Football season ends with loss to WVW
For Emmaus football head coach Joe Bottiglieri, there are a set of mixed emotions regarding the Hornets' season that came to an end last Friday night to Wyoming Valley West in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Hornets - who fell 6-0 to the Spartans - were shut out for the first time in five years, and a few costly turnovers ruined a superb defensive effort from Emmaus.
"We just were not in sync," said Bottiglieri. "We didn't execute. We had some new people in the lineup and we just didn't put it together at all. It's a shame because the defense played outstanding.
"In fact, Wyoming Valley West did not cross the 50 in the first half. They had less than 100 yards going into the fourth quarter. So it was a waste of a good defensive effort and we just couldn't score."
But for a team that was picked to finish in the bottom half of the Lehigh Valley Conference, the extra week of play was a positive. The Hornets went 4-5 in conference play and were tied with Freedom and Central Catholic for the league's fourth best record and they feel they could've walked away with a few more victories.
Sitting at 4-2 going into their matchup against Liberty, the Hornets were in a position to better their conference record against the Hurricanes and enhance their case for a possible district playoff appearance down the road.
Instead, the Hornets fell on a late-second field goal to the Hurricanes, 24-22, which brought them to just a game above .500 with a matchup against Whitehall awaiting the following week.
"We thought, okay we win against Liberty [and] now we're 5-2," said Bottiglieri. "And then we got a chance our last three games."
The Hornets suffered their first loss of the season to Freedom (44-12), and followed that up with a heartbreaking 15-14 double overtime loss to then-LVC leader Easton a week later, stationing them at 2-2 in conference play.
"If we go 7-3 then there's a good chance we get in," said Bottiglieri. "But obviously we didn't take care of business."
"Freedom did a good job and kicked our butts - we turned the ball over four times," said Bottiglieri. "But the loss to Easton in double overtime hurt, and then the loss in the last 10 seconds to Liberty. If we win those two games we're 7-3 and then we become the fourth [LVC] team. But it didn't happen."
But with a team returning just one starter on defense from last year and finishing 2012 with two offensive starters from a year ago, the Hornets remained competitive for the most part in the LVC conference. And despite the way their season came to a halt, Bottiglieri was pleased with how things shaped out in the regular season.
"In one way this team overachieved and in another way it underachieved," said Bottiglieri. "We were picked seventh in league going into the season and we finished fourth. To make the playoffs, even though it was the Eastern Conference, was still an accomplishment.
"Once we got to the playoffs, we underachieved because I thought we would've been able to get into the finals."