Lehigh Valley high school football: Emmaus’ ‘Gold Out’ to fight pediatric cancer adds fun to big Week 4 EPC matchups

Most agree that football is the most popular high school sport in terms of interest, attendance and unifying effect on a community.

In addition to the excitement of the games themselves, football is used as a backdrop for homecomings, reunions, jersey farewell ceremonies, youth nights, Hall of Fame inductions, and much more.

The sport can also be used as a fundraising platform.

On Friday night, the Emmaus High School Pediatric Cancer Club uses the Green Hornets home game against Whitehall for its annual “Gold Out” fundraiser.

Raffle tickets are sold during the competition, T-shirts are sold in the school and, if there are any left, at the gate, all to promote the fight against childhood cancer and help young people and their families in need of help.

“Proceeds from this event will go towards our ‘Shave for the Brave’ effort that will take place in March, an event that we are very excited about,” said Emmaus athletic trainer and Pediatric Cancer Club advisor Liz Del Re. “We had to cancel it last year due to COVID-19. Our students are very enthusiastic about it and they put a lot of time and energy into both the Gold Out and the Shave for the Brave.”

Del Re said the “Gold Out” normally takes place in October during Childhood Cancer Month and is usually a collaboration between schools, but it was moved to September and there wasn’t enough time to join forces with Whitehall this time.

Still, fans of Whitehall and Emmaus are encouraged to help as much as possible. Del Re said 700 T-shirts were ordered with the phrase “Peace, love and healing” and a football in the shape of a heart. At the beginning of the week, there were still about 250 available.

The last time Shave for the Brave was held, it raised over $109,000, making it one of the largest fundraisers in Pennsylvania.

“Our kids love doing it because it’s a really great learning experience for them,” says Del Re. “Many of them continue with THON at Penn State, and alumni come back because they want to help again. There’s a lot of excitement when you do something like that and sell your T-shirts and raise money, but when you understand what the battle is all about and you realize how important what you do and why you are when you do it, it hits and you get definitely grounded.”

Here’s a look at this week’s EPC matchups (all matches are Friday at 7pm unless otherwise noted)

Allentown CCHS (3-0, 2-0) at Easton (1-2, 0-2)

Main storylines: Two teams seem to be going in opposite directions. The Vikings emerge from a dominant defense attempt against Emmaus and the Red Rovers try to find their footing after consecutive losses.

Players to watch: Junior Tamlin Ferguson made the most of his first varsity start with a few TD passes. Griffin Patridge caught three TD passes overall against Emmaus and finished his day with seven grabs for 137 yards. Juju Fears and Javion Thompson combined for nine catches and 80 yards in Easton’s loss to Freedom.

Central Catholic quarterback Tamlin Ferguson threw two TD passes against Emmaus on Saturday at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown. (Rick Kintzel / The Morning Call)

What to Expect: Central must avoid an emotional disappointment against an Easton team desperate for its first EPC South win after a few disappointing losses.

Keith Groller’s pick: Easton 21-14.

Freedom (2-1, 1-1) at Parkland (2-0, 2-0)

Top Storylines: Sophomore QB Luke Spang gets his first varsity start for Parkland after a collarbone injury for veteran Ty Tremba. The Patriots took a necessary win over Easton, but feel they are far from a championship-class team.

Players to watch: Two of the EPC’s best RBs will be on display as Freedom’s Deante Crawford is expected back in COVID-19 protocols last week. Dahlir Adams averages 7.1 yards per carry for the Trojans, who have to protect Spang from Freedom, especially Virginia Tech’s Braelin Moore, who had four sacks and recovered a fumble against Easton.

What to Expect: Their last encounter was decided by about one meter in the 2019 district playoffs. This one could be just as close.

Keith Groller’s Choice: Freedom 27-24.

East Stroudsburg North (0-2, 0-1) at Northampton (3-0, 2-0)

Key Storylines: North was unable to play last week due to COVID-19 issues. Northampton tries to recover emotionally after the death of Offensive Coordinator Mike Gurdineer.

Players to watch: K-Kids sophomore Caden Henritzy is coming off a 32-carry, 140-yard effort in Stroudsburg. He also had five tackles and an interception on defense. Junior Jaelen Richardson, who caught the winning pass against Becahi, had four catches for 41 yards.

Northampton’s Caden Henritzy, center, drags a platoon of Catholic defenders from Bethlehem for extra distance in the first half of the season opener for both EPC teams on August 27 in Northampton. (Douglas Kilpatrick / Especially for The Morning Call)

What to Expect: A chance for Northampton to catch a breath after a whirlwind of emotions last week.

