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Tamaqua, JT look to remain unbeaten

Published September 14. 2017 06:01PM

Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe enter Week 4 hoping to remain undefeated. The Blue Raiders travel to Panther Valley, while the Olympians host Minersville.

Palmerton will host Pen Argyl and try to keep its momentum going after a big win at home against Saucon Valley last Friday.

Tamaqua at Panther Vy.

Friday, Sept. 15

Here's what you need to know:

GOIN' STREAKING... Tamaqua has won the last seven meetings against Panther Valley, outscoring the Panthers on average by a 41.85-6.28 margin during the stretch. "It's a great atmosphere over at Panther Valley. A lot of the kids know one another and we've had some great games in the past," said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner.

PERFECT START... The last time Tamaqua started 3-0 was in 2012, when the Raiders went undefeated during the regular season, but fell to Pen Argyl in the District 11 playoffs. "Last week was real big for us. It was the first time we beat Haven in three years. We knew they had a lot of hype going into the season, and they lost to two real good quality teams. We knew we would be tested. I thought our kids did a great job, especially when they tied it up. Things were kind of looking on the down side for us, but I thought our kids did a great job bouncing back and making some plays," said Bonner.

BRIGHT SPOT... Despite the Panthers' 57-0 loss to Jim Thorpe last Friday, receiver Derek Beckham got back on track. He exploded against Columbia Montour in Week 1, and collecting five catches for 99 yards in Week 3. He is the Times News area leader in both receptions (16), and receiving yards with 259. "It's amazing what Sam (Bonner) has done with the program," said Panther Valley head coach Scott Price. "Being this good with such young players. They're a very talented group, very meticulous and fundamentally sound, and their technique is incredible."

WHO'S YOUR THADDY... Tamaqua's Thad Zuber threw three touchdowns and hauled in another at receiver during last week's win against Schuylkill Haven.

ONE-THREE PUNCH... Nick Breiner and Nate Boyle are No. 1 and 3, respectively, among the Times News area in rushing.

FOURTH TIME IS A CHARM... The last two times the Panthers started 2-1 were in 2012 and 2009. PV won each Week 4 meeting against Jim Thorpe in those seasons. "We have to play hard and be mentally prepared," Price added.

Minersville at Jim Thorpe

Friday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.

Here's what you need to know:

STRIVE FOR FIVE… The Olympians have won their last four meetings with the Miners, outscoring them an impressive 159-8. The Jim Thorpe offense has averaged just short of 40 points per game in that time frame against Minersville.

GROUND AND POUND… It's no secret the Miners like to run the football. So far this season, The Miners have rushed for 368 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Junior Josh Halye leads the team with 122 rushing yards and can break out any time, as he's averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Freshman Jacob Hoffman is second on the team with 106 yards. Six Minersville players have eight or more carries on the season. The Jim Thorpe defense has been unbelievable against the run, giving up just one yard per carry and 93 total rushing yards on the season.

"Minersville is always a physical team with solid athletes that can run the football," said Jim Thorpe head coach Mark Rosenberger. "All of their backs are physical, fast, and aggressive, so we have to continue to get penetration in the backfield and finish when we're in position to make plays."

THE BIG PLAY… Against the Panthers last week, the Olympians used the big play to put up 57 points. Thorpe had six plays of over 30 yards that resulted in scores a week ago. The Olympians have a total of 11 plays of over 30 yards that have resulted in a touchdown, while they have just four touchdowns that have been under 10 yards.

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING… Justin St. Hill has been a proven starter for the Olympians over the last two seasons, and he hasn't disappointed this year, rushing for 218 yards and six touchdowns. St. Hill has been the constant thunder of Thorpe's offense, but sophomore C.J. Selby has been the lightning. Selby has electrified Thorpe's offense when he has gotten his opportunities this season, rushing for 221 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a ridiculous 17 yards per carry.

Pen Argyl at Palmerton

Friday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.

