We have now reached the midpoint of the Colonial League football season, and so far have had beautiful sunny, dry and warm weather for every game. As we head into fall and towards Halloween, I don’t anticipate that trend continuing, but I was glad for it again last weekend as our hometown Saucon Valley Panthers took on the visiting Bangor Slaters in Dimmick Park on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The action started off again with the Rookie Flag division and yet another format change. This week was back to 5-on-5 and lots of open field to run.The team is playing very well and have been improving their defense in addition to finding that the offense is loaded with home run hitters. The youngest Panthers took it to the Slaters in all aspects of the game, pitching a defensive shutout through the first half while scoring three touchdowns, including one each by #28 Jerry Thomas, #14 Bryce Johnston and #18 Benjamin Gangi. The second half featured three more touchdowns: one each by #2 Caius Wagner, #10 Taylor Gaffney and capped by #3 Hudson Gonzales. This young team is really taking to learning the game and is primed to finish the season on a high note.
Photos by Rick Favere
The Competitive Flag division sits at 0-5 heading into this week’s matchup, and were hoping to springboard to victory with the help of the hometown crowd. Defensively the team played well, showing an ability to get to the ball carriers, as they held the visiting Slaters to only one score in a 7-0 half of football. Sparked by the performances of #15 Nicholas Ubert and his four tackles, #26 Luke Peters with three tackles all for loss, and #45 Jaxon Walser with three tackles, two for loss and a sack, the defense did their best to keep the game close. The offense–despite finding their share of good plays with contributions from quarterback #24 Gavin Swierkowski who completed several passes and rushed for 30 yards, #12 Jayden Reifinger with 18 yards rushing and #30 Matteo Lazaro, who had two pass receptions for 7 yards plus a long run late in the 4th quarter–couldn’t quite keep up, falling to the visitors 13-0.
The Junior Varsity Panthers took to the field next, and coming off a disappointing loss were eager to right the ship. They played hard and aggressively from the start, with the offense scoring a touchdown on the first time-consuming drive courtesy of #20 Grayson Schmell. The defense played with the same intensity, starting off their first action with back-to-back tackles for loss, and eventually forcing a turnover on downs early in the second quarter while holding a 6-0 lead. The next series saw the offense turn it over on downs, but the defense got the ball back for them quickly on an interception by #4 Jaylen Caballero. On the very next play, #20 Grayson Schmell took a 50-yard run to the end zone for another Panther touchdown. The defense created another turnover on the next drive with a fumble recovery by #4 Jaylen Caballero. The offense ended up punting after a few plays and the defense went to work again creating another turnover; a fumble recovery, this time by #3 Taylor Rohn. That play closed out the half with a 12-7 Panther lead. The Panthers continued to hold the Slaters off the board with the defensive leaders #3 Taylor Rohn (seven tackles, one for loss, a forced fumble and a recovery), #38 Ricky Favere (seven tackles, two for loss) and #4 Jaylen Caballero (six tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery) controlling the game. The offense tacked on yet another score by #20 Grayson Schmell, who dominated the offensive side of the ball, toting it 12 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns. The game ended with a final score of 19-7 as the JV squad improved to 3-3 on the season. They are playing better than their record shows and are a team nobody will want to face in the playoffs.
The Varsity Panthers closed out the slate of games Saturday and came in riding a four-game winning streak. The Panthers took possession and utilized a committee approach to running, with #21 Zakary Zeigler finding his way into the end zone from 14 yards out. Bangor answered back quickly with a touchdown of their own, playing to an 8-8 first quarter tie. The 2nd quarter started with the Panthers on offense feeding #36 Jackson Albert, who scored on a 22-yard run. The resilient Slaters answered again, on their next possession, but had the point after blocked. The home team got the ball again and executed another lengthy scoring drive, capped off again by #36 Jackson Albert. That drive consumed most of the second quarter and allowed the Panthers to go into halftime leading 23-14. Quarter number three had the Slaters start off with possession but that quickly turned on a fumble recovery by #50 Brady Flores. Again the home team chewed up the clock with another sustained drive finished off by #36 Jackson Albert for his third touchdown of the contest, extending the Panther lead to 31-14 going into the fourth quarter. The first Slater drive ended with another turnover, this time an interception by #1 Ashton Beckowski which then led to another long Panther drive that did not end in points. As the clock dwindled down the Slaters added another score, but it was not enough, and the home team won 31-20. Offensively, workhorse runner #36 Jackson Albert recorded 163 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, while #21 Zakary Zeigler posted 26 yards and a touchdown on four carries and #25 Anthony Maholland carried eight times for 27 yards. The defensive effort was spearheaded by #25 Anthony Maholland and his six tackles, four for loss; #23 Jakob Zeigler with four tackles, one for loss; and #50 Brady Flores with four tackles, one for loss and the fumble recovery. The winning streak continues as the team moves to 5-1 on the season.
This Sunday the Panthers travel to Wilson to face the Vikings with the Rookie flag team taking the field at 11 a.m. Panther Nation usually represents very well at away venues, so please continue your support for these talented and hard-working children.
Saucon Source thanks Bucks Run Oil LLC for helping to underwrite the publication of this year’s Little Panther Rundown. Bucks Run Oil is a family-owned home heating oil and diesel supply business located in Lower Saucon Township. To learn more about them, please visit their website and follow Bucks Run Oil on Facebook and Instagram.