A handful of Schuylkill County high school football teams returned to the field Friday night for the opening rounds of the District XI football tournament.
2019 District XI Football Playoffs
Here’s a look at the games Friday night:
North Schuylkill 42, Pine Grove 20
North Schuylkill’s football team was able to focus on the game for at least a little bit on Friday night after a tough week. They took the field for the first time since their teammate Jaden Leiby sustained a serious neck injury in the team’s final regular season game last week.
After some early costly mistakes, the Spartans rebounded at halftime and defeated an upset-minded Pine Grove team, 429-20, in a District XI Class 3A Semifinal game.
The visiting Cardinals held a surprising 14-12 lead going into halftime. But North Schuylkill outscored Pine Grove 30-6 in the second half and took control of the game.
The Spartans got two second-half touchdowns from Josh Chowansky, another from Zack Chowansky and one more from Jake Hall to overcome the upset bid.
Josh Leininger gave the Cards ideas of an upset with his first-half performance. He scored on an 84-yard run to give his team a 7-6 lead with just under 5 minutes to go in the second quarter. And just before half, he took a pick-six 54 yards all. the. way. to put his team up again, 14-12.
North Schuylkill advances to the District XI Class 3A Championship on Friday at 7 p.m. at Lehighton.
Tamaqua 49, Notre Dame-Green Pond 28
Joining North Schuylkill in the 3A championship game is another Schuylkill League power. On Friday, #2 seed Tamaqua knocked off Notre Dame-Green Pond, 49-28.
The final score sounds lopsided but going into the 4th quarter, the teams were tied at 28-28. Notre Dame tied the game late in the 3rd quarter but that’s when the Blue Raiders two-man show of Nate Boyle and Brayden Knoblauch took control. The duo scored 3 of their combine 7 touchdowns in the final quarter to advance their team to the District XI championship game next week vs. the Spartans.
In total, Boyle scored 5 (count ’em all) … 5 touchdowns for Tamaqua Friday night. Knoblauch bowled over the line for another 2 scores in the semifinal game against Notre Dame.
Tri-Valley 42, Nativity BVM 17
Tri-Valley gets another shot at its conference rivals next week after getting by independent Nativity BVM (Pottsville) on Friday night in a District XI Class 1A semifinal game. The Bulldogs pulled away from any comeback attempt the Green Wave had in mind in the second half.
That’s when Jake Scheib scored 3 touchdowns to pull Tri-Valley way ahead in the second half. He took runs of 3 yards, 8 yards, and 50 yards to pay dirt.
Next up, the Bulldogs take on rival Williams Valley in the Class 1A Championship game on Friday night at 7 at North Schuylkill High School.
More Local Teams Play Saturday
Coal region football fans have more action to follow on Saturday as the District XI playoffs opening rounds continue.
In Class 4A, the area has 3 teams in action in quarterfinal games. At noon, #6 Blue Mountain goes on the road to face #3 Bethlehem Catholic. Then, at 3:30 p.m., #2 Pottsville hosts #7 Wilson. And in a nightcap for Class 4A, #8 Lehighton travels to top-seeded Northwestern Lehigh.
There’s small school action, too. In Class 2A, #3 Mahanoy Area heads to Philadelphia to play #2 Bishop McDevitt at noon in a semifinal game. In the other semifinal, also in Philly, #4 Schuylkill Haven takes on top-seed West Catholic at 6 p.m.