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Indians, Panthers set for Bo Tkach Classic

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    Lehighton’s Hunter Crum looks for room to run as Brandon Ramirez (21) blocks Marian’s Nick Goff. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published September 19. 2019 01:20PM

Lehighton will host Panther Valley tonight in the annual Bo Tkach Under the Helmet and Hat Classic.

Meanwhile, unbeaten Jim Thorpe travels to Midd-West Friday night, while a pair of 3-1 teams – Northern Lehigh and Northwestern – return home. Marian and Pleasant Valley both are looking to pick up their first victories of the season, while Palmerton is eager to snap a three-game losing streak.

Panther Valley at

Lehighton

Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

STREAKING ... Lehighton has won the last seven meetings against Panther Valley by an average score of 45.1-10.7. The Panthers last win in the series was a 16-6 triumph in 2009.

A GREATER GOOD ... Thursday’s game is the annual Bo Tkach Under the Helmet and Hat Classic, an event that was started in 2011. The Bo Tkach Foundation “remains committed to its mission of creating awareness of mental health issues while providing essential funding for youth programs, scholarships and otherwise inaccessible mental health screening and treatment,” with its mission “to create awareness for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other mental health issues while providing essential funding for youth athletic programs, scholarships and otherwise inaccessible individual mental health screening and treatment. Through youth athletics, public awareness and financial assistance, we can promote positive mental health for students in our area, and annually benefit 1,000 or more students.”

“The week is certainly different, timing-wise, but we love it, for a lot of reasons. We like the break up of the routine, and of course the Bo Tkach Foundation is certainly something that locally hits home with a lot of people, and we love being a part of it. We’re very honored and privileged to be part of it,” said Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll.

BOUNCE BACK ... Lehighton (2-2) rebounded from a 26-0 loss to Central Columbia with a 40-6 win over Marian last Friday to even its record at 2-2. The Indians ended the game by scoring 28 unanswered points.

ROOM TO RUN ... Though they came late and with the game already decided, Panther Valley (0-4) scored two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns in last Friday’s 50-16 loss to Tamaqua. Shyhiem Ervine went in from 51 yards out, and Mike Pascoe added a 24-yard touchdown run. Ervine leads the team with 149 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Elias Taveras has carried the ball a team-high 35 times for 79 yards. The Panthers’ leading receiver, Blake White (12 catches, 152 yards, two touchdowns), saw time at quarterback last week. Ethan Reis had been the team’s starter, completing 19-of-32 passes for 215 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

“I think that we played hard; I thought that we played a lot of younger kids. For me, personally, I think I’m getting a better understanding of what we do well and what we don’t do well. And I told the kids it might take a couple weeks into the season before I really understand, or get to know them. So I think from a scheme standpoint, we’re getting a little more comfortable with fitting things toward our abilities,” said first-year Panthers’ head coach Rick Jones.

VERSATILITY IS KEY ... Ben Schatz was involved in three of the Indians’ scoring plays last week. Schatz opened the scoring in the first quarter, catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Lucas Sangiuliano. He gave the Tribe a 12-0 advantage in the first quarter with a 17-yard strike to Ian Rarick, and delivered a 64-yard touchdown run in the second. In addition to throwing for 446 yards and four scores, Sangiuliano is also Lehighton’s leading rusher with 223 yards, followed by JJ McDowell (146 yards). Zack Hunsicker leads the team with 13 receptions for 214 yards and a touchdown, while Hunter Crum has hauled in 10 passes for 104 yards and a score.

“We have to find anything that works for us. We’ve been hit by a little bit of an injury bug ... so it kind of forces us to be creative. We can’t wait and see if kids get hurt; we have to have a plan if they do. We’ve been putting some things together, and having some backup plans and contingencies. So that’s something that, who knows, we may have to go to in the future if things don’t go well. We have to have some contingencies in our back pocket, and you can practice things as much as you want, but until you get into a game it’s tough. So we really want to try to break that out in a game situation. We did that, and it came out pretty well for us,” McCarroll said of the Tribe’s varied attack.

