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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Schuylkill League News and Notes: Tri-Valley aims to remain unblemished; Pine Grove looking to end skid and more

Well, maybe some of the luster has rubbed off.

Only some, however, not all.

And for those who happen to call the upper end of Dauphin County and/or western Schuylkill County home – say, somewhere near the U.S. 209 corridor – and you’re not enthused by any of the other local high school football matchups on tap … this one’s for you.

And if you really want to soak up the ambience between the stately tall pines that stand guard around Jerry Stauffenberg Field, a lawn chair works.

What yours truly is getting at is Friday’s non-league scrap between Williams Valley (3-1) and a Loyalsock program (3-1) wandering in from Williamsport’s outskirts should be terrific for those who really enjoy offensive football. If these teams get rolling, an over of 75 is in play.

Since both units suffered their first losses one week ago, they both should be inspired.

Outmuscled up front by an aroused Minersville club, Tim Savage’s Vikings were limited to 14 yards rushing and wound up on the losing end of a 30-12 result. Fullback Logan Williard paced the Vikes with 25 yards on seven attempts and reserve Gage Miller rushed for a 13-yard score, but the Miners really put the clamps on Alex Achenbach, yielding nothing on 11 totes.

Plus, Minersville piled up 11 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Williams Valley QB Isaac Whiteash (11 of 23) managed to throw for 134 yards and one touchdown – Williard hauled in the scoring pass – and was picked off once. Favorite target Brady Evans pocketed four passes for 95 yards.

Defensively, down lineman Cruz Banda topped Williams Valley with 11 stops, two tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Williard added seven tackles.

Which brings us to state-ranked Loyalsock.

Justin Van Fleet’s Lancers dropped one spot to sixth (Class 3A) after a 17-14 loss to Danville at home despite running 63 plays to the Ironmen’s 34 and despite outgaining Danville 457-206.


Well, turnovers can complicate things and ‘Sock totaled three as quarterback Tyler Gee had a trio of passes swiped. Gee still managed to complete 14 of his 22 attempts for 279 yards. Even with all-state wideout Rian Glunk sidelined with an injury, athletes Jaylen Andrews (6-121) and Gage Patterson (5-64) had productive outings on the perimeter.

And if Gee wasn’t throwing it all over Ken Robbins Stadium, all-state feature back Davion Hill was doing his thing between the tackles or on the edges by piling up 168 rushing yards on 31 attempts and one score. Gee also rushed for a touchdown.

Defensively, Van Fleet’s experienced group features a terrific set of linebackers in Gavin Rice, Cy Cavanaugh and Logan Bastian. And keep an eye on big-play defensive end David Boring coming off the edge.

Plus, this team is accustomed to competing against quality sides since Van Fleet’s Lancers have defeated Berks Catholic, an improving Hughesville program featuring a staff flush with former ‘Sock assistants and Southern Columbia.

So, Williams Valley needs to bring it. The Vikings are capable of exhibiting some high-octane offense. And that could up the fun factor.

Tri-Valley hoping to maintain its perfect mark

Tri-Valley’s Reece Huntzinger returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds in last week. Perhaps more impressive fireworks are in play as Tri-Valley (4-0) will welcome Allentown’s Executive Education (3-1) to the Hegins-Valley View Metroplex.

Executive Education, eastern Pennsylvania’s nomadic independents, suffered a 42-19 loss to Upper Moreland that dropped the Raptors from the unbeaten ranks.

Tri-Valley, meanwhile, is still there and hoping to stay.

Jeff Sampson’s Bulldogs may have jumped in front of host Schuylkill Haven quickly, but they weren’t content with their one-score lead. Kole Miller, who rushed for two scores and threw for two more a week earlier against Line Mountain, took over at that point.

Miller (6 of 10, 99 yards) fired all three of his touchdown passes on Tri-Valley’s first three offensive series, finding Layne Yoder from 13 yards out, hooking up with Jolten Flory for a 30-yard TD pass and going back to Yoder for a 31-yard score that had the visitors up 28-0.

Yoder was the ‘Dawgs top receiver with four catches for 64 yards. Filling in for injured Kam Wetzel yet again, Huntzinger paced the Tri-Valley ground game with 54 yards on 17 carries.

Defensively, interceptions from Yoder, Flory and Jake Tietsworth helped the Bulldogs limit Haven to 35 yards through the air. Huntzinger (6 tackles), Kash Tobin (7 tackles) and Noah Porter (8 tackles) kept Haven contained on the ground, limiting the Hurricanes to 107 yards.

Freshman Cole Gemberling paced Tri-Valley with nine stops.

Executive Education showed plenty of vulnerability at stopping the run, yielding 262 yards on the ground and four touchdowns to Upper Moreland’s Stephen Broderick (4, 2, 4, 2). Hassan Johnson and quarterback Shawn Herbert added rushing TDs for UM.

What Sampson’s bunch will need to be concerned about is strong-armed quarterback Darmel Lopez making plays throwing the ball. Lopez rang up three touchdowns through the air, finding Emery Plummer (45), Damon Young (28) and Jeremiah Rodriguez (41).

Lopez was averaging 255-plus yards per game passing going into the Upper Moreland clash. His three passing scores in Saturday’s loss increased his total to 10.

Pine Grove trying to end skid

Following a pair of road losses, at least Dave Shiffer’s Pine Grove Cardinals (1-3, 0-2) won’t need to worry about boarding a bus this weekend. Shoring up a run defense is priority No. 1 as the Cards take on another Colonial-Schuylkill Red Division adversary.

Northern Lehigh rushed for 408 yards and seven touchdowns – not one Northern Lehigh back gained more than 71 yards – to hand the Cardinals a 61-0 setback. Pine Grove also yielded 110 passing yards and 518 overall.


Conversely, Pine Grove was limited to 43 total yards as Mason Kroh (5-12-0) threw for 64 and the ground game totaled negative-21 yards on 23 attempts.

Lane Lehman picked up 14 yards rushing, but he needed 11 tries, and caught a pair of Kroh passes for 56 yards. Defensively, the junior totaled a team-high eight tackles.

Jim Thorpe (1-3, 1-1) didn’t deal all that well with Palmerton quarterback Matt Machalik, who completed 14 of 26 passes for 305 yards and rushed 21 times for 230 yards and three scores.

No wonder Palmerton celebrated after landing a 54-29 haymaker.

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