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Panthers, Colts ready to renew rivalry

Panther Valley travels to Marian on Friday for a game with major implications in the Schuylkill Football League Division II race as teams head into the second half of the season.

Panther Valley at Marian

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Marian has won the last six meetings against Panther Valley and has held the Panthers to 31 total points during that stretch. “They’re a very underrated team,” said Panther Valley head coach Scott Price. “Record does not indicate how good they are. They’re very well coached with a big physical line and fast line backers.”


... Marian posted 12 points during last week’s 56-12 loss to Schuylkill Haven. It’s the most points the Colts have scored since tallying 19 in Week 1 against Fairfield. There figures to be some offense on Friday though, as Panther Valley is yielding 279 yards per game, while the Colts are giving up 378 per contest. “We have to put together four quarters worth of football,” Price added.


...Opponents are outscoring Panther Valley in each quarter except the fourth, where the Panthers have a 30-20 edge. “Every year we get PV’s best shot,” said Marian head coach Pat Morgans. “It doesn’t matter what the records are or who’s playing. We got to step up and match them.”


... The Colts are being outscored 63-0 in the first quarter this season. “We have to stop the big plays,” Morgans said. “They have some really good play makers. (Rene) Figueroa adds a new dimension to that team. (Derrick) Beckham outside one-on-one; he’s tough to cover. He goes after the ball and is a great receiver. (Tristan) Blasko is inside and now you have (Tyler) Baez stepping up and (Hunter) Kennedy and (Ethan) Reis at quarterback. You have to defend all of them every play.”


... Thursday night on the Times News Lehighton Sports Facebook and @Times_News Twitter Patrick Matsinko and Justin Carlucci will be joined by Price, Morgans and a few of their players to talk about the rivalry and upcoming game.on Friday night LIVE from the Batter’s Box in Summit Hill. Come check us out or tune in!


... Last week, Marian’s Seth Paluck returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. “That was a big lift for our team, we kind of needed that,” Morgans said. “We did some nice things last week, but then it’s like one step forward and two steps back. Hoping that momentum will carry over. These kids have been working hard and they need something positive to happen.”

Jim Thorpe at Blue Mtn.

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


… Times News records, which are from 1978 till present, indicate that Jim Thorpe and Blue Mountain have not played each other until 2011. In 2012 and 2013, they played as non-league opponents until the then Anthracite Football League initially expanded in 2014, where they’ve played against each other as league foes. Since 2012, Blue Mountain has owned the series against Thorpe, 5-0. The Olympians haven’t been able to generate much on the scoreboard either, scoring 20 points or less in all of those games.


… There’s little doubt that this game will be decided up front. Blue Mountain, a team since joining the AFL and the now Schuylkill League Football ranks, has been run-heavy and run-dominant. The Eagles have always put together a strong rushing attack, and that’s continued this season. The Eagles are averaging 191.6 yards per game on the ground, with four players having rushed for 100 or more total yards, while seven Eagles have carried the ball more than 20 times on the year. Jim Thorpe, on the other hand, has shown that its “Red Swarm” defense is extremely tough to run on. The Olympians have yet to give up a score of any kind in its last four games, with no rushing touchdowns on the season. Jim Thorpe is giving up just 38.7 yards per game on the ground and a staggering 1.37 yards per carry. “The key will be to continue to play physical up front and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said Olympians head coach Mark Rosenberger. “Blue Mountain is always big and strong, and they have tough runners that won’t go down on first contact, so playing fundamental, disciplined football in the tackling department will be critical for us as well. We’ve been able to generate pressure in the backfield throughout the year; our kids have been playing tough and confident, we just have to continue that trend.”


… In a physical match-up such as this, each team’s passing can serve as the “X-factor.” That could certainly be the case for Thorpe’s Nick Rosahac and Blue Mountain’s David Krewson. Rosahac when called on has been solid this season, but he’s yet to really break out with a huge game. He’s thrown for 472 yards, with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Krewson is the prototypical quarterback, standing at 6-2, 210 pounds, big and strong with a nice arm. Krewson has thrown for 712 yards, with six touchdowns and five interceptions. The Olympians will also have to keep an eye on Eagles wide out Nate Calderone. Calderone is also a big target at 6-2, 185, and has 30 catches for 461 yards and three scores. “There’s no doubt that we will need to bring and get pressure up the field to try and force some bad throws and create some turnovers from their passing attack,” said Rosenberger.

N’western at Saucon Vy.

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... After an 0-3 start, Northwestern has won back-to-back games and looks to be gaining confidence each week. The result is a chance to reach the .500-mark if they can get a win against a tough Saucon Valley team Friday night on the road.

The Tigers looked like their old selves last week against Pen Argyl, getting strong performances both offensively and defensively. On offense, the Tigers put up 43 points, with sophomore quarterback Deven Bollinger throwing for over 200 yards for the second week in a row.


