First, Dallas had the plug pulled. Then the plug hung loosely from the outlet.
Not exactly the way a team of newcomers wanted to prove its merit, especially since Dallas was replacing a talented senior class that played for the PIAA Class 4A championship in 2019.
But once the new-look Mountaineers took the field last Friday, it was just like old times. They routed Wyoming Valley West 48-12 and now take on unbeaten Wilkes-Barre Area at 7 p.m. Friday in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 game.
Dallas started 12 seniors last year on offense, so the biggest question was how the unit would perform against Valley West. After a pedestrian first quarter, things started to click.
New starting quarterback RJ Wren threw five touchdown passes, the most in a game since Michael Starbuck, the guy he replaced, did the same in the 2018 season opener.
Wren started on defense in 2019 and his play was often overshadowed by those seniors.
“I’m really happy for the quarterback. He put so much time in,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said. “He was a three-year starter at whip (on defense), grinded through the weight room and now it’s his time at quarterback. I was happy for him and happy for all the kids. It was just great to see all of them happy.
“Anybody who played football Friday night throughout the country, regardless of the score, they won.”
Dallas (1-0) lost its first game, but not on the field. Just hours before kickoff, the Mountaineers’ game with Tunkhannock was nixed because of a positive COVID-19 test within one of the district’s schools.
Then last Wednesday, all sports activities were shut down due to another positive COVID-19 case. The interruption was just one day, but it resulted in Dallas having a cram session on Thursday to get prepared for Valley West.
“This has been challenging for the kids and they just keep coming back,” Mannello said. “And then we had even a more challenging week. We lost Wednesday and they came back Thursday and combined two days into one. We had to go full pads the day before the game. We had to get the two practices mixed in together. I was really happy for all of us.”
Another standout in the Valley West win was receiver Ben Fife. Like Wren, Fife contributed on defense last season and had four interceptions. He had just one catch on offense in 2019, but made three catches for 172 yards and three TDs vs. the Spartans. Running backs Parker Bolesta and Jake DelGaudio, who showed flashes as reserves last season, added balance to the offense.
While Dallas was rolling to a win, Wilkes-Barre Area (2-0) was playing yet another game that would have had fans on the edge of their seats … if fans were allowed into Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
The Wolfpack trailed Hazleton Area 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. They tied the score on a 57-yard TD pass from Kam Taylor to Maleek Robinson and then won it with 39 seconds left on a 10-yard scoring run by Taylor. The touchdown came after Hazleton Area just missed on a go-ahead 39-yard field goal attempt.
In the opener, Wilkes-Barre Area had to drive into field goal position and defeated Valley West 9-8 when soccer player Michael Deutsch-Jones connected on a 25-yard field goal with 9.4 seconds remaining. The second-year program has won six of its last eight games.
“When you see they won two games when they were trailing in the fourth quarter, that says all you need to say about them,” Mannello said. “They have tremendous heart, they have speed all over the field, speed to the perimeters. Defensively, they swarm to the ball and they’re extremely well coached. And the amount of motions and shifts and sets you have to be prepared for, if you can’t get aligned they’re going to make you look silly.”
WEEK 3 AT A GLANCE
Berwick (1-1) at Williamsport (2-0)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Berwick’s Carmen DeFrancesco (162-101, 2nd year at Berwick; 24th overall); Williamsport’s Chuck Crews (46-54, 6th year at Williamsport; 10th overall)
Last Meeting: Berwick 17-10 in 2019
First Meeting: Williamsport 14-0 in 1946
All-Time Series: Berwick 24-9
Scouting Berwick: Berwick’s new triple-option offense dominated the second half in a 37-14 victory over Pittston Area. The Dawgs controlled the ball with two long drives to take control of a game that was tied 14-14 at halftime. Plenty of guys ran the ball, with RB Logan Smith (47 yards) the top ground gainer. However, for the second consecutive week it wasn’t until the second half when things began to click.
Scouting Williamsport: Williamsport used big plays to knock off defending Class 3A state champion Wyoming Area 35-14. The Millionaires scored three TDs of 52 or more yards as they topped 300 yards of offense. TE/DE Nassir Jones continues to be a force and scored one of two defensive touchdowns vs. the Warriors. QB Frankie Morrone was sharp for a second consecutive game.
