Panther Pregame Football Focus: Saucon Valley @ Notre Dame (Brought to You by Braveheart Highland Pub)

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The Panthers take the field

The Panthers take the field .

The Panthers take the field .

It will be a CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT! The 7-1 Saucon Valley Panthers travel to the 7-1 Notre Dame (Green Pond) Crusaders Friday. Last year both teams met Week 9 when they were both undefeated. The Panthers won a nail-biter. This year, even though each team has a loss, the stakes remain the same. The 2016 Colonial League title is on the line. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the Colonial League championship.

Things Worth Watching:

Saucon Valley Panthers

Saucon Valley Panthers

When the Panthers have the ball…

Offensively, the Panthers put up some real good numbers. Junior Zach “Lightning” Petiet has been nothing short of remarkable. He stepped in for the injured Nate Kehs and has delivered. Petiet has rushed 122 times for 993 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averages 8 yards per carry and is a threat to hit the end zone anytime he touches the football. Petiet has been awesome and the rumor mill has it that Nate Kehs (#32) may be back in some capacity after a significant lower body injury. It will be bad news for Notre Dame if Kehs is back.

Senior quarterback Brandon Holub has been impressive as well. Holub certainly lives up to his “dual-threat” label, as he has accounted for almost 1,000 yards of offense and 13 touchdowns. Holub has thrown for 663 yards and 9 TDs while rushing for 303 yards and 4 TDs. The Panther signal-caller averages over 5 yards per carry. He is an offensive weapon the Crusaders will have to account for.

When Holub throws it is likely he is looking Alstan Wolfe’s way. Wolfe (#5) has 20 catches for 443 yards and 8 touchdowns. He averages 22 yards per catch and is also a threat to take it to the house on any given play. Wolfe is also a dangerous punt returner.

Of course, we need to throw some slop the Hogs’ way. Not only are these guys big, but they are athletic. In addition, they can play with a downright nasty disposition. I can’t imagine the Hogs will be in good moods with the Crusaders milling about their trough. I believe we are going to see something special from the efforts of these porkers. Stephen Good (#65), Ryan Meyers (#74), Trey Polak (#75), Cody Zrinski (#76) and Tim Weaver (#77) add up to over 1,200 pounds of venomous spite looking to defend their Panther pride from the Crusaders.

With all these pieces of the SV offensive puzzle coming together we see that they average 37 points per game. Notre Dame with their base 4-4 defense only allows 17 points per contest with a couple of shut-outs. The Crusaders will sometimes press one or two of their outside linebackers tight, giving the look of a 5 or 6 man front. Coach Sams feels as though “we will probably see eight crazy guys in the box and they will be coming from everywhere.”

If the Hogs can body-up on the Crusaders front and catch the blitzers, look for “Lightning” to strike and Holub to “pop” the line of scrimmage and create decent chunks of positive yardage. The big plays will not come with as much frequency as they have the past few weeks, but the Panther offense should score their share of points tonight.

When the Crusaders have the ball…

Notre Dame Green Pond

Notre Dame Green Pond

The Crusaders run a variety of spread looks: 3×1, 2×2, empty sets, 4×1. Bubbles, rockets, tunnels and jailbreaks…. They have quite the arsenal. Their offense is fast and skilled. Making more of a living throwing the football rather than running it, Notre Dame is led by sophomore quarterback Cole DeFranco (#7).

DeFranco checks in at 5’9″, 175 and has thrown for 1,554 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averages 194 yards per game and threw for over 300 yards against a tough Palisades team in Week 1. He is a bit of the dual threat variety, rushing 97 times and finding the end zone six times.

Seniors Jalen Simpson (#1) and Jon Moran (#9) are DeFranco’s favorite targets. Simpson is a 5’11”, 170 senior who has caught 44 DeFranco passes for 483 yards and 4 touchdowns. Moran measures 6’1″, 170 and has 30 catches but no touchdowns.

Senior Austin Kaulius is also on DeFranco’s radar, with 23 catches with 328 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The biggest Crusader weapon, however, is probably senior Mitch Daniel (#2). Daniel is a running back/receiver. He has done damage as a runner to the tune of 107 carries for 571 yards. That is 5.3 yards per carry. He also has 17 receptions for 238 yards. This capable Crusader has more than chipped in with his 13 touchdowns. You better believe the Panthers will have their eyes on (#2).

Daniel has certainly caught the eye of Coach Sams. “He needs to be accounted for on all passes and we need to tackle him the first time. He often breaks tackles because of his strength and shiftiness. We need to maintain our coverage downfield.” The Panthers will be looking to get as many “hats” on Daniel as possible.

Barring excessive penalties and turnovers this game could come down to the battle in the trenches. If the Panther offensive line does their thing and controls the line of scrimmage it will be very difficult for Notre Dame to keep Saucon from moving the chains and scoring.

Likewise, if Panthers defensive coordinator, Chuck Muller can get his defense to win the line of scrimmage and pressure DeFranco, Saucon should be able to outscore the Crusaders. If the Panther defense can stiffen and outplay the Crusader defense, it’s going to be “Celebration-Time” back in Hellertown. Muller was Notre Dame’s head coach last season and he knows this Panther opponent better than most.

The weather is suspect and it could turn into a soggy night. Nonetheless these two championship teams will do battle with their eyes on the 2016 Colonial League championship. It is going to be one helluva night! Saucon Source will be there to cover the action from whistle to whistle. C’mon out and join us.

Good luck Panthers! The Source is with you!

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