... One of the keys last week on offense was that Pen Argyl couldn’t focus on just one player. Bollinger threw three touchdowns to three different receivers last week, bouncing back from a tough start that saw his first pass of the game intercepted. Caleb Clymer, Ryan Haas and Tyler Lobach all caught touchdown passes as coach Josh Snyder opened up the offense a little, moving away from the short passing game that worked against Wilson.

In the second half, the Tigers mixed in more of their ground game, picking up a total of 134 yards rushing. Jayden Allen carried the ball 10 times, leading Northwestern with 46 rushing yards. The rushing was just enough to keep things open for Bollinger to find receivers.

“We wanted to be more explosive and that worked for us, but we also still have those shorter options there that we can go to if we need them,” said Snyder. “We can use that to keep defenses on their toes a little bit.”


... The key player to stop for Northwestern is Saucon Valley quarterback Alston Wolf, but they need to worry more about his legs than his arm. Wolf has thrown just 42 times in five games for 458 yards. Where Wolf beats teams is with his running. He rushed for 211 yards against Southern Lehigh last week, and is averaging just under 107 yards rushing per game this season.

Running back Zach Petie is averaging 105 yards per game, but he took a beating last week against the Spartans and was pretty well handled. Petiet is questionable for the game against Northwestern.

“He’s an athletic kid and he’s a tough kid,” said coach Josh Snyder of Wolf. “He throws just enough so that you have to be prepared for it, but he likes to run and they take advantage of that.”


... Saucon Valley finished last season 9-1, with its only loss coming during a visit to Tiger Stadium when Northwestern beat them 15-6. It figures that Saucon Valley (3-2) will look to keep the Tigers from reaching the .500-mark with a win on their home turf this season.

This is somewhat of a down year for two teams who are used to being much closer to the top of the Colonial League standings than they are right now. Neither figures prominently in the postseason outlook, but both teams need this game to keep their hopes alive. The Tigers follow up their game with the Panthers with a home game against Bangor (2-3), before having to face a tough Southern Lehigh (4-1) team. After that, it’s Northern Lehigh (0-5) and Catasauqua (2-3), giving the Tigers a somewhat of a favorable schedule.

NDGP at Palmerton

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Notre Dame owns a 4-1 mark against Palmerton over the last five years. The Crusaders have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 51-7, including a 20-0 victory last season. The Blue Bombers last win in the series was a 47-8 triumph in 2014.


... Palmerton is 2-0 at home this season. The Blue Bombers have defeated Saucon Valley (29-28) and Pen Argyl (44-12) at home. Palmerton’s lone defeat was 44-0 at the hands of Southern Lehigh in Week 2.


… Palmerton is coming into its home matchup with the Crusaders with confidence, having gone 4-1 in its first five games, with wins over Northwestern Lehigh, Saucon Valley, Pen Argyl, and Bangor. Notre Dame’s losses are to Colonial League title favorite Palisades, and also Southern Lehigh. The one common opponent on the season for both schools is Southern Lehigh, whom the Crusaders lost to 28-27.


… Both sides like to spread the ball around offensively, and this one will most likely come down to who can limit the big plays and big chunks of yardage from each team’s pimary offensive weapons. For the Bombers, it will be about containing Crusaders quarterback Cole DeFranco. Palmerton can’t afford to let DeFranco get comfortable, as he’s thrown for 1,414 yards and 12 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. He’s also been efficient, completing 64 percent of his passes. If that isn’t enough, all-purpose running back Gerald Grube III has rushed for 422 yards and five touchdowns, while catching 15 balls for 415 yards and three scores. For the Crusaders, Bombers quarterback Takoah Guedes will be their main focus. Guedes has thrown for 844 yards and six touchdowns, while running for 424 yards and 10 scores. Andrew Sabo has also proven to be a commodity in the running game, rushing for 273 yards. Jordan Nelson has been the big-play threat for the Bombers at receiver, averaging 17.47-yards-per-catch, totaling 297 yards receiving. “Every week we emphasize limiting the big play; we want teams to have to work hard for yardage on every play and every possession of the game,” said Bombers head coach Chris Walkowiak. “We know, and everybody knows, that their quarterback throws a great ball, so we have to mix some things up and create pressure whenever we can. We know it’s going to be tough to stop them from getting their yardage; they’ve gained yards against everybody. The key will be how do we respond if they do get a big play. That will be the key for us.”

Pleasant Vy. at ES South

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Pleasant Valley has won its last three meetings against East Stroudsburg South. The Cavaliers’ last win in the series was a 30-14 victory in 2013.


... The Bears have scored at least 50 points in each of the last two meetings, including a 52-38 victory last year. Pleasant Valley outscored East Stroudsburg South 102-58.


... Pleasant Valley has dealt with a rash of injuries this season. It didn’t get any easier last Friday against Pocono Mountain West, when the Bears lost starting quarterback Brandon Keyes for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Sophomore Aidan McHugh will be under center for the Bears Friday night. Lineman Christian Dereinzi is also out with an injury.


