The bus ride home from Wilson Area High School must have been enjoyable for the Northwestern football team last Saturday. After a tough 0-3 start to the season, the Tigers traveled to Wilson and after a hard-fought game against the Warriors, returned home with a 29-26 win, allowing the team to breath a lot easier.
“I think everybody, from the players and the coaches, the parents, even the band felt a lot better after that game,” said coach Josh Snyder. “It really did ease things a little, because we needed that one.”
The Northwestern field hockey team knew that Salisbury would provide some difficult competition Saturday night, but the Tigers found out just how tough the Lady Falcons could be when they pushed the game to overtime before Northwestern left with a 2-1 win.
For the past couple weeks, Northwestern coach Josh Snyder has been coaching out of necessity rather than being able to run things the way he would like. Injuries and the loss of four other players had him handcuffed by a lack of depth and a remaining roster full of young players who were getting their first taste of varsity football.
Friday night was somewhat of a David versus Goliath issue for Northwestern. The Tigers took the long trip to Kintnersville to put their young group of players up against Palisades, which has looked like a Colonial League title contender through it’s first two games of the season. The outcome was a 46-0 loss for Northwestern, dropping the Tigers to 0-3 on the season.
After a six-game winning streak put the Lehigh Valley IronPigs into the playoffs, a seventh straight win gave them a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five divisional series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Unfortunately, that wase their last win of the season as the RailRiders went on to take the next three games to advance to the Governor’s Cup Finals in the International League.
The Pigs weren’t helped by what a video replay showed to be a bad call in game four of the series.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs made an improbable romp into the playoffs with a late-season stretch that saw them finish off the regular season with a six-game win streak, including sweeping a four-game series against rival Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to finish the season.
The IronPigs were four games behind Rochester for the final playoff spot in the International League with 12 games remaining, and went on a 9-3 run to catch the Red Wings on the second-to-last day of the season.
While the Northwestern defense was able to considerably slow down an impressive Salisbury offense, the Tigers’ own offense had its momentum interrupted throughout the game, resulting in a 7-3 loss to the Falcons last Friday night.
Salisbury, which scored 47 points in its season opener and compiled just over 500 yards of total offense, struggled for yardage in week two against the Tigers. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Salisbury got on the board, and that drive was aided by an untimely defensive penalty.
When Josh Snyder took over the Northwestern Tigers in 2012, he was quick to put young players in the lineup. He knew they were going to take some hits and go through rough times, but ultimately they would be better players down the road because of the experience that they gathered. This season, injuries hit the offensive and defensive lines leading up to the first week of the season, creating a familiar situation for Snyder.
Coming into the season, Tom Eshelman was a good pitching prospect for the Phillies, but he was overshadowed by pitchers like Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Nick Pivetta.
For pitcher Jose Taveras, he was among the group of top pitching prospects, but he was in the lower levels of the minors and thought to be at least a couple, if not three years away from reaching the majors.
Things changed for both pitchers in 2017. Eshelman is now among the elite group of pitching prospects, while Taveras moved through the organization at a pace faster than anyone expected.
Every high school athlete dreams of having the type of senior season that Trevor Cunningham had at Northwestern. The three-sport star had big seasons in football, basketball and track.
“I really wanted to have a big year as a senior,” admits Cunningham. “I think every kid wants to do that and go out with a really strong performance. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I got to be around some great guys and have a lot of fun along the way.”