Northwestern Press

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

High-flying Falcons are up next

Thursday, September 5, 2013 by MIKE HAINES mhaines@tnonline.com in HS Sports

No teams are eliminated from playoff contention after two weeks of high school football.

But an 0-2 start sure makes it difficult to eventually reach the postseason.

That's why Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder and his staff have told their players that this week's game is as important as any they'll play all year.

"We told them that to accomplish our goals, this is a must-win game," said Snyder. "It's a huge game for us. You never want to start 0-2, especially when you have high expectations as we do."

The Tigers travel to Salisbury Friday night to face a Falcon team coming off its first opening-night win in nine years.

Salisbury took out Bangor last week and hopes to carry its momentum into this week's game.

"They're riding high," Snyder said.

Salisbury features a stable of capable ball carriers, including quarterback Troy Parton and running backs Teddy Denver and Beran Mitchell. Denver is the power back at 5-10, 180 pounds. Mitchell (5-10, 160) is more elusive.

"They run a spread offense with a lot of zone reads," said Snyder. "Our key on defense is to play assignment football. We're working hard on playing our responsibilities."

The Falcons also have a big front on both sides of the ball, including 6-foot, 310-pound Brett Sonntag.

Defensively, Salisbury shows different looks out of its base 3-4. Snyder said in a scrimmage against Panther Valley, the Falcons stayed in the 3-4 and blitzed several different linebackers on each play.

In last week's win over Bangor, which features one of the league's best running backs in senior Phil Vass, Salisbury packed the box with 10 players and walked defenders to the line to create a 5-man front.

"We're prepared for a few different looks," said Snyder.

The Tigers also need to focus on ball security. Turnovers hurt them in many games last year and it continued in last week's loss to Palisades.

"Winning the turnover battle is one of the keys to our season," Snyder said.

The Tigers have several skill players returning after getting some varsity time last year. They also have an offensive line that is finally healthy and will head into Friday night after its first full week of practice together as unit.

Like many week two contests, it will be a good test for both teams to see if week one was an indicator of what is to come this season or if it was an aberration.

The Tigers are hoping for the latter. While a loss would not end their playoff hopes, a win would sure go a long way toward keeping them in the race.