Saucon Valley (5-3) has lost their last two football games. After winning four in a row, the Panthers hit the skids two weeks ago at Wilson where the Warriors (4-4) hit a game-winning field goal in the last few seconds of play. Then last week, Saucon was again on the road at Northwestern Lehigh where they were thumped by the Tigers (7-1). Things will not get any easier for the Panthers on Friday night when they welcome the Notre Dame Crusaders (6-2) to town. Hopefully, playing on their home turf and the fact that it will be Senior Night will be the medicine necessary to get Saucon Valley back on a winning track.
Things Worth Watching:
When the Panthers have the ball…..
Notre Dame has shown a base 4-3 defense throughout the season so far. The Crusaders will most often align with two deep safeties and have seven defenders in the box. They are not afraid to play man-to-man defense and will play press coverage on opposing receivers. In addition, Notre Dame has demonstrated that they will show and blitz their linebackers. Just because the Crusaders are showing blitz doesn’t necessarily mean that those linebackers are coming. With frequency, it appears as if the linebackers are coming only to back out into coverage. Notre Dame has some size up front averaging about 225 pounds. The Crusader defense is led by linebackers Jake Hull (#17) and Joey Rivituso (#55) who each have 63 tackles for the year. The Crusader defense as a unit gives up an average of 22 points per contest. The Panthers on average score twenty-four.
Saucon Valley’s ground game has sputtered the last two weeks, but the Panthers are led by sophomore running back Damian Garcia. Garcia (#30) measures 5’10”, 165 and is closing in on his first 1,000 yard season. Garcia has run 109 times for 944 yards so far. He has scored a total of six touchdowns and averages over 8-yards per carry. Three of Garcia’s TD’s are from 50 yards out or more including one from 86 yards away. He has the potential to be a game-changing and explosive runner.
Also carrying the pigskin for the Panthers will be Braydyn Lugardo (#20). After a late start to this season, Lugardo has been strutting his stuff lately. Lugardo is a senior who measures a solid 5’7″, 190. He has 57 carries for 332 yards and 6 TD’s. Lugardo is built low to the ground and possesses a whole lot of quickness and power. Chris Mann, a junior, is another running back to keep an eye on in the Saucon Valley backfield. He has registered 44 carries for 386 yards and averages 8.8 yard per carry. However, it seems like the Panther fullback will miss another week of action this week with an injury.
Saucon Valley’s offense is known for a powerful rushing attack, but it all starts in the hands of sophomore quarterback, Dante Mahaffey (#12). Mahaffey is a talented, dual-threat quarterback. He has completed 23 of 51 passes for 416 yards and six TD’s. On the ground, he is credited for carrying 76 times for 207 yards and seven additional touchdowns. When healthy, the Panthers and their ground game are very difficult to stop.
Mahaffey’s primary receiving target has been sophomore Ty Csencsits (#11). But, like Mann, Csencsits is out due to injury. Two weeks ago at Wilson he suffered a serious lower body injury. Sadly, Csencsits is out for the remainder of the season. His on field spirit and 25-yard average per catch will be missed.
Csencsits may be out, but Saucon Valley will get tight end Aiden Renninger (#5) back into the lineup. Renninger is a senior listed at 6’1″, 170 who has missed the last two games with a leg injury. He is a welcome addition to the Panther roster.
Saucon Valley also has the reliable hands of freshman Alex Magnotta (#8) and sophomore Anthony Orlemann (#9). Magnotta, who stands 6’0″, 155, is a nice sized target for Mahaffey. He has 8 catches for 84 yards and a TD. Orlemann is a playmaker who has demonstrated a knack for making spectacular catches.
2019 Panther Play-Makers
- QB: #12 So. Dante Mahaffey
- RB: #30 So. Damian Garcia, #20 Sr. Braydyn Lugardo, #22 Fr. Josh Torres
- FB: #34 Fr. Tyler Pfizenmayer, #2 Sr. Ramel Moore
- WR: #8 Fr. Alex Magnotta, #9 So. Anthony Orlemann, #42 Sr. Kevin Schoch
- TE: #5 Sr. Aiden Renninger #23 So. Kevin Tiedemann, #32 Fr. Reed Ernst
Paving the way for the Saucon Valley ground attack is the Panther offensive line who are traditionally known as the “Hogs”. Saucon’s front line continues to be shuffled due to injuries and discipline issues. Hopefully they can get the right chemistry this week and get back to playing their signature brand of “Bully Ball”. Senior Evan Deily (#65) is the top hog in the trenches for the Panthers. He will be joined by three-year starter David Osman (#60), Eli Deily (#76) Cody Swinney (#56) and senior Bobby Yovish (#67). Deily and Osman are juniors, Swinney is a sophomore.
