Falcons look to rebound vs. Pirates
You don’t have to veer too much from last year’s meeting with Palisades to know just how much of an impact turnovers can have in halting a team’s momentum.
Rewind to last September and Salisbury trailed Palisades by just a point heading into halftime, 13-12. But over the final 24 minutes, the Falcons committed three turnovers that helped the Pirates run away with a 33-12 victory.
Last week, it wasn’t turnovers, but mistakes were a deflating aspect of the season-opening loss to Saucon Valley. If Salisbury hopes to even its record at 1-1, the Falcons have to limit those errors moving forward.
“That seems to be the thing with our team that we need to overcome,” Falcon head coach Andy Cerco said. “It just seems like things just occur, and the game gets broken open a little bit. That’s really what kind of happened against Saucon as well. It’s a matter of us being focused and doing things correctly throughout the entire game.”
Against Saucon Valley, a tri-champion with Southern Lehigh and Northwestern in 2014, the Falcons committed just two turnovers. But countless penalties and missed assignments on both sides of the ball were the difference in the game.
“Playing in our league and playing against good teams every week, we have to be on top of our game, focus and eliminate some of the errors that occur throughout the game,” Cerco said. “That’s our biggest focus this week, just taking care of ourselves.”
Much like the Panthers, Palisades focuses on running the football in a traditional I-formation with a number of backs. In their season-opening loss to Southern Lehigh (42-21), Pat Lodwig led the way with eight carries for 55 yards. The biggest difference from a season ago is the graduation of Christian Gretzinger, one of the top backs in the Colonial League.
“They’re an I-backfield team,” Cerco said. “They do some spread sets with two receivers and some three receiver stuff. But they want to run the ball with some toss and iso stuff.”
Quarterback Austin Krauss, who passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns, also chalked up over 40 yards on the ground against the Spartans. It’s a similar type of dual threat that Saucon Valley’s Zach Thatcher presented last Friday.
Krauss’ main weapons in the passing game are Anthony Fleck, who had six catches for 92 yards and two scores in the opener, and Blake Cassalia (three catches).
“They have some nice route combinations and do some good things in the passing game,” Cerco said. “Two guys that really stood out as talented receivers were (Fleck) and (Cassalia). They can definitely catch the football and make things happen.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Palisades High School.