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Jim Thorpe looks to stay unbeaten against NS

Undefeated Jim Thorpe hosts North Schuylkill, which suffered its first loss of the season last week against Lehighton.

N. Schuylkill at Jim Thorpe

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


… Jim Thorpe’s main defensive objective on the night will be to stop the Spartans rushing attack. North Schuylkill is balanced, with quarterback Doug Weist and big-time wide receiver Scott Grigas, but it’s the Spartans ground game that fuels their success. Zack Chowansky took the bulk of the carries a week ago, rushing for nearly 100 yards against Lehighton. Dynamic all-purpose running back Mitchell Wagner was sidelined last week with an undisclosed injury, so it’s not certain if he’ll be able to go this week. The Olympians have been good against the run this season, giving up just 46 yards per game on the ground for 1.66 yards per carry. Thorpe allowed just 78 rushing yards to the tough-running offense of Blue Mountain rushing attack last week. “Our defensive line has done a nice job of getting off the ball, and then our linebackers have also been good at filling gaps and finishing tackles,” said Olympians head coach Mark Rosenberger. “We also have a good rotation on our defensive front. We have about an eight-man rotation, which helps to keep our guys fresh. Those guys have also played with an edge this year too with physicality, and that has showed every week.”

MR. 300

… The Olympians put up huge rushing numbers last week. Thorpe rushers carried the ball 50 times for 390 yards against the Eagles. Senior running back Justin St. Hill broke the Olympians single-game rushing record with 331 of those yards on 38 carries. St. Hill also scored four touchdowns on the night, which gave him a Times News leading 16 on the season. Thorpe likes to move St. Hill around from running back to quarterback, where he and his backfield mate C.J. Selby can work the read option game. A key matchup to watch in this one will be the Olympians offensive line versus. North Schuylkill’s physical defensive front.


… The Olympians “Red Swarm” defense has shut out its last five opponents. Schuylkill Haven was the only team to score against Jim Thorpe in Week 1, where the Hurricanes put up seven points. The Olympians have outscored their opponents 222-7 on the season. Keeping the fast and strong Spartans offense out of the end zone could prove to be a difficult challenge.


… Jim Thorpe is now ranked No. 8 in the state in 3A in the Pennsylvania Football News State Rankings. The Olympians were ranked as an honorable mention team last week.

ACTUALLY ... St. Hill broke Pete Susko’s school record of 273 yards set in 1969, which is earlier than the Times News records archives.

Bangor at Northwestern

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... After dropping a much needed game against Saucon Valley last week, Northwestern looks to rebound against Bangor, a team whose season has gone much like that of the Tigers. Both teams are 2-4, with their wins coming in back-to-back weeks. The Slaters knocked off Northern Lehigh and Salisbury, while Northwestern took care of Wilson and Pen Argyl.


... On the offensive side of the football is where the similarities end. Bangor relies on a balanced running attack, preferring to spread the carries among a number of backs rather than going with one big back like Saucon Valley did last week with Ian Csisek. Garrett DeBoer is the leading rusher with 326 yards, but Shemar Petrie (278 yards), Bo Myers (271 yards) and Joey Schrader (246 yards) are all closing in on the 300-yard mark.

Myers, the Slaters quarterback, has rushed for almost as many yards as he’s thrown for, having completed just 38-percent of his passes for 310 yards and one touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Tigers haven’t found any traction in their running game, forcing quarterback Deven Bollinger to put the ball up more than they might have liked coming into the season. Bollinger has completed 54 percent of his passes and has thrown for 11 touchdowns on the season, while closing in on the 1,000-yard mark in passing.

The line play is going to be important for both teams, and Snyder is seeing some development in the play of both his offensive and defensive lines as the season has unfolded.

“It’s still a work in progress,” admitted Snyder. “It’s like a lot of other aspects of the team where we see some good things, but there are also some times where we’re seeing just how young we are at some spots when we make some mistakes.”


... Snyder accepted responsibility for the 81-yard kickoff return that opened the game for Saucon Valley last week. Snyder told kicker Hunter Miller to kick the ball deep even though the dangerous Alston Wolfe was back to return the ball for the Panthers. Wolfe broke a couple tackles and ran the ball deep into Tigers territory to set up a short field that gave Saucon Valley a quick 7-0 lead.

Snyder anticipated Miller kicking the ball into – or out of – the end zone, as he often does, but the kick didn’t go quite deep enough, giving Wolfe a chance for the long return.


