Salisbury, Jim Thorpe take first step in reversing recent fortunes

Salisbury led Friday night's Colonial League opener at Bangor 13-7 despite not having a first down.

But the Slaters regrouped and led 21-13 at the break.

Jim Thorpe took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter Friday at defending Anthracite Football League champion Tamaqua, only to have the Blue Raiders respond with a game-tying drive on the next series.

At those points in those two games, Salisbury and Jim Thorpe could have reverted to recent history and fallen off the wagon.

Instead, the Falcons and Olympians were rewarded for playing with poise.

Salisbury rallied for a 41-27 victory to equal its win total from each of the last two seasons.

Jim Thorpe, which also was 1-9 in 2011 and '12, controlled the rest of its game, a 34-14 win.

It was a celebratory weekend in those two communities, but Salisbury's Andy Cerco and Jim Thorpe's Mark Rosenberger are hoping there is more to come.

"We're not about one win," said Rosenberger, who led the Olympians to a 99-44 record in his first 14 seasons before a 2-18 mark in 2011-12.

Cerco is fighting a longer stretch of less-than-successful football. The Falcons, 2-28 the last three seasons, have not had a winning regular season since 2002 (6-4).

"There were plenty of points in Friday's game that were different than the past," Cerco said. "Plenty of points that showed we definitely improved.

"If this were last year, this, that and the other thing would have happened and we would have lost."

Defense was the most noticeable difference Friday for the Falcons and Olympians. Both clubs gave up chunks of yardage and boatloads of points the last few years.

The Olympians allowed just 204 yards to the Blue Raiders, who played without returning standouts Tyler Hope and Dustin Vandermartin because of injuries.

"I was excited about the way we tackled," Rosenberger said. "There were very few missed tackles. We were fundamentally sound.

"We didn't play with that kind of passion defensively the last couple of years and we gave up some points."

Jim Thorpe gave up an average of 42.9 points per game the last two years.

Salisbury gave up 382 yards, but made the most of four turnovers, two blocked punts and a kick return for a score.

The Falcons, who allowed 32.7 ppg. in 2011-12, had to deal with the Colonial League's top rusher from 2012 in Phil Vass. He had 189 yards and scored twice, but Salisbury had answers every time Bangor threatened to take control.

"I think what stood out was the way we flew to the ball," Cerco said. "That didn't happen by accident. The kids worked hard. That's what I told them. The hard work from the offseason paid off."





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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