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Panther Valley looks to derail Jim Thorpe

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Published September 06. 2018 12:31PM

Panther Valley travels to Jim Thorpe in Week 3’s only double-local. The Panthers will aim for win No. 2 of the season, while the Olympians look to remain unbeaten.

Panther Vy at Jim Thorpe

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

SHUTOUTS ... The Olympians defense, which was highly touted coming into the season, hasn’t disappointed. Thorpe (2-0) has yet to surrender a point, outscoring its opponents 84-0. The mindset doesn’t change with the Red Swarm “D” - a shutout is always on their minds - the key this week will be keeping the Panthers from getting plays with speedy running back Rene Figueroa and a few other twitchy Panther Valley (1-1) athletes from breaking free. “Limiting big plays is going to be key this week for us,” said Jim Thorpe head coach Mark Rosenberger. “Figueroa is a kid that can go the distance at any time and their quarterback Ethan Reis can extend plays with his feet. So we need to stay sound and tackle well in the game.”

BALL CONTROL ... There’s no doubt the monumental task in front of the Panthers to come away with a win in this one, so keeping the ball out of the hands of the explosive Olympians offense (495 yards per game) is the key. “I don’t think there’s a chance we can win this game if we don’t win the time of possession battle, so that’s something we’re going to look to do,” said Panther Valley head coach Scott Price. “We have to try and keep their explosive runners off the field. We have some athletic guys, we need to spread the ball around, and keep moving the chains.”

GETTING A FEEL ... One of the few unknowns coming into the season for Jim Thorpe was the quarterback position. Savvy senior Roberto Santiago was able to win the job in camp and has been a pleasant surprise for the Olympians. He’s done a good job of managing the Thorpe offense, and has also put up some solid numbers of his own. He’s second on the team with 223 yards rushing, and has thrown for 144 yards.

Marian at North Schuylkill

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ... The Colts are 1-3 against the Spartans over the last four seasons, but are 7-7 against them since 2004. Last season, North Schuylkill blanked Marian 35-0. It’s the sixth time the Colts have been shutout over the last 12 games. “We have to keep their offense off the field,” said Marian Catholic head coach Patrick Morgans. “We have to be able to sustain drives and get the first downs and keep the ball out of their hands, which is easier said than done. Their front six is really good. We need to chew clock and put points on the board.”

ONE-MAN-BAND ... Matt Doherty continues to lead the way for Marian, leading his team in both rushing and receiving. He has amassed 164 yards on 30 carries, and has tallied eight catches for 36 yards. “Matt has really stepped up his game,” said Morgans. “He has taken up the leadership role without Seth and Keith out there. He’s our play-maker and he ran really tough last week. He’s really stepped up into that role and he always plays hard. You know he’s going to give it 100 percent every time he’s on the field.”

2-0... North Schuylkill has started off 2-0 for the third-consecutive season. The Spartans topped Loyalsock 42-21 in Week 1, and defeated Shamokin in Week 2, 36-15.

MAGIC NUMBER ... North Schuylkill gained exactly 443 rushing yards in each of its first two games. The Spartans carried the ball 62 times against Loyalsock and 74 times during last week’s win against Shamokin. “They have a big physical line and blockers,” Morgans said. “They have a great tight end and two good fullbacks. They’re going to come at you, but they do a nice job mixing it up. They’ll pound you, and then all of the sudden Leiby will go on some misdirection.”

Pleasant Vy at Northampton

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

EVEN ... Pleasant Valley is 1-1 against Northampton across the last two seasons. Northampton won last year’s meeting 24-7.

BEEN A WHILE ... The Bears posted 31 passing yards last week. The last time PV threw for less than 31 yards in a game was September 4, 2015, when Pleasant Valley tallied 30 against Easton. “It’s been two weeks of being consistently inconsistent, we need to do the little things better,” said Pleasant Valley head coach Matt Kosciolek after last week’s game. “There were times when we would put some things together and we would look like a good football team, but then we would have a bad snap or run the wrong route.”

LEADERS ... Nasai Moon and Jack Stephens have accounted for both Bears’ scores this year. Moon has 21 rushes for 95 yards, and a is also the team’s leading receiver with four catches and 20 yards.

LOPSIDED ... The Koncrete Kids are 1-1 and both games have been shutouts. Northamtpon was routed by Parkland 41-0, and then the Kids enjoyed one of their own, with a 49-0 win over Dieruff.

Tamaqua at Sch. Haven

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

ANYONE’S GUESS ... Tamaqua and Schuylkill Haven have split the last four meetings. The Raiders defeated the Hurricanes 41-27 last season.

