Kids won’t take Zephs lightly
Northampton head football coach Kyle Haas understands the impact and the ripple effects of his team’s recent East Penn Conference (EPC) North title.
“Winning a championship is huge for the school and the community,” said Haas. “There hasn’t been one in a long time.
“Our younger kids are working harder to get on the field. They want to be part of the success. For us, it really was a big boost of confidence.”
The Konkrete Kids (8-1) are ready to take the next step when they travel to winless Whitehall (0-9) Friday night in the annual Cement Belt Challenge. Whitehall has won the last nine contests between the two teams.
Northampton also will be looking to beat its first EPC South opponent since 2012.
Yet, Haas wants to keep everything in its proper perspective.
“We’re not inheriting that baggage,” said Haas in response to his team’s nine-game losing streak. “We’re looking at it over the last two years and we’re 0-1.
“We just have to go out and take care of business. I don’t know if we are that far from being an upper echelon team, and there always is the talk about beating teams from the (EPC) South.”
Still, Haas is well aware that Whitehall has its share of playmakers in running back Ali Barkley and wide receiver Allen Negrete, both of whom are among the are leaders in their categories.
“There will be a sense of urgency there,” stressed Haas. “They (Whitehall) will come out and fight. They have Barkley and can spread the ball around. They also have some size up front.
“For whatever reason, they just haven’t been able to put it all together.”
With a core of consistent players throughout the season, Haas continues to firmly believe in junior quarterback Joe Kerbacher, who has thrown for over 1,300 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
“Joe (Kerbacher) just keeps getting better,” said Haas. “He is very confident and his numbers are climbing.
“He is still learning, and I don’t know what his ceiling is. He does a number of things and gives opposing defenses fits.”
Senior running Tyrese Brandon is closing in on the 1,000-yard rushing mark, as he will enter Friday with 759 yards with 10 touchdowns, and fellow senior wide receiver Jared Russell has 28 catches for 548 yards with 10 touchdowns.
Junior Michael Cruz has been getting the job done on kickoffs with a 17.6 average return, and junior kicker/punter Aiden Reinhard has converted 52 of 54 PATs and has a 32.3 average punting. Reinhard set the school mark for career PATs earlier this season.
Senior Spencer Cole lead the team with 67 tackles and junior Zion Raub has 59 stops.
The Kids enter this weekend in the fourth spot in the District 11 Class 6A rankings. If the postseason opened today, they would have a rematch with Easton, which stopped them 39-19 last season on a windy, rainy night.
“If we play them, it will be a home game for us,” said Haas. “The way things will likely shake down, it will probably be them. They have a very good running back, but they have trouble moving the ball through the air.
“Our kids would be very confident at home, but we have to take care of Whitehall first.”
PREDICTION: This should prove to be a tussle, and the Zephyrs will unleash everything they have at the Kids. This may be a more intense situation than the title game for the Kids, as they want to take another monkey off their back with a win over an EPC South team. Whitehall can and will score, but they have had trouble stopping teams all season long. It will be tight at times, but the Kids take another major step…NORTHAMPTON 42-21.