Big Five: Palisades Rolls at Catty, Stays Unbeaten
To run in the September 28th Bucks County Herald
Different style, same result.
Palisades quarterback Ethan Brader completed six of seven pass attempts for 141 yards and three touchdowns as the Pirates (5-0) cruised to a 35-14 win at Catasauqua on Friday night.
Palisades scored touchdowns on all five of their first half drives and took a 35-0 lead into halftime. It made the second half largely academic.
The Pirates (5-0) have taken four straight from the Rough Riders (2-3) and stayed perfect on the year. Palisades’ win was not the headline. The headline is how: it was, by far, the best passing game that the run-oriented Pirates posted in 2017.
“Ethan made throws like we know Ethan can make throws,” said Palisades coach Kevin Ronalds. “We hadn’t seen that the past couple of weeks. The pass protection was there, which wasn’t there last week. That was a goal. He made a throw today that was the best throw I’ve seen all season.”
“We kept talking about how we want to open up and get things going,” Brader added. “Today was the day. It all clicked. Before this game, we had an off day but we worked on timing and patterns. We took our off day and actually worked on our passing game. I think that helped us out a lot here.”
Palisades moved 85 yards in 10 plays on their first drive, capped when Brader hit quicksilver tailback Jared Colletti in the flat. Colletti raced 43 yards for a touchdown, giving Palisades a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
It was 21-0 midway in the second quarter. Running back Trey Gretzinger scored twice on “yo-yo”: once bursting for a 48 yard score and the second touchdown coming from the Catty-11.
“Drew Nickles goes in motion, comes down hard and hits a kid,” Gretzinger explained. “T.J. (Rakowsky) hit their outside linebacker real hard. I saw daylight and I just went. The second touchdown was how we ran it in practice: a cutback. I trusted it, hit it hard broke the tackle and went into the end zone.”
After Rakowsky recovered a fumble at midfield, the next drive was all Brader. He needed just 40 seconds to complete four passes, including a 34 yard zig-zagging score to Colletti. With 1:10 left in the half, Brader hit co-captain Nickles on a perfectly thrown 41-yard touchdown bomb. Colletti’s PAT made the game 35-0.
“The short fields helped,” Ronalds said. “When we’re running the ball, it should set up the pass and we hadn’t until tonight. We need to be able to take advantage of that.”
Catty scored on the last play of the third quarter when Andrew Brett connected with Miguel Hernandez on a five yard fade pattern. Derrick Rodriguez’s 13 yard touchdown run with 7:01 remaining in the game completed the scoring.
Big things were expected of Palisades, an 8-4 team last season who returned virtually all of their starters. “We always work really hard in practice and make sure that we’re doing everything right,” said left tackle Ben Scoggin. “We have great offensive line coaches. Last week, we had a rough game against Southern Lehigh as a unit. We saw all of our problems and fixed them.
“We have guys who already knew, worked with each other and had that chemistry,” Scoggin continued. “It’s awesome having everyone back and on the same page.”
“We have 11 returning starters on D so it’s the same chemistry and that really helps,” echoed defensive end Zac Geehring. “We all know what we’re doing. Do your assignment. If all 11 guys do their thing, we’re going to be good.”
The offense achieved most of its success on the ground; entering the Catty game, the trio of Colletti, Gretzinger and Rakowsky combined for over 1,100 yards rushing and averaged 10 yards per carry.
“It’s awesome blocking for these guys,” said Scoggin. “You give them a crack and they’ll run for 90 yards.”
“I like to hit kids,” Gretzinger grinned. “Jared is more of a move guy, spinning off people.”
Offense is half the story. Palisades’ defense posted its sixth touchdown-free half this Fall. Catty opened the game with an impressive drive, but on 3rd and 4 at the Pirate 15, the defense snuffed out a Rough Rider draw for no gain and forced a fourth down incompletion.
“When our linebackers came in, they threw a screen,” said Geehring, who had two tackles for loss or no gain. “When our linebackers went out, the screen shut down. Our D ends had the quarterback while the linebackers had the option outside. Drew (Nickles) and I would crack down on the draw and they had nowhere to go.”
“We made a little adjustment to take the screens away and it worked,” Ronalds added. “We were a little sluggish getting off the bus and sluggish in the first drive- I’m not making excuses. That was the best drive against us this year.”
Gretzinger’s 76 yards on five carries led Palisades. Colletti had four catches for 92 yards and another 31 yards on six rushes.
Brett completed 16 of 24 passes for 131 yards; Hernandez’s eight grabs for 40 yards paced Catasauqua. Rodriguez added 64 yards on 11 carries.
British submarines return to port flying the Jolly Roger after every successful patrol. The Pirate bus to Kintnersville could have done the same
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