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CHS heads to Williams Valley

Catasauqua senior wide receiver Ian Juica was quite emphatic about his team’s 35-14 victory over Salisbury last Friday.

“The whole team did what we were expected to do - win,” boasted Juica, who caught seven passes for 65 yards. “We had a great game. From start to finish, all of us keeping 100 percent.”

The victory left the third-seeded Rough Riders with an overall 6-4 seasonal record, and they will travel to second-seeded Williams Valley for the opening-round, PIAA District 11 Class A playoffs Saturday night.

Catty built a 35-0 lead and initiated the mercy rule before they Salisbury responded mostly against second-teamers.

Head coach Travis Brett was a bit more optimistic than his player.

“Things clicked for the most part,” said Brett. “Two fumbles in the first half hurt us. Our defense was lights out in the first half.”

Quarterback Aiden Hess, who completed 10 of 14 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns, saw plenty of positive changes at the right time.

“We improved on everything we needed to,” he said. “We ran the ball very well as well as passed the ball. Our offensive line had made major improvements throughout the season, and I think they are at their best.

“Williams Valley is a team I haven’t faced my whole high school career, so I’m excited to see what they can do against us, and we will be prepared for them.”

Brett added that Hess has raised his game every week, and running back Hunter Reitz ran the ball well. Reitz carried the ball 14 times for a game-high 108 yards. The Roughies made the most of it against winless Salisbury (0-10).

“Hess keeps getting better, and Reitz ran really well,” stated Brett. “He (Reitz) is another kid who looks like he had gained a lot of confidence every game. We definitely are going into districts on a nice roll, and that’s exactly what we wanted.

“We were in a game against a team that had nothing to lose, and those are always dangerous. It was nice to get some of our kids our of the game in the third quarter.”

The Roughies will meet Williams Valley (8-2), who has won five straight, their latest a 49-14 victory over Tri-Valley.

Catty faces a simple solution to beat Williams Valley – stop Alex Achenbach. The senior is the leading rusher in the state with 2,238 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. Achenbach has 28 touchdowns overall, and he is the team’s leading receiver with 13 receptions for a 17.8 average per catch. He also has thrown five touchdowns.

Brett knows the challenge and likes his team’s chances. The thoughts of losing last year’s district championship game loss against Executive Education still lingers.

“They (Williams Valley) are a solid team with a very talented running back in Achenbach,” stated Brett. “We will have to take the trip up there and be ready to play. Offensively, the key will be to stay balanced. If they try to load the box, which they have this year, we really like some of our matchups. Juica, (Dylan) Pacheco, and (Jordan) Bradshaw are four great athletes for us at wide receiver, and we have a lot of trust in those guys to make plays for us.

“Our kids are excited for the opportunity to be back in districts. They are a run heavy team, and Achenbach is 90 percent of their offense. Our kids remember leaving Whitehall last year, and no one wants to feel that way again.”

PREDICTION (Overall record 6-4): Roughies have won three straight and have outscored their opponents, 132-27 ... For the season, Hess has completed 109 of 194 passes for 1,539 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions ... Reitz has 593 yards rushing with eight touchdowns, and Juica has 44 catches for 622 yards with eight touchdowns. Bradshaw has caught 30 passes for 270 yards ... Achenbach earlier broke his own single-game rushing record of 328 with a 343-yard performance ... Williams Valley plays a 4-3 defensively and Achenbach is a free safety ... This is a tall order for the Roughies, who have had trouble stopping the run the past few years ... Roughies have had a balanced attack lately, and Reitz had been a big key ... Brett stated the team has overcome some long, playoff road trips ... I do like the Roughies, but they haven’t faced the likes of a rusher like Achenbach since they couldn’t stop Minersville’s Luke Stevenosky, who rambled for 202 yards and had three touchdowns in the Battling’ Miners 30-28 victory, in which a safety cost them ... Roughies will have trouble stopping Achenbach, but they are playing better than they were a month ago ... Easily could go both ways here, but counting on the Roughies not making as many miscues as they did against Minersville, and Reitz running well ... Coach Snyder can pick up a pizza for me at a place of his choice ... ROUGHIES, 28-24.

Press photo by Mark Lineberger Catasauqua's Ian Juica is brought down by Jamanni Cruz of Salisbury during last week's victory over the Falcons.
CAT - 65 Davonte Boulware, SAL - 28 Jason St Leger