Northwestern Lehigh finished the season 2018 high school football 9-3 overall and played in the District 11 semifinals, but placed only one player on the Colonial League First Team All-Stars list on offense and one on defense.
Senior kicker Connor de Wit was named to the offensive first team and fellow senior Derek Holmes was selected as a defensive end on the first team.
On the season, de Wit hit on 53 of 56 extra points and converted two of his four field goal attempts. Holmes had 15 solo tackles and four sacks, while assisting on 24 other tackles this season.
There are times when a team can look back on a loss and pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. For Northwestern Lehigh, it’s the second quarter of its 42-21 loss to Saucon Valley. Ryan Haas had caught a big 58-yard touchdown pass from Deven Bollinger to put the Tigers up 14-7. On Saucon Valley’s next possession, the Tigers shut them down on a big fourth-down play to give Northwestern the ball with time winding down in the first quarter.
That’s where things went wrong.
After Northwestern Lehigh’s football season came to an end with a 42-21 loss to Saucon Valley Saturday night, coach Josh Snyder was asked if he thought his team had slightly overachieved in 2018.
The key to stopping Saucon Valley this week will surely be containing Panther running back Ian Csicsek, who averages over 200 yards per game and gashed Lehighton for over 200 last week in a district playoff win.
Football fans outside of New Tripoli might not know it, but the play that helped the Eagles win Super Bowl 52 and came to be known as The Philly Special was originally the New Tripoli Special. Northwestern varsity football head coach Josh Snyder had used the play in the past, prior to Super Bowl 52. He used it again Saturday night in a district playoff game against Allentown Central Catholic and it worked to perfection as part of Northwestern’s 50-13 win over the Vikings.
Northwestern Lehigh may have had a very sound game plan to face Lehighton in the District 11 field hockey finals, but we’ll never know. Coach Lissa Opolsky had a tough time getting her players to stick to the plan and the result was a 2-0 loss to the Indians. The win gave Lehighton its first district championship since 2010.
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.
For a team that came into the season finale 1-8 and was just looking to finish out its season, the Catasauqua Rough Riders got off to an impressive start against Northwestern but couldn’t keep the momentum going. Eventually, the Tigers wore them down in a wild 61-27 game where in the first 3:32 of the game there were just eight plays from scrimmage, but 28 points as the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie at that point.
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.
After establishing its running game as a potent weapon through the early going, Northwestern has seen teams focus on stopping the run. That approach would work if the Tigers were a one-dimensional team, but junior quarterback Deven Bollinger has shown that he can get the ball to his receivers. He threw for 251 yards in a 35-7 win over Northern Lehigh last Friday night.