North Pocono gridders undefeated heading into showdown with Scranton
Things have been rolling along splendidly for North Pocono’s varsity football team so far this season.
In spite of a big depletion of experienced hands from last year, those that remain on the defending District Two AAAA championship have certainly stepped up their game.
Two weeks into the schedule and the Trojans had already posted a pair of Lackawanna Football Conference wins.
The local lads ran wild over Riverside during Week 1, winning 42-19 and then assaulted Abington Heights in Week Two by claiming a 44-13 decision. Week Three pitted the Trojans against a visiting Wallenpaupack.
At 1-1, the Buckhorns, still a relatively young, but tested crew, were looking to go ahead in their tally.
However, North Pocono was looking to preserve its unbeaten status … and the Trojans came to play!
Things got off with a bang in the battle with the Buckhorns.
Early in the opening stanza, Mike Ingulli made a 9-yard run into the NP end zone and Zach Maldacker followed that up with a 1-point kick to give Paupack a 7-0 lead with 10:26 to go.
Trojan frowns turned upside down almost immediately when JC Gaughan broke free for a 93-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, taking it to The House.
Coach Greg Dohlon decided to go for two after the touchdown and got the conversion on a pass from Donny Blaine to Brett Butler. With 10:12 left in the quarter, North Pocono now led 8-7.
The Trojans would strike again less than a minute later after they gained possession off their own kickoff. Blaine connected with Dan Walsh for 32-yards and another trip into the end zone.
The 2-point attempt was no good, but now NP was up 14-7.
Paupack closed the gap slightly with 2:27 to go in the quarter when Maldacker split the posts on a 27-yard field goal and cut the North Pocono lead to 14-10.
The Trojans were knocking on the door again when the first quarter ended. The teams swapped sides and on the next play, Walsh, inside the end zone, caught a 13-yard toss from Blaine.
Another two-point conversion didn’t work out, but with 11:54 to go in the half, the home team took a 20-10 lead.
Later, Blaine brought it in on a one-yard run then found Walsh on the passing conversion with 7:56 remaining in the half.
As the two squads headed to the lockerrooms for intermission, the Trojans were in command, 28-10.
Strong NP defense gave Paupack a hard time making first downs in the opening half.
Defensively, the Buckhorns rallied in the early second half, but still weren’t able to catch a break offensively.
With 5:16 to go in the third, Dale Morris picked off Paupack quarterback Tom McCormack’s pass and ran it back against the Buckhorns for 65-yards and another Trojans TD.
Now up 34-10, North Pocono would post no more points for the remainder of the match while a late fourth quarter touchdown by McCormack and good PAT by Maldacker added some more points for the Bucks.
Things would end with North Pocono claiming the 34-17 win and extending their streak to 3-0.
That’s All Folks
“We were very fortunate to make some big plays, Wallenpaupack is really a bear to run against,” said Coach Dolhon.
“We know we’d have a hard time running the ball so we knew we had to make passing plays, stay strong defensively, and do well on special teams.”
The Trojans skipper extolled the Blaine-Walsh battery and praised Morris and Gaughan as well for their exemplary efforts on the gridiron.
While it’s still too early in the season for Dohlon to notice a new dynamic in the team, he did comment that he feels the offense may be more explosive than last year’s. That is evident.
Where Wallenpaupack struggled throughout the night to make first downs, it seemed as though North Pocono rarely needed one. Rare was a “fourth and…” situation for the Trojan offense. Blaine, even under pressure, was hardly fazed and seemed to find multiple options at every turn.
This week the stakes go up. The local lads travel to Memorial Stadium to face Scranton, also 3-0.
While the Knights, too, have posted some big offensive plays, defensively they’ve yielded a lot of points. That could be the chink in the armor that North Pocono will look to exploit.