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Venue won’t af­fect Notre Dame’s ri­valry with South­ern Le­high

The Morning Call - - VARSITY - By Keith Groller Keith Groller can be reached at 610-820-6740 or at [email protected]

One of the Colo­nial League’s best football ri­val­ries heads to un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory Fri­day night.

The Notre Dame-South­ern Le­high game, a bat­tle of two of the league’s three un­beat­ens, will be played at Quak­er­town’s Alumni Field due to South­ern Le­high’s home field be­ing re­stored.

To the play­ers and coaches in­volved, this one could be played in one of the park­ing lots of Quak­er­town’s numer­ous fast­food restau­rants and it would still be well-played and com­pet­i­tive.

“I’m happy it’s on [syn­thetic] turf and I re­ally don’t care oth­er­wise where it’s at,” Notre Dame coach Phil Stam­baugh said. “It’s good for us to get these types of games in be­cause when you get to the end of the year they tell you where to go. You just have to show up and take care of busi­ness. The kids have bought into it. They’re prob­a­bly ex­cited just to be play­ing on turf.”

South­ern Le­high coach John To­man isn’t con­cerned about it ei­ther.

“We’re only half­way through our West Coast road trip,” kid­ded To­man in not­ing his team has yet to be on its reg­u­lar field. “We have Ban­gor next week and we’ll be back here the next week against Pal­isades. At least that’s the goal.”

The more im­por­tant goal for To­man and Co. is to get to 3-0. To do it they will have to slow down a Notre Dame team sec­ond in District 11 in scor­ing (be­hind Pine Grove) at 49 points per game.

Cole DeFranco’s grad­u­a­tion hasn’t di­min­ished the Cru­saders of­fense. Sopho­more Collin Quin­tana has put up DeFran­co­l­ike num­bers in his first two starts, com­plet­ing two-thirds of his passes for 496 yards, seven touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion in 60 at­tempts.

Matt Frauen Jr. and Chris­tian Greggo have com­bined for 325 yards rush­ing de­spite sit­ting out a big chunk of the Cru­saders’ 56-7 rout of Ban­gor.

“No Cole DeFranco but they do the same stuff,” To­man said. “Their de­fense has im­proved from last year, but Phil does what he does and we have to stop it.”

While sum­mer of­fi­cially has two weeks left, both coaches know the win­ner of this one could end up as the last Colo­nial League champ with a new con­fig­u­ra­tion to start next year with the Schuylkill League in­volved.

Notre Dame doesn’t play North­ern Le­high, the only other Colo­nial un­beaten, and will be fa­vored against the re­main­der of its seven op­po­nents.

South­ern Le­high plays at North­ern Le­high Sept. 27 and hosts North­west­ern Le­high Oct. 4, but might not a face another team as strong as Notre Dame un­til the District 2-11 Class 5A sub-re­gional in Novem­ber.

The Spar­tans haven’t for­got­ten last year’s 31-28 over­time loss at Notre Dame when To­man felt time should have been put back on the clock at the end of reg­u­la­tion as the Spar­tans tried to line up for a game-win­ning field goal and Notre Dame jumped off­sides.

South­ern Le­high’s re­ac­tion to the of­fi­cials’ de­ci­sion re­sulted in a 15-yard un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty that car­ried into the over­time and af­fected the Spar­tans’ lone pos­ses­sion in OT.

In­stead of South­ern Le­high get­ting the de­cid­ing field goal, the Cru­saders’ Alex Gar­rido kicked the game-win­ner.

“We had that de­ba­cle at the end of the game and that is­sue with the of­fi­cials, but we felt like we had con­trol of the game and let it slip away,” To­man said, not­ing his team had a 28-13 lead.

It was just the lat­est in a stretch of close fin­ishes be­tween the two.

South­ern Le­high won 28-27 in 2017. Notre Dame pre­vailed 40-35 in 2016.

“It’s go­ing to be another good game,” Stam­baugh said. “It’s good to have a game like this be­cause our league does pre­pare you for the playoffs. We know South­ern Le­high has changed their ap­proach since [Logan] Ed­mond grad­u­ated and they’re go­ing heav­ier with the run. They’re all se­niors this year, even though some of them haven’t played a lot. So, it’s a chal­lenge.”

The big­gest chal­lenge will be slow­ing down Asher Smith, who had 28 car­ries for 216 yards and three touch­downs in a 27-12 win vs. Palmer­ton af­ter rush­ing for 161 yards and four scores against Sau­con Val­ley in Week 1.

“We have the whole line back and we’re lean­ing on them a lit­tle more with a first-year quar­ter­back [Noah Vo­geler],” To­man said. “But Noah has been very ef­fi­cient in com­plet­ing the passes we’ve asked him to throw. But our phi­los­o­phy this year has been if we don’t have to throw it, why throw it?”

Toss-up cen­tral

Four other games in the Colo­nial League fig­ure to be close ones in ad­di­tion to Notre Dame-South­ern Le­high.

North­ern Le­high-Ban­gor, Catasauqua-Pen Ar­gyl, Sau­con Val­ley-Palmer­ton and Wil­son Sal­is­bury could all be tight.

If Wil­son’s game at Sal­is­bury is close, the War­riors should be ready since their first two games have been de­cided by a to­tal of seven points and fea­tured gamede­cid­ing scores in the fi­nal minute.

“We’ve got to fig­ure out a way to put a whole game to­gether and elim­i­nate turnovers,” War­riors coach Chris La­batch said. “The one thing I’ve learned with this team in two games is they don’t quit. They’ll fight for 48 min­utes and that’s what we’re preach­ing.”

In Sal­is­bury, La­batch said he sees a team with a lot of speed.

“That’s some­thing we haven’t seen,” he said. “We’ve seen two teams so far that would rather line up and punch you in the mouth for four quar­ters. Sal­is­bury is a real good team that will test our de­fense.”

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

South­ern Le­high will bat­tle Notre Dame-Green Pond again Fri­day, this time at Quak­er­town as South­ern Le­high’s home field is re­stored.

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