Three teams that finished at the bottom of the Lehigh Valley Conference football standings last year enjoyed a good start in the inaugural Eastern Pennsylvania Conference season.
September will provide a better gauge of how much Freedom, Central Catholic and Northampton have improved from a year ago.
The Patriots, Vikings and Konkrete Kids all took advantage of favorable division crossover matchups in Week 1 to start the season with victories. All three scored at least 35 points. None of them allowed their opponents (East Stroudsburg South, Pocono Mountain East and Allen) more than one touchdown.
Northampton needed a victory more than any of the former LVC teams. The Konkrete Kids had not won since their fourth game of the 2012 season. In beating Allen 40-6, they snapped a 19-game losing streak not a 21-game skid as I originally wrote Saturday night and won their season opener for the second time in three years.
While Northampton’s defense played well, its ground game was the most impressive part of its victory. First-year coach Mark Scisly watched the Konkrete Kids pile up 336 rushing yards while averaging 6.5 yards per carry against Allen. Two players, Andrew Szerencsits and Devon Turner, ran for more than 100 yards while averaging 9-plus yards per carry.
Granted, the Canaries have a weaker defense than any team the Konkrete Kids played last season. Northampton still took a step toward establishing the identity it wants to have. The Konkrete Kids averaged just 147.2 rushing yards per game in 2013 and relied on graduated quarterback Nick Cook for much of that production.
“We want Northampton to be a tough, smash-mouth, running team,” Scisly said Saturday night. “We want to throw the ball, too; we want to be balanced. But we’re getting back to basics right now. The first thing we want to do is establish the run.”
Northampton’s schedule grows tougher this month. The Konkrete Kids open their South Division schedule Friday at Parkland. They then return to their temporary home of Nazareth to take on Easton, which joined Parkland in the District 11 4A final last season.
Consider it stunning if Northampton enters Week 4 anything other than 1-2. Keeping the running game effective through the next two weeks, however, would be a good sign for the Konkrete Kids. They have struggled to match up in the trenches with the league’s better programs in their recent down years.
Like Northampton, Central Catholic starts its division schedule with a much tougher opponent than it faced in Week 1. The Vikings follow their 41-7 win against Pocono Mountain East by visiting Whitehall, which won a share of the final two Lehigh Valley Conference titles.
Northampton, Central Catholic, Freedom football teams have tougher tests ahead