Nolehi ready for NDGP – Times News Online

Northern Lehigh has already been in plenty of big games.

And there’s no doubt the Bulldogs are battled-tested.

This week will be no different, as Northern Lehigh welcomes Notre Dame Green Pond in the Times News Football Game of the Week.

It’s another meeting of top teams in the Colonial-Schuylkill League’s Red Division, with the Crusaders currently sitting at 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the division.

It also comes a week after Notre Dame knocked off North Schuylkill (4-2, 3-1), with the Spartans having previously beaten the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) in Week 5.

“We’re excited to play Notre Dame this week,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout. “We didn’t feel that the North Schuylkill score was representative of the team we have. So now we have an opportunity to play the team that just beat North Schuylkill. We feel like we have another opportunity to play a high level team, and to show that we can compete with the upper tier of 3A schools in District 11. We are really excited for this opportunity.”

The Bulldogs bounced back from a 31-0 loss to North Schuylkill with a dominant 42-0 win over Salisbury last week.

“We did what we were hoping to do last week, so it was a good rebound game,” Tout said. “Salisbury is down this year; we talked about going there and not coming out flat and I thought we did that. Offensively, we were efficient and had scored on every drive but one in the first half. Defensively, we were excellent. I think they had 80 yards of offense, and I believe they only had 20 yards against our starting defense.”

Northern Lehigh sports an offense that averages 348.7 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the area.

Against Salisbury, Nick Frame, Jack Tosh, John Abidelli and Alexander Jimenez-Wittong (ALL) scored rushing touchdowns, while Frame also connected with Jimenez-Wittong and Austin Smyth for passing scores.

The Bulldogs finished with 361 yards of total offense, with 256 coming on the ground and 105 through the air.

“North Schuylkill ran the ball very well against ND. I was surprised that North Schuylkill got away from running the ball as much as they did,” said Tout. “We think this is a good matchup for our offense this week. We plan on running our offense, and we believe we will be able to move the ball this week.”

The Bulldogs’ defense has been dominant, allowing an area-best 200.5 yards per game, and surrendering a total of 84 points with two shutouts to their credit this season.

Northern Lehigh forced three turnovers against Salisbury. The Bulldogs rank second in the area in turnover differential at +7.

Notre Dame quarterback Danny Darno was dynamic a week ago in the 36-24 win over North Schuylkill, completing 16-of-24 pass attempts for 261 yards and four touchdowns. The junior also led the team with 107 yards rushing on 12 carries.

His top targets in the passing game were Josh Ludlow – who hauled in eight passes for 116 yards and a score – and AJ Lozano, who recorded six catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Both also had long gains, with Ludlow recording a 68-yard catch, and Lozano making a 64-yard grab, against North Schuylkill.

The Crusaders are a high-powered offense averaging 41.5 points per game, and outscoring opponents 180-74 during their four-game winning streak.

Tout knows this will be a challenge unlike any the Bulldogs have faced this season.

“No, they are a unique team,” Tout said. “They aren’t really similar to anyone else we have played. Their QB is their best runner, and they will scheme Ludlow to try and get him the ball. Ludlow will be put in different positions, including the backfield. So they try to get him the ball often. We feel we have a good scheme defensively for their offense. We do have to do a good job of tackling Darno in the open field. He does a good job of running downhill in the open field.”

Northern Lehigh, coming off a District 11 Class 2A title and a run to the state semifinals a year ago, has hosted several must-see matchups this season, from rival Northwestern (5-1) in the Mountain Road Rumble in Week 2, to North Schuylkill two weeks ago.

Notre Dame is currently No. 1 in the District 11 Class 3A power rankings, followed by the Tigers and the Spartans at second and third, respectively. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are second in Class 1A, behind unbeaten Tri-Valley (6-0). Expect Bulldog Stadium to be buzzing once again on Friday night.

“Yes, we are very excited for this opportunity,” said Tout. “It’s exciting to get to October, and have games that will have an impact on who wins our division in the league and will have a big impact on district seedings.”

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