Southern Lehigh over Palisades
Friday night at Southern Lehigh Middle School was a heated affair to say the least between the Spartans of Southern Lehigh and the Pirates of Palisades. A matchup that was once one of the biggest rivalries in the Colonial League has been dominated by Southern Lehigh in recent years, however Palisades never forgot the wars of Friday nights past and put up an incredible fight down to the last play despite being outmanned on both sides of the ball. This classic rivalry might just have been revived as the spread offense of the Spartans warred against the classic run-the-ball down your throat style of the Pirates in one of the best Colonial League matchups of week 3.
Despite averaging almost 42 points a game the Spartans offense led by sophomore quarterback Logan Edmond was stifled and held in check for most of the game when compared to the damage the Spartans have done on ferocious defenses such as Palmerton and Notre Dame. The lockdown defensive presence anchored in the secondary by cornerback Nick Colletti and on the defensive line by Andrew Nickles showed the toughness and grind it out attitude that Palisades has become known for under Coach Kevin Ronalds throughout much of the game.
You would never have guessed that this would become a close,defensive tug-of-war if you only watched the couple of series of the game. It began when the Spartans defence forced a fourth and one, the Pirates proceeded to make a gutsy call at midfield and attempt a fake punt that was sniffed out immediately by Spartans outside linebacker Luke Strauss. The Spartans would then proceed to drive the remaining 44 yards in six plays before Strauss carved through the Pirates defense for a nine-yard touchdown scamper. From there, though, the Palisades defense came to play some ball. Palisades would come back and grind their way down the field on the legs of Colletti who would finally put the Pirates on the board with a minute remaining in the quarter on a six-yard carry for six points.
Both defensive lines were dominant for the rest of the half. The only other potential points for the Pirates came when the Spartans managed to escape a safety when Edmond performed his best rendition of Tim Tebow at Florida to escape two tacklers in the end zone only to fire an incomplete pass. On the opposite sideline the Spartans could not muster a scoring drive and went three and out several times. At halftime the score was 7-7.
After managing one scoring drive in the first half the Spartans offense would not give up on a run game that had been mediocre at best to start the second half. A Timmy Walter kick return setup the Spartans at the Pirates 24 yard line. Offensive coordinator Mike Feifel trusted the ball in the hands of dynamic play maker Luke Strauss, who would deliver when he sprung the ball to the wide side of the field and outran the Palisades defense for his second touchdown of the game.
The Spartans defense would stand tall and force the Pirates to punt the ball. The Spartans then proceeded to orchestrate an 11-play, 76-yard touchdown drive in which Edmond threw a ten-yard dart to senior receiver Logan Hantz. This set the Spartans up in the red zone and a few plays later he would find senior TE Mike Moyer in the back of the endzone on a sprint out to the left. By the end of the third quarter the score was 21-7 in favor of the home team. Southern Lehigh wouldn’t score again.
As the defensive campaign continued for both teams Palisades would find a way to score. Pirates sophomore quarterback strung together an 80-yard touchdown drive, in which he threw several marquee drive extending passes. The first of which would come on third and five deep in their own territory. Brader was forced to scramble after sophomore linebacker Quinn Schmidt came through unblocked. He would avoid the would be tackler and fired a rifle to Colletti to pick up the first down.
On the very next play he would complete a 19-yard pass to the only senior on the roster in receiver Chris Hallman. Hallman would wrap up the drive when he caught a pass right over the head of the Spartans cornerback for a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brader. With the score now 21-14 the Pirates would get the ball back with just over four minutes remaining in the game and needed to drive 84 yards and score a touchdown. They would come up just short when the Spartans held the Pirates to fourth down on the 11-yard line. Senior defensive tackle Gary Popowitz and junior defensive end Michael Sisselberger broke through the pirates’ line and sacked Brader to seal the victory for the Spartans.
Despite the strong play of the Palisades defense, Luke Strauss still came away with a big night when he had nine carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the hot start to the season the Spartans passing game was severely limited during the matchup when Logan Edmond went six for 11 with 37 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Nick Colletti might well have been the MVP of the game despite a losing effort for his team when he scored eight of the Pirates 14 points and had seven receptions for 78 yards on top of his 16 carries for 62 yards and one touchdown. Brader looked impressive during the matchup when he went 14 for 29 with 194 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The Spartans improve to 3-1 while the Pirates fell to 2-2 on the season.
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