GAME OF THE WEEK
LACKAWANNA TRAIL (7-3) AT NORTHWEST (7-3)
Lewis & Miller Stadium, Shickshinny
District 2 Class A championship
Winner plays either Delco Christian or Jenkintown in the District 1-2 subregional championship game.
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE
Lackawanna Trail lost to Old Forge in 2015 District 2 Class A championship game. Northwest lost to Dunmore in the first round of 2015 District 2 Class 2A playoffs.
Lackawanna Trail 35, Northwest 19 (Week 4, 2016)
Lackawanna Trail leads 10-3
Lackawanna Trail 35, Montrose 11 Northwest 49, Tunkhannock 35
For just the second time this season Northwest will play a team in its own classification. And for the second time this season, that opponent is Lackawanna Trail.
In the first meeting, Lackawanna Trail raced out to a 28-13 lead at the half. The Lions rolled up 454 yards of total offense, with 294 coming on the ground.
Thomas Huffsmith ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns, with 163 yards and the two scores coming in the first half.
Since the first meeting, which at the time dropped Northwest to 1-3, the Rangers have put together six consecutive wins. Of those six wins, three could have gone either way. Northwest won one game by six points, another by three and needed a blocked field goal attempt as time expired to beat Meyers by one.
Lackawanna Trail went 4-1 in the second half of the year with the only loss coming to Riverside, 21-18.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Don’t believe everything you see
The key to the Wing-T offense is the guards. Northwest needs to be ready for a lot of misdirection. The guys in the backfield will look to deceive the defense. The offensive linemen know which way the play is going. If Northwest gets caught looking in the backfield too much, advantage Lackawanna Trail.
2. It is all right to Judge
Northwest’s Ezra Judge is the team’s big play maker. He can make the big catch and make the defender miss. He can also run the ball when called upon. Don’t be surprised to see Judge get involved early, with the hopes of being able to open things up for the running game.
3. Be physical, but be smart
The biggest key for the Rangers will be to play a physical style of football. They can’t let the Lions push them around. Playing physical is one thing, playing physical and stupid is another. That means no costly penalties that can help change the field position game in Lackawanna Trail’s favor. The more physical the offensive line plays, the better it will be for Jake Anderson to run the ball.
This is a far different Northwest team playing in Week 11 than it was in Week 4, the last time these two teams squared off.
The Rangers may not have the most talented team in the WVC, but they are one of the most fundamentally sound teams. They typically are in the right place at the right time, and more than ever that is going to need to be the case tonight.
If Lackawanna Trail can get the Wing-T moving, the potential is there for the Rangers to look silly. It’s all going to come down to tackling for Northwest. If they have just one defender at the point of attack trying to tackle the ball carrier around the shoulders, the Lions have the ability to break a big gain and the Northwest defense will be in for a long night.
At the same time, the Rangers can make a big play or two of their own, but are more than content to pound the ball, chew up clock and let the offensive line take over the game. It’s a philosophy that worked seven times this year against teams of higher classification.
And let’s be honest here. Northwest is not a fun place to play. It will be Lackawanna Trail that has to hop on the bus and take the long drive. Expect Rangerville to have an electric atmosphere and the Rangers to feed off it.
Northwest takes the field for a game against Hanover Area earlier this season.