Northwestern Press

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tigers head to Wilson for Saturday game

Thursday, September 12, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Wilson football team is 1-2 on the season. But the Warriors have been in every game they’ve played, and have shown that they don’t quit. Their two losses are by a total of seven points, falling to Northern Lehigh 14-10 in the season opener and then to Salisbury in a 27-24 loss last week in overtime. In between was a come-from-behind win over Palisades that saw them score the winning touchdown with just 20-seconds left in the game.

“They’re a pretty scrappy team,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder of his team’s week four opponent. “They think defense first and they’ve got some guys who are tough and have some quickness. They tackle well and have a nose for the ball.

“They’ve got some weapons offensively, especially with their running back [senior Alec Snyder], so you can’t just rest when their offense is on the field.”

Snyder carried the ball 29 times last week against Salisbury and rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown in the overtime loss. It was also Snyder who pushed across the goal line on a fourth-and-goal from the two to complete Wilson’s comeback from being down 12-0 against Palisades.

Having a reliable back like Snyder has helped Wilson, who starts a sophomore Cayden Stem and quarterback. Stem’s favorite target is senior Isaiah Casado, who has been on the receiving end of a couple big offensive plays for the Warriors.

“With the extra day of practice this week, we worked on putting in a couple new things that we can use this week,” said Josh Snyder, whose team plays a Saturday afternoon game at Wilson this week. “We had simplified some things defensively going into last week and this week we were able to game plan a little more specifically for Wilson.”

The Warriors defense will be tested this week as they go up against hot-handed Deven Bollinger, Northwestern Lehigh’s senior quarterback.

After a down week to open the season, Bollinger has made up for that week and more with nine touchdown passes in the past two weeks. Getting two of his key receivers back has helped him get into a groove for the Northwestern passing game.

“We were good all summer and then Justin Rodda went down and we didn’t have him for the opener,” said Josh Snyder. “We didn’t have Justin Holmes until last week against Palisades, but they’re both healthy now, so that’s going to help Deven.”

Rodda pulled in four touchdown passes in week two and added another last week. Holmes returned to pull in two catches last week against Palisades. The bad news for opponents is that while the passing game has recovered from a week one letdown, the ground game still hasn’t hit its stride, at least as far as Snyder is concerned.

“We’ve done well running the ball, but Nick [Henry] really hasn’t had that big breakthrough week yet,” Josh Snyder said. “Overall, we’re getting a lot of yardage, but we’re going to be even better as we go on. You always feel that with Nick, any week can be a big week and Deven can beat teams with his passing and on the ground, so I think that offensively, we can do a little more than we have so far.”

Across the Colonial League, Southern Lehigh beat Notre Dame last week in a battle of unbeatens, leaving the Spartans as the only undefeated team in the league. Palisades and Catasauqua are the only two teams without a win and that figures to change this week when the two meet in Catty. Looking at the league, Snyder isn’t too surprised by what has happened in the early going, but figures things will start to shake out pretty soon.

“I think after another couple of weeks you’ll see some teams start to separate themselves from the pack,” said Snyder. “I think a lot of the usual teams will be there, but there’s a lot of parity in the league and some teams can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. You have to look at each week as a test of some sort because really, it’s not that long of a season and a loss here or there can really change things.”