... After coming back from a collarbone injury, Ryan Haas has become a deep threat for Northwestern. While he’s caught just six passes, Haas has amassed 153 yards for an average of just over 25 yards per catch, the highest on the team.

“Our offense has needed some explosiveness, and Haas has given that to us,” Snyder noted. “We missed having him as part of our offense, but we’re fortunate that he was able to get back on the field and pick up where he left off.”


... The similarities among the two teams continue when you look at the scores of games against common opponents. Both teams have losses to Palmerton and Saucon Valley, with the Tigers losing to Palmerton 42-14, while the Blue Bombers beat the Slaters 42-7. Both teams lost to Saucon Valley, 42-19 for Northwestern, and 43-13 for Bangor. Salisbury is the difference-maker, although both teams played tight, low-scoring games against the Falcons. Bangor picked up a 12-6 win, while the Tigers lost to Salisbury 7-3.

Palmerton at Palisades

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


… Palisades will be heavily-favored on Friday, much as it has been over the past few years, but that hasn’t stopped the Bombers from playing them tough. In 2016, The Bombers were leading by 14 late in the game before an offensive explosion by the Pirates led them to a 42-28 win. Both games in 2015 and 2014 were decided by just one point in Palisades’ favor, with the 2015 victory coming in overtime. The Pirates are ranked No. 5 in the PFN State Rankings in 3A, but don’t be surprised if this one is close.


…Palmerton’s 28-14 loss to Notre Dame Green Pond last week had a lot to do with turning over the football. The Bombers had opportunities to put the ball in the end zone on the night, but three interceptions in the last seven minutes of the game sealed their fate against the talented Crusaders. Turnovers can’t happen this week against the Colonial League-leading Pirates. “This week, we need to do a better job of executing when in the red zone and we have to protect the football,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “We have to move the chains and finish drives. This is going to be a physical game, and we know that, and we have to make plays. When we have our opportunities to put points on the board, we have to cash in.”


… The physicality of the Bombers defense will certainly be tested in this one. The Pirates love to run the football, and they do it with a tough-running style. Jared Colletti leads the Palisades rushing attack with 604 yards and eight scores. Trey Gretzinger has also made his presence known on the season with 431 yards and seven touchdowns, while T.J. Rakowsky has helped out with 25 carries for 258 yards and two scores. The Bombers have been solid against the run this season, giving up 3.99 yards per carry. “We have to match their physicality, and I have confidence that we can do that, but we have to do a better job than last week,” said Walkowiak. “I didn’t think we played physical enough on both the offensive and defensive front. We’re looking forward to playing a good football team and the physical challenge come Friday night.”

Dieruff at Pleasant Valley

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Pleasant Valley rolled to a 62-20 win over Dieruff last season. The 62 points scored by the Bears were their second-most of the season. Including 2016, Pleasant Valley has won the last five meetings by a combined score of 248-122.


... Dieruff has lost four in a row since a 30-18 win over East Stroudsburg North in Week 2. The Huskies have been outscored 172-80 during that stretch, and scored just seven points in each of the last two weeks. “(Against) Dieruff, we are going to have to stop their run-pass-option passing attack. They have a good quarterback that has experience in their system. We have to tackle well in space and control the run. Offensively, we need to control the ball. We need to protect the ball and make good decisions at the quarterback position,” said Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Versuk.


... In his first start since taking over for the injured Brandon Keyes, Pleasant Valley quarterback Aidan McHugh completed 24-of-39 passes for 205 yards, two scores and one interception last week against East Stroudsburg South. The attempts, completions and yards were all a season-high for the Bears this year. “(I) thought (Aidan) McHugh did some good and bad things. Definitely more good than bad,” Versuk said.


... East Stroudsburg South rushed for 301 yards against Pleasant Valley, while the Bears managed just 24 yards on the ground. The Cavaliers had 419 yards of total offense to PV’s 229. “I thought our team played really hard. We made some mistakes on offense with execution and (with) defensive assignments and alignments. We had trouble stopping their running game,” said Versuk.

Mahanoy Area at Marian

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Marian is 12-3 against Mahanoy Area since 2004. The Colts have won the last five meetings with the Golden Bears. Last year, Marian pitched a 30-0 shutout. It’s a huge game for us. They run a real nice offense and they have some good lineman there too. Defensively they’re tough … again, we just have to stop that offense and sustain drives (on offense). We have to keep the ball out of their hands and put points on the board when we have the opportunity to,” said Marian head coach Pat Morgans.


