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NHS sports teams making climb

Northampton head boys’ basketball coach Coy Stampone has told me several times that he now expects his team to make districts every year.

Kids’ head baseball coach Mick Sugra was sitting at home on a recent Sunday afternoon, but he expected his team to be playing in the second round of the district playoffs.

NHS head football coach Kyle Haas revived a life support program and led the team to nine wins and their first district appearance since 2003.

What do they all have in common?

It is about regaining respectability.

From there, keep it and maintain consistency.

Those programs can now be mentioned in the same breath as perennial powers Parkland and Emmaus. They have earned it.

They can flex some muscle from their recent accomplishments.

The Kids’ girls’ basketball and track/field and cross country programs already have made their way up the ladder.

Boys’ basketball, football, and baseball are beginning their ascent.

In the case of boys’ basketball and football, it hasn’t been easy. There has been plenty of sweat and blood shed as well as bumps and bruises endured, and seemingly endless days and nights.

Yet, it was well worth the transformation from an East Penn Conference (EPC) doormat to a drivers’ seat toward the conference and district titles.

Overall interest and numbers in the program is on the rise.

Basketball capped it with a magical run that ended in the district title game in spring of 2017, and they were viewed in a different light last season.

Football can know begin to take some similar steps with expectations, interest and numbers continuing to make a northern climb.

Baseball has been regarded as one of the area’s staple programs, but they raised their bar with a recent EPC title and lifted the proverbial monkeys off their backs with a seasonal win over Emmaus and two hard-fought games with Parkland.

Like any good program, the Kids will need to be consistent. There are still plenty of doubters out there that believe the boys’ basketball, football and baseball programs are resembling an act with smoke and mirrors.

Playing in the EPC certainly isn’t a picnic and even the traditional powers have seen some recent shift in power.

Football is on the horizon and they will need to shake the stigma of playing in the “weaker” EPC North division and rolling up some lopsided wins last season, but not being able to beat Stroudsburg in battle for the division crown. They then couldn’t match Easton in a 39-19 district defeat.

The challenge will be there.

Northampton’s faithful has smelled the scent of a winner, and they are hungry for more.

Still, these teams can step back, take a breath, and take a bow.

They have begun to change the culture and regain respect. But an unexpected loss or two can easily revitalize the doubters and reverse the course.

It will be about being consistent to further fortify the new culture ahead.