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Several area teams looking to start season 2-0

Published August 30. 2018 03:39PM

The second week of the season offers several intriguing matchups, including Marian traveling to Jim Thorpe in a renewal of an annual backyard rivalry.

Like Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Northwestern, Panther Valley and Tamaqua are all looking to remain unbeaten, while Marian, Pleasant Valley and Palmerton are seeking their first victories of the season.

Marian at Jim Thorpe

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

BOUNCING BACK… The Colts had a week of setbacks in Week 1, losing their starting tailback Seth Paluck to a knee injury in their scrimmage. Paluck looked primed for a big season, and was going to be a key component to the Marian offense this season. It didn’t go any better for the Colts last Friday night either, losing to Midd-West by a score of 43-20. This week, against the Olympians, Marian needs to find some success early on. “We didn’t get off to a good start last week, and I think that hurt us, having to play from behind early on. We have to get off to a good start this week, or do some good things early to get our guys a confidence boost.” – Marian head coach Pat Morgans.

SWARMING DEFENSE… Jim Thorpe’s Red Swarm defense looked to be in midseason form against the always vaunted Schuylkill Haven rush offense last week. The Olympians held one of the state’s most productive rushers last season in Kobe Brish to just 76 yards, and pitched a 28-0 shutout. Marian did have some success running the football last week with running back Matt Doherty, as he ran for 105 yards. Taking away the run game as they did last week against the ‘Canes will be high on the list of priorities for the Thorpe defense come Friday night. “I really liked the way we competed defensively last week, and I was especially impressed with our interior line, and how they were able to get penetration. Everyone who went in there did their job, and we were able to keep guys fresh because of our rotation. Our goal is to really clog up the run game, and force them to do some other things.” – Jim Thorpe head coach Mark Rosenberger.

HANGING THEIR HATS… With the loss of Paluck, low numbers and a lack of depth at the skill positions, the Colts will be depending a lot on their offensive line play this season. Marian returns a host of experienced offensive linemen and has some depth there as well. Establishing some push up front will be key in this one. “We’re going to really depend on our offensive line group to control the line of scrimmage for us this year. We need to really hang our hat there. I think we did some good things in the run game last week, Matt ran the ball hard and tough and had some success. We need to continue to establish the run, so we can mix in our pass game with a quarterback in Mason Miller, who we think is pretty talented,” said Morgans.

BRINGING THE PRESSURE… It’s no secret how good Jim Thorpe’s front seven is this season after its Week 1 performance against Schuylkill Haven. ‘Canes quarterback Kyle Donati was pressured a ton last week against the Olympians, and Coach Mark Rosenberger wants that trend to continue Friday. “They have a big strong quarterback, we can’t give him time to operate back there, so we need to continue to get up field and get pressure. The more pressure we get the easier it is for our guys on the back end,” said Rosenberger.

Pleasant Valley at Allen

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

BOUNCE-BACK ... Both teams will be looking for win No. 1. Pleasant Valley suffered a 42-0 setback against Liberty on opening night, while Allen went down 62-6 against a high-powered Emmaus team.

“Definitely good practices, especially considering how we performed on Friday wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” said Pleasant Valley head coach Matt Kosciolek. “But we played tough, we played hard, and we’ve been practicing that same way, with the same sort of intensity. In terms of self-reflecting, I think we focused a little too much on what Liberty was going to do, and not enough on what we wanted to do. And I think that’s something we’re going to try and change heading into this week; really establish what we want to do, offensively and defensively.”

SLOW START ... Including last week’s loss to Liberty, Pleasant Valley is now 1-10 in its last 11 season-openers, with seven of those losses coming to Nazareth. The Bears have been outscored 477-155 in those games.

GOT THEIR NUMBER ... Pleasant Valley has dominated Allen in the teams’ last six meetings. The Bears have gone 6-0, outscoring the Canaries 267-48 during that time. But Kosciolek certainly isn’t taking anything for granted.

“They are athletic, they’re downhill,” he said. “Their I-backs, they come downhill, and then they get outside with the toss play because they have good athletes. So we’re going to have to do a good job keeping everybody inside that tackle box, and not letting them march down the field on us. So we’ll have a challenge there, in terms of just playing a little more north and south football. Defensively, it’s a lot of man coverage, they get after you, they match up their athletes on your athletes. We’re going to have to find some open space in those man coverage situations when we have to throw the ball.”

