H.S. FOOTBALLHow things are shaping up

·6 min read

Sep. 23—Wyoming Valley Conference football reaches the midway point this weekend. Then comes the home stretch to the District 2 playoffs or in the case of Class 6A a subregional tournament with District 4 and 11.

So while it might be a week early to hand out midterm grades, it isn't too soon to do progress reports.

Here's a look at all 14 teams.

BERWICK (2-2)

The Dawgs felt they let victory slip away in their first two games against Southern Columbia and especially Valley View. They led both contests in the second half.

Since then, Berwick has done an outstanding job in all three phases in wins over Abington Heights and Williamsport. However, the October schedule is brutal and things could sour then.

CRESTWOOD (3-1)

The Comets bumped off defending District 2 Class 4A champ Valley View to start the season before falling to unbeaten Dallas 35-14. They didn't play badly vs. Dallas; they just didn't play well enough against a quality opponent.

The running game has found its footing in consecutive wins. The defense has been stout.

DALLAS (4-0)

Not much to grumble about here. Dallas is playing very well on offense and defense. The offense leans a bit to the run, but has demonstrated it can move the ball through the air. The defense has shut down all four opponents, but stern challenges await.

A minor concern is special teams, which has allowed a punt and a kickoff returned for touchdowns.

HANOVER AREA (1-3)

The Hawkeyes opened with a 35-28 victory over winless Holy Cross, but since then the offense hasn't produced like in a 14-12 loss to Carbondale Area. Some growing pains were certainly expected with a new coaching staff taking over a program that hasn't found the win column much is recent years.

HAZLETON AREA (4-0)

The Cougars are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They wiped out their first three opponents before battling for a 20-7 win over Wilkes-Barre Area. The kicking game might need some tinkering, especially PATs. Hazleton Area plays four of its last five games at home as it makes a run for the top seed in the D2/4-11 Class 6A playoffs.

HOLY REDEEMER (2-2)

After a 44-12 season-opening loss to Susquehanna, Redeemer looked like a team which might not win a game this season. To the Royals' credit, they regrouped and posted consecutive wins over Holy Cross and Tunkhannock. A bundle of consecutive penalties late proved costly in a 22-20 loss to Lake-Lehman. There is a chance for a five-win season, which would be a first for the program, provided they avoid the injury bug.

LAKE-LEHMAN (1-3)

Offensive woes from last year have carried over to this year. The Black Knights have scored one touchdown in seven of their last nine games. They were tied with Lackawanna Trail 8-8 going into the fourth quarter only to fall 22-8. The team's lone victory — 22-20 last Friday vs. Holy Redeemer — had the winning touchdown set up by several consecutive penalties on Redeemer.

NANTICOKE AREA (1-3)

Throw out the 42-7 loss to Old Forge and the Trojans haven't played all that badly this season. They shut out Carbondale Area 36-0 and nearly pulled off a road win at Lackawanna Trail. A couple miscues here and there were costly in last Friday's 26-13 loss to Wyoming Area. The offense isn't explosive, so Nanticoke Area will need to keep games low scoring to grind out any more wins.

PITTSTON AREA (2-2)

The Patriots played well in their two losses until halftime, but against Hazleton Area and Williamsport they faded in the second half. A 22-0 shutout of Wyoming Valley West was followed by a 40-12 win vs. Hanover Area. The schedule isn't as taxing as in the past, so finishing above .500 is quite possible.

TUNKHANNOCK (1-3)

The Tigers can throw the ball and the running game is adequate enough to add some symmetry. They're averaging 35.5 points per game, but with a caveat. The defense is allowing 36 points per game. The good news is there are a couple opponents coming up which have really struggled finding the end zone, so there is an opportunity for a solid finish.

WILKES-BARRE AREA (2-2)

The Wolfpack played Hazleton Area tougher than any other opponent before falling 20-7. The other loss was 25-22 to Scranton. Not bad performances against a pair of unbeatens, just not good enough to get over the hump. There is an incredibly tough stretch coming up starting with Berwick on Friday.

WILLIAMSPORT (1-3)

Williamsport returned some excellent skill players, but the concern entering the season was in the trenches. The Millionaires graduated several talented linemen and went into the season with unproven big guys. There is much room for improvement in that department considering how many big plays the defense has surrendered and how few the offense has produced.

WYOMING AREA (2-2)

The Warriors had a nice run from their 2019 state championship season to last year. However, graduation losses were heavy and the reliance on inexperienced players has been part of the reason for the 2-2 start. The remainder of the schedule has some winnable games but also some very tough matchup.

WYOMING VALLEY WEST (0-4)

The Spartans have lost 10 in a row dating back to last season. They nearly bumped off North Pocono and Scranton to start the year, but have taken a step backwards the past two weeks. They're going to have to dig deep to recover because the rest of the schedule is very difficult starting with a trip to Dallas.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Crestwood's Noah Schultz was selected the Times Leader Player of the Week. He rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries in the Comets' 49-21 win over Wyoming Valley West. He scored on a 75-yard run to end the first half as Crestwood took a 35-0 lead.

Also given consideration:

—Dallas running back Parker Bolesta rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries as the Mountaineers defeated West Scranton 49-21.

—Lake-Lehman running back Javon Borger ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and scored the game-winner with 1:38 remaining in a 22-20 victory over Holy Redeemer.

Past winners: Week 1, Wyoming Area RB/LB Aaron Crossley; Week 2, Hazleton Area QB Tyler Wolfe; Week 3, Holy Redeemer QB Jacob Hunter.