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NL faces West Catholic on Friday

Identity – qualities or beliefs that make up a person or group.

Most successful football teams possesses a strong identity.

The 2021 Northern Lehigh Bulldogs are in the midst of an extremely successful season.

But the Bulldogs don’t really have offensive identify- that has been a very good thing, however.

That’s because Northern Lehigh’s identity crisis is creating huge problems for the opposition.

The Bulldogs multiple personality disorder on offensive has helped them win seven consecutive games, capture a District 11 2A championship and advance to the second round of the PIAA Class 2A state tournament.

Northern Lehigh’s next test will be against District 12 champion West Catholic on Friday at 6 p.m. at Whitehall High School.

There’s no better evidence of the Bulldogs multi-faceted approach than their performance last Friday night against District 2 champion Lackawanna Trail. Northern Lehigh used its passing attack with veteran quarterback Dylan Smoyer to get out to a 14-0 lead, as Smoyer hit Brett Misera on back-to-back possessions for touchdown connections of 32 and 35 yards.

Smoyer has been a constant playmaker throughout the season and his numbers don’t lie as he’s thrown for a school-record 1,905 yards, with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“Dylan (Smoyer) is one of those kids you just love to coach,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. “Sometimes you say that stats don’t tell the story but with Dylan they absolutely do

“He does such a good job of reading the field and he’s one of the few high school quarterbacks who you will get past his second progression. He scans the field and he also does a nice job of throwing guys open and letting them run under the football.”

After softening up Lackawanna Trail with the pass, Northern Lehigh then went to its goal line set for the majority of the second half, which helped it outscore the Lions 21-7 during that span. Both Matt Frame and Trevor Amorim rushed for over 100 yards and the Bulldogs averaged over 7.5 yards per carry in the game while collecting 17 first downs.

Tout and his staff were so confident in their team’s ability to push Lackawanna Trail off the ball that he had Northern Lehigh go for it on fourth-and-one from their own nine-yard line with 7:29 left to play and leading 21-14. The result was Amorim taking a pitch off the left side for a 91-yard scamper, putting the game away.

The Bulldogs will need to bring that same physicality and versatility to their game this week against West Catholic, which features an impressive rushing attack and physical offensive and defensive line. The Burrs recently made a switch at quarterback, putting top receiver Zymeen Howell at signal caller to get a little more speed and athleticism at the position and the results have been beneficial.

West Catholic is a run heavy team that will look to give the ball to its workhorse running back in K’saan Green, who rushed for 257 yards on 25 carries last week in a 24-7 victory over York Catholic. Green has rushed for 1,243 yards on the season.

“We’re going to look to really focus on stopping the run. We have to key on their tailback, who is a really nice player,” said Tout. “Getting out to a two score lead was big for us last week and I think if we’re able to get out to a lead again this week, that will be big for us.

“We also have to make sure we’re disciplined in the secondary, because that hurt York Catholic last week. West Catholic with its speed was able to get behind the defense and there were some big pass plays, so we’ll be focused on that as well.”

Quarterback Dylan Smoyer (third from right) leads a potent Northern Lehigh passing attack that has helped the Bulldogs average over 38 points a game this season. Smoyer's top targets include, from left, Nick Frame,Trevor Amorim, Austin Smith, Brett Misera and Izaiah Ramos. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS