (0-3) did have a couple of chances to dent the scoreboard but came up empty. An 80-yard march, highlighted by Tom Ruzicka's 46-yard run, stalled at PM's 17-yard line while McCarroll's club managed to reach Pocono's 25 on two other occasions.
"We're young and inexperienced, but we're going to keep getting better," said McCarroll, whose running attack managed 160 yards. "We're going to stay positive with them and eventually they're going to make plays. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later."
The visitors closed out the scoring and the game in the final period on a 61-yard punt return by Harris and a 50-yard run by reserve Dante Edwards.