The 2019 Hogs: Week 8
- Left Tackle: #60 Jr. David Osman 6’0″, 245
- Left Guard: #65 Sr. Evan Deily 6’1″ , 225
- Center: #56 So. Cody Swinney 5’11”, 250
- Right Guard: #67 Sr. Bobby Yovish 5’11”, 190
- Right Tackle: #76 Jr. Eli Deily 6’4″, 290
When the Crusaders have the ball…..
Offensively, Notre Dame averages 431 yards per game from their shotgun, spread sets. They are pretty balanced in their attack with an average of 29 passing plays and 27 running plays per contest. However, the yardage leans toward the pass as the Crusaders throw for 241 yards and run for 190 yards on average per game. Notre Dame scores an impressive 43 points per contest. Whereas, the Panthers tend to surrender 24 points per game. Saucon Valley’s defense will have to step up and get some stops to limit the Crusader offense.
The Crusaders are currently led by senior quarterback Andrew Darno (#12). Darno, who started the year as a receiver, stepped in as quarterback during Week 3 when former starter Collin Quintano was injured. Darno, who is listed 6’1″, 175, has been fantastic in his relief role. He has completed 56 of 94 passes for 826 yards. Darno has thrown nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions. In addition, he has rushed 35 times for 256 yards which is good for another eight scores. Darno can sling it and is very much a run threat.
Notre Dame has many different weapons serving as Darno’s supporting cast. The first is sophomore Derek Berlitz. Berlitz measures a 6’2″, 187 and claims 38 receptions for 486 yards and 2 TD’s. A couple other Crusader playmakers are Christian Greggo (#6) and Joe Galle (#24). Greggo is a senior listed at 5’8″, 170. He has 24 catches for 415 yards and 10 TD’s. Galley, who is a little bigger at 5’11”, 175, is a junior credited with 21 grabs for 242 yards with two touchdowns. Finally, the Crusaders have the pass catching talents of Izzy Rodriguez (#32). Rodriguez is a junior who has caught 19 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.
Junior Matt Frauen leads the Crusaders when it comes to rushing the football. Listed at 6’1″, 185 Frauen has accounted for 915 yards on 97 carries. This 9.4 yard per carry average is good for ten Crusader touchdowns. In addition to Frauen’s services, Christian Greggo is no stranger to running the football. Greggo has 32 carries for 169 yards to his name. This is good for 5 rushing TD’s.
The Crusaders Up-Front
- Tackle #51 Jr. Lex Rivera 6’3″, 250
- Guard #68 Sr. Andrew Stackhouse 6’3″, 285
- Center #50 Jr. Brandon Guffy 6’0″, 235
- Guard #54 So. Josh Hoffert 6’0″, 240
- Tackle #56 Sr. Liam Carroll 6’2″, 220
If the Crusaders have an offensive weakness it is their offensive line. They aren’t exactly dominant up front and benefit from the quick-hitting passing scheme. Notre Dame has shown some pass protection issues, but the athleticism of the Crusader skilled players is usually good enough to avoid serious problems. The Panther defense will have to be at the very top of their game to slow down the Crusader offense.
2019 Panther Defense
- DE’s: #65 Sr. Evan Deily, #20 Sr. Braydyn Lugardo
- DT’s: #60 Jr. David Osman, #76 Jr. Eli Deily
- ILB’s: #23 So. Kevin Tiedemann, #34 Fr. Tyler Pfizenmayer
- OLB’s: #22 Fr. Josh Torres, #83 Sr. Greg Nolfe
- DB’s: #9 So. Anthony Orlemann, #12 So. Dante Mahaffey, #80 Jr. Jiziah Davis
A Friday night home finale for the Panthers will, no doubt, be a challenge. A win is not out of the question, Notre Dame is beatable. But, Saucon Valley will need to perform at a high level to get back on the winning track.
- Friday Night Football Forecast:
- Chilly with temperatures falling through in the 40’s during the game. Overnight low 36. 5 mph winds out of the NW.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!