Coach: Chris Walkowiak (4th season, 6-24)
2013 Record: 2-8 overall and CL
Thoughts: Palmerton hasn’t had much pull in the Colonial League in recent years, but since Walkowiak took over, there has been considerable progress. That trend has given the coaching staff a new philosophy for this fall.
“It has been a great summer and camp thus far with the experience we have coming back both in the skill area and on the line,” Walkowiak said. “We want to play with a sense of urgency this year and make sure we execute on every snap. If all 11 players execute their assignments on every snap, we should win that play. If we win the most plays in a game; we should have a good chance of winning more games.”
The Blue Bombers want to turn the tide and play competitive games that are meaningful late in the season. Led by senior linebacker and running back Tre Nelson, who is a pre-season All-State selection and also has an offer from Monmouth University, Palmerton wants to be a deciding factor in the Colonial League. With the returning skill players and stronger program that Walkowiak has built, an increase of wins is probable for the Blue Bombers this season.
Coach: Joe Tout (9th season, 60-32)
2013 Record: 2-8 overall and in CL
Thoughts: 2013 was only the second losing season for Northern Lehigh since 1998 and they haven’t had that many losses in a single season since the late 90s. However, most of that was attributed to injuries and inexperience. After healing and maturity, head coach Joe Tout, who usually only knows winning, is ready to start fresh.
“We never focus on the previous year. Following successful seasons we remind our team that it is a new year and we focus on the new year. We are taking the same approach this year,” Tout said.
The Bulldogs return senior Nate Farber who amassed over 1,000 yards on the ground last season. They are going with junior Chad Cederberg under center after he missed most of last season with an injury. This squad is young but experienced and if they stay injury free, Tout believe they can compete. Their return to prominence, however, may still be a year away.
Coach: Tom McCaroll (3rd season, 9-12)
2013 Record: 6-5 overall and 4-4 in MVC
Thoughts: Lehighton showed a great turnaround in 2013 by qualifying for the District 11 3A playoffs just one season after going 3-7. Last year generated enough clout for the Indians in their first season in the Anthracite Football League as they were picked second in the pre-season coaches’ poll and also received two first-place votes. Head coach Tom McCaroll doesn’t put much too much stock into that, but he still believes this season will be a thriller.
“We feel good about the approach we have,” he said. “We feel good about the turnaround that we are in the process of here in year three. It is just excitement. We are getting our local rivalries back as well as face some new unknowns. Playing against some of these teams, I know the energy they bring and it will be physical.”
Physicality will reign supreme in the AFL, like usual, but the Indians will provide the skills as well. Junior quarterback Tyler Cann, who had over 1,400 passing and rushing yards last year, as well as junior running back Wyatt Clements, who amassed just under 1,000 rushing yards in 2013, will be essential to Lehighton’s offensive attack and if they repeat their success from last year, the pre-season poll may be a very accurate indicator of how the league shakes out.
Coach: Josh Snyder (3rd season, 12-10)
2013 Record: 9-3 overall, 7-3 CL
Thoughts: 2013 was a successful year for Northwestern athletics, which extended onto the gridiron as well as the Tigers earned the most wins in a single season since 2004. The Tigers return key starters in quarterback Frank Dangello and flanker Cam Richardson as well as many other experienced players.
“Obviously the game readiness of our experienced guys is a strength,” head coach Josh Snyder said. “We only have a few guys that this will be their first varsity start [in week one]. There are guys that have been in the fire for a few years.”
Northwestern was happy to make the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, but still wants more. The Tigers are the pre-season favorite in the Colonial League and rightfully so as the rebuild in New Tripoli has finished and it is time for Snyder and his team to cash in.
Coach: Mark Scisly (1st season)
2013 Record: 0-12 overall, 0-9 LVC
Thoughts: When Mark Scisly took over this struggling program, he knew there was going to need to be a major overhaul. The first thing and the most noticeable one is the attitude of the players.
“I want to see the whole attitude of the program change,” Scisly said. “The attitudes of the kids have been great. They really work hard.”
Scisly, who is known for turning teams back into winning ways, does not have many returning starters this fall. He does have returning seniors Alex Ardle and Ty Marinelli and also junior lineman Logan Koehler, who may be one of the top linemen in the league this year. The new fast-paced offense for the Konkrete Kids will definitely make them more competitive and get them into the win column, but it is still a multi-year rebuild.
Coach: Jim Morgans (10th season, 87-28; 237-132-1 overall career)
2013 Record: 12-2 overall, 8-1 LVC
Thoughts: The Parkland Trojans never seem to have a down season and 2014 should be much of the same. Jim Morgans returns junior quarterback Devante Cross who can get it done both on the air and the ground amassing 1,898 all-purpose yards last season. Defensively, the Trojans were strong last year and that allowed them to repeat as district champions. Morgans feels just as confident with that unit this year as well.
“I feel very good about our defense,” Morgans told Stephen Miller of The Morning Call. “A lot of these kids got legitimate letters and played in a lot of ball games, lots of crucial games and at crucial times.”
The Trojans seem poised to make another run at the league and district titles as well. They may even make some noise in the state tournament as well, but for Parkland, they are not satisfied until they claim the hardware for themselves.