It’s been 10 years since the Northwestern boys basketball team has put together a winning season. The Tigers fell from a 10-win season two years ago to eight wins last season. To make matters worse, they lost two of last year’s top scorers to graduation.
But it’s not all doom and gloom heading into the 2017-18 season. While Trevor Cunningham and Rob Seyfried graduated, there were a number of younger players who stepped up last season and started to show strong promise.
The Bangor Slaters looked to cap what they hope will be a turnaround season with an Eastern Conference championship. To do it, they had to beat Northwestern, which had shutout the Slaters 14-0 in the regular season.
This time around, points weren’t nearly as tough to come by, but the Tigers would have liked to have just a few more as they fell to Bangor 22-20.
Down eight points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers looked put together an 11-play drive that took just over six minutes off the clock and saw them convert two fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter.
The Northwestern girls soccer team has learned that one key to success is to not give up more than one goal in a game. Coming into Tuesday night’s PIAA Class 2A first-round game against Central Columbia, the Tigers (19-3-1) had allowed two or more goals just three times on the season and had lost two of those games.
Against the Blue Jays, they survived with a 3-2 win, but coach Kelly Bleam wasn’t happy with some defensive miscues that led to the two Central Columbia goals.
“In no area of my right mind should I ever have called a pass play with our defense playing tough and just 30 seconds left,” said Northwestern head football coach Josh Snyder, who accepted complete blame for the Tigers 21-18 loss to Catasauqua (3-7) last week.
With his team facing a fourth down and trying to put away its final regular season game of the season, Snyder called for Phil Dangello to throw a pass out of the wildcat formation. It was just Dangello’s fourth pass attempt of the season and could have easily caught the Rough Riders off guard.
It was just four weeks ago when Northwestern and Bangor battled at Tiger Stadium, but a lot has changed for both teams since then. Back then, Bangor was running the ball with inconsistent success, but stuck with the ground game. Northwestern’s ground game was the worst in the Colonial League in terms of stats, and still is, and the Tigers were throwing the ball more than they would have hoped. The Tigers (4-6) were also battling with a lot of injuries.
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.
While both Northwestern and Northern Lehigh haven’t had the types of seasons they would have hoped for, this week both football teams will put that all behind them and put school pride and bragging rights on the line.
The Tigers and Bulldogs are one of the better rivalries in local high school football and both teams look to this game as a high point in their season.
Shoot early and shoot often. That’s the slogan that Northwestern girls soccer coach Kelly Bleam would like her players to adopt, but instead, they’ve taken a more passive approach to the game which has made it difficult to score. Against Southern Lehigh in the Colonial League semifinals, the lack of scoring led to a 1-0 loss for the Tigers.
Senior kicker Hunter Miller set a school record with a 47-yard field goal and the Northwestern offense mounted a late drive toward the end zone, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell to Southern Lehigh 28-21 Friday night.
The Tigers were able to grind out yardage on the ground for much of the game, while Southern Lehigh took advantage of a couple quick strikes for scores.
After dropping their first three games of the season, Northwestern battled back to a 2-3 record, but had to play a tough Saucon Valley team in week six looking to even its record. The Panthers downed Northwestern, but the Tigers rebounded last week to beat Bangor, again putting them within reach of a .500 record on the season. As far as the schedule goes, history repeats itself as Northwestern now needs a win over Southern Lehigh (6-1) for its fourth win of the season.