Allen gets chance to show it’s im­proved

Ca­naries targeting their 3rd vic­tory for 1st time since 2005

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Keith Groller Morn­ing Call re­porter Keith Groller can be reached at 610820-6740 or at [email protected]

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.”

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

Allen will pick up its third win if it can beat Po­cono Moun­tain West on Fri­day night.

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