What To Expect: Berwick needs a quicker start on offense or else.
Crestwood (2-0) at Nanticoke Area (0-2)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Crestwood’s Ryan Arcangeli (9-5, 2nd year); Nanticoke Area’s Ron Bruza (41-64, 11th year)
Last Meeting: Crestwood 44-7 in 2019
First Meeting: Crestwood 14-0 in 1981
All-Time Series: Nanticoke Area 11-10-1
Scouting Crestwood: The Comets defeated Tunkhannock 33-21 last week. The running game didn’t produce like in the opener, but QB Ryan Petrosky made up for it by throwing for 238 yards. Nick Kreuzer and Brendon DeMarzo have stepped up as pass catchers, a position that was a bit of a question mark entering the season. Marcus Vieney had two interceptions as Crestwood forced five turnovers.
Scouting Nanticoke Area: The Trojans were overwhelmed for a second consecutive week, this time by Lake-Lehman 35-3. A late field goal prevented a second shutout in the last four games. Nanticoke Area has scored 21 points thus far and 15 of them have come in the fourth quarter when the opponent has had the game put away. Another scoreless first half against Crestwood would likely result in a similar outcome.
What To Expect: Crestwood has too much firepower for the Trojans.
Holy Redeemer (0-0) at Wyoming Area (1-1)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Redeemer’s Tyson Kelley (0-9, 2nd year); Wyoming Area’s Randy Spencer (75-52, 12th year)
Last Meeting: Wyoming Area 43-7 in 2018
First Meeting: Wyoming Area 42-7 in 2007
All-Time Series: Wyoming Area 6-0
Scouting Redeemer: The Royals will be the final WVC team to take the field. The school shut down sports for about two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test by someone who was in the school. They got on the practice field late last week, but obviously there wasn’t enough time to save a scheduled game with Hanover Area. Thus, things probably won’t go to well until they get some more practices in.
Scouting Wyoming Area: The Warriors couldn’t stop the big plays as Williamsport defeated the defending Class 3A state champions 35-14. There a plenty of new starters at the skill positions. The offense has looked solid at times but struggled as well, having scored just four touchdowns. The unit also had two turnovers vs. Williamsport that were converted into touchdowns on a fumble return and interception return.
What To Expect: This is a good game for Wyoming Area to work out some flaws.
Lake-Lehman (2-0) at Hanover Area (0-1)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Lake-Lehman’s Jerry Gilsky (73-43, 11th year); Hanover Area’s Rick Hummer (3-9, 2nd year)
Last Meeting: Lehman 36-9 in 2019
First Meeting: Lehman 19-12 in 1967
All-Time Series: Lehman 29-23
Scouting Lehman: The Black Knights showed no letdown after defeating Berwick in the opener, routing Nanticoke Area 35-3. QB Ethan Adams threw two touchdown passes for a second consecutive game while Ryan Eiden, the team’s Swiss Army knife, continued to contribute as a runner and receiver. All three of Colby Kennedy’s catches this season have gone for TDs.
Scouting Hanover Area: Hanover Area was tied 13-13 with District 5’s Windber at halftime, but a big disparity showed in the second half when Windber’s speed was too much for the Hawkeyes defense. The unit, though, gets some slack since it was Hanover Area’s first game of the season. LB Connor Hummer had some nasty hits and also led the team in receiving.
What To Expect: Like Windber, Lehman has speed and that will be the difference.
Pittston Area (0-1) at Wyoming Valley West (0-2)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Pittston Area’s Nick Barbieri (14-20, 4th year); WVW’s Jack Baranski (3-10, 2nd year)
Last Meeting: Valley West 62-13 in 2015
First Meeting: Valley West 40-6 in 1970
All-Time Series: Valley West 31-11
Scouting Pittston Area: The Patriots lost 37-14 to Berwick after being tied 14-14 at halftime. A pair of long Berwick scoring drives sandwiched around a Pittston Area three-and-out turned the momentum in the second half. Berwick ran 64 plays to the Patriots’ 34. The running game, a sore spot for years, showed some life in the first half only to disappear over the final two quarters.
