Well, here we go again Panther fans. Saucon Valley (3-0) hits the road for a Friday night football fight against the Salisbury Falcons (1-2). The Panthers are coming off last week’s character-building win against the Palmerton Blue Bombers. Salisbury is fresh off their first victory over the Wilson Warriors after a couple of losses to Pen Argyl and Northwestern Lehigh. With a handful of athletic playmakers who are a threat to score with every touch of the ball, the Falcons would like nothing better than to beat the Panthers and climb to a 2-2 record. Once again, this Colonial League matchup has some of the key ingredients for a nail-biting classic.
Things Worth Watching:
When the Panthers have the ball…..
Expect to see a blitzing Salisbury team bringing a lot of pressure from their base 3-5 defense. Like so many other Panther opponents, expect the Falcon’s scheme against Saucon and their “Bully Ball” ways, to be run heavy. With eight defenders in the box, Salisbury will take their chances and dare the Panthers to throw. Even though the Falcons show a three-man-front, it is not uncommon for them to bring six defenders up field. Salisbury has a nice blend of size, speed and toughness. If the Panther offense sputters, Salisbury is athletic enough to make them pay.
The lethal Panther ground attack is led by senior Ian Csicsek (#28). “Sizzler” has started the season red-hot and has carried 74 times for 528 yards so far. Averaging a little over 7 yards per carry and 176 yards per game, Csicsek has found the endzone eight times this season and will certainly be looking for more. He is the Panthers workhouse, running with power and flashing quick feet. Joining Csicsek in the backfield will be a trio of Panther seniors in Justin Kyra (#22), Kelvin Gallard (#27) and Christian “Mongo” Alling (#33). Kyra averages over 5 yards per carry while Alling and Gallard do most of their heavy lifting as blockers. Junior Dane Csencsits (#32) and another senior in Curtis Clifford (#38) could emerge as weapons lining up in the Panther backfield as well.
The Saucon signal-caller will, once again, be freshman quarterback Dante Mahaffey (#12). Mahaffey continues to impress in his first season as he has completed 15 of 27 passes for 217 yards and thrown for three touchdowns. He has proven to be a dual-threat guy and has no problem tucking the ball and running with it. Mahaffey has run 25 times for 113 yards and a score. He averages 4.5 yards per carry and is the Panthers second-leading rusher behind Csicsek.
When Mahaffey throws, one of his main targets is 6’2″, 215 senior tight-end, Patrick Morrissey (#80). Morrissey has logged five catches for 70 yards and a TD so far this year. Mahaffey has also found Ryan Holub (#13) in the end zone for a couple scores this season. Holub has snagged five of Mahffey’s throws totaling 59 yards and a couple touchdowns. Dane Csencsits (#32) is also a recipient of a Mahaffey touchdown pass.
2018 Panther Play-Makers
- QB: #12 Fr. Dante Mahaffey, #16 C.J. Stump
- RB: #22 Sr. Justin Kyra, #27 Sr. Kelvin Gallard, #28 Sr. Ian Csicsek, #32 Jr. Dane Csencsits, #33 Sr. Christian “Mongo” Alling, RB: #38 Sr. Curtis Clifford
- WR: #6 Sr. Justin Clements, #11 Fr. Ty Csencsits, #13 Sr. Ryan Holub, #18 Fr. Eternal (E.T.) Aris, #21 Sr. Reily Hudak
- TE: #80 Sr. Patrick Morrissey, #44 Jr. Dale Sorensen
Paving the way for the Saucon Valley ground attack are the 2018 Hogs. Seniors Tim “Boss Hog” Weaver, Aidan Redding and Jared Harka along with junior Evan Deily and sophomore David Osman are solid up front with a little bit of nastiness and size. Nick Warnke (#70) at 6’1″, 275 is another Hog in the Panther rotation. Saucon Valley is very good in the trenches and it is with great pride that they insist on their brand of “Bully Ball”.
The 2018 Hogs: Week 3
- Left Tackle: #77 Sr. Tim Weaver 6’5″, 285
- Left Guard: #61 Sr. Jared Harka 5’9″, 210
- Center: #60 So. David Osman 6’0″, 225
- Right Guard: #65 Jr. Evan Deily 6’1″, 225
- Right Tackle: #73 Sr. Aidan Redding 6’3″, 290
When the Falcons have the ball…..