Jim Thorpe at

Midd-West

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

LOOKING TO PASS?... Thorpe hasn’t had to go to the air much this season, because of the size and physicality edge it has had over the smaller-sized schools on the front half of its schedule. This week, Midd-West can match the Olympians in size, but matching Thorpe’s physicality is always tough. JT will of course look to run the ball, as it’s averaging 291 rushing yards per game at 10.89 yards per carry. However, Midd-West has struggled against the pass this season as it showed against Blue Mountain in Week 2, giving up 195 yards to the Eagles on 9-of-11 passing. Thorpe quarterback Davier Calcano has been efficient when asked to throw the ball, passing for 228 yards, with five touchdowns and just one interception. This could be a breakout week for the Olympians passing attack. “We always want to establish the run game and our physicality on the line of scrimmage, but I think we have an underrated passing game, and I think we can take advantage of the play-action pass,” said Thorpe head coach Mark Rosenberger. “Early on, it will be all about communicating up front; they’re an aggressive defense that likes to bring pressure, so we need to pick that up and then take advantage of that pressure as well.”

WORK MUSTANG... The Midd-West offense goes as its running back Hunter Wolfely goes. Wolfely is dynamic in both the running and receiving game. He rushed for 108 yards against Marian in the opener and 147 yards against Shenandoah Valley last week. He also had 86 yards of total offense against Blue Mountain and four catches for 61 yards and two receiving touchdowns against Springfield Township.

LONG RIDE... It’s a 180-mile round-trip bus ride out to Middleburg where Midd-West High School is located. The Olympians do have a plan for how to combat the long hours on the bus.

“We’re going to break up the trip halfway in, and we’ll have a lunch-type break where the kids will eat some sandwiches and stretch their legs, I think that will definitely help,” said Rosenberger. “But it’s business as usual for us. We’re not going to look at a long bus ride as an excuse to not come out focused and ready to play football. We’ve been preaching that all week, and our guys are prepared.”

Schuylkill Haven

at Marian

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

BREAKING THROUGH ... Both Schuylkill Haven and Marian enter the contest 0-4. The Hurricanes have been outscored 121-42. The Colts went 0-5 in 2018, before finishing the regular season 4-1 and advancing to the district playoffs.

CENTURY MARK ... Haven running back Kobe Brish went over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season in a 47-14 loss to North Schuylkill last week. Brish, who has 6,152 rushing yards and 84 touchdowns, has 300 yards and five scores on the ground so far this year. Outside of Brish, Haven’s next-leading rusher is Connor Goehring, who has six carries for 50 yards. Brish is also the team’s leading passer, completing 3-of-7 attempts for 51 yards. Kyle Donati (7-for-24, 38 yards, one interception) and Trent Creasy (6-of-13, 30, four) have also split time behind center.

“It’s going to be a challenge. Haven’s a small school, but they’ve been a very good small school. They have tradition there; they’re well-coached, they really are. Mike (Farr, head coach) really does a great job with them. And obviously with a player like Kobe Brish, who can go 90 (yards) on any play, you really have to play every down. They’re well-coached, they have nice size up front, and they mix it up pretty well. They’ll mix in a little bit more passing this year, getting some more guys involved a little bit, so before where it used to be Kobe for 35 carries, he’s still getting his share, but they’re getting some other guys involved and spreading it around a little bit. So we have a big challenge this week,” said Marian headf coach Pat Morgans.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER ... The Colts have scored just 12 points this season, all of which have come in the first half. But Morgans feels the team is close to stringing together four solid quarters of football.

“We’ve been playing some really good teams. We came out and had some opportunities early, had some guys open on the first drive and just overthrew them. And then we punted to them, and held them, then they punted to us and we fumbled the punt,” Morgans said of last Friday’s game against Lehighton. “They got the ball on the 20 going in, but we kind of overcame it a little bit. They scored again, but then we came back and made some plays, and the kids hung tough rather than hanging their heads when things started going bad after the first fumble, or after we got down 12-0. They fought back. made some plays and put together a decent drive. I was proud of the kids for continuing to fight when they could have just folded tent early.”

PLAYMAKERS ... Sophomore Luis Teron has caught two touchdown passes this season, one each from Dakota Streisel and Matt Rehrig. Teron leads the team with 12 receptions for 151 yards. Xavier Ocasio has carried the ball 47 times for a team-leading 160 yards. Rehrig, Streisel and Mason Miller have all seen time at quarterback for Marian this season. Streisel engineered the Colts’ first-quarter scoring drive against Lehighton last week.

