Cava­liers aim­ing for ti­tle

Win could open path for ESS to win di­vi­sion

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

Matt Wal­ters played at East Strouds­burg South, went to East Strouds­burg Univer­sity and spent six sea­sons at South as an as­sis­tant coach be­fore be­com­ing the Cava­liers head coach this sea­son.

Wal­ters is as in­grained in Mon­roe County foot­ball as any­one.

But be­cause Wal­ters also coached for one sea­son on Mark Scisly’s staff at Northamp­ton in 2015, he has a unique per­spec­tive on Le­high Val­ley foot­ball and has great re­spect for the brand of foot­ball played by the big schools in Le­high and Northamp­ton county.

That’s why Wal­ters, who re­mains an ele­men­tary school phys ed teacher in the Northamp­ton School Dis­trict, is ex­cited to re­turn to the Le­high Val­ley Fri­day night in the big­gest game of his brief coach­ing ca­reer and ar­guably the big­gest of 2019 East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Con­fer­ence North sea­son.

The un­beaten Cava­liers visit Northamp­ton at 7 p.m. Fri­day with the di­vi­sion ti­tle on the line.

“We’re go­ing down Route 33 to play a Le­high Val­ley team and we em­brace how good Le­high Val­ley foot­ball is,” Wal­ters said. “We un­der­stand how good Le­high Val­ley foot­ball is. You try to take bits and pieces of what they do and take a lit­tle bit of their cul­ture and use it with your own pro­gram.”

With this be­ing the sixth sea­son of the EPC and its two-di­vi­sion sys­tem in foot­ball, the North-South num­bers re­main lop­sided.

En­ter­ing this sea­son, the South was 88-12 in cross-di­vi­sion games in­clud­ing play­offs.

So far this year, the South is 12-1 against the North with the lone North win com­ing from Wal­ters’ Cava­liers with a Week 1 vic­tory over White­hall.

“The facts don’t lie, the num­bers don’t lie,” Wal­ters said. “The South is beat­ing the North by a large mar­gin and a lot of them are mercy-rule games. There are teams up here who can’t play a JV game. In­stead of find­ing ex­cuses for it, my ap­proach is to find a rea­son to get the num­bers changed and get to a level where we can even­tu­ally com­pete with the teams down there.”

Wal­ters said he learned a lot from his one sea­son coach­ing the re­ceivers and de­fen­sive backs at Northamp­ton in the EPC South and saw what it takes to com­pete at the high­est level.

He re­mains proud to be a teacher in the Northamp­ton School Dis­trict and while he didn’t coach any of the cur­rent Konkrete Kids, he has great re­spect for the school and pro­gram.

“The Northamp­ton com­mu­nity is spe­cial and they have so many great peo­ple in ad­min­is­tra­tion, fac­ulty and the stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers,” Wal­ters said. “I smile ev­ery morn­ing walk­ing into my build­ing. Come Fri­day night, when the clock has all ze­roes, I hope can make both com­mu­ni­ties proud be­cause I wear orange and black dur­ing the day and the pur­ple and white at night. “

South fea­tures the top rusher in the di­vi­sion in Chris­tian Ar­ring­ton and the No. 1 re­ceiver in Evan Roche. The Cava­liers will get back start­ing quar­ter­back Will Fish af­ter he missed the team’s win over Allen with an in­jury.

“Of­fen­sively, I don’t know if you can stop them; you just hope to slow them down and try to min­i­mize their big plays,” Northamp­ton coach Kyle Haas said. “We’re go­ing to have to play our most com­plete game of the sea­son. We’ve done good things. We just haven’t done them on a con­sis­tent ba­sis.”

Some­thing to prove: This is Northamp­ton’s sec­ond year in the North Di­vi­sion.

Much like Allen and Dieruff leav­ing the Le­high Val­ley Con­fer­ence for the Moun­tain Val­ley Con­fer­ence for the 2012 sea­son, the Konkrete Kids of­fered to go to the North to seek a more com­pet­i­tive sit­u­a­tion af­ter go­ing 0-32 against South teams in four sea­sons as a South mem­ber.

Northamp­ton has not beaten a cur­rent mem­ber of the EPC South since a 35-6 win over Beth­le­hem Catholic in the fourth game of the 2012 sea­son.

A win over South wouldn’t end the los­ing streak against the EPC South, but it would show the K-Kids are ca­pa­ble of win­ning a cham­pi­onship-cal­iber game.

Northamp­ton was in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion last year when it won five straight en­ter­ing a show­down against Strouds­burg. The Kids led 7-0 at half­time and 14-7 in the third quar­ter but gave up four straight touch­downs in a 34-26 loss. The Moun­ties went on to win the EPC North.

“Be­ing in our sec­ond year, the one thing we now have we didn’t have last year is his­tory,” Haas said. “We can draw back on things that hap­pened to us and we can learn from them and build on them. We’ve talked about the Strouds­burg game and how we were in the same sit­u­a­tion and didn’t get it done. This is another op­por­tu­nity.”

Haas knows that it fig­ures to be one of the big­gest nights for Northamp­ton in years, espe­cially with two cham­pi­onship teams be­ing hon­ored at half­time.

“Every­body un­der­stands what’s at stake,” Haas said. “A lot of peo­ple will be com­ing to this game who haven’t seen a Northamp­ton game in awhile. It’s the kind of game that you’re in­volved in this game for. The kids have worked hard for this mo­ment.”

Sec­ond half scene-set­ting: Here are the five big­gest games left in the EPC North reg­u­lar sea­son:

■ Week 6, ES South at Northamp­ton, Fri­day: With a win here, the Cava­liers could clear space in the school tro­phy case for EPC North crown.

■ Week 7, Bec­ahi at E.S. South, Oct. 4: Another chance for an EPC North team to beat an EPC South team.

■ Week 8, Allen at Northamp­ton, Oct. 11: Ex­pect a lot of points from two of the area’s most ath­letic teams.

■ Week 10, Northamp­ton at White­hall, Oct. 25: Is this where the long K-Kids’ los­ing streak against EPC South teams comes to an end?

■ Allen at Dieruff, Oct. 26: It’s the 60-year an­niver­sary for this ri­valry and both sides hope this it’s more than a bat­tle of two-win teams look­ing to end the sea­son on a high note.

KRIS­TEN HAR­RI­SON/THE MORN­ING CALL

Coach Kyle Haas and Northamp­ton have chance to make a state­ment against East Strouds­burg South on Fri­day.

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