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‘Dawgs ready for Spartans

Two high octane offenses and two stingy defenses highlight the Week 5 Times News Game of the Week as Schuylkill/Colonial Red Division favorites in North Schuylkill and Northern Lehigh face off at Bulldog Stadium on Friday.

Simply, put this one could come down to who has the ball last as both offenses have been tough to stop this season.

Each and every week, the Northern Lehigh (4-0) offense has gotten better, upping its point total in each contest. The Bulldogs scored 32 and 34 points, respectively in their first two games, and have really made a significant jump over the last two weeks, scoring 44 points in Week 3, and then an impressive 61 points in their shutout victory over Pine Grove last Friday.

Northern Lehigh has been putting points on the board by running the football and mixing in the play-action pass and it has been doing it as part of a versatile attack. In fact, the Bulldogs have six runnin backs who have rushed for 127 yards or more on the season, and eight who have scored at least one rushing touchdown. Northern Lehigh’s rushing attack is averaging an impressive 279 rushing yards per game at over seven yards per carry.

The Bulldogs passing attack has been formidable when called upon this season as well, with quarterback Nick Frame utilizing the play-action passing game to throw for an effective 462 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.

North Schuylkill, which put together shutouts in Week 2 and Week 3, did show some vulnerabilities last week, giving up 24 points to Tamaqua.

“Over the last two weeks, offensively you can see us really starting to figure out where all of our pieces are starting to fit. You won’t see us depend on one guy to carry it for us 15-20 times a game; we’re going to spread it around. We expect guys to play multiple positions for us on offense, and you’re just seeing an improvement from all those guys each and every week,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. “We know it’s going to be a challenge. As usual, they have a big and physical defense, but we just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is using our versatility. We might not have that one game-breaker, but we’ve been getting the chunk 15 and 20 yards plays, and it’s been working well for us.”

The North Schuylkill offense has also been successful at putting points on the board this season, averaging 36 points per game and 48.5 points per game over its last two contests. Spartans quarterback Tervor Minalda threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns last week against Tamaqua, while running back Jared Tinari rushed for 157 yards. Vaunted wide receiver Joey Flail also had a nice night, catching two touchdown passes and also rushed for a touchdown.

The Spartans offensive attack is similar to the Bulldogs in that it doesn’t have one guy that they depend on. Instead, they count on a host of playmakers.

Coach Tout is hoping the Bulldogs pattern of rotating guys up front on both sides of the ball will keep his team fresh throughout the game, which has so far been a recipe for success for Northern Lehigh. The Bulldogs have come out in second- half play this season and have played well, outscoring teams 56-13 in the third quarter.

“Rotating guys on the offensive and defensive line was something we talked about coming into the season, and we made the plan to do it and we have stuck with it,” said Tout. “I think it’s something that has been paying off for us because you can see when we come out in the third quarter, we’ve been pretty fresh. It’s something that I think can really pay off for us in the postseason when we’re playing the smaller schools. Against a team like North Schuylkill, which is a bigger school and is really good up front, it might not have the same impact, but it’s been working for us, and both of those units are getting better and doing a good job with it.”

Currently Northern Lehigh sits as the number two seed in the District 11 1A ratings, while North Schuylkill enters the road game with a 3-1 record and is ranked first in District 11 3A.