Vikings want another district gold and more, plus 3 things to know – The Morning Call
Tim McGorry has no problem reading a long list of key returnees for his Allentown Central Catholic football team.
But there was a big loss, literally and figuratively.
“Lavon Johnson was one of the best players to ever play football at Central Catholic,” McGorry said of the gigantic defensive lineman who had 36 tackles for a loss and eight sacks last season. “When you graduate for someone like him, you not only lose an all-state football player, but you also lose someone who has truly matured and become a leader who has held people accountable. We had a small group of six elderly people last year, but it was a great group that ignored the noise outside.
This year, that noise will grow louder for Vikings football as the program has won back-to-back District 11 4A titles and is coming off a 9-4 season that included a 5-3 mark in EPC South.
The group of experienced returning players includes Griffin Patridge, running backs Travis Foster and Caiden Shaffer, wide receivers Jareel Calhoun, Armonie Torres and Nasir Mclean, defensive back Rajan Stevens and two-way tackle Braheem Battles.
Tamlin Ferguson, who threw for 1,459 yards and eight touchdowns last year, returns and will compete with Matt Keyes for the starting quarterback position.
“A lot of these guys have played a lot of meaningful minutes in big games, so that’s definitely an advantage,” McGorry said. “But it’s a new football team. There will be expectations placed on this group and we will just have to block that, focus on the processes and try to improve day by day. Right now we can’t think of Liberty in Week 1 or who’s on the schedule or anything like that.
As for the quarterback battle, McGorry, who used multiple quarterbacks last season, said both guys can contribute no matter who starts.
“They bring different things,” McGorry said. “Matt Keyes has a really live arm. But Matt is so valuable on defense and played every shot on defense as a sophomore and as a junior. “offseason. I don’t think there’s a guy we’ve had here in my time who worked as hard as Matt Keyes in the offseason. It’s been phenomenal to watch him.
At the same time, McGorry praised Ferguson as an outstanding leader.
“He has the intangibles that you love in a quarterback; so it will be interesting to see how that plays out,” McGorry said.
McGorry, entering his fourth season with an overall record of 23-11, likes the depth he has in certain positions, particularly running back and wide receiver, but is concerned about graduating from three starting offensive linemen – David Platt, Dohyen Kim and Mike Snyder.
“I know we have running backs and receivers coming back, but any time you lose three guys up front, that’s a concern,” McGorry said. “She’s probably the strongest we’ve had physically in my four years here, so hopefully the work in the weight room will transfer to the training ground. We had a big commitment in the weight room during the offseason. We had no problems. It’s great to see some guys evolve.
Can the Vikings not only repeat as district champions, but advance deeper into the state tournament after losing their first game in the PIAA tournament a year ago against Jersey Shore?
“I think the loss to Jersey Shore was disappointing last year in the sense that we lost because we ran out of gas,” McGorry said. “Jersey Shore was relentless and we sort of died in the second half as they kept going. We ran out of energy. That’s what we made our guys realize in the offseason that we can’t make it happen again if we’re lucky enough to be in that situation.
1. More tiger stories. After a few memorable battles with Northwestern Lehigh in the District 11 tournament in recent years, Central won’t play the Tigers again in November. The rivalry that had developed between the two top-tier programs was put on hold, with Northwestern moving to Class 3A. There are just six teams left in Class 4A with Bangor, Bethlehem Catholic, Blue Mountain, East Stroudsburg North and Pottsville joining the Vikings.
2. Win the numbers game. The Vikings are pleased with the number of children enrolled in the program. McGorry said heading into the heat acclimatization period, he had 85 players in grades 9 through 12. The youth program, which now includes Pop Warner-branded football, has an additional 150 children. “The numbers are definitely going in the right direction,” McGorry said.
3. A story of Xs and Os. McGorry has one of the most experienced coaches in the region with Rob Melosky and Dan Kendra returning for a second straight year with Paul Hagadus. “It’s a good group of coaches and our kids are doing a great job coaching,” McGorry said. The only newcomer to the team is Omar Pacheco, who was previously at Bethlehem Catholic.
All game times are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise stated
August 20: in Northampton, 10 a.m.
August 27: Freedom
September 2: at Emmaus
September 10: Easton
September 16: at Parkland
September 24: Freedom
Oct. 1: *in Dieruff
October 8: Nazareth
October 14: in Whitehall
Oct. 20: *Pocono Mountain East, 7:30 a.m.
Oct. 28: in Bethlehem Catholic
* Inter-division matches against EPC North opponents.
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