ACC, Rauscher bros. visit Tigers Friday
The Northwestern football team returns to the District 11 playoffs for the first time since 2015 when it advanced to the finals, but fell to Notre Dame (Green Pond) 32-22.
This time around, the Tigers start with a game against Allentown Central Catholic, a team that going by the records, the Tigers should win easily. The problem is that it’s difficult to compare teams from different conferences and the 3-7 Vikings will prove a tougher team than many may think.
“In the Colonial League, they would be one of the better teams,” said coach Josh Snyder. “They would be an eight or nine [win] team, maybe undefeated. They play in a great league and great division and took some really good teams down to the wire.
“They just, for whatever reason, shot themselves in the foot in some games and wound up 3-7. It’s definitely going to be tough and our guys aren’t foolish, the three-win record isn’t fooling anybody on our team.”
One of the biggest parts of the Tigers season has been the play of their offensive line. The problem this week will be handling the size of the defensive line that the Vikings have all across the front. The linemen range from 220 pounds up to around 260 pounds and will present Northwestern with size issues that they just haven’t faced in the Colonial League. The smallest member of the line, 6-foot-2, 220-pound Logan Bachman, converts to a running back for the Viking offense, which will present another issue when the Tigers look to stop Bachman, who averages over six-yards per carry this season.
While the Northwestern line may be on the undersized side of the ledger compared to Central Catholic, Snyder believes it can hold its own and allow the Tigers to still move the ball offensively. He’s going to look to deviate only slightly from the usual game plan to give his team an edge during key spots in the game.
“We have a few wrinkles that we haven’t used in the past couple of weeks and we’ll put a couple more things in,” he said. “Other than that, we’re going to continue to do what we’ve done the last half of the season here and take what the defense gives us. They’ve shown some situations where they have seven or eight guys in the box to stop the run in their league and we’re not going to try to force it into an eight-man box. We’ve been successful throwing it around a bit and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Over the past couple of games, Northwestern has purposely kept quarterback Deven Bollinger from running the ball too many times, looking to limit the number of hits he’s absorbed and keep his legs fresh. With playoff time here, Snyder figures to unleash Bollinger and use his legs as a main weapon in the Northwestern arsenal.
Another key for the defense will be handling a two-quarterback system where brothers Frank and Matt Rauscher work as a tandem at quarterback. Matt Rauscher, a sophomore, is the team’s number-two rusher with 140 yards on just 23 carries. Frank Rauscher is more suited to throwing the ball, having completed 61 percent of his passes and throwing for 586 yards. The Rauschers are familiar players to some of the Tigers. Frank, a senior, played JV for Northwestern, while Matt played middle school football for the Tigers.
“Now I know what it’s like to play against us the past couple of years, because of our wildcats,” said Snyder. “Their skill sets are totally different. When Matt’s in there, he’s looking to run first and they do a little bit more in the read game and we’ve got to play our assignments. When Frank is in there, they use a little more of the run-pass option and do a lot of quick, little things. We’ll have a couple different wrinkles in depending on which quarterback is in and based on down and distance, but we’ve got a good feel on what they like to do.”
Wide receiver George Hlavak may also be a familiar name to longer tenured Northwestern fans. His father played for Northwestern under coach Bob Mitchell.
Tickets for the ACC vs. Northwestern Lehigh District 11 quarterfinal game this Saturday, Nov. 3 are available in the Northwestern Lehigh Athletic Office Tuesday through Friday between 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. $7 for Adults. $4 for Students and Sr. Citizens. All tickets the night of the game will be $7.
Season Passes, Employee ID’s, League Passes, etc. will not be accepted for this District 11 event.