Northwestern Press

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Struggling Roughies host football finale

Thursday, October 25, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The final week of the high school football regular season is here and different teams have different recollections on just how fast the season has gone. Catasauqua’s football season has been a rough ride in 2018. The team has just one win, which came against 1-8 Wilson, and hasn’t been competitive in most of their games. They beat the Warriors by just three points and all of their losses have been by 21 or more points.

Meanwhile, the Northwestern Tigers are 8-1 and looking to play in districts for the first time since 2015.

“When you have a good season, it goes fast,” said out Tigers coach Josh Snyder. “I can imagine that for Catasauqua, it’s been a longer season. We’ve been there and I know how long it can seem when you’re not winning football games.”

The two teams meet in the season finale at Catasauqua Friday night. For Northwestern, it’s just a matter of taking care of business against the Rough Riders and then waiting out to see who they play in the first round of districts. The exact scenario of just who they’ll play and where they’ll be seeded in the Class 4A bracket is a matter of an exacting formula used by District 11 to rank teams based on who they’ve beaten during the season.

Snyder, a social studies teacher, is willing to leave the math to the folks at District 11.

“I don’t completely understand how it’s all figured out and what happens if we win and how many points we get,” said Snyder. “We always just preach that all we can do is win, so that’s what we focus on in these situations. The first order of business is just winning Friday night and then seeing how it all plays out.”

Currently, the Tigers are the second-seed in the Class 4A rankings. If Bethlehem Catholic, currently the top seed, were to lose to Central Catholic, the Tigers could finish as the top team.

The problem is that Northwestern can gain very few points for a win over Catty, while third-seeded Saucon Valley plays Palisades (7-2), which would give the Panthers more points if they were to beat the Pirates. Also in the discussion is Pottsville (6-3), who plays North Schuylkill (8-1) this week.

The bottom line is that if Beca loses, Northwestern could finish anywhere from first to fourth in the rankings, which would guarantee them at least one home game in districts.

The Rough Riders have averaged just under 18 points per game and have scored just 28 points in their last four games since their 37-34 win over Wilson. Wil-quon Clemens leads Catasauqua in rushing with 383 yards and is averaging 7.5 yards per carry this season. The senior has been a bright spot on the team and leads the team with five touchdowns.

While Northwestern thinks run first, Catasauqua thinks primarily about the run and only the run. Andrew Martinez has thrown just 52 times this season for 206 yards. Compare that to Northwestern’s average of just over 16 passes per game and factor in that junior quarterback Deven Bollinger threw for 251 yards just last week against Northern Lehigh and it’s easy to see the comparison in offenses.

“We’ve taken some things out of our game plan this week,” said Snyder. “We’ll look to get back to our basics of running the ball and just pounding out yards. We don’t want to show too much of what we can do and we want to keep some things ready for the playoffs, so we’ll just look to grind out yards and do what got us to this point.”

In a perfect world, Northwestern would work itself to a big, early lead and be able to take some of its starters off of the field for as much of the game as possible. The rest would keep them just a little fresher going into next week and would also limit the odds of any injuries.

“We’d like to get some of our senior players who haven’t gotten a lot of playing time into the game this week,” said Snyder. “They’ve taken a lot of reps in practice and they work hard and stay ready. It would be nice to let them finish out the season on the field and get some varsity time.”