Thursday, July 10, 2014





Dawgs getting defensive to lead district title hunt JOHN ERZAR NOTEBOOK


February 19. 2013 5:24PM
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One thing coach George Curry wanted to fix when he returned to Berwick was the defense. The Dawgs had been involved in too many Arena League games, culminating with their 57-46 victory over Southern Lehigh in the Eastern Conference Class 3A title game last season.


Saturday's 28-7 victory over Dallas in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals might be a turning point for the defense.


It would be easy to look at Berwick's two consecutive offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the reasons for victory. Both, though, were set up by a defense that finished with eight sacks, all in the second half.


Berwick led 9-7 in the third quarter when Dallas moved all the way to the Dawgs' 7-yard line. But on second down, defensive end Zach Ladonis recorded an 11-yard sack. Linebacker Tanner Weaver followed with a 9-yard sack on third down.


In two plays, Dallas went from inside the 10 to trying a 41-yard field goal attempt. Will Masteller blocked it to preserve the lead. After the teams exchanged possessions, field position swung Berwick's way and led to a touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter.


Ladonis was at it again on Dallas' possession following the Berwick touchdown. His 15-yard sack on third down pushed the ball back to the 50. Dallas had no choice but to punt on fourth-and-25. He capped Berwick's scoring by returning an interception 13 yards for a score with 45 seconds to play.


Ladonis' touchdown was the fourth defensive TD for Berwick this season. The Dawgs had three defensive scores in the last three regular seasons combined.


Berwick (10-1) has held six opponents to a touchdown or less this season. The defense isn't anywhere near the caliber of those that led to six Class 3A state titles, but it's heading in the right direction. And getting there is half the battle.


FOOTBALL BACK AT SEM

Wyoming Seminary is in the process of bringing back football on the junior varsity level in 2013, with an eye on playing at the varsity level in 2014. Not only that, the Blue Knights will have a new artificial turf field on the site of their current field. It will be turned at a 90-degree angle and run parallel to West Hoyt Street. There will also be an artificial surface soccer field that runs parallel to the football field.


Seminary suspended football prior to the 2011 season after 126 seasons due to the lack of players. The program played at the post-graduate level, but it's unclear if it will return to that status.


More on the return will be in Friday's edition of The Times Leader.


NO ROUGHING

Berwick fans really let the officiating crew hear it after punter Alex Klinger was leveled by a Dallas player as he punted the ball Saturday. They wanted a flag, but none was thrown – and here's why.


I conferred with a veteran official who was at the game as a fan to make sure I had the rule interpreted correctly. Klinger was doing a rugby punt, where the punter takes the snap and runs at an angle toward the line of scrimmage before booting the ball. Once the punter starts running, a roughing the kicker penalty doesn't apply, and he's fair game for the defense.


HAPPENED AGAIN

A few weeks back, I mentioned how a team actually ended up in worse shape after a 5-yard facemask penalty. Well, it happened again in the Dallas at Berwick game.


Dallas quarterback Ryan Zapoticky was sacked for a 15-yard loss on a third-and-10 play, but Berwick was called for an inadvertent facemask penalty. Since it is a spot foul, the 5 yards were marked off from where Zapoticky was tackled. Dallas got to replay the down, but it was now a third-and-20.


Seems like a facemask penalty by the defense behind the line of scrimmage should be marked from where the play started if the outcome is a loss of yardage for the offense.


LOOKING AHEAD

Coaches like to take it one game at a time. Nobody else has to, so here's what is ahead for week 13.


The D2-3A and D2-A champions will stay in the district for their first round state playoff games. The games will be played at a neutral D2 site preferably on artificial surfaces.


If Berwick wins the D2-3A title, a likely site would be Wyoming Valley West with Hazleton Area an outside shot.


If Abington Heights wins it, there could be a problem playing a Friday night game. Scranton Memorial might not be available because Scranton could be hosting the D2/4-11 Class 4A title game. Valley View would be the next logical choice, but then where does the winner of Dunmore at Old Forge D2-A title game play?


There are four other artificial surface fields in the Lackawanna Conference, but only Dunmore's is not an overly long ride.


As for the D2-2A champ – either Wyoming Area or Lakeland – it will be at the District 11 champion. A likely site is J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown. Be forewarned that parking there is terrible and the stadium seats about 8 billion fans on one side and none on the other.


CLASS 4A ON THE FIELD

For the first time since 2005, the final two District 2 Class 4A teams will decide the district championship on the field. Delaware Valley (10-1) will play at Scranton (11-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in a rematch of an Oct. 19 game won by Scranton 34-27.


The last time the final two D2 teams met, Hazleton Area defeated DelVal 42-21.


There have been two instances since 2005 where games between two D2 teams have been technically D2 title games, such as Scranton's 36-7 victory over Wyoming Valley West last year.


Neither the Knights nor the Spartans went into the game knowing it was for the championship. That's because DelVal was playing at D11 Nazareth at the same time in the subregional tournament.


Once DelVal lost, the Scranton at Wyoming Valley West became the title game by default. However, since DelVal's game with Nazareth was over well after Scranton defeated Valley West, the Knights couldn't be honored at the time as district champions.


Times Leader Player of The Week


ZACH LADONIS



DE – Berwick


   Ladonis had two sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown as Berwick defeated Dallas 28-7 in the semifinals of the District 2 Class 3A playoffs.


   Ladonis' first sack for a 11-yard loss came on a second-and-goal from the Berwick 7-yard line. The Mountaineers eventually had the possession end on a blocked field goal.


   Ladonis' 15-yard sack pushed Dallas back to midfield and forced a punt. He finished off the game with a 13-yard interception return for a TD with 45 seconds to play.



Given Consideration


Mike Baur – QB – Wyoming Valley West


Nick O'Brien – QB – Wyoming Area


Tony Politz – RB – Northwest



Past Winners



Week One


Mike Baur – QB – Wyoming Valley West



Week Two


Jay Popson – QB – Crestwood



Week Three


Dustin Jones – RB – Lake-Lehman



Week Four


Derrick Simms – RB – Wyoming Valley West



Week Five


Nick O'Brien – QB – Wyoming Area



Week Six


Lucas Benton – WR/RB – GAR



Week Seven


Nick O'Brien – QB – Wyoming Area



Week Eight


Jimmy Strickland – QB – Holy Redeemer



Week Nine


Ryan Zapoticky – QB – Dallas



Week Ten


Zac Evans – RB – Coughlin





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