SETTLING IN ... First-year QB Jack Stephens showed his mettle last week against Liberty, hanging in the pocket and making several difficult throws while also using his legs to pick up yardage when the Bears needed it. “He took some shots, and he got back up and he just kept going,” Kosciolek said of Stephens. “He’s a tough kid, and I think he earned a lot of respect from his teammates on Friday night because he kept going. He didn’t let anything affect him. He made some bad decisions, our team as a whole missed routes and we did things to shoot ourselves in the foot, but we kept going. And that’s what I’m trying to tell these guys, we’re gonna play, we’re gonna make mistakes, we just have to keep going because sooner or later, it’s going to click, and we’re gonna be firing on all cylinders and we’re not gonna make those silly mistakes.”

MERCY ME ... Emmaus led Allen 41-6 at halftime last week.

Tamaqua at Mahanoy Area

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

STARTING WITH A BANG ... After last week’s 42-0 win over Line Mountain, Tamaqua has now won three-straight season-openers. And the Raiders have done so in impressive fashion, topping Minersville by a combined score of 91-13 in their last two openers.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner. “We have a lot of hopes going into the season. Playing Line Mountain, you don’t know too much about them going into that first week. So it was good to go in, and I definitely thought we had a good first half, and then we got a little sloppy ... and I thought our kids really rebounded, and I thought we played a pretty good full game at the end.”

KEEP IT GOING ... Tamaqua has won the last two meetings against Mahanoy by a combined score of 69-14. The two teams did not play in 2014 or 2015. Mahanoy’s last win in the series was a 53-28 triumph in 2013.

“They’re pretty physical up front,” Bonner said of the Bears. “They run the triple option well. You have to play really physical defense, everybody has to have good gap control, and everybody has to make sure to do their job. They’re pretty strong up front; I think they have three or four defensive linemen back, as well as a couple linebackers, so they’re pretty solid. We’ve gotta be consistent. We’ve gotta keep doing what we’re doing, make sure we’re not making any of those mistakes, and we don’t give up any big plays, especially in the run game.”

THREE-PEAT? ... Running back Nick Breiner has owned the Bears the last two seasons. In 2016, Breiner scored three touchdowns and rushed for over 100 yards in a dominant Tamaqua victory. Breiner did it to the Bears again last year, piling up 240 yards of offense - 197 rushing and 43 receiving - to go along with two long touchdowns as the Raiders rolled to a 34-7 victory. Both times Breiner earned Times News Player of the Week honors for his efforts. Will he have another big game Friday?

1-2 PUNCH ... Breiner (10 carries, 126 yards) and Nate Boyle (10-116) paced Tamaqua’s ground game last week. Boyle scored three times while also adding 99 yards on six receptions and contributing both in the kicking game and on defense.

AIR IT OUT ... Tri Valley had success throwing the ball en route to a 26-7 win over Mahanoy last week. Senior quarterback Dalton Leedy completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 208 yards and one score in the Bulldogs’ victory. Leedy did not throw an interception. Tamaqua QB Brayden Knoblauch had success against Line Mountain, going 9-for-15 while amassing 165 yards.

LEADING ROLE ... Tyler Clewell show his big-play ability for the Bears last week. Clewell gave Mahanoy an early lead with a 35-yard touchdown run, and finished with 12 carries for 74 yards.

RUN, RUN, RUN ... Mahanoy ran the ball a total of 40 times last week for 200 yards. The Bears attempted just six passes - completing two - for 21 yards while also throwing two interceptions.

Sch. Haven at Lehighton

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

GRIND … Lehighton edged Fleetwood 20-13 last week in a non-league game. The opening-week win marked the sixth-straight season the Tribe started the year with a win.

HURICANE SEASON … Lehighton will battle Schuylkill Haven this week, which was just blanked by Jim Thorpe last Friday. The two teams have split games over the last two years.

BRISH BASH … The game plan to stop the Hurricanes over the last two years revolves around junior tailback Kobe Brish. The impressive junior racked up 2,775 rushing yards and 42 scores a season ago. Last week, the Olympians kept him in check to the tune of 76 yards (17 carries). Considering he’s averaging 144.6 yards per-game over the course of his career, the Canes’ will go as he does.

ADVANTAGE … The defensive line was a strength for the Tribe during last week’s win, posting nine tackles for loss. They’ll need to be every bit as sharp against the Hurricanes and Brish this week. “Going into the season, we really thought that our defense was going to be our strength,” said Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll

Northwestern at Salisbury

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

DEFENDING THE DEFENSE ... You might think that a defense that gave up 41 points had a rough day. Coach Josh Snyder pointed out some things that made the performance by the Tigers defense in their 42-41 win over Notre Dame last week look better. The last two Crusader touchdowns came when they had a very short field. The first started from the Northwestern 20-yard line after a bad snap turned the ball over and the second was at the Tigers 10 to start the overtime period. Take those away and the defense held a high-powered offense with a dangerous quarterback in Cole DeFranco to four touchdowns. Suddenly, it’s not quite as bad.