SAME STORY, DIFFERENT YEAR ... The Hurricanes continue to lean heavily on the run, throwing just three times last week against Lehighton. Kobe Brish racked up 334 rushing yards on 37 carries. “We know what we have to do going into the game and not let one guy beat us,” said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. “There’s no hiding what they’re looking to do; get him the ball in the running lanes with some room. He’s a tough kid all around. If you looked at the box score of the Lehighton game, it’s pretty impressive. I think he had more yards than his whole team put together.”

DEFENSE TOO ... The Raiders posted a 35-0 win against Mahanoy Area last week. There has been a lot of hype about the Raiders’ offense prior to the season. Don’t look now, but Tamaqua has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2012, when the Raiders blanked Panther Valley, Minersville, and Marian all in a row. “I thought offensively we did well, and we were fortunate that we were able to play a lot of young guys in the second half,” Bonner said. “It helps us build some depth, and you can evaluate some younger guys and see what they can do on a Friday night.”

ON A ROLL ... Tamaqua’s Nate Boyle recorded his third-career 100-yard rushing game. He has gone over 100 in both games this season.

EFFICIENCY ... After last week, Tamaqua’s Brayden Knoblauch now has 12 career passing touchdowns and three interceptions. He has completed 60 percent of his passes this year. “He had a good first game and I thought he played well in the second game,” said Bonner. “He’s definitely going to be making some noise throughout the week. He he has a great arm, and once we start connecting with those deep passes, I think he’s going to have a big year for us. He’s a smart kid and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes back there. He’s a smart kid who’s been doing this for a while.”

Bangor at Northern Lehigh

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

RUNNING WILD … Northern Lehigh’s (2-0) Justin Paul is second in the area with 328 yards rushing (9.11 avg.) through the first two games of the season. Paul rushed for 461 yards with eight touchdowns on 81 carries a year ago.

PUTTING IT AWAY … The Bulldogs have thrived after the first quarter this season, outscoring opponents 75-12 from the second period on. Northern Lehigh has scored seven points in the opening frame and given up six. A year ago, the Bulldogs were outscored 297-92 (29.7-9.2) over the final three quarters of their games.

IN CHECK … After combining for 18 carries and 216 yards in a season-opening win over Catasauqua, Bangor (1-1) running backs Garrett DeBoer and Joey Schrader were stifled last week against Notre Dame Green Pond. DeBoer finished with 72 yards on 21 carries, while Schrader rushed 11 times for 60 yards. After both found the end zone in Week 1, the duo was shutout in the Slaters’ 22-8 loss to the Crusaders a week ago. “Bangor has looked impressive the last two weeks. They really have a nice team with size, speed, and physicality. Notre Dame did a nice job crowding the line of scrimmage and tackling low. Bangor has some very nice players. Joey Schrader is the key to their offense - he runs very tough at fullback and they run a ton of trap. When he is not carrying the ball he is their lead blocker as well. So we need to key in on him; he will take us to the ball a lot. Up front, they have some nice linemen as well. Seth Diorio is their best lineman and he pulls a lot so we need to read him as well. They also have a nice tackle in David Langdon. So they are without question the most physical team we will face this year,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout.

COMMON FOE … Both Northern Lehigh and Bangor have already picked up wins over Catasauqua this season. The Bulldogs rolled to a 48-0 win over the Rough Riders last Thursday, while the Slaters cruised to a 42-12 victory in Week 1.

KEEP IT GOING … Northern Lehigh is seeking its first 3-0 start since the 2012 season. The Bulldogs opened that season with wins over Southern Lehigh (33-7), Notre Dame Green Pond (12-7) and Saucon Valley (18-16). “Our kids did a great job last week with the quick turnaround. We had very good practices Monday and Tuesday so we felt good heading into the game. I thought we played well both offensively and defensively. Our offensive and defensive lines played very well. Damion Rodriguez, Dominic Bandle, Bryce Green, JD Hunter, and Caleb Wanamaker were all two-way starters and had good games controlling the line of scrimmage. We planned on throwing the ball a little more last week, however, their alignment dictated that we keep running the ball. I thought all of our backs ran well including Justin Paul, Dale Wanamaker, Cameron Kline, and Joey Abidelli. We felt like we took a big step forward this week getting better,” said Tout.

LONG TIME COMING … Northern Lehigh’s win over Catty last week gave the Bulldogs their first shutout since a 28-0 win over Salisbury in 2016. “Our key this week is to be physical and limit turnovers. We are excited to play at home Friday against the best opponent we have faced so far this year. This will be a great test to see how far we have progressed this year,” said Tout.

