PHS to meet Liberty in football playoffs
Both the Parkland and Liberty football programs have come a long way since their last matchup, back on week 3 of the regular season on September 8.
The Trojans (10-0 overall) have improved their passing game and overall defensive play, and the Hurricanes (4-6) have played better than their record indicates, winning on the last day of the season over rival and sixth-seeded Freedom.
The two will face off in the District 11 Class 6A quarterfinal round Friday night at Parkland School District Stadium.
Parkland has won all its games by 10 points or more this season with the closest being a 31-21 over Whitehall. The Trojan offense is averaging 37 points per game.
Senior running back Jahan Worth was a known commodity entering the 2017 season, and the Trojans staff used him early and often over the first three or four weeks. But in the second half of the year, senior quarterback Michael Ruisch has stepped up his level of play, and gave Parkland a balanced offensive attack.
If defenses crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the strong running game of Worth, Joey Guida and Dominic Nelson, Ruisch can burn them with his arm. And he has done that plenty of times this season.
“The plan is to keep a good balance,” said head coach Tim Moncman. “But we have to do a better job of protecting Ruisch this time around. He has been playing his best football of late, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Liberty had a stretch of four losses in five games at the beginning of the year, but since have played better football. It beat the Patriots last weekend and fell just short of Nazareth 30-27 the game prior.
Moncman knows this is a better team than they have shown.
“They have played well the last couple weeks,” Moncman said. “They put the complete game together against Freedom and dominated. They have more confidence and are playing great defense and seem to feel that they are going to run the ball to win. They are relying more on the tailback to carry the load.”
That tailback is 1,000 yard rusher Nasir Legree, who led the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference in rushing yards for a majority of the season.
“We will mix up our fronts and slant and angle,” said Moncman. “But our tackling has to be at a high level and we cannot give him yards after contact.”
Parkland’s defense is giving up just 8.5 point per game with two shut outs.
A win over Liberty would put Parkland in a semifinal game against the winner of Friday night’s Nazareth-Easton matchup.