“We go into every game wanting to win, and we prepare the same way, but we’re in our division now, too,” Morgans said of entering Division 2 play. “This is the first game, and like I told them, if you want to be division champs, it starts now. We have to prepare to go out and play well. Our goal all season has just been to improve every week, improve every week, improve every week. I told them that if they would improve every week, that by the end of the season, they would be a pretty good football team. We just have to get that consistency in our lineup, get healthy, stay healthy and try to put a consistent lineup together so these kids can stay at one position and master it, rather than like some of them, who have played two or three different positions already this year.”

Saucon Valley at

Northern Lehigh

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

ROLLING ... Since a 45-13 loss to Southern Lehigh in the season-opener, Saucon Valley has won its last three games by a combined score of 100-43. The Panthers (3-1) are coming off a 41-22 win over Salisbury last week, with Damian Garcia leading the offense with 249 yards rushing on 21 carries. Chris Mann (81 yards) and Braydyn Lugardo (49) each carried the ball 10 times. Quarterback Dante Mahaffey was 0-for-2, but rushed for 71 yards and four touchdowns on six carries.

AIRING IT OUT ... Salisbury quarterback Quintin Stephens had success moving the ball through the air against the Panthers, completing 16-of-29 pass attempts for 269 yards and two touchdowns. In Saturday’s 14-8 win over Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh (3-1) quarterback Zach Moyer came up with two big pass plays, completing a 53-yard touchdown pass to Mike Repsher in the third quarter, and connecting with Trevor Amorim for an 80-yard score in the fourth.

KEYS TO WINNING ... According to Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout, the team has a list of things to get done in order to be successful against Saucon Valley: limit turnovers and penalties; stop the run; and limit their options.

PANTHER OPTIONS ... The Saucon Valley program is known to be a very ‘run-heavy’ team, one that rarely looks to the air on offense. With limited formations, Saucon looks to the midline option and the veer option, so Tout has addressed those concerns this week in practice, and hopes to stymie those advances.

REMEMBERING THE PAST ...Not only is it Northern Lehigh’s Homecoming game, but at halftime, there will be a brief ceremony to remember the undefeated 1969 Bulldog football squad. “We talked about how big this game could be for us, to win against a quality squad, but also we would like to play for that ’69 team, so it’s a big night for us,” said Tout.

Bangor at

Northwestern

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?... Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder is very familiar with Bangor coach Paul Reduzzi, but not as the coach of the Slaters. Reduzzi spent 11 seasons at the helm of Pen Argyl, his alma mater, before leaving after the 2017 season. After a season as a defensive coordinator at Liberty, Reduzzi is back in the Colonial League and brings his 2-2 squad to town this week.

Playing against Reduzzi’s Pen Argyl teams in the past, he tended to throw a 4-3 defense at the Tigers, so Snyder is expecting much of the same this time around.

“That’s what he’s always done in the past, but you never know for sure now, because he has a different group of guys and he may try to show us something different,” acknowledged Snyder.

WIN ONE, LOSE ONE... The Tigers hope that the pattern of the Slaters following up a loss with a win doesn’t continue this week. After an opening win at Catasauqua, Bangor lost to Notre Dame Green Pond, before coming back to beat Northern Lehigh in Week 3. Last week, the Slaters were run over by Southern Lehigh in a 49-0 loss.

Teams have averaged 33 points per game against Bangor, while the Slaters offense averages just about half of those points per game. Northwestern has one of the more capable offenses in the Colonial League, and will look to cut down on its defensive miscues that have allowed some big plays for opponents in the first four weeks.

FEELING STRONGER EVERY DAY... One of the keys on both sides of the ball has been getting sophomore Justin Holmes healthy. Holmes has helped out at cornerback, and in just his second game as a wide receiver, set a school record with 215 yards receiving last week in the 49-30 win over Wilson, earning Times News Player of the Week honors. Holmes missed the first two weeks with a quad injury and slowly worked his way back into the rotation in Week 3, before showing up big-time last week.

Last week was also the first week that both quarterback Deven Bollinger and running back Nick Henry went over the 100-yard mark in rushing this season. The two combined for 49 carries and 238 yards on the ground, which opened up the passing lanes for Bollinger to hit Holmes and any other receivers he wanted.

“That’s always the game plan for us is to use the running game to open things up. Then, you can use some play-action and you get the corners second-guessing whether they should come up or not, and it makes the passing game that much better,” said Snyder.