Scouting WVW: The Spartans scored first against Dallas and then were torched for five touchdown passes in a 48-12 loss. The attack is designed to center on QB Donte Rhodes and so far he has accounted for 425 of the offense’s 457 yards with either his arm or legs through two games. Valley West needs to get get some others to contribute, especially in the running game.
What To Expect: Tough one to figure out, but the Patriots get the slight edge.
Tunkhannock (0-1) at Hazleton Area (0-2)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Tunkhannock’s Mike Marabell (8-14, 3rd year); Hazleton Area’s Dennis Buchman (0-2, 1st year)
Last Meeting: Hazleton Area 55-14 in 2015
First Meeting: Hazleton Area 21-14 in 1992
All-Time Series: Hazleton Area 15-2
Scouting Tunkhannock: After having their season opener with Dallas axed, the Tigers opened with a 33-21 loss to Crestwood. They spotted the Comets a 20-0 lead before rallying within a score. QB Jack Chilson threw 40 times, the third time in his career he’s thrown at least 40 passes in a game. The running game, though, didn’t add much balance. Tunkhannock’s defense recorded four takeaways, but they were negated by five offensive turnovers.
Scouting Hazleton Area: Hazleton Area is a handful of plays from being undefeated. The Cougars gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last with 39 seconds left, in a 28-21 loss to Wilkes-Barre Area. RB Matt Buchman rushed 23 times for 125 yards. He had the team’s only 100-yard rushing performance in 2019. The defense was solid, just not solid enough when needed.
What To Expect: A competitive game, with Hazleton Area the slight favorite.
Wilkes-Barre Area (2-0) at Dallas (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: WBA’s Ciro Cinti (80-78, 2nd year at WBA, 15th overall); Dallas’ Rich Mannello (42-21, 6th year)
Last Meeting: Dallas 35-7 in 2019
First Meeting: Dallas 35-7 in 2019
All-Time Series: Dallas 1-0
Scouting WBA: The Wolfpack have certainly made things interesting thus far. After winning the opener with a field goal with nine seconds left, they scored with 39 ticks remaining to top Hazleton Area 28-21. QB Kam Taylor scored the game-winner on a 10-yard run. While Taylor doesn’t always put up gaudy stats, he is invaluable to what WBA is trying to accomplish.
Scouting Dallas: Dallas was a mystery team after finishing state runner-up in Class 4A. The Mountaineers then fell behind Wyoming Valley West 6-0 in the second quarter before things began to click. New starting QB RJ Wren debuted with five touchdown passes, with WR Ben Fife grabbing three of them. New RB Parker Bolesta added balance. The result looked familiar to last season – a 48-12 victory.
What To Expect: If Dallas displays the same quick-strike ability, there will be no late comeback for WBA.
Northwest (2-0) at Bucktail (0-2)
7 p.m. Friday
The Coaches: Bucktail’s Jared Hurlbert (2-9, 2nd year); Northwest’s Lon Hazlet (118-100, 6th year at Northwest; 22nd overall)
Last Meeting: never played
First Meeting: never played
All-Time Series: never played
Scouting Northwest: Downed 10-0 at halftime, Northwest rallied on the road for a 21-10 victory over Montgomery. QB Ryan Wassel threw two touchdown passes, the second to Landon Hufford about midway through the third quarter to give the Rangers the lead for good. RB George May was his usual self with 108 rushing yards. The defense smothered Montgomery’s running game, forcing the Red Raiders to throw 48 times.
Scouting Bucktail: Bucktail has a PIAA male enrollment of 52, making it the smallest public school in the state fielding a football team. The Bucks lost 42-24 to Muncy last Friday and trailed 35-0 at halftime. They lost their opener to Montgomery 43-15. The program hasn’t had a winning season since 2012. RB Gage Sutliff rushed for over 1,000 yards during a two-win season in 2019.
What To Expect: Northwest to roll to a third consecutive victory.
Source : https://www.timesleader.com/sports/803467/h-s-football-dallas-seeks-to-keep-momentum-going-against-wilkes-barre-area