Northwestern Press

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tigers look to bounce back vs. Bangor

Thursday, October 5, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

In many ways, Bangor and Northwestern are very similar teams at this point in the season. Both are at 2-4, but both have also shown that they can make some big plays and have some talent to work with. The Tigers are coming off of a 42-19 loss to Saucon Valley, while the Slaters were pounded by Southern Lehigh in a 37-6 loss in week six of the season.

Both teams also went on short-lived win streaks earlier this season when Bangor beat Northern Lehigh and Salisbury on back-to-back weeks, only to drop its next two games. The loss to the Panthers last week ended the Tigers win streak as they tried to return to the .500 mark on the season.

“Our guys have responded pretty well,” said coach Josh Snyder. “We knew we had to play really well to beat Saucon Valley and we didn’t measure up. Part of that is on me. I made the decision to kick deep and they returned it to set up the early score, but we also didn’t execute. We have to fix that against Bangor this week.”

Bangor has a balanced running attack, preferring to spread the carries among a number of backs rather than relying on one big back like Saucon Valley did last week.

Garrett DeBoer is the Slaters’ leading rusher with 326 yards on the season, but Shemar Petrie (278 yards), Bo Myers (271 yards) and Joey Schrader (246 yards) are all closing in on the 300-yard mark on the season.

Meanwhile, the Tigers haven’t found any traction in their running game, forcing quarterback Deven Bollinger to put the ball up more than they might have liked coming into the season. Bollinger has completed 54 percent of his passes and has thrown for 11 touchdowns on the season, while closing in on the 1,000-yard mark in passing.

Myers, the Slaters’ quarterback, has rushed for almost as many yards as he’s thrown for, having completed just 38 percent of his passes for 310 yards and one touchdown.

The line play is going to be important for both teams and Snyder is seeing some development in the play of both his offensive and defensive lines as the season has unfolded.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Snyder. “It’s like a lot of other aspects of the team where we see some good things, but there are also some times where we’re seeing just how young we are at some spots when we make some mistakes.”

The good news for Northwestern is that the teams has remained healthy as it looks to make a late season run in the last four games of the season. Most of the injured players are back for the Tigers and Snyder is looking to finish the season with a strong stretch of games.

“Guys have had a chance now to get used to playing varsity football and we’re as healthy as we’ve been all season, so this is where we need to step up,” he said. “We’re back home and we’ve only got two home games left, so we have to make the most of them and we have to play more consistently. We’re still a work in progress, but we’re getting there and it will be interesting to see how we respond down the stretch.”

The Tigers will have a hard time getting a District 11 Class 4A playoff spot at Bethlehem Catholic, Pottsville, Central Catholic and Saucon Valley occupy the top four places. An Eastern Conference playoff berth could be in the cards for Northwestern.