By Tyler Trumbauer
Last year Northwestern football was an afterthought in the Colonial League as the Tigers finished with a 3-7 record.
Flipping that mark to 7-3 this season, Northwestern is headed for the playoffs.
Led by second-year head coach, Josh Snyder, Northwestern finished 2013 with an impressive seven wins including a week 10 upset over previously unbeaten Catasauqua in overtime that shocked the entire Lehigh Valley.
“It starts in the off-season with hard work, leadership, and dedication,” said Snyder about the turnaround. “Right after last season these kids became gym rats and worked their tails off. With the experience they gained playing in meaningful games all season they are figuring out ways to win tough games against some very good opponents. I am so happy for the team and this group of seniors in particular for what they have done for this program.”
The Tigers’ efforts this fall earned them the top seed in the AA Eastern Conference playoffs and also home-field advantage throughout the four-team tournament. This Friday the Tigers host the Nanticoke Area Trojans who are 5-5 heading in to the battle in New Tripoli.
With a core group of young players such as Frankie DeAngelo, Harry Hall and Cam Richardson the Tigers are capable of putting up points in any given game. Their offense can control a game as well as they held the ball for the entire 12-minute third quarter last week against the Rough Riders.
Snyder, who is happy to see a playoff appearance come out of this season, says the running game will tell it all on Friday night.
“It all starts with stopping the run on defense and being able to establish our running game on offense. If we can do that we have an opportunity to put ourselves in a position to be successful. We will need to win the turnover battle and be solid in special teams. In the playoffs it’s important to make a big play or two at some point to flip the momentum in your direction.”
The Tigers are hoping those big plays will translate in to points and add another victory to this comeback season.
The Indians seemed like a team destined for another year of rebuilding under second year head coach Tom McCaroll. They certainly had me believing in that school of thought.
Instead the Indians spent yesterday going over game film instead of turning in their equipment.
The Indians finished the regular season with a much-improved 6-4 record that earned them the third-seed in the District 11 AAA playoffs. They will be facing two-seeded Bethlehem Catholic this Saturday at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium beginning at 7:10pm.
McCaroll believes that his players deserve to be playing in week 11.
“It feels phenomenal to see how this team has developed, but it began back in January, not just in preseason camp. The players have put in a great deal of time and sacrifice and they have earned the opportunity they have right now.”
According to McCaroll, the Indians’ offense needs to control the line of scrimmage and the clock as they have done all season. Defensively, eliminating big plays and tackling well will be important against a speedy, talented Golden Hawks squad that is known for creating big plays.
Lehighton hopes to accomplish their goals on Saturday and spend next Monday preparing instead of cleaning out their lockers.
The Parkland Trojans had some uncertainty to kick-off 2013 as to how they would respond to losing some seniors from last year.
They certainly didn’t miss a step.
With sophomore Devante Cross under center and the supporting cast of Kareem Williams and Eli Redmond, the Trojans have the highest-scoring offense in the Lehigh Valley Conference at regular season’s end, which helped them be co-champions of the league with Whitehall.
Head coach Jim Morgans is no stranger to success and the postseason in his many years of coaching and playing in the high school ranks. He knows how to take a team and carry them far in the state tournament.
To begin that journey, the three-seeded Trojans will take their eight-game winning streak in to the class 4A District 11/2/4 sub-regional tournament and host sixth-seeded Stroudsburg Friday night at Parkland Football Stadium beginning at 7:05pm
The Trojans are the defending District 11 and defending sub-regional champions heading in to this eight-team playoff and they are certain they are going to work to do the same this season.