Battle in trenches
The first Bethlehem rivalry matchup of the 2019 season could come down to play by the young lines
Jared Jenkins played in a District 11 final as a sophomore. He won a share of the EPC South title and a District 11 Class 6A championship as a junior. Jenkins still has a hole in his football resume — a Bethlehem city championship. He can take the first step toward filling that void Friday when Freedom (1-0 overall) hosts Bethlehem Catholic (1-0) in the EPC South’s marquee Week 2 matchup.
Jenkins, a senior quarterback, and the Patriots have had the chance to win a city title each of the past two seasons. Both years they beat Bethlehem Catholic only to lose to Liberty in their regularseason finale.
Jenkins’ final regular-season matchup with Liberty — the Patriots and Hurricanes play Oct. 26 — won’t come with a city-championship opportunity unless he leads Freedom to another win over the Golden Hawks. The Patriots won a 38-35 shootout in 2017 before rolling to a 37-20
win last season.
“A rivalry game is always going to be tough,” Jenkins said. “But we really want this, and I think we are going to go out and get the ‘W’ this week.”
Jenkins’ confidence grew last week after his rebuilt offensive line played well in its season debut. Freedom ran just 22 offensive plays with its first-team offense against East Stroudsburg North. The starting Patriots earned an early rest by rolling to a 58-0 win.
Sophomore Braelin Moore, junior Marcus Kreidler and sophomore Juan Felicano are first-year starters up front. They teamed with returning starters Kaden Moore and Jacob Schwind to give Jenkins enough time to complete seven of eight passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns in his short stint.
“We’re really excited about that group up front,” Freedom coach Jason Roeder said. “They move well. They’re really athletic kids, and they all put the time in in the weight room. We understand it’s a work in progress, but we’re really happy with what we think we could have there.”
Like Freedom, the Golden Hawks performed well up front in Week 1. Bethlehem Catholic’s O-line cleared space for Tavion Banks and Malik Thomas to combine for 204 yards and six touchdowns on just 13 carries in a 48-7 win over Dieruff.
Bethlehem Catholic hopes to have its full offensive line intact this week. Golden Hawks coach Joe Henrich said sophomore Justin Kanyuk should play Friday after missing the Dieruff game.
Last week gave Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic’s new linemen the taste of starting in a varsity game. Roeder and Henrich are eager to see how those players perform in a spotlight matchup.
“That’s what does make it intriguing and
always makes these games fun,” Henrich said. “I do know this — [the Patriots are] going to be a physical group regardless of who they’ve got in there. That’s the way that they’re coached, and it’s always been that way in our games.”
The Central Catholic and Parkland coaching staffs feature ties aplenty.
Central Catholic assistant Jim Morgans won big as the head coach at both schools. Central Catholic offensive line coach Paul Hagadus, Parkland offensive coordinator Chris Kinane and Central Catholic coach Tim McGorry also have spent time with both programs.
While McGorry liked the way Central Catholic played on the defensive line in Saturday’s 21-7 win over Stroudsburg, he and his staff know Parkland will bring a stiffer challenge.
“We’ve been in the weight room since I got there in February,” McGorry said. “Parkland’s been in the weight room for years. You can see the difference right there. Their physicality — they’re strong, and they bully you around.”
Central Catholic’s biggest challenge will be handling Parkland’s front seven on defense. The Vikings committed numerous mental errors on the offensive line against Stroudsburg, hindering their production. They cannot afford a repeat to stay with the Trojans.
“We’re going to have to play a really clean game, and have to step it up from a physicality standpoint,” McGorry said. “That’s just the nature of playing Parkland.”
Scouring the South
■ Emmaus will be without injured left tackle Justin Roman for a few weeks. James Santichen started at left tackle against Allen and will stay there Friday against Nazareth.
“He’s doing a very nice job so far,” Emmaus coach Harold Fairclough said.
■ Bethlehem Catholic moved from No. 4 to No. 3 in Class 4A in this week’s Pennlive state rankings. Freedom stayed at No. 6 in Class 6A.
Freedom’s Kaden Moore is one of the few experienced linemen who will take the field Friday when the Patriots face Bethlehem Catholic.