Log In

Reset Password

Jim Thorpe shuts out Blue Raiders

Jim Thorpe’s offensive skill players came up big.

Its secondary chipped in a pick six.

Its special teams made huge plays as well.

But all of those contributions took a back seat to what the Olympians did in the trenches.

Behind outstanding play on both sides of the line scrimmage, Jim Thorpe rolled to a 34-0 victory over Tamaqua on Friday night.

“It all started up front,” said Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger. “Our offensive and defensive lines were outstanding.

“Offensively, we opened some nice holes that allowed us to run the ball effectively. Defensively, we made it difficult for them to run the ball and we did a nice job of pressuring their quarterbacks when they tried to throw.”

That statistics back Rosenberger’s assessment.

Jim Thorpe ran the ball 37 times and averaged nearly eight yards per attempt. Defensively, it allowed Tamaqua just 95 yards in total offense and held the Raiders 0 yards or negative yards on 13 of their 36 rush attempts.

“They have a big, strong line and they took it to us,” said Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner. “We knew coming in that it would be a difficult matchup

for us, so we tried to mix in some misdirection and throw some screen passes against their defensive pressure. But we didn’t have a lot of success doing anything offensively.”

After picking up just one first down on its first two possession, Thorpe dug into its play bag to jump start its offense. Quarterback Brett Balliet handed the ball to Derryl Fisher who then handed it back to David Fiorito. Fiorito raced 50 yards before being pulled down at the Tamaqua 1-yard line. Camron Tinajero scored on the next play. Tinajero added another one-yard TD run on the Olympians’ next possession to make it 14-0 at halftime.

“We told our kids at halftime that it was still anyone’s game and our first possession of the second half was going to be important,” Rosenberger said. “Our offense responded to the challenge.

“I thought taking the kickoff and pushing it right down the field to make it a three score game set the tone for the second half.”

Jim Thorpe needed just four plays after receiving the kickoff to increase its lead to 21-0. Tinajero carried the first three plays for 30 yards before Fiorito capped it off with a 33-yard scoring run.

The Olympians’ defense made it 27-0 when Matt Stauffer picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards for a score with 2:04 left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Thorpe raced down the field and pounced on the ball when Tamaqua had trouble fielding a high, short kick.

One play later, Balliet hit Fisher with a 32-yard TD strike to cap the scoring.

“A complete team victory,” summarized Rosenberger. “We got some big runs, Brett (Balliet) hit a big pass play, we got a defensive touchdown and our special teams made a couple of big plays as well.”

Despite falling to 2-5, Tamaqua is still alive for a District 11 Class 3A playoff berth. But Bonner wasn’t thinking playoffs.

“Our only focus is trying to get better,” he said. “We are a little banged up right now, so we need to heel up and get ready for our next game.

“We have a young team. We want to keep playing hard and keep improving.”

On the other hand, Jim Thorpe moves to 4-4 and appears to have locked up the No. 3 seed in the District 11 Class 3A playoffs.

“We got better today and that’s what you want to see as a football coach,” Rosenberger said. “We want to be playing our best football as we wind down the regular season and prepare for the postseason. This was a good start in that direction.”

ON THE LINE ... Jim Thorpe got tremendous play from its entire defense, but the play of linemen Noah Rosahac, Bryan Bowen, Bryson Heydt and David Wiley stood out as they seemed to be in the Tamaqua backfield all night.

MORE SPECIAL PLAYS ... The Olympians’ second TD was set up by another big special teams play when a high snap from center forced the Raider punter to tuck the ball and run and he was pulled down for a three-yard loss. It took Thorpe just four plays to go 24 yards for a score.

WILD ... Jim Thorpe uses Ryan Fikentscher in a wildcat role to occasionally give its offense a different look. The formation worked well against Tamaqua as Fikentscher scored on a two-point conversion and also carried three times for 23 yards on JT’s second TD drive.