Northwestern Press

Monday, October 16, 2017

Football visits Saucon Valley on Friday

Thursday, September 28, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Northwestern has put together two strong games in a row after a dismal start to the season. The result is a chance to reach the .500-mark if they can get a win against a tough Saucon Valley team Friday night on the road.

The Tigers looked like their old selves last week against Pen Argyl, putting up 43 points and getting strong performances from both the offense and the defense. The victory came on the heels of a road win at Wilson the week before where they needed to pull the game out late to get a 29-26 win over the Warriors.

Deven Bollinger has found a rhythm over the past two weeks, setting a school record for completions in a game (20) against Wilson and putting up over 200-yards passing in each of the wins. Last week, he threw for three touchdowns, bouncing back from a tough start that saw his first pass of the game intercepted. Caleb Clymer, Ryan Haas and Tyler Lobach all caught touchdown passes last week as coach Josh Snyder opened up the offense a little, moving away from the short passing game that worked against Wilson.

“We wanted to be more explosive and that worked for us, but we also still have those shorter options there that we can go to if we need them,” said Snyder. “We can use that to keep defenses on their toes a little bit.”

Saucon Valley lost to Southern Lehigh 31-28 last week on a late field goal. The loss dropped the Panthers to 3-2 on the season, setting up an important game against Northwestern Friday night.

The Panthers look to keep the ball on the ground, with quarterback Alston Wolf having thrown just 42 times in five games for 458 yards. Wolf beats teams with his running. He rushed for 211 yards against the Spartans last week and is averaging just under 107 yards rushing per game this season.

“He’s athletic and has good instincts,” said Snyder. “You have to realize that he’s going to get some yards, but you have to limit that as much as you can, because he’s a workhorse and he can take over a game. They’ve got a good running back, too, that can beat you, so you have to be quick to pick up on what they’re doing.”

The running back that Snyder talked about is Zach Petiet, who is averaging 105 yards rushing per game to give the Panthers a big offensive ground game that they can use in different ways.

On average, Saucon Valley’s defense is allowing 21 points per game this season, but they can present a challenge for the young offensive line of the Tigers.

“We’ve gotten guys back, so our line is better, but Saucon is a physical type team and they can beat you up pretty good,” said Snyder. “Having the ability to mix up our offense and do some different things will help, but we have to play them tough, there’s no doubt about that.”

The two teams are similar in that they’re both used to being much closer to the top of the Colonial League standings than they are. Saucon Valley finished 9-1 last season, while Northwestern went 5-5. When the two teams played at Tiger Stadium last season, the Tigers handed Saucon Valley its only loss of the season, 15-6. There’s no denying that the Panthers remember that game and will be looking for a bit of revenge.

“Yeah, they may hold a bit of a grudge for that,” said Snyder. “We have to see how it all plays out.”