LEHMAN TWP. – Lake-Lehman arrived at the midway point of the football season dealing with a series of disappointment.
The Black Knights have turned things around since, putting back-to-back wins together for the first time, moving above the .500 mark and drastically improving their playoff hopes.
By pounding Tunkhannock, 49-26, and Nanticoke, 35-0, in consecutive games, the Black Knights altered the look of their season going into their Week 8 game scheduled for Saturday at struggling Holy Redeemer.
Following up their best offensive performance with the top defensive effort of the season pushed Lake-Lehman to third in the eight-team race for four berths in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs.
“The first half, we failed, but the second half, we’ve started out strong,” Black Knights coach Jerry Gilsky said the day after the shutout of Nanticoke. “We really need to win out to have a good situation for the playoffs.”
The Black Knights have moved into contention for a home-field berth in the first round if they can climb to second in the standings. Fifth place and missing the playoffs is also not far away, however, with seven of the eight Class 3A teams entering the weekend with at least three wins.
Lake-Lehman gave itself a better shot heading into a late-season run, which also includes home games against Berwick and Dallas, with its turnaround in the middle of a season filled with injuries.
Against Nanticoke Oct. 6, Gilsky began emptying the bench with 8:34 left in the third quarter after his team had opened a 35-0 lead by scoring on the first five possessions.
After Nanticoke reached the Black Knights 29 on the game’s first possession, Lake-Lehman never let it any closer to the end zone.
Frank Kutz led the defense with four tackles, three assists and two fumble recoveries, including one to stop the first drive.
Jesse Tomolonis, Jermiya Stonier and T.J. Meehan also make big contributions to the shutout.
Tomolonis led with six tackles and assisted four others. Stonier had five tackles and an assist. Meehan had two sacks and another tackle for a loss among his four total tackles.
“I thought our kids did an excellent job once they got the schemes down,” Gilsky said of the shutout by a unit that had allowed 35.2 points per game during the previous five weeks, which included three losses.
The Tunkhannock game featured 587 yards in total offense.
Senior quarterback Vince Ferrari ran for three touchdowns and passed for two against the Tigers. Ferrari hit 5 of 8 passes for 110 yards while three teammates ran for more than 100 yards. Charlie Kuschke carried 12 times for 137 yards, Zack Kojadinovich 13 times for 121 and Jake Tomolonis 8 times for 110 yards.
The numbers weren’t as gaudy against Nanticoke, but they featured similar balance.
“We’re not one-dimensional,” Gilsky said after 40 carries were split among 10 runners and 6 catches were distributed among 4 receivers. “We moved the ball around and we really made it a guessing game for Nanticoke.”