Here's what you need to know:

LAST FIVE… Over the last five seasons, Palmerton owns a 3-2 advantage over the Green Knights, having won the last three. Last season's 40-6 victory was huge for the Bombers as that was the game that propelled them to win six of their next nine games, including a District 11 AA Championship berth. The 2016 win was even more impressive as it was on the road with the Bombers coming in winless at 0-3, while Pen Argyl boasted a 2-1 record. This season, the Bombers (2-1) host the Green Knights, who are 0-3 coming into the game.

STOPPING THE RUN… Palmerton's main goal on the night defensively will be to stop All-Colonial League running back Logan Sterner. The Green Knights love to pound the football, and Sterner is a big reason why. The senior has rushed for 406 yards and 6.9 yards per carry on season with three touchdowns. The Bombers have had their ups and downs defending the run, as they've given up close to 170 yards per game. "It's important for us to control the line of scrimmage for the entire game, and we absolutely have to cut down on giving up the big play," said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. "Sterner is very dangerous, and if he gets going, they will mix in the play-action. So, everyone needs to read their keys, especially our defensive backs, whether that's in the play-action game or coming up to help in the run game. We need to have as many guys around the football as possible."

DUAL THREAT… Palmerton quarterback Takoa Guedes has become the ultimate weapon for the Bombers in their spread offense. So far this season, Guedes has thrown for 481 yards and three scores, while rushing for 218 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Sabo leads the team in receptions with 15 and is second behind Guedes in rushing with 177 yards. Jordan Nelson and Mike Eckhart have started to show their playmaking ability at wide receiver, with Nelson leading the team in receiving with 179 yards and Eckhart second with 149 yards.

UNDERRATED… Coming into the season, it was well known that the Bombers would boast a talented set of skill players. This year, the main question mark was the same as last season, which was the play of the offensive and defensive line. However, in just three games, these units seemed to have gelled, and last week battled and wore down a Saucon Valley front that was considered to be one of the best in the Colonial League. "I think you can see a difference in communication with our guys up front, that's one big difference I can see from a year ago," said Walkowiak. "They've done everything we've asked them to do, they've really battled. They all know their assignments, and they've been staying on their blocks. We still need to keep getting better every day, every week, but they've been doing a really nice job."

No. Lehigh at No. Dame

Friday, Sept. 15

Here's what you need to know:

UP-AND-DOWN... Northern Lehigh was up 21-7 against Bangor last week at one point, but the Slaters soared back with a 56-27 victory.

LAST DOZEN... Since 2004, Northern Lehigh owns a 9-3 record against Notre Dame of Green Pond. However, the Bulldogs have dropped three of their last four games to the Crusaders.

DESPERATION... These are two Colonial League teams that need a victory. The Bulldogs are now 0-3, while Notre Dame (1-2) has fallen to two of the top teams in the league so far in Palisades (22-17) in Week 1, and Southern Lehigh (28-27) last Friday.

AIR RAID... Junior quarterback Cole DeFracno is the focal point of the Crusaders' offense. He was 17-of-29 for 271 yards with one score through the air last week. In Week 2, against Bangor, he went off for 396 yards and four touchdowns. In Week 1, he piled up 345 yards during a loss to the Pirates.

QUICK START... The Bulldogs stormed out to a 14-0 start and ended up scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Justin Paul had two touchdown runs (25, 1) while Gage Hunsicker hooked up with Chase Ohlson for a 47-yard strike.

SLOW FINISH... Northern Lehigh was outscored by a 42-6 margin the rest of the game. Garrett DeBoer had his way with the Bulldogs on the ground, rushing for 191 yards on 20 carries.

Allen at Pleasant Valley

Friday, Sept. 15

Here's what you need to know:

POINTS PART I... Pleasant Valley (0-3) has scored 38 points combined through the first three weeks this season. The Bears failed to score under 38 points in just four of their 11 games last season. Pleasant Valley's season low last year came in a 27-12 loss to Easton in the District 11 Class 6A playoffs. "We need to establish a power running game, which will open up our vertical passing game. We need to get (quarterback) Brandon (Keyes) off to a good start in the passing game, and we need to win the turnover battle," said Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Versuk.

