Allen gets chance to show it’s improved
Canaries targeting their 3rd victory for 1st time since 2005
To this point, the 2019 season looks a lot like 2018 for the Allen Canaries.
Last year, they lost to Emmaus in Week 1, defeated Pleasant Valley and East Stroudsburg North to get to 2-1 and then had things go sour. The Canaries lost their last seven games.
The 2019 season has followed the same course, but here’s where they want to flip the script.
Allen hosts Pocono Mountain West at J. Birney Crum Stadium Friday night in an EPC North game some believe is the biggest game the Canaries have played in more than a decade.
Not only can Allen win its third game in a season for the first time since 2005, but George Clay’s team can also show that things are going to be different in west Allentown this time.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest games of my career,” Clay said. “If we can get this one we can really push forward.”
It won’t be easy. Allen has lost eight straight to West since joining the Mountain Valley Conference in 2012, including an Eastern Conference playoff game in 2016. The Panthers defeated the Canaries 56-28 last year and 52-6 in 2017.
“They have dominated us,” Clay said. “They have had our number. We’ve never adjusted to playing early Saturday afternoons up there and leaving at 7 in the morning, but they just have athletes. They’ve been physically stronger. When we’ve had chances to beat them, we’ve made mistakes. One year we lost a chance to win with a fumble on the goal line.”
After losing to Pocono Mountain West in Week 4 last year, the Canaries let their season slip away with six straight losses.
The Canaries believe they are too good to allow that to happen again, but need to prove it to others as well as themselves.
“This won’t make or break this season, but it could be a big help,” Clay said.
Allen suffered several injuries to several key players last week, but the Canaries feel they have enough depth to withstand those losses.
“We’re banged up and we changed our game plan to adjust to it,” Clay said. “We’re relying on backups at some key positions. The nice thing is that this year one person is replacing one person. In other years, we’d have to move three kids around to fill one spot. It’s just a matter of how these kids respond and perform.”
Clay, who is a security guard at Allen, said there’s been a buzz in the building all week. He also hears it out in the community.
The Canaries haven’t just won two straight games, but they have scored 101 points in the two wins and 134 overall. Only two teams in District 11 have scored more — Easton and Emmaus.
“People are talking to our kids and they know this is a big game,” Clay said. “They are trying to stay focused and take care of business.”
While Allen is 2-1 for a second straight year, Pocono Mountain West is 0-3 for the seventh straight year due to a top heavy schedule.
Jim McCarroll, the only coach the school has ever had, doesn’t make excuses. His team continues to grind. Last year, West turned an 0-3 mark into a four-win season that nearly put it in the District 11 6A playoffs.
His team has its own injury woes. Star running back Kaleb Monaco ran for 1,754 yards last year, but has been slowed by a nagging hamstring injury. McCarroll said he’ll be a “game time decision.”
“We have to make the best of it,” McCarroll said. “I think we’re still a very good football team. We battled Easton and East Stroudsburg South tough and lost a heartbreaker to Stroudsburg last week. We’ve got to find ways to win …”
McCarroll said he has a number of playmakers on offense led by quarterback Lawson Bray and said the defense has been solid.
“We have to make some breaks for ourselves,” McCarroll said. “We’ve struggled in the red zone. We’ve got to find a way to score points when we’re down there. We have to take advantage of the opportunities when we get there.”
McCarroll respects Allen and Clay.
“This is a good football team and one of the best Allen teams we’ve faced,” McCarroll said. “They don’t do a lot of fancy things. They just come right at you on offense and get to the ball on defense. I told our guys, we can’t take them lightly. They have a lot of momentum.”
Allen will pick up its third win if it can beat Pocono Mountain West on Friday night.