Defense must be stout against SL
Northwestern's offense has been lighting up the scoreboard the past couple weeks, putting up 43 points against Salisbury and 26 against Wilson. Even with that scoring, the offense has nowhere near the power of the Southern Lehigh Spartans, who have scored a total of 131 points this season, good enough for second in the Colonial League.
Stopping the Southern Lehigh offense starts with trying to contain quarterback Travis Edmonds, who has completed 61 percent of his passes this season and is averaging just under 200 yards passing per game, with Jacob DelPriore and Cody Heffelfinger serving as hit top two targets.
"Edmonds is tough to stop," said Northwestern ehad coach Josh Snyder about the Southern Lehigh junior. "He's a smart kid and is one of the better quarterbacks around, so you have to try to get pressure on him and play smart defensively. The problem is that you can't just look to shut down the pass, because they can run the ball, so you have to be prepared for whatever they do."
Southern Lehigh features two backs, Christian Ricci and Dylan Niedbalski, who average more than 12 yards per carry. They also have a lot of different ground weapons to use with five players having more than 10 carries on the season, but none of them having more than 16.
The Tiger defense has played well, but Snyder believes it can be even better. Allowing just 35 points, Northwestern ranks first in the Colonial League. Snyder thought his defense was strong against Wilson even though it wasn't its best effort of the season.
"We have some things to work on there, but you certainly can't be upset when your defense keeps the other team off the board," said Snyder after the 26-0 win over Wilson. "We aim to be better each week and I think the defense can do even more than what they did [against Wilson]."
Against the Warriors, the Tigers used a no-huddle offense and ran it well. It was the first time this season that they went to the offense and Snyder has said that it's likely they'll keep the package in the playbook, but with a few wrinkles.
Quarterback Frank Dangello took advantage of the new plays to complete 9 of 13 passes for 180 yards last week against the Warriors, while the offensive line opened a number of holes for the running game to work with.
Dangello threw three touchdown passes last week to set a new school record with 17 in his career and he's only a junior. He is likely to eclipse Kyle Stelmack's school record of 2,273 total passing yards as well before he's done, since he needs only 839 more yards to best that record.
Dangello is averaging 116 yards passing per game, with last week being a season-high.
Sophomore Harry Hall leads Northwestern with 189 yards rushing on 40 carries, while Cameron Richardson has rushed for 139 yards on 18 carries while adding to his yardage total with 10 receptions for 179 yards and four touchdowns.
Both teams come into the game strong offensively and defensively and Snyder is optimistic about his team's play.
"Our guys have been working harder and harder," said Snyder.
"Everything we ask them to work on, they do and they strive to be stronger and stronger and as a coach, that's all you can ask. I think the hard work is paying off for us."