JT, Lehighton show promise in week one
Welcome to year seven of OVERTIME the high school football column that highlights the stories and statistics you might have missed during the previous week's games.
The opening week of the season wasn't a very good one for TIMES NEWS area teams as seven of nine local teams suffered setbacks, all of them by double digit margins.
There were some bright spots on the opening weekend of play, however, as Jim Thorpe and Lehighton two teams who combined for just four victories a year ago picked up eye-opening wins. The victories came against Tamaqua and Marian respectively a pair of playoff teams a year ago who combined for 18 wins.
In addition to the impressive team performances by the Olympians and the Indians, there were several individuals who had noteworthy accomplishments as well.
Let's take a look at some things you might not have noticed during week one:
By nature, coaches are normally a pretty conservative group. You often hear them talk about "playing the percentages" or "going by the book."
But second-year Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll threw the "book" out the window during his team's 27-14 victory over Marian on Friday.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Indians faced a fourth-and-one situation on their own 36-yard line. Holding a 13-0 lead, the expected call would be to punt. Instead, McCarroll decided to go for it. The gamble paid dividends as Wyatt Clements took a direct snap out of a wildcat formation and ran for an eight-yard gain. Seven plays later, Clements capped the drive with a six-yard TD run to give Lehighton a 20-0 lead.
"We really didn't even think twice about the decision," said McCarroll. "We have 100 percent confidence in our short yardage offense. Whether it's second-and-two or fourth-and-one, we think we're are going to make it.
"I wanted our kids to know how confident in them we were. To have success in that type of situation early in the season is something that will hopefully benefit us throughout the season."
Considering the fact that Marian scored on two of its first three possessions in the second half, the fourth-down conversion and ensuing touchdown by Lehighton turned out to be huge. If the Indians go three-and-out and punt the ball away on that opening drive, the Colts' second half scores could have made things very interesting. As it was, Marian was never able to get within two touchdowns.
"Marian has a great program and even though it was 13-0, we knew that they weren't going to lie down," said McCarroll. "There are very few times during a game where you get the chance to put the hammer down and really take charge, and converting a first down and then scoring a touchdown at that stage in the game really allowed us to do that."
So was the fourth-down gamble by McCarroll something that Indian fans should expect more of this season?
"We want our kids to believe that we are going to convert in short yardage situations," said McCarroll. "So, I wouldn't hesitate to do that again.
"Percentages say that you probably aren't going to make it everytime you go, but we are also very confident in our defense. So if we ever come up short, I have no problem counting on our defense to step up and keep the opponent from capitalizing on good field position."
A LONG TIME COMING ... In Palmerton's 25-13 loss to Notre Dame on Friday, the Bombers' initial touchdown came on a 73-yard pass from Logan Lesher to Jerry Pereira.
The play ended a long dryspell for the Bombers, who failed to produce a passing touchdown during the entire 2012 campaign.
The 73-yard distance was the longest Bomber TD pass since Oct. 10, 2008 when Matt Falcone tossed a 77-yard scoring strike to Austin Cseh.
BULLDOGS BLITZED ... No area football program had enjoyed more success than Northern Lehigh in recent times. The Bulldogs have qualified for the District 11 playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons. During that span, Marian's six District 11 appearances is the next highest total by any area school.
But Northern Lehigh's 2013 season got off to a rough start as it was blanked by Southern Lehigh, 49-0. It was the worst loss suffered by a Northern Lehigh team since Oct. 30, 1992 (237 games ago) when Stroudsburg defeated the Bulldogs, 62-7.
The 1992 season was Jim Tkach's first at Northern Lehigh. The Bulldogs, who were still in the Centennial League at that time, finished that season with an 0-11 record.
DUAL THREAT ... After starting at receiver the past couple of years, Panther Valley's Kyle Ferryman made his quarterbacking debut on Friday in a 51-28 loss to Mahanoy Area.
Although the outcome wasn't quite what the Panthers had hoped for, Ferryman's performance was nothing short of amazing.
The Panther Valley senior ran for 168 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 104 yards and another TD, becoming the first Panther to rush and pass for over 100 yards in the same game since Casey Lawrence accomplished the feat on Oct. 9, 2009. Lawrence ran for 141 yards and passed for 148 in a 47-14 win over Marian.
RUNNING WILD ... Jim Thorpe had 351 yards rushing in Friday's 34-14 victory over Tamaqua.
The last time an Olympian team had that many yards rushing in a game was Sept. 3, 2004 when it piled up 372 yards on the ground in a 54-14 win against Tamaqua.
Quarterback Ryan Saunders (154 yards) and running back Deonte St. Hill (113 yards) accounted for most of Jim Thorpe's rushing success. The last time the Olympians had two 100-yard rushers in the same game also hapened against Tamaqua when Shane Edwards (116) and Terry Moll (112) accomplished the feat on Sept. 3, 2010.