Northwestern Press

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Football team faces unbeaten Panthers

Thursday, September 29, 2016 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Saucon Valley football team had its toughest test of the season last week at Southern Lehigh, but were able to walk away with a 26-21 win over the Spartans.

The win put the Panthers at 5-0 as they head into the second-half of the season with a schedule that will be tougher then the first-half was.

It starts this week when the Panthers are again on the road, coming into Tiger Stadium for a meeting with Northwestern (3-2).

The Tigers are coming off a disappointing loss to Pen Argyl last week in a game filled with mistakes. The trick now is to put that loss behind them and prepare for what will be their toughest challenge of the season against the Panthers.

After helping out Northwestern by beating Southern Lehigh, the Panthers aren’t going to be looking to do any favors for the Tigers this week. Southern Lehigh’s loss left the Spartans at 3-2 and tied at the top of the West Division of the Colonial League with Northwestern.

“You always know that Saucon Valley is going to be a tough team to beat,” said coach Josh Snyder. “They’re well coached and they’re always well disciplined and don’t make mistakes that hurt them.

“Part of our job is going to be trying to force them into making some mistakes and then capitalizing on those mistakes.”

Northwestern came into the game against Pen Argyl allowing opponents right around 140 yards rushing per game.

The Knights rushed for 313 yards against the Tigers. While Saucon Valley doesn’t have the rushing attack it had last season, it is still a team that makes a living primarily off running the football.

Zach Petiet has led the team with 453 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns this season, but defenses also have to be aware of Nate Kehs, who has rushed for over 10 yards per carry, gaining 339 yards on 30 carries for the Panthers.

When Saucon Valley does throw the ball, which is only about six times per game, quarterback Brandon Holub has completed 72 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns, while being picked off just once.

“You have to be aware of the pass, because when they do throw the ball, they’re effective,” said Snyder. “We have to do a better job against the run though, because that’s how they do most of their damage and they’ve got more than one guy who can beat you.”

Some of Saucon Valley’s stats are pretty daunting. They’ve turned the ball over just three times this season and have been penalized just 12 times, so they’re not a team prone to beating themselves. Instead, Northwestern will have to play a cleaner game than they did against the Green Knights if they’re going to hand Saucon Valley its first defeat of the season.

“I can tell you right now that we missed a lot of assignments,” said Snyder after last week’s loss. “We’ve got to do a better job defensively and cut down on the mistakes.”

In their five games this season, Saucon Valley has given up just 56 points, so its defense is certainly strong enough to win games.

The Northwestern passing game was strong again last week. Freshman quarterback Deven Bollinger threw two late interceptions, but he has been commanding the offense well and isn’t prone to making many mistakes.

Bollinger has thrown for over 1,000 yards this season and has connected on 12 touchdown passes. He may be without prime target Trevor Cunningham, who left last week’s game with a suspected concussion and it’s not clear whether he’ll be back in the lineup against Saucon Valley.