Northwestern's boys basketball team has spent the past two seasons at the bottom of the Colonial League pecking order. This year the Tigers hope to start climbing up toward the middle, or even the top, of their league.
"I want to make districts," said senior guard Ty Richardson, the team's most experienced returning varsity player. "Our team goal is to make districts, maybe even the league playoffs. We want to at least win 12 or 14 games this season."
After a few lean years, Northwestern's girls basketball team has been on a steady rise over the last few seasons.
The Lady Tigers, which won just three games in the 2009-10 season, won seven games the next year and improved to 15-9 overall and 11-5 in the Colonial League last year.
They qualified for the district playoffs for the first time in three years and made league playoffs for the first time since winning the 2007 title.
Northwestern's wrestling program is going through a youth movement.
With several wrestlers graduating from last year's line up, which was only slightly more than half-filled in most matches, the Tigers will replenish their roster with several freshmen this year.
"We'll have a lot of freshmen starting in the line up," said head coach Jim Moll. "They'll get thrown into the fire right away and we'll see how they adapt."
Northwestern usually six bouts per match last season. This year more weight classes will be filled and that should lead to a few more wins this season.
Bianca Chairge's first attempt at a direct kick from 35 yards out clanked off the crossbar, inches from sneaking into the top of the goal.
When the Scranton Prep midfielder got a second chance at the same kick less than two minutes later, she hit it perfectly. The ball sailed just over the hand of Northwestern keeper Laura Hill and just under the crossbar with 10:39 left in the first half. The Classics would go on to score two more goals for a 3-0 win in the PIAA Class AA first round girls soccer game.
Saturday marked a fitting end for one of Northwestern's best cross country careers in school history.
Tyler Stelmack finished off a three-year high school campaign that included a league title and three trips to states.
Saturday, at the PIAA Championship Meet on Hershey's Parkview course, Stelmack came just two places away from earning his second state medal. He finished 27th overall in 17:02 in the last cross country race of his high school career.
"I was happy with it," said Stelmack. "It is bittersweet. I'm not sad that I didn't medal. I'm sad that it's over now."
Rebuilding can be difficult in teh Colonial League. But eventually, it seems every team has to do it.
A 3-7 campaign wasn't the kind of football season that anyone associated with the Northwestern varsity program wanted to see. But because of inexperience and injuries, the Tigers struggled to compete with the better teams in the Colonial League this year, including last week's 57-3 setback to league champ Catasauqua, the Tigers' largest margin of loss this season.
It's been a few years since Northwestern's boys soccer team headed into the district tournament with the confidence and desire it has this year.
The Tigers (15-3-1) won the Colonial League's North Division, but fell in double overtime in a heartbreaking league semifinal against Southern Lehigh.
A week later the team was back on the pitch as the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinal round of the District 11 Class AA playoffs, where Kyle Willis and Boston Furjanic led the Tigers to a 4-2 win over No. 7 seed Blue Mountain last Thursday at Northwestern.
Northwestern has already faced nine of the 11 other football teams in the Colonial League this year. This week it will face the best of the league's dozen teams as Catasauqua visits Northwestern already having sealed this year's title and one of the top two seeds for the District 11 Class AA playoffs.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. "They have a ton of athletes at all positions. It's a tough match-up, esepcially on a short week."
The goals at the beginning of the season were to win a tournament and make the district playoffs.
Northwestern accomplished both in its first season as a high school volleyball team. It even went one step further, winning its first District 11 match before falling in Saturday's quarterfinal against top-seeded Bethlehem Catholic.
Northwestern's girls cross country team was trying to continue its tradition of excellence. The Tiger boys team was trying to build that kind of tradition.
Both were successful at last week's District 11 Championships. The girls capped a second straight undefeated season with a Class AA district title, their second in the last four years. The boys team, which finished it's league season behind Bangor, won its first district title in program history.
Both teams will compete at this weekend's PIAA Championship Meet in Hershey.