Heading into the final regular season game in the newly structured Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, the Parkland football team is looking for a win in hopes of improving its seeding for the district playoffs.
Two losses in three weeks had put pressure on the Trojans to win out their final three games, and so far so good. Wins against Freedom and then Nazareth leaves Parkland (7-2 overall) with a road matchup against rival Emmaus to help with its playoff positioning.
Parkland has the game it has wanted now for over a year. It is not just another game against a rival. It is not just the fourth time against the same opponent this season, second in a playoff final. It is a rematch against the team that sent the Trojans home without a district title a year ago.
Last year the Lehigh Valley Conference champion Trojans were upset by Emmaus, 3-0 in the District 11 Class AAA semifinal. But with Parkland's 3-0 sweep over Nazareth Tuesday night at Whitehall High School, Parkland eyes a bit of revenge against Emmaus in Thursday's title match.
Jarey Elder used his legs, and some open space created for him by his blockers, to single-handedly put his Parkland football team ahead 14-0 with two consecutive touchdowns en route to a 41-6 win over Nazareth.
The senior took a handoff and ran downfield for 51 yards on the Trojans' first possession last week in their final regular season home game. Then, after a Nazareth three-and-out, Elder returned a punt for 50 yards as Parkland outmatched the Blue Eagles all night for a senior night win at Parkland School District Stadium.
Coming off of its second loss of the season, the Parkland football team needed a win to gather some momentum heading into the final weeks of the regular season. It was a senior that stepped up the week before his final home game.
Preston Saylor came up big on both sides of the ball, rushing for a touchdown and clinching the game with an interception in the fourth quarter.
All season long the Parkland Trojans have been the best volleyball team in the area, as their No. 1 state ranking for a better half of the year showed. So it was fitting that in the inaugural East Penn Conference final, the championship would go to the top team. And the Trojans would not be denied that honor, sweeping the championship match against Emmaus by scores of 25-13, 25-22, and 25-18 last Thursday night at Whitehall high school.
Giving back has always been the motto for the Parkland community, and in particular, the girls soccer team.
For the last five years, the Trojans varsity and junior varsity squads partake in a team building function held at the practice fields where they build tricycles from scratch for families that have children who would appreciate a gift such as this.
It all started from head coach Al Haddad and his business firm, and took off from there, becoming a yearly tradition for his team to see what giving back really means.
If you told head coach Jim Morgans that Easton running back Shane Simpson, who ran for 277 yards and six touchdowns in Week 6 against Whitehall, would be held to just 37 rushing yards and no scores into the fourth quarter against Parkland last week, Morgans would have been one happy guy.
But in football, it only takes one play.
Parkland was able to execute well and do things they wanted to do last Friday night against Easton, but turnovers and two big plays kept the Trojans from knocking off the unbeaten Red Rovers 28-21.
Parkland (5-2, 3-2) contained the electric Shane Simpson, holding him in check for more than three and a half quarters, but also had their own problems running the ball. They finished with just 47 yards and a costly fumble. The Trojans threw for 267 yards.
The Parkland boys lacrosse team finished off a long stretch of games with a convincing 18-1 victory at Northampton high school last Monday afternoon, where nine different Trojans found the back of the net.
It was the kind of game Parkland (8-2 overall) needed coming off a six-day span where it played five games. The stretch started with a 20-4 win at Nazareth last Wednesday. Then the Trojans defeated Freedom on Friday, and followed that up with a win at Exeter Saturday and a heart breaking loss at home to North Allegheny the next day.