Catty comes to New Tripoli for season finale
With a win over Northern Lehigh last week, Northwestern moved into position to finish the regular season at 5-5 if they can beat Catasauqua in the final game of the Colonial League season.
While hopes at the beginning of the season were centered higher than five wins, the fact that the Tigers are at that point is impressive considering an 0-3 start.
After getting past having a roster depleted by injuries and other factors, Northwestern has come through the early season in good shape. Coach Josh Snyder would have liked to have a more even season, but is enthused at how his team has pulled together to go 4-2 over the last six weeks.
“We’ve seen a lot of guys step up over the season and our guys didn’t hang their heads after the first three weeks,” said Snyder. “Things could have just spiraled out of control, but we kept working and once we got healthy and got guys back, we started to see the type of football that we expected coming into the season.”
Early in the season Northwestern was missing seven starters. Players had to be shifted out of their usual positions and players with little or even no varsity experience were now starters. Coming into week 10, Northwestern is as healthy as its been all season and has added new wrinkles each week.
“We’ve gotten our running game going, especially now that we’ve got a healthy line to work with,” said Snyder. “The other thing is that we’ve seen guys like [running back Nick Henry] and [wide receiver Justin Rodda] and Jayden Allen, who have all stepped up.
Those are freshmen and sophomores who are suddenly playing really well and contributing to the team.”
The ground game could be poised for its best week of the season, since Catasauqua (2-7) is ill-prepared to stop opponents running games.
What the Rough Riders have going for them is an experienced offensive team led by quarterback Andrew Brett, who has completed 66-percent of his passes this season, throwing for 1,492 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Catty also has two strong running backs in Derrick Rodriguez (741 yards/six touchdowns) and Wil-Quon Clemons (697 yards/seven touchdowns) who can do damage against a defense.
“Their quarterback is a three-year starter and he’s got experienced receivers that he throws to, so we’ve got to play well defensively and not let them get too much momentum going,” said Snyder. “We’ve worked a lot on our pass coverage this week in practice, because we think that’s going to be a big part of the game this week.
“The other thing we’ve done this week, like we’ve been able to do the past couple of weeks, is put some new wrinkles in on offense. Now that we’re healthy and have more experience for our younger guys, we can put some of these things in that we’ve had to keep in our back pocket for a lot of the season.”
Northwestern has clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will have home field advantage. Depending what happens in other games, the Tigers will host either Bangor, Columbia Montour Vo-Tech or Blue Mountain at Tiger Stadium next weekend. Northwestern shutout Bangor 14-0 three weeks ago and faced Blue Mountain last season in the Eastern Conference, losing 51-30 on the road.