Salisbury’s football team took a big step last season in qualifying for the District 11 playoffs.
This season the Falcons want even more. And the quest for a return to the postseason begins Friday night against an up-and-coming Catasauqua team.
“They’re much improved from last year,” said Falcon head coach Tony Cerco. “They’re bigger up front. They’re faster. They’re more disciplined. They’ve done a great job at Catasauqua in taking those kids from where they were at when coach (Phil) Dorn arrived to where they are now. They’re a much better team.”
Both teams knew it was their last varsity game until next winter. For the seniors, it was the last game of their high school career.
Catasauqua and Northwestern both got all of their players some court time in last Thursday's season finale in New Tripoli.
Thanks to the hot hand of a little-used player, the Tigers ended their best season since 2010 with a 66-56 win over the Rough Riders.
Last fall Dionis Lora was a newcomer to cross country running. He didn't know the Bethlehem Municipal course very well and was part of a very talented Class AA field.
This season, with two full seasons of experience and a knowledge of the course, Lora, a Catasauqua High School senior, was part of the Class A field.
At last Thursday's District 11 championship meet, Lora ran a 18:51 for 10th place. It was nearly 20 seconds better than the time that earned him 64th place just a year earlier.
Tony Brinkley had goals and expectations for his senior season of cross country. And he attained them, including running nearly exactly his goal time in his final race.
The Catasauqua senior finished his high school career Saturday at the PIAA Championship meet, taking 41st place in Class AA.
"Me and my coach set a target time," said Brinkley. "I hit the time. I was hoping for a medal, but I'm satisfied. I'm not extremely happy, but I'm satisfied."
Tony Brinkley knew it was his one and only shot to finish off his high school career at states. He made it last year and wasn't about to be denied a trip to the PIAA Cross Country Championships as a senior.
So he fought through the pain to make sure he reached that goal.
Brinkley finished seventh at last Wednesday's District 11 Class AA Championships while helping Catasauqua to a seventh-place finish as a team.
He hoped to place higher at districts, but when he didn't feel 100 percent from early in the race, he knew he had to run through it and get himself to states.
In most tournaments, golfers are playing to win and second place means about as much as fifth or tenth or last.
The District 11 Championship Qualifying Tournament is a little different. There's no medal for first place, no prize for winning. And for most golfers, 10th place or 15th place feels just as good as first. The only thing that matters is getting through the tournament and advancing to the district championships.