POINTS PART II... William Allen has managed just 20 points through the first thee weeks of the season, all of which came in a 20-13 win over East Stroudsburg North last week. The Canaries (1-2) suffered two shutout losses to open the season - 49-0 against Parkland in Week 1 and a 42-0 setback against Freedom the following week.

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES... While both Pleasant Valley and Allen have had trouble finding the end zone, opposing offenses have faced little resistance putting points on the board. The Bears have allowed 102 points this season, while the Canaries have surrendered 104. "We need to control Allen's QB (Wright) in the running game and scrambling on passes. We have to take better care (of the ball) and make Allen drive the length of the field. We cannot give up big plays. We need to win the special teams battle," said Versuk.

RECENT HISTORY... Pleasant Valley rolled to a 59-14 win against Allen last season. The victory marked the fifth-straight season the Bears topped the Canaries. And it hasn't been close. From 2012-15, Pleasant Valley has dominated, outscoring Allen 177-28.

RUN IT... In their victory over East Stroudsburg North last week, the Canaries rolled up 307 yards rushing on 44 attempts. Romeo Wright led the way with 116 yards and two touchdowns. Wright also threw a 3-yard touchdown to Syheid Diaz to make it 20-0. The passing game proved to be ineffective, with the team completing just 3-of-14 passing attempts for 49 yards. Allen also committed four turnovers - throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles.

MOVE THE STICKS... Allen had 23 first downs last week, while East Stroudsburg North had 25 first downs.

Northwestern at Wilson

Saturday, Sept. 16

Here's what you need to know:

BACK IN THE SADDLE... Northwestern will be closer to full strength this week with the return of seniors Dan Burke, Phil Dangello and Jack Moloney, along with juniors Ryan Haas and Anthony Colucci.

SOME NEW TRICKS... The return of five players will give coach Josh Snyder some added tricks that he's put back in the playbook. With a young cast filling holes, Snyder's play calling was cut back to the bare bones to help guys get acclimated to playing at the varsity level. One of the biggest changes is that tight end Caleb Clymer can return to that spot after playing fullback the past couple weeks. Clymer was the favorite receiver of sophomore quarterback Deven Bollinger in Week 1, but had to move to fullback because of the lack of depth. Clymer caught six passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Palisades.

JUST FOR KICKS... Snyder says he has every confidence in kicker Hunter Miller, who nailed a 39-yard field goal against Salisbury, but missed on a 45-yard attempt last week at Palisades. In practice, Miller has hit from as far away as 50 yards and is almost a lock from inside of 40 yards. In addition to field goals, Miller has put most of his kickoffs into or out of the end zone. Miller also handles the punting duties, and is averaging 38 yard per punt, and last week pinned the Pirates at their own three.

GOOD JOB, MAN... The number one job for Northwestern against Wilson is to stop running back Job Goodman, who can be a big-play runner. While he was held to just 28 yards against Palisades in Week 2, Goodman has rushed for just under 100 yards per game and has 258 yards receiving for Wilson. "We have to stop him," said Snyder of the senior running back. "Overall, I've been pretty happy with our defense, but last week we missed a lot of tackles and really hurt ourselves on some plays, and we can't afford to do that."

RUN, RUN, RUN... Wilson isn't known for their passing game. Quarterback Cam Clark has put the ball up just 30 times this season, but when he does, he's found success. Clark has averaged 113 yards passing per game and has four touchdown passes on the season.

BIG D VS. SMALL O... After giving up 42 points to Palisades in Week 2, the Warriors defense threw a shutout last week against Salisbury, with the Falcons only score coming on a 90-yard kickoff return. Wilson also allowed just eight points in the season opener against Catasauqua. Meanwhile, the Tigers have scored just 17 points this season and only three in the last nine quarters that they've played.

"I think our guys are really ready for this week," said Snyder. "We've had a rough start, but their morale is good and they've stayed positive. We have an extra day of practice this week and that always helps, so we're excited about playing and seeing if we can get a win for ourselves."

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