It’s unusual for both teams to leave a football field with smiles on their faces.
Yet, that was the scene Saturday morning when Bethlehem Catholic and Northampton scrimmaged at the Konkrete Kids’ Al Erdosy Stadium.
With a taste of September in the air. both teams got through one dress rehearsal before Friday’s season openers unscathed and that was the goal of both coaches.
Both used the line about how no championships are ever won in preseason scrimmages, but they could be lost due to a major injury.
Using the same plan that many NFL teams now employ in the preseason, both Bethlehem Catholic’s first-year coach Tyler Ward and Northampton coach John Toman didn’t play their starters for much of the 90-minute session. In fact, several of the Konkrete Kids’ best players, such as running back/linebacker Caden Henritzy and wide receiver/defensive back Tristen Pinnock, didn’t play at all.
Jacob Sutton, one of the key returners on a new-look Golden Hawks squad, also went to the sidelines early, much to his chagrin.
In terms of who got the better of the action, it was hard to tell since no one was really keeping score.
Becahi got a touchdown on a well-executed 75-yard drive against Northampton’s second defense. The score came on a 5-yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Cayden Vassa to senior Mekhi LaPierre.
Northampton got a score on an 80-yard run by Zeke Spencer.
Both teams also had scoring plays negated by holding penalties and the defenses also had their share of moments in a format in which the offenses took turns in a 10-play sequences.
“We didn’t play all of our kids, but we wanted to get out and hit somebody else and learn about our other kids,” Toman said. “We weren’t concerned about winning or losing. Becahi did some good things. Our younger kids did some good things. It was a great opportunity to get a little sweat going and hit somebody else. We’re healthy, they’re healthy and that was the goal. Both coaches are happy.”
Ward, who is still getting know the EPC and coaches around the league, said he was proud of his kids.
“We played so hard,” he said. “If you look at it from the first group to the second group to the third group we knew there was going to be mistakes which you’re going to have in a first scrimmage. But we didn’t lack energy, we didn’t passion and we didn’t lack effort. Our guys were flying around. The things we didn’t do well are very correctable. The things we did well are things that you must have.”
Ward was especially pleased with his first group, which featured a number of new offensive linemen.
“Our first group moved the ball consistently,” he said. “Our second group had first-year guys and freshmen and needs to get some kinks out and our third group is kind of still learning football. But our first group was physical and played hard and did the things we wanted them to do. Northampton’s a great team and will win a lot of games so for us to do what we did, I was very pleased.”
Bethlehem Catholic went 6-6 last year with two different head coaches. Chuck Sonon, who finished the season as the Golden Hawks interim head coach, is now on the Northampton staff.
There were plenty of pleasantries exchanged by the staffs after the scrimmage, which was played in perfect weather for the third Saturday in August. It was sunny with temps in the 60s.
Things will likely get hotter and definitely more intense for both teams this weekend. Bethlehem Catholic opens its season at Pleasant Valley on Friday night and the Konkrete Kids visit state-ranked Allentown Central Catholic on Saturday.
“When I got here and shook Coach Toman’s hand, I said I hope that when we walk out of here no one is limping around,” Ward said. “That was the case. You’re going to have bumps and bruises after a football games, especially when it’s two physical teams. I think both teams walk out of here with everybody ready to roll next week. Both of us got a lot of young kids in and got a lot of reps and both sides played hard. That’s what I care about. That’s what I want from our kids. I want them to battle, use great effort and play with passion and love and that’s what showed on the field. Our kids love playing football. That’s what I am excited about.”
Ward said he appreciated his conversations with Toman.
“Coach was awesome,” Ward said. “If everybody around the EPC is like him, I’ll be fired up to hang out with any of those guys and get to know them. If you look at all of the teams in the EPC, they’re all great teams and they’re bound to be led by great people. That shows with Northampton. I read some of their stats about how well they’ve done in recent years and for them to do that, they’re doing a great job with their program and they have an amazing facility.”
Toman, who has gone 12-1 in each of his first two seasons at Northampton, was happy to maintain a relationship with Becahi since the two had met in the regular season the past two years. Starting next year, they’ll be in the same Northampton County division of the EPC.
“We’re going to have a find a new team to scrimmage because we have them in the regular season,” Toman said. “This was my first time meeting Coach Ward and I think he’s a great guy. We both had the same idea about how we wanted to handle this scrimmage and it was about getting kids work. A lot of times when you come out in a game situation everyone is concerned about winning or losing. We were able to create a more low-stress situation and I think we both ended up happy.”
And there was one more plus for Toman.
“By keeping some of these kids out today, I think they’ll be chomping at the bit to play against Central Catholic Saturday night,” he said. “It will be an exciting time for sure. They’re ranked sixth in the state and we’re not ranked, so we have an opportunity to come out and show what we can do.”
https://www.mcall.com/2023/08/19/high-school-football-both-teams-won-the-preseason-scrimmage-between-becahi-and-northampton/ Northampton and Bethlehem Catholic both left their preseason football scrimmage happy on Saturday