Emmaus hosts Nazareth Friday night
The Emmaus Green Hornets take the first step toward a state football championship Friday night.
The District 11 Class 6A quarterfinals kick off with four games including the second-seeded Green Hornets, who host the seventh-seeded Nazareth Blue Eagles at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 at East Penn School District Stadium.
“There’s nothing like it,” said coach Harold Fairclough about the postseason. “The playoffs are about the little things. Practicing as it gets dark. Practicing as it gets colder. A lot of teams are already turning in their uniforms and we’re still playing.”
Emmaus and Nazareth need no introduction. Who could forget their classic confrontation in the season’s second week? It was a game that featured drama, execution and plenty of heroes. Emmaus rallied with nine seconds left on a controversial 8-yard TD pass from quarterback Ethan Parvel to wide receiver Izaiah McPherson, which closed the deficit to 42-41. Fairclough rolled the dice, and Lubens Myers rammed forward behind the left side of the Emmaus line for the two-point conversion and a 43-42 Green Hornet win.
On paper, the Green Hornets (9-1, 7-1 EPC) are the better football team, but no game has ever been won with ink.
Coach Tom Falzone’s Blue Eagles (5-5, 3-5 EPC) struggled to get into the postseason, but can cause trouble. They boast a prolific finesse offense behind junior quarterback Anthony Harris. The 6-foot, 3-inch junior is the piston that fires the pass-oriented Nazareth offense. He has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards this season, completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 25 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He also is a threat to tuck it under, gaining more than five yards a carry this season.
Harris’ receiving weapons include Tommy Manos (82 receptions for 1,092 yards and seven touchdowns) and Nathan Stefanik (57 receptions for 717 yards and 11 TDs).
Both young men have a solid yardage average per catch (13.3 for Manos and 12.7 for Stefanik) and both are capable of producing quality rushing attempts.
Their running attack also features Kyle Paccio, who this season averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
“They can do a lot of things offensively,” said Fairclough. “We’re going to defend and make the plays we need to against them.”
Defensively the Blue Eagles include Nick Viva, Jake Wilson, Cole Osmun, Jack McKenna and Paccio. For the most part, their defense has surpassed expectations this season, containing the teams they should. However they have struggled against the better EPC teams, such as Freedom, Emmaus, Parkland and Easton.
The 34-31 loss to Easton, in the season’s final regular season game, was especially distasteful. Nazareth dominated in offensive plays from scrimmage in the first half (59-15) yet trailed at halftime, 21-17. Nazareth was also unable to hold two separate fourth quarter leads.
On Friday night, none of that matters.
“We’re going to have to play sound football, just like every week,” Fairclough said.
The Green Hornets will also have the services of Myers for the playoff game. He did not play in the season finale due to injury.
“He’s back,” Fairclough said. “He’s 100 percent.”