The aspirations for a championship season started way back in winter lifting sessions for most area football teams, but all the offseason work now comes out on display this weekend with the official opening of the 2019 season kicking off this Friday night.
For the Bethlehem area teams, it’s the beginning of expected championship aspirations for Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic and hopeful resurgence for Liberty.
Welcome to another year of the high school football season and the season keeps getting earlier.
With teams across the state missing out on one extra scrimmage this year, opening weekend is generally an extension of the preseason for many teams in the EPC South, but we do have a marquee battle in the Colonial League with a showdown between two league favorites, Northwestern and Notre Dame, as well as a showdown between Southern Lehigh and Saucon Valley.
Week 1 picks make most people look like geniuses, so let’s hope nobody makes me look dumb this week.
The Wanderers’ season came to a close in the Region 2 tournament, but it didn’t take away from the type of campaign the team experienced over the summer.
The NORCO champs fell to Berks champ Norchester 7-1 to end their run in the tournament, going 2-2 in the double elimination format. Norchester scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to pull away for the win.
For Wanderers head coach Dwight Pulieri, the season was a success after a 22-5 finish that saw his team win the league title.
Freedom has a knack at winning titles in the summer. Head coach Joe Stellato hopes that can translate to championship aspirations in the winter.
The Patriots won the first annual Lehigh Valley Summer Slam last weekend at Dieruff, knocking off the Huskies 62-55 in the final.
Malek and Caleb Mims combined for 36 points in the championship game to lift the Pates to the title.
Jody Karam has built Liberty’s wrestling program into one of the most respected in the area, if not the state, but as they say, all good things must come to an end.
Karam officially handed in his letter of resignation to Liberty athletic director Fred Harris last week, ending a 26-year run on the Hurricanes’ mats.
Harris sent out a press release last week, describing how much Karam meant to the program.
Trevor Harris was one of the most dominant football players in the East Penn Conference last season. His senior year was a hallmark campaign for the Liberty defensive end, garnering EPC South defensive MVP honors and first-team all-state status, but the awards and success were a culmination of Harris’ hard-work and some visits to summer camps after his junior season to set the tone for his stellar final year at Liberty.
The expected championship matchup in the NORCO finals between Wanderers and Northampton became a reality last week and as expected, the two best teams in the conference all summer took things to the max of their three-game series.
Wanderers pulled out the championship Monday evening 1-0 to now advance to the Region 2 tournament starting on July 19.
Gabe Rodriguez threw a four-hitter in the victory for the Wanderers, who got the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth inning off a Eli Lesley’s sacrifice fly.
The Cedar Beach summer league keeps pushing its way through July and Liberty is keeping on pace as one of the best teams this summer.
The Hurricanes came into this week with an 8-2 record, good for second place in the standings behind Reading (8-1).
Liberty, thus far, has been the only Bethlehem team finding success in summer action, as Bethlehem Catholic (3-7) and Freedom (1-8) have struggled.
Liberty hopes it can get back on track this week, following a 52-41 loss to Wilson West (8-2) Lawn last week, which tied both teams for second place.
Bethlehem Catholic’s Cole Handlovic announced that he’s heading to Cornell University to continue his wrestling career.
Handlovic, a rising senior for the Hawks, made the announcement on Twitter last week, signaling another Golden Hawk from the wrestling program heading to a Division-I program.
“I am very humbled to announce that I am committed to Cornell!,” Handlovic said. “Thank you to all of my coaches, my family, and my teammates who put me in the position for this to happen. Without all of you I wouldn’t be the athlete, student, or the person I am today. Thank you!”
The NORCO playoffs kicked off this week and Bethlehem’s Wanderers earned the right to an opening round bye thank to their 16-2 regular season record.
The Wanderers sit at the top of the bracket and will await the winner of the four-five matchup between Freemansburg (9-9) and Wind Gap (9-9).
Northampton (15-3) is on the opposite side of the bracket and have a bye as well, as they will either take on third-seeded Nazareth (14-4) or Bankos (9-9).
The first round best of three series began on Monday and the second round of the tournament is slated for July 11-13.