Football squad knocks off Konkrete Kids
Senior Chad Hussett shook of some early week soreness, and then shook off a host of would-be Northampton tacklers last Friday to help the Zephyrs end the football season on a strong note.
Hussett made Al Erdosy Stadium his personal running track as he rushed for 299 yards, his biggest output of his season and career. He scored two touchdowns and left a trail of exasperated, air-grabbing Kids in his wake.
Even with his effort on the ground, the Zephyrs still needed a clutch interception by senior Jacob Heffner to ensure they would leave Northampton with a win. Hussett’s one-yard score with a little over five minutes left gave the Zephyrs the 36-27 lead, but the Kids rallied, driving the ball to Whitehall’s 13-yard line before quarterback Joe Kerbacher completed a touchdown toss to Kyle Wescoe with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
And when the Kids recovered the on-sides kick, they leaned on Heffner’s heroics to seal the deal, giving them the 36-34 victory.
It was another Cement Bowl win for the Zephyrs, their ninth in a row. It also helps them kickoff their offseason regimen on a positive note. Unfortunately, the Zephyrs won’t be able to defend their 5A title this year. The four teams vying for the 2018 crown are East Stroudsburg South, Pocono Mountain East, Southern Lehigh and Wallenpaupack.
Head coach Justin Kondikoff said that it all began in the week leading up to the game. He said that practice was fun and full of energy. That tone was set by the seniors who pushed everyone, making sure the underclassmen were ready for the final regular season game.
“They responded to that and took the challenge,” said Kondikoff.
He said that it was important to reinforce the fact that they’re still a bunch of tough guys who will play each snap with everything they have for four quarters.
“I think they came out and played that way,” said Kondikoff.
He said that their preparation also extended to the pregame where they showed that same enthusiasm and dedication, leaving the lockers ready to play.
They rolled up 457 total yards, the bulk of that on the ground led by Hussett’s nearly three-bill balling. Quarterback Anthony Nanoah also got loose for some big gains, his longest a 30-yard dash. He finished the game with 78 yards.
But it was through the air that Nanoah struck for the most damage. He was 7-12 for 80 yards, including three TDs.
Joe Herman was on the receiving end of two of those passes, finishing with 34 yards and two scores.
Allen Negrete led the team in catches, hauling in four passes for 41 yards, including a TD.
Hussett got the Zephyrs on the board in the first quarter with a 63-yard run that knotted the score at 7-7.
After that tying score, the Kids struck for 14 unanswered points, taking a 21-7 lead when Tyrese Brandon (14-191) bolted 24 yards for the score.
On their next series, Whitehall was denied on fourth-and-two at the 2-yard-line, turning it over on downs. But on the Kids ensuing possession, senior Justin Santiago tackled Kerbacher in the end zone for a safety, cutting the lead to 21-9.
The Zephs scored again later in the quarter when Herman caught a 15-yard TD pass from Anthony Nanoah.
That score brought the Zephyrs within six points (the two-point conversion failed) as they headed into halftime. Once they emerged from the break, Nanoah found Negrete for the 16-yard strike that gave them the lead at 22-21.
From that point, the Zephyrs would never trail again as Herman and Hussett both scored fourth quarter TDs to give them their second win.
Once again, the seniors played a pivotal role in the win. The contributions from Hussett, Herman, Santiago, and Heffner, all impacted the game. That was also true for Ben Hudak (8 tackles), Anthony Johnson (2 tackles), Kyle Saylor (2 tackles), Robert Furlong, Nikolas Peacock, Brandon Gawrys, Marino Collazo, and a host of others.
Senior kicker Alex Khouri also had a huge impact on special teams. He took over the punting duties this season and displayed a powerful leg that often sent kicks 50-plus yards. He finished the season with a 38.25 average. He also made 34of 36 extra points.
Kondikoff said that the seniors made a big contribution this season.
“They gave everything they had,” said Kondikoff. “It was really inspiring. I was pleased to see them do that.”