Lehighton at Cen. Columbia

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

BOUNCE-BACK …. After a 21-13 loss to Mount Carmel in the season-opener, Central Columbia (1-1), a team out of District 4, rebounded with a 20-0 victory over Shikellamy last week.

“There’s a lot of unknowns. It’s exciting on one end; a little frustrating on the other, trying to gauge ... they lost to a Mount Carmel team, and anybody who knows high school football knows that it’s not the Mount Carmel of old, but it’s still probably a very physical program. The other side of it is, we haven’t been able to find any offenses similar to ours that they’ve played against. So again, it’s very difficult to try to gauge how it’s going to shakeout,” Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll said of facing Central Columbia.

BEEN AWHILE … Lehighton’s (1-1) loss to Schuylkill Haven last week was its first setback during the regular season since an 18-7 defeat against Jim Thorpe in the 2016 finale.

PLAYMAKERS … Central Columbia has several skill players back from last year’s squad, which went 9-3 overall (4-1 in the Heartland Athletic Conference- Division ITI standings) and reached the District 4 Class 2A semifinals. The Blue Jays have tight end Jared Verse, fullback Jack Schechterly, quarterback Trae Devlin and tailback Isaac Gensemer. Gensemer ran for nearly 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, while Devlin threw for 1,500-plus yards and 10 TDs. Lehighton has plenty of talent of its own at the skill positions, with the area’s leading passer in Chris Whiteman (29-of-57, 546 yards, five touchdowns), and receiver in Zack Crum (12 catches, 276 yards, two touchdowns), though the Indians do not have a player with over 100 rushing yards this season. “We try not to focus as much on necessarily what they do, and more of what we do. We know what their schemes are, we know what they do on both sides of the ball, but I think it’s just a matter of cleaning up what we do. You put up a lot of yards like we did (last week against Schuylkill Haven), but we still came away with a loss. So I think it’s a focus for us to get better defensively, and offensively, as much as we threw the ball, we still need to be able to run the ball better. For us, this week is not only recognizing what they do schematically, but I think just getting us better at what we do. That’s really going to be our focal point,” McCarroll said.

THORN(S) IN THEIR SIDE … Central Columbia lost twice to reigning District 4 and PIAA Class 2A champion Southern Columbia and HAC-III champ South Williamsport last year, teams that were a combined 29-1 during the regular season.

WRECKING BALL ... Schuylkill Haven running back Kobe Brish finished with 334 yards rushing against Lehighton last week. The Hurricanes had 332 yards of offense as a team, including -3 yards passing.

STRONG START, FINISH ... Lehighton has outscored opponents 14-7 in the first quarter this season, and 14-3 in the final period. But the Indians have been outscored 38-26 in the second and third quarters, respectively.

Palmerton at Saucon Valley

Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

TONE DOWN THE TURNOVERS ... The Bombers six turnovers helped them come away with a 33-14 loss last week to Southern Lehigh. Palmerton (1-1) actually outgained the Spartans on the offensive side of the ball, but three turnovers that were returned for touchdowns were too much to overcome. This week against a tough Saucon Valley squad, the Bombers can’t spot the Panthers (2-0) any points. “You can’t turn the ball over like we did last week and expect to win football games. We can’t spot any team any points. But, our kids grew up a lot in the game. We showed the ability to fight through adversity - down 20-0 - the kids fought back to get within a score with eight minutes left. That’s a positive we can build off of.” - Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak.

IN THE TRENCHES ... Palmerton will need to have its best game of the season thus far, considering the size that Saucon Valley possesses on the offensive and defensive line units. The offensive line group is especially impressive, returning four of five starters from last season. Senior Tim Weaver, at 6-5, 285-pounds, is in his third year starting for the Panthers and is the leader for the unit at left tackle. The result of Saucon Valley’s big boys up front getting a good push has been the success of running back Ian Csicsek, who’s rushed for 323 yards and five scores.

SPREADING IT AROUND ... Walkowiak wants to see the Bombers continue to spread the ball around to their playmakers like they were able to do last week. Four different Bombers have scored this season, while seven different players have caught a pass. Eli Rivera has topped the 100-yard mark already this season, with Aaron Stasko just underneath that total. Jordan Nelson has yet to break out, but proved last season he is more than capable, as is Andrew Sabo. Getting all of the Palmerton impact players involved is going to be key in its battle with the Panthers. “I think we did a good job of spreading the ball around last week, and some guys are starting to get a feel out there and make some plays. We need that to continue. I thought we made a significant jump there from Week 1. Once again, we absolutely need to cut down on our turnovers, and if we can spread the ball around, we can go from there,” said Walkowiak.

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