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Hawks win 7th EPC crown Becahi will now focus on upcoming District 11 duals

Monday, January 29, 2018 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

It was business as usual for Bethlehem Catholic, as the Golden Hawks won their seventh straight East Penn Conference championship over the weekend knocking off Nazareth 47-12 Saturday evening at Easton Area Middle School.

The Hawks have owned the EPC since the inception of the conference, but Saturday’s victory is now the telltale caution of how winning a league title may not mean so much a week later when district duals roll around.

Becahi (9-1, 9-0) learned that lesson the hard way a year ago when they beat the Blue Eagles (13-2, 8-1) in the EPC championship, but then lost the District 11 and PIAA 3A finals to Nazareth.

After walloping Nazareth with 12 wins in 14 bouts Saturday night, head coach Jeff Karam entered the weekend with a different mindset.

“Obviously, there’s going to be different things that we anticipate if we run into Nazareth again,” said Karam. “If we have to wrestle Nazareth again, I feel really good about where we are as a team and with the moves we can make, but we came into this match knowing it would be great to win the league again, but also knowing that we really dropped the ball in districts and states last year and that we didn’t want that to happen again.”

Becahi took care of Nazareth 40-20 in last year’s EPC championship only to see that result fail to hold up a week later at district duals.

All eyes have a Becahi-Nazareth rematch on tap for this week, but the Blue Eagles should be wary of a potential semifinal matchup with Liberty (17-1) Saturday morning.

Should both teams advance to the semifinals, as expected, it would mark the first time this season they would meet. And with the way Liberty has been wrestling this season, they would certainly give Nazareth all they can handle.

“Liberty really took it to Easton over the weekend and they’re wrestling really tough right now,” said Karam. “If we can make it through our bracket, we’ll have a tough matchup in the finals.”

Becahi’s path to the finals is all but a foregone conclusion, as the top-seeded Hawks should take care of business against either Freedom (13-7) or Easton (8-5) in Thursday’s opening round of the District 11 3A tournament. On Saturday, they’ll either see a Northampton (12-3) team they defeated 47-9 earlier this year or Stroudsburg, who they took care of by a 41-18 margin this season.

A Becahi-Liberty final would pit the Karam brothers in their biggest ever showdown and one that would be certainly entertaining, but Nazareth always finds a way to scrap their way back and last year is evidence to not take the Blue Eagles lightly coming into this weekend.

“Nazareth did a great job making adjustments last year and we expect them to the same thing this week,” Karam said. “If it comes to wrestling Liberty or Nazareth, we’ll feel comfortable with either of them, but we also know both teams are going to present a difficult challenge.”