Grid greatness: North Schuylkill, Tri- Val­ley win Dis­trict 11 foot­ball cham­pi­onships

Dawgs top Vikes for Class A crown

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEROY BOYER SPORTS ED­I­TOR

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN — The play was sup­posed to be a roll­out pass.

Daulton Leedy had other ideas. See­ing a hole on the right side, the Tri- Val­ley se­nior quar­ter­back tucked the ball un­der his arm and took off. What fol­lowed was the play of Satur­day’s Dis­trict 11 Class A cham­pi­onship game.

Leedy broke a cou­ple of tack­les and scam­pered down the side­line 65 yards to the end zone on the third- and- 6 play, clinch­ing the Dawgs’ 28- 21 vic­tory over Wil­liams Val­ley at Ro­tary Field.

The win gives Tri- Val­ley ( 9- 3) its first Dis­trict 11 Class A crown since 2009 and a date with Dis­trict 2 cham­pion Lack­awanna Trail in the first round of the PIAA playoffs next week­end at a Dis­trict 2 site.

“It was awe­some,” said Leedy as he clutched the Dis­trict 11 tro­phy with both hands. “It was sup­posed to be a roll­out. When I rolled out and I saw how wide open it was, I took off. When I broke a cou­ple of tack­les, I knew I was go­ing to score and give our team a big­ger lead.

“A lot of peo­ple never thought that we’d have a win­ning sea­son,” Leedy con­tin­ued. “Here we are, win­ning a dis­trict cham­pi­onship. It feels amaz­ing.”

Leedy’s big run came just when things seemed to be slip­ping away for the Dawgs.

Tri- Val­ley dom­i­nated the first half, build­ing a 20- 7 lead at in­ter­mis­sion as Leedy com­pleted 7- of- 12 passes for 183 yards and two touch­downs and ran for an­other score.

The Dawgs opened the scor­ing

on a 62- yard bomb from Leedy to Nick Zieg­mont with 14 sec­onds left in the first quar­ter, then Leedy’s 8- yard keeper made it 12- 0 early in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Wil­liams Val­ley sliced the deficit to 12- 7 on Brady Miller’s 1- yard run, but Tri- Val

ley an­swered two plays later on a 38- yard TD pass from Leedy to Chase Herb.

“I saw it coming ... and I knew I had it. I didn’t know if I was go­ing to get to the end zone, but it worked out in my fa­vor and I scored,” Zieg­mont said of his touch­down catch. “It was a sim­ple fade. I knew ( the de­fen­sive back) was go­ing to cut in­side more to­ward the line, and that’s when I got my sepa­ra­tion. I was able to keep that sepa­ra­tion and go up and get it.”

De­fenses dom­i­nated the third quar­ter, as the teams com­bined for only one first down and 27 to­tal yards. Hunter Knorr had a big de­fen­sive stop for Tri- Val­ley on a fourth- and- 1 play near mid­field, while Wil­liams Val

ley’s Jay­den Cruz sacked Leedy for a 6- yard loss later in the frame.

The Dawgs’ de­fen­sive front, which in­cluded Knorr, Kolt Scha­ef­fer, Con­nor O’prey and Nick Parobek and fea­tured key plays by lineback­ers Zieg­mont and Ash­ton Snyder, played well all night.

Mid­way through the fourth, how­ever, Wil­liams Val­ley put to­gether a six- play, 89- yard drive that ended with Miller’s 30- yard TD run. A 24- yard pass from Bryce Herb to Cruz and a 23- yard run by Nick Sav­age set up the touch­down, which sliced Tri- Val­ley’s lead to 20- 14 with 3: 47 left.

A 2- yard loss and a 6- yard pass from Leedy to Nick

Stiely left the Dawgs fac­ing third- and- 6 be­fore Leedy de­liv­ered with his big run. A two- point con­ver­sion pass from Leedy to Zieg­mont made it 28- 14 with 2: 38 left.

Wil­liams Val­ley an­swered Leedy’s score with a 20- yard pass from Bryce Herb to Cruz with 2 min­utes left, but Tri- Val­ley re­cov­ered the on­side kick at­tempt. The Dawgs then ran out the clock af­ter Ike Lucas ran 8 yards for a first down on a thir­dand- 5 play with 1: 49 left.

The vic­tory is Tri- Val­ley’s sixth straight since open­ing the sea­son 3- 3.

“I gave these kids a home­work as­sign­ment last night,” said Tri- Val­ley coach Jeff Samp­son, who won a dis­trict cham­pi­onship for the first time in his 25 years of coach­ing. “Go home and write down two things that we needed to do in­di­vid­u­ally and what we needed to do as a team col­lec­tively to win this foot­ball game. It was col

lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort that we needed to play as a team and com­mu­ni­cate, and that’s what we did tonight.

“First time in 25 years ... this feels good.”

Wil­liams Val­ley ( 9- 3), which was de­nied a third straight dis­trict ti­tle, played with­out se­nior quar­ter­back/ de­fen­sive back Levi En­gle ( col­lapsed lung) and lost sopho­more tight end Jesse En­gle to an an­kle in­jury in the first half.

Still, the Vik­ings rushed for 226 yards, with Nick Sav­age gain­ing 174 yards on 17 car­ries and Miller fin­ish­ing with 71 yards on 22 car­ries.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Wil

liams Val­ley coach Tim Sav­age said. “When they ripped that

long run off and we were down two scores, there’s not many teams that have any faith to come back. My guys came back, went down the field and scored again. We had a shot to get the ball back again, down sev­eral play­ers. I’m proud of the team.”

Leedy fin­ished 9- of- 18 for 199 yards pass­ing and rushed for 125 yards on 18 car­ries. For Tri- Val­ley’s 15 se­niors, it was the Dawgs’ first win over the Vik­ings since they were fresh­men, snapping a fourgame los­ing streak to their back­yard ri­vals.

“This whole thing is a dream come true,” Zieg­mont said. “I never thought it would hap­pen in these four years, but it did.”

DAVID MCKEOWN / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Tri- Val­ley’s Daulton Leedy ( 9) lifts the Dis­trict 11 Class A cham­pi­onship tro­phy into the air af­ter de­feat­ing Wil­liams Val­ley on Satur­day at Ro­tary Field. Join­ing in the cel­e­bra­tion are Kolt Scha­ef­fer ( 53), Tyler Mc­grath ( 12) and Jimmy Di­et­rich ( 28).

DAVID MCKEOWN / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Tri- Val­ley’s Daulton Leedy ( 9) breaks away from Wil­liams Val­ley’s Nick Sav­age ( 30) dur­ing the Dis­trict 11 Class A cham­pi­onship game Satur­day night at Ro­tary Field.

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