Thursday, July 10, 2014





Dallas’ offensive tinkering could pay off next season


October 17. 2013 1:31AM

By - jerzar@civitasmedia.com






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Dallas may be on to something. Granted, it won’t be enough to salvage this season, but it could be a big boost heading into next year.


Through the first five games this season, Dallas had scored just two touchdowns. So the stagnation resulted in change two weeks ago against Pittston Area. Dallas inserted sophomore Matt Harrison at quarterback and moved junior quarterback Justin Mucha to sort of a slash role on offense.


The losses kept coming — two more to drop Dallas to 0-7 — but the offense is showing some energy. Harrison has connected on 21-of-39 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns in losses to Pittston Area 21-17 and Hazleton Area 13-7.


And Harrison’s favorite receiver is the guy he replaced behind center. Mucha is thriving as a pass catcher. He has 12 catches for 242 yards and two TDs in the last two games. He leads the Mountaineers in all three categories despite playing only two games away from quarterback.


“Can’t say enough about Justin,” Dallas coach Bob Zaruta said. “He’s a playmaker. He’s an athlete. No matter how tired he is, he tries to find that spark for the team.”


The duo hooked up for a 30-yard TD pass just before halftime against Hazleton Area on a perfect stop-and-go pattern. Just as Mucha hesitated before zipping down the right sideline, Harrison made a shoulder fake. The cornerback bit on both moves.


Harrison looked comfortable in only his second varsity start. He made only two obvious ill-advised throws in his 24 attempts against Hazleton Area. He got away with one when Mucha jumped through double coverage to make a reception. The other was into triple coverage and resulted in an interception.


The growing pains, Zaruta believes, will dissipate in time.


“Matt is coming along nicely,” Zaruta said. “It was his second game only, and he’s going to have his mistakes as a young quarterback. We’re excited about him. He has potential, he has good field awareness and he knows how to use his feet. He has a nice strong arm.”


Harrison and Mucha will be back next year as will the majority of the starters. Dallas started the season with over half its roster never playing at the varsity level and uses only three or four seniors on a regular basis.


“We get better every week,” Zaruta said, “but we just haven’t found how to win as a team. If we can find that recipe and we can get a win, we think we could put a couple together. We are getting better as a football team.”


DALLAS-LEHMAN CHANGED


The day and time of the Dallas at Lake-Lehman game on the final weekend of the regular season has been changed.


The game will be 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. The game was originally slated for 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.


THE LAST TIME?


Wyoming Area running back Jeff Skursky scored with 35 seconds left Saturday night gave the Warriors a 14-8 victory over Meyers. Had the Mohawks kept the Warriors out of the end zone, they would have won the game without scoring a touchdown on either offense or defense. Their lone TD came on an 85-yard punt return by Raheem Twyman.


So if Meyers had held on, when would have been the last time a Wyoming Valley Conference team won without an offensive or defensive touchdown? Well, without spending hours researching the subject, the best guess would be Berwick’s 3-0 victory over Abington Heights in the 2008 District 2 Class 3A title game.


GOING UP?


According to two Wyoming Area officials, there is an excellent chance the Warriors will jump from Class 2A to Class 3A for the 2014 and 2015 football seasons. Both cited a very large freshmen class that will likely push the school to 3A.


Wyoming Area has always been a school teetering on the cutoff line. The program has been either a big 2A school or small 3A school throughout recent years. The Warriors were five male students short of being 3A in 2011 and 2002.


Northwest could also be moving up from Class A to 2A. It was right on the cutoff line for the classifications.


The PIAA will release sports classifications for the next two-year cycle in late November or early Decemeber.


STRANGE PENALTY


Never seen this before. Dallas was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct because … get this … an official ran into a photographer on the sideline Saturday afternoon.


First a disclaimer. The photographer wasn’t from either Wilkes-Barre newspaper. Here’s what happened.


Hazleton Area was attempting a pass down the Dallas sideline. As the official was running to cover the play, he ran into the photographer, who was inside the 2-yard zone along the sideline where no one is permitted to stand. This area, which is usually marked off by a broken line, is prohibited to give the officiating crew room to maneuver (although every high school coaching staff violates the zone).


After everything was sorted out, Dallas coach Bob Zaruta went over to two photographers on his sidelines (the Wilkes-Barre newspaper guys, the guilty fella booked out of there) and explained the penalty was actually assessed to him. And if it occurred again, he would be ejected. And an ejection would mean an automatic suspension from the next game.


Hope the picture came out well.


E.C. UPDATE


Received the first scribbling of the year from the Eastern Conference. And scribbling it is as the Eastern Conference standings are handwritten like a manifesto from a madman.


Here is the breakdown of the four classifications. Teams must have at least five wins to make the playoffs:


Class 4A: With Wyoming Valley West (6-1) and Scranton (5-2) in position for spots in the subregional with District 11, Delaware Valley (4-3) is the only District 2 team in position for an Eastern Conference berth.


Class 3A: Berwick (7-0), Scranton Prep (7-0), Abington Heights (6-1) and Crestwood (6-1) are the top four teams in the D2-3A standings. Coughlin (6-1) is fifth and would lock up an Eastern Conference spot with one more win based on most of the other teams seeking an E.C. berth having four losses already.


However, Coughlin is only 10 state points behind Crestwood and 20 behind Abington for a district berth. The odd team out of the three will end up in the Eastern Conference tourney.


Class 2A: The top four teams in the Central Division are in position for district playoff berths. That group includes Hanover Area (4-3). Next in line are Wyoming Area (3-4) and Nanticoke (2-5). But if neither gets a D2-2A playoff spot and doesn’t reach five victories, the Central berth will go to a team in another division that meets the criteria of five wins.


Class A: No District 2 team will be involved in the Eastern Conference. District 2 will be a four-team playoff while the two other D2-A teams will be done after Week 10.


1,000-YARD CLUB


Crestwood’s Frank Aigeldinger, Coughlin’s Paul Cole and Lake-Lehman’s Dustin Jones all reached 1,000 yards rushing last week, joining Northwest’s Austin Mazonkey who did the same a week early. Six players reached 1,000 yards last year, including Jones.


Meyers quarterback Matt DeMarco should be the next to join. He has 921 yards entering Friday’s game with Northwest.


0-YARD CLUB


Lake-Lehman and Wyoming Area won last weekend without passing for any yards. It was the third time Lehman had no passing yards in a game and the second time Wyoming Area had. When the two teams played in Week 3, neither passed for any yardage.


Crestwood has also recorded zero yards passing in two games. Teams that pass for no yards this season in a game are 5-2.




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