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Kids want to close season with a win

Northampton enters the annual Thanksgiving Day tilt against Catasauqua with an overall 11-1 record, but they aren’t taking anything for granted facing the 7-5 Rough Riders.

The Konkrete Kids won last year’s 98th meeting in the series by a 47-13 score, and they lead the overall series with a 61-33-4 slate. They will have a 10 a.m. kickoff at Al Erdosy Field.

Catasauqua hasn’t won in the series since they had a 43-28 victory in 2013.

“Catty is a scrappy team,” said second-year head John Toman. “They hustle and work hard until the whistle blows. Their tailback is a big, physical runner, and they will throw all kinds of sets and formations we will need to be ready for.

“Defensively, they use various fronts and coverages that we can’t allow to confuse us.”

The Kids will be looking to tie the school record for most victories in a 13-win season they set last year (12-1). They are coming off a 31-13 loss to eventual champion Parkland in the District 11 Class 6A semifinals.

Northampton has scored 485 points, averaging 40.3 points per game, and they have allowed 107, a paltry 8.9 points per contest. Their 13 points scored and 31 points allowed in the Parkland game was a season-low offensively and a season-high defensively. The Kids posted consecutive undefeated seasons in the East Penn Conference (EPC) North.

Junior Caden Henritzy led the Kids’ rushing attack that accumulated 2,766 yards, as he rushed for 1,273 yards with 20 touchdowns and a 6.7 yards per rush. Sophomore Billy Stuhldreher added 337 yards on 31 carries with six touchdowns and a 10.6 per yard average.

Henritzy, who rushed for 97 yards with a pair of touchdowns last year, is happy for another chance to put on the pads.

“This game gives us another chance to play,” he said. “We are all excited to continue this tradition and play on Thanksgiving as a team for one last time.”

Senior quarterback Antonio Russo completed 93 of 141 attempts for 1,231 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Russo welcomes his first start in the big game.

“I don’t think my teammates cared who we would play as long as we get a chance to strap on our helmets and battle with each other for one more game. Catty had a great season heading to their championship.

“I’m looking forward to spending the day with my teammates, coaches, family, and friends.”

Senior Jaelen Richardson hauled in 31 receptions for 546 yards with seven touchdowns, and junior Tristan Pinnock had 21 catches for 325 yards with three touchdowns.

Richardson and Pinnock both had five interceptions apiece from the 17 team total. Senior Carson Czarnecki led the team with 64 tackles, and junior Colby Reph had 51 stops. Junior Jack Biery had a team-high 2.5 sacks.

Pinnock, whose brother Christian graduated in 2016, still believes the game has an intense atmosphere despite the lopsided scores of the past nine years.

“This is an intense game,” he said. “There will be a lot of trash talking on the field. It is still a big game for both communities. There is plenty of pride on the line here.”

Toman also sees plenty of vigor between the two teams.

“It will be a physical game,” he added. “They will be gunning for us.”

NOTES AND PREDICTION: Kids averaged 7.1 yards per offensive play this season. Their biggest quarters were the second (164 total points), and the fourth (112). They ran the ball an average of 36 times per game and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. The Kids converted 46 of 101 third-down attempts, and 21 of 46 attempts on fourth down ... They beat Stroudsburg, 14-7, in their district playoff opener ... Rumor has it that next year’s game - the 100th in the series – will be the last meeting in the series. It will be at Catty ... Catty is coming off a 32-29 loss to Executive Education in the District Class 2A championship game ... Over the last seven meetings, the Kids have outscored the Roughies, 320-111 ... Northampton is healthy and ready to end the season on a high note. They should be able to run the ball due to their size advantage on the offensive line ... Time of possession will be the key here, and Catty will look to keep the ball out of the Kids’ hands ... This should be intense and close in the beginning, but Kids have too much firepower for Catty to control it ... Coach Ronalds can bring Coach Toman, and meet me at Sal’s in Wind Gap sometime in the spring ... K-KIDS, 31-14.

Press photo by Linda Rothrock Northampton Turkey Day captains are (left to right) - Christian Bundra, Jeff Head, Luke Baker, Jaelen Richardson and Caden Henritzy.