As the final quarter of the 2015 high school football season got underway, Parkland looked to be dead in the water.
The Trojans’ powerful offense, which failed to get on the scoreboard for the first 36 minutes, struggled to gain any rhythm in the first half. When Parkland’s offense was able to move the ball in the third quarter, it still failed to produce any points. Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s defense lived up to all of the pregame hype.
But then there was a spark. And that spark turned into a offensive snowball for Parkland.
Coming out of a timeout down 46-45 with roughly a minute remaining, the play wasn’t necessarily set for Parkland’s Nadine Ewald. But when the Lady Trojans had an opportunity to feed it inside to their top player, they weren’t going to shy away from it.
Emily Piston set up Ewald on the left block, and after a move into the paint, Ewald gave the Trojans a one-point lead with 39 seconds to play in a fourth quarter that saw Central Catholic lead up until that bucket.
The Parkland girls’ swimming team went a perfect 11-0 in the East Penn Conference (13-0 overall) last season. As the 2015-16 gets underway for head coach Rob Robitaille, there is once again plenty of optimism around both sides.
And starting with the girls’ end, why wouldn’t there be? While the Lady Trojans did graduate a number of key swimmers—including Erin Jordan (state medalist in the 500-yard freestyle) and Erika Freeman (14th in 200-yard IM and 16th in 100-yard backstroke at states)—the cream of the crop returns looking for similar success in 2015.
When a team graduates six seniors, five of which started a game for Parkland at some point last season, one might expect a bit of a drop off. Guards Aubrey Beidelman, Erin Bross, Erica Bross, Alexis Koder and Samantha O’Keefe, as well as forward Brooke Robertson, won’t be suiting up when the Trojans’ season opens on Friday.
Despite those departures, head coach Wes Spence returns plenty of experience and talent at every position, leaving a bright outlook for the months to come.
Last Wednesday, Parkland quarterback Devante Cross celebrated his 18th birthday, the point in one’s life that enters a boy into adulthood.
Two days later, Cross flexed every muscle of his 6-2 frame when the Trojans needed it most.
It was a goal the Parkland boys cross country team had set back in the summer. The Trojan harriers knew they had the talent to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Following an unbeaten regular season at 17-0, Parkland accomplished that feat by capturing the EPC Cross Country Championship Meet team title last Tuesday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Club. Four Trojan boys finished in the top 10 runners to edge Easton by nine points in the team standings.
Kelley Stump had plenty of success on the Parkland field hockey team just a few years ago. During her time there, the Trojans finished as league and district runner-up when she was a sophomore; that team also advanced to the PIAA semifinals. But a championship eluded her during her high school years.
Even with the Bulls just coming off a five-run inning in the top of the third, Limeport co-manager Mike Cudwadie had a few words for his teammates and players going into the fourth: "We're not done yet."
The Bulls' offense certainly wasn't finished, but that would have been more than enough with pitcher Jared Schaffer dealing on the mound.
After plenty of success in the Tri-County ranks in recent years, the Northern Yankees transitioned to the Blue Mountain League a year ago with much of the same triumph. In their inaugural BML season, the Yankees were one of the final four teams standing in last year's playoffs.
But a 1-0 series lead in the semifinals against Limeport quickly diminished to a 3-1 series defeat in a matter of days, leaving an uneasy feeling in the Yankees' stomachs.
Just a week ago, it looked as if the road to another championship appearance in the Blue Mountain League would be easy for Limeport.
The Bulls, who finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs at 25-11, quickly built a 2-0 series lead against the Northampton Giants. A pitching spectacle from ace Adam Maini in Game 1 led to an 8-0 win. A 7-5 victory the next day brought the Bulls within one win of their fourth championship appearance in six years.