Record Setting Performance Sparks Upset
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – In August, preseason hype surrounded the little town of Schuylkill Haven and its Hurricanes football program. A big, physical line on both sides of the ball and domination of the run game were the two factors that made the Hurricanes preseason AFL favorite. Injuries had hampered the success of the team, but all injured players returned for the showdown with the defending league champion Tamaqua Blue Raiders.
Tamaqua showed early on that they were not intimidated and after back to back punts, drove down on 11 plays as senior QB Nate Edmonds took the option keep for a 13 yard score. Haven answered driving 10 plays and capped off by a two yard score by senior tailback William Casella. Schuylkill Haven’s 7-6 lead would be there last of the game. After a solid kick return by Zach Zucatti, senior Tyler Hope bolted 55 yards for a score to return the lead to the visitors, 12-7. The Tamaqua O-Line was out to prove it deserved all the praise, if not more, that Haven received. Play after play, the Hurricanes had no answer as Hope tacked on three more scores from 2, 79, and 91 yards.
Schuylkill Haven would respond briefly with another score from Casella, but the Raiders were the stars of the night and cruised to a dominating 32-14 victory. Hope finished the night with 350 yards and broke his own uncle’s school record for rushing yards in a game. As a whole, the Blue Raiders blew up the Hurricane defense for a staggering 438 yards of total offense.
The victorious Blue Raiders improve to 4-3 and with the loss by North Schuylkill, find themselves as the front runners for an Eastern Conference berth and back in the hunt for a District 11 berth. Next week, Tamaqua travels to Lansford for a rivalry showdown with Panther Valley. The Hurricanes fall back to 4-3 on the year and are in trouble of missing the district playoffs after being considered as a state championship contender in preseason. Next week, the Hurricanes are matched up with the Jim Thorpe Olympians who are a perfect 6-0 in AFL play.
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