Before the season started, Randy Cuthbert got some funny looks when he told people his offensive line would be better than last year.
The Hornets had graduated everyone. Not just interior linemen, but tight ends and receivers, too. This year's team has fresh faces up front from sideline to sideline.
But Cuthbert, who took over the team in late spring of 2013, knew the players that would take over in the trenches had been in the weight room all offseason. He knew how close they had become and how big and strong they were compared to last year.
Over the first 45 minutes of last week's Eastern Pennsylvanie field hockey championship game, both teams had some scoring chances, but neither could capitalize.
Finally, with 12:03 left in the game, Stroudsburg's Jennifer Bukowski sent a shot from the top of the circle that bounced through Emmaus' defense and got past keeper Tori Laczo for the game's only goal.
The win gives the Mountaineers the league's first title trophy and keeps the Hornets without a league title for the first season since 2003.
Emmaus advanced through the first round of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference girls volleyball tournament Saturday with a win over Pleasant Valley.
The No. 3 seed Hornets consistently went to their three top hitters to bear the No. 6 seed Bears 25-27, 25-29 and 25-21.
Emmaus' Mackenzie O'Brien (15 kills), Megan Forstburg (nine kills) and Erin Stanton (nine kills) did most of the damage.
When Emmaus has its ground game going, the Hornets are a tough team to stop.
They showed that last Friday night, piling up 371 rushing yards in a 43-6 win over Northampton that puts Emmaus at 3-3 this season.
"I feel like we improved from last week," said running back/linebacker Andy Davidson. "That's the most important thing we can do, improve every week and get better. We have tough match ups in the weeks ahead. We just need to get better."
Emmaus got back to .500 with a win last week. Liberty dropped to 2-2 with a loss.
Their records are one of the few similarities between the two teams that will stand on opposite sidelines Friday Night at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.
The Hurricanes bring a spread offense in which quarterback Doug Erney has several different receivers as well as the run the ball himself.
Emmaus brings a hard-nose running game, led by backs Andrew Davidson and Wyl Miller.
After each team's first possession, last Friday night's Emmaus-Easton game looked like it was going to be a slugfest between two teams with powerful running games.
But after a three-play touchdown drive to open the game, the Hornet offense failed to produce any more points against a stout and aggressive Red Rover defense.
Easton (2-0) scored five unanswered touchdowns over the rest of the game for a 35-7 win at Cottingham Stadium.
The early part of the season has been huge for the Emmaus boys soccer program. Coach John Cari, who is in his tenth season, came into the year with 149 wins and his team quickly put him at the 150 mark with a season-opening win over Easton.
"I've had a lot of talented kids, that's all it comes down to," said Cari. "I've been very fortunate to have talented players who want to work hard and succeed."
It was just one loss. It came against a very good team. There's no reason for Emmaus fans to panic.
"No one's jumping off a bridge yet," said Hornet head coach Randy Cuthbert. "Easton is one of the top teams in the state. It's a long season."
Coming off a 35-7 loss to the Red Rovers, Emmaus takes on a Freedom team that beat Nazareth 67-34 last week and brings a 2-0 record into Friday night's game.
Second-year Emmaus head coach Randy Cuthbert felt like many high school coaches do after his team's first game of the season.
He liked some things his team did in Friday night's 41-7 win over East Stroudsburg North. And there were plenty of things the second-year Hornet head coach saw that he'd like to see improve.
"Obviously we were sloppy at times," he said. "The thing I liked the most is when we got into some tough situations the kids always responded."
East Stroudsburg North might not be a familiar foe to Emmaus football fans. But the Timerwolves are no mystery to Hornet head coach Randy Cuthbert and his staff.
The former Mountain Valley Conference member is now part the new East Penn Conference and will visit Emmaus Friday to open the 2014 season.
Cuthbert's team will be ready for the Wolves' run-based offense, led by sophomore signal caller Thomas Melchiorre.