Tigers will add some ‘wrinkles’ vs. SV
In what was perhaps their best played game of the season, the Northwestern football team went into Illick Stadium at Saucon Valley High School and beat the previously undefeated Panthers 49-28 back in October.
Saucon Valley also fell the next week to Notre Dame (Green Pond) and the Tigers and Panthers finished with identical 8-2 records. When the brackets for district playoffs were released, Northwestern and Saucon Valley were set for a rematch in the semifinals and with both teams winning last week, the rematch is on.
“When we looked at the brackets and saw we were a three-seed, we knew it was a tough draw,” Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder said. “We had Central Catholic first and then would have to play Saucon Valley again and it’s always tough to beat a team twice in a season and do it both times on their field.”
While the draw may be a difficult one, Snyder and his players are confident that they can beat the Panthers for a second time. They’re also smart enough to know that they can’t use the same script that they did in the regular season meeting and expect the same outcome.
The truth is that the Northwestern team playing Saturday night at Saucon Valley is better than the one that traveled there almost a month ago. Back then, Tyler Lobach and Connor Snyder were limited or unavailable due to injuries. This time around, they’re both healthy. In fact, the whole team is in good shape and came out of the win over Central Catholic unscathed by injuries.
If you were to assemble a coaching staff that would be well suited to play a team twice in a month and win both games, the Northwestern staff would be a good place to start. The staff loves to coach what Snyder calls “wrinkles,” new plays or sets that keep their opponents off-balance.
They did it last week against the Vikings with their version of the Philly Special play made popular by the Eagles in Super Bowl 52. They change the look of their defensive sets and will zig when the other team expects them to zag.
“We like to change things up,” said Snyder. “Obviously, we have the set things that we’re going to do and we’ll always play to our strengths like keeping the ball on the ground, but we also know that we have to take what teams give us. Our guys are flexible enough to move around the field and take on different tasks and get a little out of our comfort zone and still be successful.”
Saucon Valley has to put together a defensive scheme to contain both the ground game and the air game that the Tigers can throw at teams. Deven Bollinger has developed into one of the better quarterbacks in the area with his ability to hit receivers in stride or tuck the ball and run if there’s nothing open.
One key for Northwestern is limiting turnovers. The only points that Central Catholic put up against them last week came off of turnovers when the Tigers gave them short fields to work with.
“We just have to play smart and stick to what we know we have success with,” said Snyder. “We’re a game away from playing for a championship and if that doesn’t give us a huge incentive, nothing will.
“Of course, they are in the same spot, so both teams will be ready and will look for any little advantage they can get.”