Down by six, ball on its 6-yard line, 1:56 to play.
Quarterback Josh Sayre gets Lake-Lehman out of the hole with a 34-yard strike down the left sideline to Joey Vigil. Then he connects for 21 yards on a slant to tight end Tyler Long. A pass interference penalty follows, putting the ball at the Old Forge 21 with 57 seconds left.
Two plays later, it was over. Old Forge linebacker Shane Schuback, an all-state pick last year, makes a perfect break on a pass. Interception. Old Forge hangs on 13-7.
“It was a game that would’ve put us on the map,” Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky said.
Lehman has always been on the map … as the football program next door to highly successful rival Dallas. And a victory at Class A power Old Forge would have brought some legitimacy to those preseason accolades heaped on the Black Knights, who are considered the Wyoming Valley Conference’s best hope for a District 2 Class 2A title.
But one loss shouldn’t define a season. There are nine more games to go before the postseason begins. The Black Knights need to digest what Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said after Saturday’s 35-7 loss to Scranton Prep.
“You look at last year’s team, we started 1-2,” Spencer said.
Wyoming Area, a preseason favorite for the D2-2A crown in 2012, rebounded to win the district title and make its first state appearance since 2003.
History just might find a way of repeating itself. Time will tell.
The artificial turf at Scranton Memorial Stadium looks fine from a distance, but up close it’s just about had it.
The hash marks and yard lines are worn out pretty badly. A Wyoming Area assistant said after Saturday afternoon’s game there were areas where you can lift up the turf and stick your hand under.
He wasn’t exaggerating. While I didn’t inspect every inch, I found a spot around the 20-yard line on the scoreboard end of the field where I could stick my foot under the turf because a seam separated.
The life of these fake grass fields is about 10 years, give or take. The turf at Scranton Memorial has been there since at least 2003 and gets heavy use. Three high school football teams plus the NEPA Miners use it. And that’s just the start of the list.
SAY MY NAME
Lake-Lehman sophomore wingback Joey Vigil better get used to his name being mispronounced. The stadium announcer at Old Forge was saying it like it’s spelled in the first half, but his last name is actually pronounced Vee-hill.
Obviously, someone told the announcer because Vigil’s name was announced correctly in the second half. After last Friday’s game, Vigil is on the way to making a name for himself. He rushed 13 times for 140 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 45 yards.
Three things that were expected and unexpected that happened in Week 1.
∙ Coughlin using fullback Paul Cole more as a runner in the 18-13 victory over Tunkhannock. Cole rushed 17 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns. All three were career highs for the senior who looks like he has spent plenty of time in the weight room.
∙ Hazleton Area being unable to stop Scranton running back Jake McCarthy, who rushed for 232 yards and three TDs in the 45-29 victory over the Cougars. McCarthy, a junior who has verbally committed to play baseball at Virginia, is the premier back in District 2.
∙ Dallas and Wyoming Area to struggle in their openers. Dallas lost 40-0 to Wyoming Valley West, and Wyoming Area fell hard to Scranton Prep 35-7. Both perennial playoff teams were gouge by graduation and could find it difficult to make the postseason.
∙ Williamsport running back Isaac Foust to rush for 186 yards and two TDs in a 24-21 victory over Central Mountain. Williamsport lost three-time 1,000-yard rusher Devin Miller to graduation, and Foust rushed just three times for 7 yards in 2012.
∙ Holy Redeemer to pass block well. Quarterback Jimmy Strickland was sacked only twice against Northwest, one being the coverage variety. But for the most part, Redeemer’s line did a nice job against some big fellas from Northwest.
∙ Hanover Area’s defense to shut down Mid Valley. The Hawkeyes allowed just 94 yards to the Spartans in their 12-7 victory. The only Mid Valley touchdown came via kick return. That’s a heck of an effort from a team that surrendered 346 yards and 34.4 points per game last year.
Berwick and Wyoming Area had key players go down to injuries the first week.
Berwick junior lineman Mason Vandermark left the game after the second play against Crestwood, apparently breaking his fibula and dislocating his ankle while pursuing Frank Aigeldinger on a wildcat run toward the sideline.
Wyoming junior running back Marty Michaels hurt his right knee on a 3-yard run late in the second quarter against Scranton Prep. Michaels, who has contributed to the varsity since his freshman year, is also a key member of the defense as a linebacker and nose guard.
Berwick receiver Andrew Force is glad to see Dain Kowalski, a transfer from Central Columbia, in the backfield. Kowalski starred at Central Columbia last year and fills the void left by the graduated Matt Cashman, who rushed for over 1,300 yards in 2012.
“It’s awesome having Dain come over from Central Columbia. He can do so many things for you. He’s a dangerous runner who can go inside, break one outside, cutback, break tackles. He plays defensive back, covers well and is a good tackler. When you have someone like him join your team, you definitely are better than you were without him.”
Hanover Area and Williamsport entered the season with the WVC’s longest losing streaks. Both had lost 12 in a row before winning their openers.
Hazleton Area now holds the longest losing streak in the WVC with seven consecutive losses.
The longest losing streak in District 2 resides in the Lackawanna Conference. North Pocono has lost 23 in a row. The Trojans’ last victory was 20-3 against Valley View on Oct. 5, 2010.