If the opening weekend of the wrestling season means anything for Freedom, it shows the Patriots will put in the work to continually improve this season.
The Patriots jumped out to a 5-0 start on the season with an undefeated march through the Battle at Bethlehem Duals at Freedom.
The Pates knocked off Southern Lehigh (59-15), St. Joe’s Prep (66-6), Neshaminy (46-23), Abington Heights (54-18) en route to topping Honesdale 60-12 in the final.
It was a weekend where Freedom dominated and one where they improved
Liberty wrestling is entering a new era with head coach Brandon Hall taking over the reigns for longtime Liberty boss Jody Karam.
With the former Freedom coach coming into his ninth season overall leading a program, Hall has expectations lined up for him, but is also ready for the challenge of leading the Hurricane program, that enjoyed a 19-4 season a year ago.
With Liberty losing a lot of experience to graduation last year, this year’s team may have its share of growing pains, but Hall won’t let that build in as an excuse.
It was an impressive weekend for our local teams, as they kicked off the basketball season Friday night.
Freedom and Liberty both jumped out to 2-0 marks on the year, as the Patriots won the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tip-Off Classic at Notre Dame.
Freedom pulled away from Bethlehem Catholic (1-1) in Saturday’s championship contest 68-47. After trailing the Hawks 30-26 with 3:49 in the third quarter, the Patriots exploded to finish the game on a 42-17 run.
The East Penn Conference’s Steel Division might be the toughest slate in the area this season and Freedom head coach Joe Stellato certainly notices.
Stellato enters his 20th season at the helm of the program with the Pates fresh off a 16-6 season last year. They’re now thrust into conference play with Allen being one of the best teams in the area, as well as Easton being considered a league favorite. Throw in city rivalry games with Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic and the Steel Division will be a tough out every night.
After winning the East Penn Conference crown and the District 11 4A championship last season, what does Bethlehem Catholic have in store for an encore?
With only four players with varsity experience back from last year’s 26-4 season, head coach Scott McClary’s second season on the Becahi bench will be drastically different from his inaugural campaign.
“This team could struggle in the beginning, as our schedule is brutal and we are very inexperienced,” said McClary. “I do think we have some good pieces and can get stronger by the end of the season and make some noise.”
Chad Landis has seen plenty of tough battles in the league during his 12 years as coach of Liberty’s basketball program, but this year’s loaded EPC Steel Division might present one of Landis’ toughest tasks during his coaching career.
Coming off a 12-11 campaign, Liberty will need every ounce of basketball spirit this winter to gut out their 2019-20 schedule.
Freedom’s wrestling program should see a bump in year two of Dante Terenzio’s tenure, as they return 12 starters from last year’s 15-6 team.
Terenzio’s penchant for the details and a strong work ethic, could make this year’s Patriot squad a formidable opponent when it comes to the district duals race.
“No reason we shouldn’t be wrestling late in the final day of district duals,” said Terenzio. “I feel like our coaching staff has gotten its point across this past year, and it’s time to start taking big steps forward.”
Bethlehem Catholic’s boys’ basketball program has partnered with the Lehigh County Special Olympics to host a tournament at Bethlehem Catholic on Dec. 20 and 21.
The tournament will feature three other Catholic schools from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as the likes of John Carroll, Bishop Ireton and St. John’s Catholic Prep make the trek to the Lehigh Valley.
For Hawks head coach Scott McClary, the event is one that he’s always wanted to organize, since his time working with the Lehigh County Special Olympics.
The East Penn Conference announced their league all-stars and Freedom’s Jared Jenkins (QB) took home EPC South MVP honors on the offensive side of the ball. The Pates had six players get all-league recognition, while Liberty’s Sander Sahaydak (K) and Zaire Mitchell (LB) got first team nods for the Hurricanes.
Other Freedom honorees were: Gabe Katon (WR); Kaden Moore (OT/DL); Vince Reph (LB); Jalen Stewart (ATH/RB) and Matt Russin (CB).
For the first time ever, I didn’t get one pick right in last week’s edition. Truly a Haley’s Comet moment, but also a great week for all three winners last week, as Nazareth’s victory over Parkland will always be remembered by the Blue Eagle faithful for their Nazareth special.
Pottsville proved that they are no joke, as they head into the state tournament and Southern Lehigh dismantled Oil City 41-0 in their state playoff game.
What can all three teams do this week?
Hopefully, I have better luck this time around.
1. Nazareth (12-1)
Last week’s rank: #1