ABOUT TO SNAP ... The Tigers struggled with some snaps last week but quarterback Deven Bollinger said it was less about having a new center – Derek Hebelka – to work with than it was about a wet ball. It didn’t rain during the game, but the field got somewhat soggy thanks to a lot of humidity that built up throughout the game. The two did spend a little extra time in practice this week working on snaps just to be sure all goes well.

LOOK WHO’S BACK ... Anthony Colucci has missed over a year with hamstring issues, but was able to practice on Tuesday. If all goes well, the senior will be added to Northwestern’s mix in the backfield and should see some time at linebacker as well. His presence at linebacker could be especially important to the Tigers. Colucci had one carry and three receptions in 2016, but made his presence known defensively with 20 solo tackles and 21 assisted tackles that season. Eight of those tackles were for lost yardage, and he also had two fumble recoveries.

DISAPPOINTED FALCONS ... Salisbury had a 10-0 lead at the half last week at Pen Argyl and saw the Knights come back and score a go-ahead touchdown with five-seconds left to play in the game to pick up a 17-16 win over the Falcons. On the ensuing kick-off, Salisbury did its best to lateral its way to the end zone, but came up well short as Pen Argyl picked up the win, the school’s 500th all-time. That tough loss – combined with Friday’s game being Salisbury’s home opener – could make the Falcons a dangerous team. “I doubt that they’re hanging their heads because they can be a tough team and they have a lot of reasons to come out and play well,” said coach Josh Snyder.

A BALANCING ACT ... Salisbury had 270 yards of total offense last week, with 145 coming on the ground and 125 through the air. Senior QB Jacob Kamp picked up 51 of those yards on a strike to fellow senior Delano McKenzie, one of three catches for McKenzie on the night. The ground game features a number of different players, with four getting between five and eight carries in the game.

GOING DEEP ... While Bollinger (136 yards rushing) and Nick Henry (117 yards rushing) were the workhorses against Notre Dame, that could all change at any given time. The Tigers backfield has a number of options as to who can get big carries for the team. Tyler Lobach carried just six times, but led the team in average yards per carry with 7.7, gaining 46 yards for Northwestern. Tyler Slifer also figures to get some carries, but was limited to just one last week due to an injury early in the game. The senior running back practiced at full speed Tuesday, and will be ready for duty Friday night.

So. Lehigh at Palmerton

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

FINISHING DRIVES… The Bombers lost a tough one last week to last season’s District 11 3A champ Palisades, 49-14. The Bombers were in the game in the first half, but things went awry after starting quarterback Lucas Heydt was knocked out of the game. Palmerton went into intermission tied at 14, and had two more chances to score inside the red zone in the first half, but couldn’t finish off the drives. “Overall, we just need to do a better job of finishing drives. We had chances to put the ball in the end zone in the first half, and we didn’t execute. Against good football teams, losing that momentum can hurt you, so that’s something we can’t duplicate against Southern Lehigh. We need to take advantage when given the opportunity.” - Palmerton head coach Chris Walkowiak.

STEADY EDMOND… Southern Lehigh’s Logan Edmond is one of the more dynamic signal callers in the Colonial League and possibly District 11 this season, and will be someone the Bombers will need to put a stranglehold on if they want to come away with a victory. Edmond, who was a second team All-Colonial League selection at quarterback a year ago, threw for 192 yards and a score, and also ran for 126 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Saucon Valley last week.

CONSISTENT OFFENSE… The Bombers need to be more consistent this week on both sides of the ball, but offensively this week they need to put together four quarters of football. After a solid offensive performance in the first half, Palmerton came up with just 13 second-half yards. “We had some injuries that disrupted the flow of our offense, but we need to do a better job counter-punching, and battling through adversity. We need to respond in those situations. We have the talent in order to do that, we just need to get it done when adversity strikes during a game,” said Walkowiak.

Hamburg at Panther Valley

Friday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

WAY TO FINISH … After a slow start, the Panthers roared back to defeat CMVT last week, 28-22.

COULD HAVE BEEN MORE ... PV had a pair of touchdowns erased due to penalties last week, while still posting 28 points. They’ll aim to clean it up this week. “We played two quarters of football tonight,” said Panther coach Scott Price after last week’s win. “You could say we were like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

LAST YEAR … Panther Valley shutout Hamburg 14-0 last season.

PRECISION … Panthers’ quarterback Ethan Reis started off on the right foot in 2018, completing 16-of-22 passes. He helped the Panthers accumulate over 300 yards of total offense.

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