... McHugh has completed 8-of-22 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.


... Pleasant Valley has played well in the first half this season, outscoring opponents 61-58. The second half has been a different story. Through the first five weeks of the season, opponents have outscored the Bears 91-42 in the second half. Pleasant Valley has been outscored 47-28 in the third quarter, and 44-14 in the fourth quarter.


... East Stroudsburg South (2-3) has alternated wins and losses through the first five weeks of the season. After taking down Allentown Central Catholic 33-21 in Week 3, the Cavaliers fell to Nazareth 32-14 last Friday. If that trend continues, ES South should be in line for victory on Friday.


... Nazareth and Central Catholic represent the only common opponents for Pleasant Valley and ESS so far this year. The Bears opened the season with a 50-10 loss to Nazareth, and fell 28-21 to Central Catholic the following week. The Cavaliers have defeated the Vikings and lost to the Blue Eagles over the last two weeks.

Tamaqua at Pottsville

Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


.... Tamaqua has scored at least 40 points in four of its five games this season. “We try to stay grounded,” said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. “We know that we have a big run coming. It started last week at Blue Mountain and now we have Pottsville coming up. Then we have three undefeated teams on the list right in a row. We know that we have to stay grounded and make sure that we get better every week and every practice.”


... The Raiders defeated Blue Mountain 48-28 last week, which marked the first time Tamaqua topped the Eagles since 2004.


... Despite edging Crestwood by a 13-7 final last week, Pottsville moved the ball effectively on the ground. According to MaxPreps, the Tides’ rushing attack averaged 5.6-yards-per-carry and produced two scores.


... Pottsville edged the Raiders, 19-7. Bonner mentioned that his team will have to contain Pottsville’s Ian Renninger to be competitive. “Renninger gave us a hard time last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Bonner said. “We had a hard time getting a good block on him during the course of the game ... When we’re on offense, we need to know where he is. Offensively, he burned us a couple times on a big pass play ... It’s always a luxury having a 6-7 tight end. We have a little bit of that with a 6-5 Casey Rother, but he’s a tough kid and you need to know where he is on both sides of the ball. They’re the defending Schuylkill League champions. We’re going up to their house, and its’ our job to work hard and try to give them a loss up there at Pottsville.”


...The Raiders’ running back duo of Nick Breiner and Nate Boyle are doing damage in bulk. Breiner is leading the TN area with 614 rushing yards and is averaging 8.41 YPC, while Boyle has 326 yards, with an average of 8.15 yars per carry. Boyle scored a career-high five touchdowns last week during the win against Blue Mountain.

No. Lehigh at Pen Argyl

Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Last week, Wilson running back Job Goodman rushed for 232 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns. Goodman’s first touchdown went for 85 yards and kicked off a run of 20 unanswered points that helped the Warriors take control of the game. “Job is a great player. After his first long touchdown run, I thought we adjusted to his speed. We did not do a good job of maintaining gap integrity against Wilson. They did a nice job of using their QB (Cameron Clark, who had 102 yards rushing) in the run game and also used the run to set up the pass. They also made an adjustment. They only ran Goodman nine times against Northwestern (a 29-26 loss) ... so of course they adjusted and ran him more than 20 times against us. So they got the ball in the hands of their best player plenty,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout.


... Despite its winless record, Northern Lehigh has posted at least 20 points in three of its last four contests. “We are preaching the following this week: Offensively – consistency and no turnovers. We have not been consistent on offense. We have had some very nice drives and have done some very nice things. We just haven’t done them on a consistent basis. We had three second-half turnovers last week. When that happens, you won’t win. Defensively, we are keeping it simple with alignment and assignment. We were not in our proper gap too many times last week, and that led to big plays and a lot of third-down conversions,” said Tout.


... Over the last 14 meetings between the Bulldogs and the Green Knights, each team has won seven times.


... Northern Lehigh’s Justin Paul has been productive, averaging 5.31 yards per carry on 36 attempts with five scores.


... Pen Argyl is also winless this year. Opponents have posted 40-plus points in five of its six games so far. “Our focus will be consistency, ball control, and no turnovers on offense. Defensively, we will focus on alignment and assignment. Pen Argyl has not scored more than two touchdowns in a game. So our major focus is to not give up the big play. Their tailback, Logan Sterner , is very similar to Job Goodman in that he has 4.6 speed and is capable of breaking a run at any time. We must contain him. Pen Argyl will also take shots throwing the ball. We can not give up the long scoring pass. If they score, we must make them drive the ball on us,” Tout said.


... No Friday Night Lights this week. The Bulldogs and Green Knights will be in the spotlight Saturday afternoon. “We are excited to play at Pen Argyl on a Saturday. It is really a great environment for a high school game. With us looking for our first win, this is a good venue for us to play at. Our kids should be excited to play there,” said Tout.