In proper perspective
As far as losses go, Friday night's 49-48 overtime heartbreaker against Panther Valley would probably have to rank among one of the toughest in Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger's career.
Anytime a team losses by a point in overtime, there are dozens of plays that a coach can replay over and over in his head that might have changed the outcome.
Add to that the fact that the game was against a neighboring school district, that Jim Thorpe had a couple of chances to pull out the victory in the final two minutes of regulation, and that after scoring first in overtime, the Olympians were forced to go for a two-point conversion because their kicker had cramped up and wasn't available, and you can see why the loss could be a tough one to take.
But as disappointed as he was, Rosenberger might have had a little easier time putting this loss into proper perspective not because of what happened on the field, but because of something that happened off the field.
Just a few days earlier, the Olympians' talented junior wide receiver/defensive back Khaaliq Lynch was injured in an automobile accident. Lynch was admitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital's intensive care unit with serious head and spine injuries.
Jim Thorpe's players, coaches and fans had Lynch on their mind Friday night. His brothers Dante, Kysheem and D.J. Lynch, took part in the coin toss and a moment of silence was offered up before the game for his recovery.
After the tough loss, Rosenberger's comments in a silent Olympian locker room on Friday night summarized the thoughts and emotions of his team.
"The kids played extremely hard on a night that it was obviously tough for us to concentrate solely on football," Rosenberger said. "These kids gave everything they had.
"We're disappointed in the loss, but I know #2 (Lynch) would be proud of the effort his teammates gave."
Standing just outside the pressbox on Friday night, Khaaliq's father, Dennis Lynch, was in his normal spot for an Olympian home football game. Dennis Lynch videotapes all of Jim Thorpe's games from the deck outside of the pressbox.
He wasn't planning on attending Friday's game, afterall, Khaaliq was still in the hospital, and even though his condition had stabilized, he was still in the intensive care unit. But Kaaliq insisted that his dad get out of the hospital and attend the game.
"I have pretty much been around the hospital 24/7 for the last few days," Dennis Lynch said. "I got a hotel room nearby and I had been staying there just to be close to Khaaliq.
"When something likes this happens, it's a parent's worst nightmare. I was so scared. But so many people have been there for myself and our family. The football team and the entire Jim Thorpe community have shown us a tremendous amount of love and support. That has really been helpful."
Dennis Lynch said that earlier that afternoon, Khaaliq was able to get out of bed and walk for the first time since Sunday's accident.
"He only took about 20 steps, but it felt so good to see him do it," said his father. "The doctors are telling us that there doesn't appear to be any nerve damage and Khaaliq has movement and feeling in all parts of his body. He has a long way to go, but we're very hopeful."
Lynch said all that matters is that his son is taking small steps, both literally and figuratively.
"I knew he was feeling a little better when he told me to get out of the hospital and go watch 'our' football game tonight," said Lynch with a slight smile on his face. "He's still a little confused about some things because of the trauma to his head. But he knew Jim Thorpe had a football game and he wanted me to be there videotaping it. So I had to come tonight."
It had been a tough week for the Lynch family and the entire Jim Thorpe football family. One that can put a Friday night high school football game into perspective.
"One of the great things about high school sports is that your team is like an extended family," said Rosenberger. "When something like this happens, you have to be there for your teammate.
"We tried to do everything in our power to help Khaaliq and his family after the accident occurred. They are constantly in our thoughts and prayers."
After going through one of the toughest weeks he's had to deal with in his 15 years as Jim Thorpe's head coach, Rosenberger got some good news this week.
"We got word earlier today that Khaaliq was being transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center," Rosenberger said on Tuesday. "That is just fabulous news. I can't wait to share it with the team this afternoon at practice."
It was news that the entire Olympian football family was extremely thankful to hear.
STRONG STARTS ... Marian and Tamaqua are the only two area teams still unbeaten after four weeks of the season.
The two schools, located just minutes apart, will play each other on Nov. 2 in the final game of the regular season.
Both the Colts and Raiders still have a lot of work to do, but that hasn't stopped their fan bases from looking ahead to what could be one of the biggest games ever between the two teams.
No matter what happens between now and the potential week 10 showdown, one thing is for sure both teams are enjoying great starts.
The last time Marian started a season 4-0 was 2006 while the last time Tamaqua began 4-0 was 2009. But it's been significantly longer since both teams were 4-0 to start a season. How long? Try 50 years.
Back in 1962 the Colts opened the season with wins over Lansford (13-6), Lourdes (19-6), Pius X (20-19) and Lansdale Catholic (26-20). That same year, the Raiders beat Summit Hill (27-6), Mt. Carmel (13-12), Pottsville (13-7) and Hazleton (14-0) to start the season.
OFFENSIVE OUTBURSTS ... In its last two games against Kutztown and Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley has scored 54 and 49 points respectively.
It's been 20 years since the Panthers have scored more than 45 points in back-to-back games.
On October 16, 1992, Panther Valley beat Northern Lebanon, 46-27. It then came back the following week to blank Tamaqua, 47-0.
OVERTIME INFO ... Panther Valley's 49-48 victory over Jim Thorpe on Friday night was the fifth time since the overtime rule was adopted by the PIAA that two local teams have played a game that wasn't decided in regulation.
The other four games were:
Nov. 14, 2009 Panther Valley 32, Tamaqua 26
Oct. 17, 2008 No. Lehigh 27, Northwestern 24
Nov. 3, 2006 Lehighton 27, Jim Thorpe 20
Sept. 23, 2005 Lehighton 28, Pleasant Vy. 27
It was also the seventh overtime game in Panther Valley history. Tamaqua is the only area team that has played moe overtime games than the Panthers. The Raiders have been involved in eight OT games.
BORRE BALL .... Pleasant Valley freshman running back Austyn Borre is off to an outstanding start this season.
Borre has topped the 100-yard rushing mark in each of his team's first four games the only player in the TIMES NEWS area to have accomplished that feat.
According to TIMES NEWS records, Borre's four 100-yard games are the most by a Pleasant Valley player during a season since 2003 when Marlon Pitts and C.J. Haffner both had four 100-yard games. The last PV player to record more than four 100-yard games in a season was Chris Jacobs back in 1998 when he had five.