... The Colts trailed Panther Valley 12-7 after three quarters. However, Marian exploded for 41 points in the fourth frame to grab a 48-12 victory. “I think it gave the kids some confidence. They know what they’re capable of. We have another big game this week, so we need to build on that and hopefully get another win,” said Morgans.


... Marian had two fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions that led to all four touchdowns in its historic fourth quarter. “Our defense came on strong. Our ends did a nice job of containing the quarterback in the pocket. That enabled Zack Falls and our linebackers to make plays up the middle and put some pressure on. Our kids were able to make some plays, and it was huge,” Morgans said.


... Mahanoy (3-3) got bulldozed by Schuylkill Haven last week, 48-0. Haven’s Kobe Brish rushed for 225 yards and five scores. “Mahanoy is a good team, it won’t be easy. The quarterback is very good. He’s tough and runs the offense very well. The fullback is good too. Whenever you’re playing that offense, it’s dangerous. If you’re out of position, they can go any play. You need to stay in your position and make the tackle,” said Morgans.

Saucon Vy at No. Lehigh

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:


... Northern Lehigh has posted at least 20 points in four of six games this season, but is yet to pick up its initial victory.


... The Bulldogs clicked offensively against Pen Argyl on Saturday, despite the 34-27 setback. Northern Lehigh accumulated 403 total yards and 17 first downs. The Bulldogs will try to keep that momentum going this week against the Panthers. “Defensively, they are solid. Their linebackers are very active and stunt a lot. So we must be able to pick up blitzes. They are athletic in the secondary as well. They like to lock up man (coverage) and allow (Alstan) Wolfe to roam at safety. But again, they are very solid,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout.


... The Bulldogs held the Green Knights to 247 yards on Saturday. But three long scoring plays – 45- and 64-yard touchdown runs by Logan Sterner, and an 81-yard halfback pass from Sterner to Tadd Barr – were huge. “Defensively, we got better last week. We gave up two long runs, but other than that, our defense was very solid. Pen Argyl gets credit for the toss pass. That was a nice play call and well executed,” said Tout.


... Mason Seiler and Justin Paul combined for 305 yards on the ground for Northern Lehigh last week. “After watching the film. We did a lot of positives in the Pen Argyl game. I thought our offensive line did a great job. I think we need to mix Justin Paul and Mason Seiler more at tailback. I think their styles compliment one another,” said Tout.


... Saucon Valley has won the last for meetings with Northern Lehigh. The Panthers knocked off Northwestern 49-21 last week after falling to Southern Lehigh 31-28 the previous week. “Saucon is an elite program right now. They are definitely one of the top teams in our league right now over the past five years. They are solid everywhere. Their QB (Wolfe) might be the fastest player in our league, so we must keep him contained. We must contain Wolfe. They attempted more passes than were indicated in the stat line. If Wolfe doesn’t have a receiver open immediately, he runs. He scored a 60-yard touchdown last week by scrambling,” said Tout.


... Tout is making sure his team stays focused heading into Friday’s game. “We know this is a very tough matchup, and we are focusing on getting better. We must focus on cutting out the discipline penalties that plagued us this year, such as offsides penalties. We cannot turn the ball over and expect to be in the game. So that will be a focus as well,” he said.

Shenandoah at Pa. Valley

Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.


... Panther Valley is 5-8 against Shenandoah Valley since 2004. However, the Panthers have won three of the last four meetings; the last two were decided by a total of nine points. “Shenandoah is a very well-coached team. (Head coach Kevin) Keating has those guys playing good ball,” said Panther Valley head coach Scott Price.


... For the second week in a row during its four-game losing skid, Panther Valley had a lead against Marian. However, PV yielded 41 points in the fourth quarter after leading 12-7 entering the frame. “We have to play 48 minutes, four full quarters. Should be a good game. Live your best life,” said Price.


... Shenandoah Valley has been shut out two consecutive weeks against Jim Thorpe (49-0) and Minersville (35-0), respectively. The Devils’ lone win was against Kutztown in Week 3.


... The Panthers had eight ball-carriers last week, which is tied for a season high. Hunter Kerestes led the parade with 72 yards on six carries, which included a 38-yard run in the second quarter.