Opening night helped answer questions for Back Mountain high school football teams.
Dallas gave a hint of just how far its sophomore class has progressed.
At Lake-Lehman, Trey Borger proved he could be effective again after reconstructive knee surgery.
Both teams took advantage of picking up an extra home game while posting Wyoming Valley Conference divisional victories in the Aug. 25 openers.
Dallas ran away with a 54-7 Class 4A Division victory over Coughlin while Lake-Lehman pulled out a 30-23 Class 3A/A Division win over Meyers.
With Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium not ready for opening night, both games were moved to Back Mountain locations.
The Mountaineers and Black Knights put on a show for their home crowds.
Facing a pair of returning 1,000-yard rushers, it was Dallas that racked up the yards on the ground, outgaining Coughlin, 230-93, by holding Jake Cole and Vincent Todd each under 40 yards.
“We showed an awful lot of speed defensively,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said. “Those two guys from Coughlin are tremendous. They’re unbelievable competitors, as good as we’re going to see.”
Borger played with a brace on his left knee that was surgically repaired after he missed the last two-thirds of the 2016 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. In ways, he may have been better than before the injury.
“I feel like I’m a lot faster,” Borger said. “I think I’m doing everything the same way I did last year, but I feel like I can read the holes better.”
Borger carried 23 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns and caught three passes for 38 yards. His touchdowns of 4 and 34 yards in the fourth quarter broke a 16-16 tie and put the Black Knights in position to withstand a late rally by the Mohawks.
“You can line him up anywhere,” Lake-Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky told the Times Leader. “A kid coming off a devastating injury like he had last year, he really committed his body to the weight room and rehab.”
And, he got help from a line that opened holes for four players to rush for more than 40 yards while the Black Knights were turning 56 carries into 347 yards.
“It was just my line giving me good blocks up front,” Borger said. “I was able to read off them. Any play we did, the line was getting me a good push.”
Lenny Kelley from Dallas put up even bigger numbers.
One of the sophomores who helped fill 13 of 22 starting spots for Dallas, Kelley carried 18 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns. He also was part of the big defensive effort with a 32-yard interception return for another touchdown and a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
The Mountaineers defense produced two touchdowns, with Nick Gashi returning a fumble 56 yards for the other.
It gave the offense a 24-7 halftime lead to protect and Kelley expanded it quickly with touchdown runs of 38, 13 and 30 yards in the first 7:38 of the second half.
“Defensively, because we were able to do an adequate job of containing them, it gave us more opportunities offensively,” Mannello said. “That leads into what we’re able to do offensively. We’ve got more speed on the perimeter on both sides of the football.
“We’re an I-formation team, but we’re able to open things up a bit, get more guys involved on the edge and run a little shot gun. Now, when you get back into the I-formation, that’s when some of those bigger runs in the second half take place.”
Luke DelGaudio caught a 26-yard pass from Michael Starbuck to open the scoring. Matt Maransky kicked two field goals and went 6-for-6 on extra points.
Lake-Lehman got help in the ground game in its win.
Matt Kurtz carried 15 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Zack Kojadinovich ran nine times for 52 yards. Nate O’Donnell picked up 41 yards on nine carries.
Henry Selingo kicked a 28-yard field goal and made three of four extra points.
Reach the Dallas Post newsroom at 570-704-3982 or by email at email@example.com.