Salisbury runs a hybrid Wing-T, shotgun-spread offense that is based on speed. Expect to see the Falcons attack the perimeter using their quickness and elusiveness. They come across as a run-first team, but have shown that they are not afraid to put the ball up in the air. They have decent size in the trenches, but it is the athleticism of their running-backs and receivers that stands out as their best option. Like the Palmerton Blue Bombers, the Falcons like to get to the perimeter in a hurry with an assortment of sweeps. The Falcons are not dominant upfront, but they do have the talent to create explosive plays.
The Falcons Up-Front
- Tackle #55 Sr. Daniel Jennings 6’0″, 285
- Guard #59 So. Matt Butz 5’10”, 180
- Center #60 Sr. Lucas Reichard 5’6″, 215
- Guard #58 Jr. Koby Rollins 5’10”, 175
- Tackle #67 Jr. Kyle Killiri 5’11”, 210
The highlight of the Falcon offense has been junior running-back, Tim Buda (#25). Buda is listed at 5’10”, 165 and averages 5.9 yards per touch. Against a tough Northwestern Lehigh Tiger defense, Buda totaled 114 yards on 17 carries. It is not uncommon for Salisbury to split Buda out into the slot. He has big-play capability and is fun to watch in the open field.
A couple other explosive players for the Falcons include senior Delano McKenzie (#22) and sophomore Chad Parton (#8). Averaging 23-yard per catch, McKenzie is a little on the small side standing 5’8″, 145, but plays much bigger. Parton is a little more stout at 5’8″, 155 and is a solid player as well. Parton averages 4.3 yards per carry as a runner and 14-yards per catch as a receiver. Against Pen Argyl, Parton had a noteworthy day rushing eight times for 60 yards.
Dishing the ball to the Falcon backs and receivers is senior quarterback Jacob Kamp (#16). Completing 19 of 49 passes for 241 yards and 3 TD’s, Kamp has been inconsistent so far. Against Pen Argyl in the opener, he hit on 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns, but stumbled against Northwestern Lehigh connecting on only 5 of 24 passes for 45 yards including three interceptions. Kamp certainly looks the part at 6’2″, 205, but appears to be a little Jekyll and Hyde. If the Falcon QB can manage to connect with his receivers consistently, the Panther defense will have their hands full.
2018 Panther Defense
- DE’s: #44 Jr. Dale Sorensen, #65 Jr. Evan Deily, #80 Sr. Patrick Morrissey,
- DT’s: #61 Sr. Jared Harka, #77 Sr. Tim Weaver,
- ILB’s: #32 Jr. Dane Csencsits, #33 Sr. Christian “Mongo” Alling,
- OLB’s: #28 Sr. Ian Csicsek, #27 Sr. Kelvin Gallard, #5 Jr. Aiden Renninger, #38 Curtis Clifford
- DB’s: #13 Sr. Ryan Holub, #21 Sr. Reily Hudak, #22 Sr. Justin Kyra, #11 Fr. Ty Csencsits
The key matchup, once again, appears to be the speed and athleticism of the Salisbury skilled players against the ability of the Panthers to tackle and keep the Falcons bottled-up. As long as Saucon Valley plays a clean game, a solid defensive effort will go a long way in helping to secure a victory. Excessive Panther penalties and turnovers, however, may allow the Falcons to stick around and gain confidence. Saucon Valley must keep the Salisbury big-plays to a minimum.
Once again, this will be no easy task for the Panthers. The Falcons have the offensive firepower to score a bunch of points. Perhaps not as talented in the trenches as Palmerton, this contest is far from a “gimme”. Like Palmerton, Salisbury has a number of dangerous players that play real fast and are elusive. If the Panthers cannot limit their mistakes and the defense doesn’t tackle well, this game could come down to the wire. Danger, Panther Nation, Danger.
- Friday Night Football Forecast:
- Mostly cloudy with temperatures in the low 70’s. 10% chance scattered showers.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!