HOME SWEET HOME... Of the final six games on the Northwestern schedule, four of them are at Tiger Stadium. The team has had just one game on its home turf and has also been limited in how much it can even practice on the new field because of other games being played at the facility. The schedule has also seen them bounce from a Friday night game for the opener to a Thursday game, back to a Friday game and then to a Saturday afternoon game last week at Wilson.

“The upside is that now that we’re done with the early part of the schedule, we have the schedule in our favor in terms of playing home games the rest of the way. We also have Friday nights the rest of the way, so we can have that routine throughout the week,” said Snyder.

Pen Argyl at Palmerton

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

RUN HEAVY... Anyone who knows District 11 football is aware the Green Knights are going to line up and play smash-mouth football. That scheme will not change against the Bombers. Pen Argyl is averaging 37 carries on the ground per game, and has four runners with over 19 carries on the season. Gavin Amerman leads the team with 182 yards rushing, with Conor Fehr also over 100 yards on the season at 118. The Bombers will need to step up their effort defensively against the run on Friday, as they’ve given up an average of 222 rushing yards per game this season. “For us, up front on defense we need to produce and make plays. It all starts with matching their physicality; we can’t just be out there playing, we need to produce results against their rushing attack,” said Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak. “The goal will be to limit their rushing yards and force them into passing situations.

THE BIG PLAY... The Bombers — once again because of their small numbers this season — can’t afford to get into a slugfest with teams. Instead, they need to rely on their stable of impressive athletes to make plays, and big, momentum-changing plays at that. Unfortunately, offensively Palmerton hasn’t been able to consistently come up with the big play. Not counting defensive scores, the Bombers have just one touchdown over 20 yards so far on offense this season. “Our goal is to always start fast; that’s what we need to do against teams where we think we have the advantage athletically. We just have been missing the big play this year, the kind of play that can swing momentum,” said Walkowiak. We have the guys, we just need to execute a little better and take what the defense is giving us.”

BREAKING OUT... Last season, Palmerton was able to break out offensively against the Green Knights, giving them an identity on the offensive side of the ball. The Bombers scored 62 points in that contest. That scenario is similar to this season with Palmerton struggling on the offensive side of the ball of late. Veteran players Jordan Nelson (193 rush, 166 pass) and Andrew Sabo (240 rush, 52 receiving) have yet to have a breakout-type game this season. Week 5 against Pen Argyl would be the perfect moment for these two to do just that.

STINGY D... The Pen Argyl defense has been solid this season, giving up just 17.5 points per game, as the Green Knights have not given up more than 25 points in any game.

Dieruff at

Pleasant Valley

Friday. Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

WINLESS, NO MORE ... As Pleasant Valley and Dieruff enter into their Week 5 clash, both sides have yet to attain win No. 1 on the year. When the dust settles Friday night at Pleasant Valley, there will be one less winless team in the rankings.

SELF-REFLECTION ... Looking back on their Week 4 loss to Emmaus (41-0), head coach Blaec Saeger was pleased with several aspects of his club’s performance. “Against Emmaus last week, we saw a lot of things that we have improved upon,” he said. “Despite the 41-0 loss, we saw several positives that we can take away.”

CORRECT DIRECTION ... After four weeks and as many losses, the Bears’ faithful are excited for their first win to happen. With a record of 0-4, it might be difficult for teams to remain steadfast in their optimism. However, Saeger sees things progressing. “We gave Emmaus a game for a half last week, and we gave them troubles,” Saeger said. “We’re hoping to carry some of that momentum and positivity into the upcoming week.”

HUSKIE HOOPLAH ... According to the scouting reports, Dieruff has ability. Despite their identical mark of 0-4, there are plenty of weapons to utilize, and the Bears need to be wary. “They are very fast and athletic, and they use those aspects well on both sides of the ball,” Saeger said. “They’re well-coached, and we’re expecting a very hard-fought game.”

Comments
Given the chaos implementing the new schedules at Lehighton, I hope we will be able to finish the season with a full team that is 100% academically elegible.

Parents are livid, and the ones that spoke up to to us are apparently looking for some board oversight. Currently, the five are once again circling the wagons, ignoring the turmoil, rubber stamping the principal and administration. If parents or students file written complaints, these government schools are lawfully REQUIRED to review and address the problem, with the board acting as judge to adjudicate the complaints.

Past leverage, intimidation, or diversions have prevented parents from the proper written complaint process the enacts the government school's student protection system.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

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