Special win for seniors
For the eight seniors on the Catasauqua football team this past fall, beating Northampton probably tasted better than their anticipated Thanksgiving Dinner.
For seniors Eric Matz, and Zach Stopay, the victory probably felt better than a few slices of pumpkin pie after the turkey.
The trio played a significant role in the Roughies' 52-23 rout of Northampton on Thanksgiving morning. In their final high school football game, each one again excelled like they have throughout their team's miraculous 12-1 run this past fall.
Matz, who was limited in his play against Pen Argyl due to a ligament issue in his arm and elbow, appeared to be back in his old form as he scored on a 34-yard touchdown romp and also was seemingly all over the field on defense. His efforts gained him Catty's MVP honors.
For the season, Matz was a perfect complement to leading rusher Ra'Von Burton as he rambled for 739 yards on 84 carries and scored 14 touchdowns.
"It was a pretty good way to end the year," said Matz, who has aspirations to attend either the University of Scranton or East Stroudsburg University to pursue a degree in radiology and possibly play football. "It was a big game especially for the seniors as we all wanted to go out this way.
"We pretty much knew what they (Northampton) were going to do out there, and we also were able to play our game."
Matz also recognized how the program has evolved into one of the Lehigh Valley's elite under four-year head coach Tom Falzone.
"Coach Falzone and his staff do a wonderful job," boomed Matz. "We have a really good coaching staff and everything clicked for us. A lot of people are saying that Catty could compete in the Lehigh Valley Conference.
"We have taken a lot of big steps and we know we can take a few more."
Stopay also had a memorable game as he intercepted two passes and returned both for touchdowns, one for 31 yards and the latter for 57 yards. He has also been the team's leading tackler throughout most of the season
"That was the first time in any game that I returned two interceptions for touchdowns," said Stopay, who is leaning toward attending Penn State to pursue a computer science degree. "It was a just a phenomenal day for all of us. We blocked out Saturday's loss (Pen Argyl) and went back to work. It's hard to believe my career at Catty is over, but that was a good way to go out."
The older Stopay also will have a lasting memory with younger brother Jacob about the victory.
"After I scored on the second interception, I ran toward Jacob," the older sibling said. "We both jumped and his intention was to catch me. But he couldn't hold onto me and we both went down. It has been special playing with him."
Stopay also recognized how the Roughies have resurged over the past few seasons.
"Coach Falzone and his staff have worked really hard to get Catty back on the map," he said. "Before he (Falzone) got here, Catty was considered a mid-low level team. Now, we have gained the respect of so many teams and people."
Aside from Matz and Stopay, other seniors are Alex Parker, who scored a pair of touchdowns against Northampton and caught 34 passes for 719 yards with 13 touchdowns (six rushing, a team-high 19 overall); Jimmy Deily, one of the top three leading tacklers all season; linemen Zach Labezius and Donald Hunter, both who were among the team's leading tacklers; and Casey Simmons and Jacob Schlinkman.
Although it is a relatively small unit, the Roughies' senior class will leave a lasting impression.
"They will be remembered as a special bunch, especially in the success we have had recently," said Falzone. "They are all hard workers and helped make everything jell for us. We have people coming back, but they will be hard to replace in many ways."