Keith Groller’s pick: Northampton 56-0.

pock. Mt West (0-3, 0-1) at Dieruff (0-3, 0-1)

Main Storylines: Two teams trying to get the first win after some major early season troubles. Dieruff has the added advantage of a short turnaround after Sunday night’s play.

Players to watch: RB Jaden Bowens remains key to the West offense, who played well against Becahi early on, while Jovan Rodriguez ran for Dieruff’s only score in the 34-7 defeat to East Stroudsburg South.

What to Expect: Two teams who still believe their best football is ahead of them and have to show it here. The Huskies continue to struggle on several fronts and West has won four in a row in the series.

Keith Groller’s pick: Pocono Mountain West 21-13.

Stroudsburg (1-2, 1-1) at Liberty (1-2, 0-2)

Key Storylines: A game that can play a key role in determining who will make it to the eight-team field in District 11 6A. Mounties coach Jim Miller and Hurricanes leader Shawn Daignault both strive for consistency across their teams.

Players to watch: Speedy RB Andre Reames Jr., scored both of Stroudsburg’s touchdowns last week as the Mounties jumped to a 14-0 lead over Northampton. Liberty QB Tommy Mason has thrown more than 560 yards in three games, but has also thrown six interceptions.

What to Expect: A close-knit, hard-fought game between teams eager to prove they’re better than 1-2. Daignault knows what to expect from Stroudsburg as he was in the EPC North as Northampton’s defensive coordinator before getting the job at Liberty.

Keith Groller’s pick: Liberty 35-28.

Whitehall (3-0, 2-0) at Emmaus (2-1, 1-1)

What to Expect: Revenge will be the hearts of the Zephyrs who feel a dubious call on duty played a key role in their 38-28 loss at Emmaus last year. Of course, the Green Hornets will also play with something to prove after being shut out for the first time since 2012 – 21-0 to Central Catholic.

Players to watch: Whitehall junior Nigel Long had a big night against Liberty with 114 yards rushing and three scores against Liberty. Hornet’s junior RB Tylik Jarvis was thwarted by Central Catholic but still averages 10 yards per carry.

What to Expect: Emmaus will try to get his running game going against Whitehall after getting just 32 yards against Central and the Zephyrs will counter by looking for big plays in the passing game against the Green Hornets secondary. These figures will be decided late.

Keith Groller’s Choice: Emmaus 21, Whitehall 20.

Allen (0-3, 0-2) at Pocono Mountain East (0-2, 0-1)

Key Storylines: Like the Dieruff-Pocono Mountain West game, these two teams see this game as an opportunity to get into the victory column and maybe turn their seasons around.

Players to Watch: East sophomore Rasu Wearing-Pointdexter had three catches in the Cardinals’ first two games. Alex Hafler and Eithen McGuire are both able to find the end zone for East, while Dwight Harriston rushed over 200 yards for Allen in the first two weeks.

What to Expect: East could be a bit sharper as they had a week off to prepare. The Canaries lost to East 19-12 the last time they faced them in 2019 and haven’t won since beating Dieruff 20-7 at the end of 2019, so they’d like to get something started here.

Keith Groller’s Pick: Pocono Mountain East 21-14

Nazareth (2-1, 0-1) in Bethlehem Catholic (1-2, 0-1)

Game time: Saturday 2 p.m. at the BASD stadium.

Top Storylines: Blue Eagles try to come back after squandering a 33-21 third quarter lead at Parkland. Becahi looks set to prove it can compete with a high-quality EPC South foe after it didn’t play well against Whitehall two weeks ago.

Players to Watch: Junior Nolan Lobb set school records with 13 catches for 264 yards and four TDs on offense and also returned an interception for a score against Parkland. Golden Hawks senior quarterback Jared Richardson played like the dynamic player he was before injury sidelined him last year with 231 yards passing and 62 rushing against Pocono Mountain West.

What to Expect: A quality Saturday matinee with lots of points.

Keith Groller’s Choice: Nazareth 42-31

Pleasant Valley (2-0, 2-0) at ES South (2-1, 2-0)

Game time: Saturday 7 p.m.

Key Storylines: Both teams have been hit by COVID-19 this season and hope those issues are over. It could be a battle between Monroe County’s best teams.

Players to watch: PV linebacker James Syracuse was the Bears’ top tackler, returning an interception for a score against Allen, while South’s Ron Blake ran 160 yards and four TDs in his team’s win over Dieruff.

What to Expect: PV to try to check the clock on the ground and South to counter with lots of Blake. Due to COVID-19 they did not play last year. Figures that are much closer than South’s 49-19 victory in 2019.

Keith Groller’s pick: ES South 28-21.

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