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PRESS FILE PHOTOThe Emmaus offense looks to be more balanced this season with some talented wide receivers and a pair of running backs that are expected to share the workload. Copyright - DonHerb                                               PRESS FILE PHOTOThe Emmaus offense looks to be more balanced this season with some talented wide receivers and a pair of running backs that are expected to share the workload. Copyright - DonHerb

Football season opens Friday

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 by Mike Haines mhaines@tnonline.com in Sports

A new era in Emmaus football will begin Friday night when the Hornets visit J. Birney Crum Stadium to take on Dieruff and open the 2016 season. The team will play its first regular season game under new head coach Harold Fairclough.

The Hornets will look to build on last year’s season, which culminated with a 7-5 overall record and an Eastern Conference title.

“We just want to move the program in the right direction,” said senior Kyle Carraher, a two-year starter at tight end and defensive end who is moving to the interior of the offensive line this season. “Obviously everybody’s goal is to make the district playoffs.”

An improved Dieruff team stands in the way this week. The Huskies graduated 1,000-yard rusher Devante Robinson, but they bring back several skill players that can do damage in receiver Anthony Mendoza, running back Jon Jackson and quarterback Quadanie Vegas.

“They’re doing a good job over there,” said Fairclough. “They have some talented skill kids. They have some size up front. It’s not going to be easy.

“They like to spread the ball around. They’re a zone read team. From what we saw in the scrimmage they throw a lot of screens. They like to get their athletes in space to make plays. They’ve got a couple kids that if you miss they can to take it to the house. We have to play sound. We have to play smart. We have to play good team defense.”

Dieruff went 4-6 last year and 4-4 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference North Division.

Defense is going to be a key for Emmaus this season. While the Hornets graduated their entire offensive line and running back Kyle Boney, the defense has several returning players.

One of this year’s defensive leaders might be looking forward to this week’s even more than most of his teammates.

Inside linebacker Noah Breidinger returns after missing most of his sophomore season. The junior will anchor this year’s defense. He earned a starting spot on defense as a sophomore last season before breaking his collar bone in Week 2 and missing the rest of the season.

“I’m really excited,” said Breidinger. “I couldn’t wait for it to start again. I can’t wait for the first game.”

Breidinger will also play fullback in front of two junior running backs in Lubens Myers and Sone Ntoh.

While the Hornets relied heavily on the running game the last few seasons, this year they plan to spread the ball around to receivers Josh Artis, Brian Mantone, Drew Schwindenhammer and Austin Figueroa.

“We’re not going to be the same type of offense as last year,” said Carraher. “We can split it between Lubens and Sone. They’ve both been doing a great job. We’ll definitely pass a lot more. I think we should be fine.”

In its first game under Fairclough, Emmaus is mostly just looking to get off to a solid start and keep building on last year’s successes.

“That’s all we’re looking to do is gain some confidence week 1,” said Fairclough. “Play sound football, be competitive, be physical and take care of all the little things we’ve been working on since January. If we do that we’ll be headed in the right direction.”