After the District XI Class AA Boys Cross Country Championships last Wednesday, no one would have known that Catasauqua High School's boys team had just come off a winless season.
Among high fives, pats on the back, and words of congratulations for his team, Coach Kyle Rusnock said, "First and foremost, they gave it their all. They'll remember that forever and be satisfied with that."
The Rough Riders placed 17th out of 20 teams and that in itself provided some satisfaction.
Catasauqua's football team will travel to Slatington Friday for an evening battle with Northern Lehigh with the first of their three season goals in mind.
If the Roughies remain undefeated and register their ninth win of the season, they will gain a share of the Colonial League title and 13th title overall in school history. Southern Lehigh and Palisades, who both have identical 7-1 records, will meet with the loser being out of contention for the CL crown.
However, the Roughies' spirits were recently dampened by a series of injuries.
Devin Flores has always prided himself on making big hits on defense for the Roughies.
Along with his customary calling card from either a defensive back or linebacker role, Flores likely will be a big hit on the offensive side as well.
In his team's recent win over Palmerton, Flores got the starting nod at running back to replace Ra'Von Burton, who earlier underwent emergency appendectomy surgery Tuesday morning. There is currently no timetable for Burton's return.
A season full of minimal twists finally brings some intrigue this week with perhaps the most evenly matched up games in the poll this year.
Can Whitehall steal a win at Easton?
Has Nazareth hit their full stride heading into the final two weeks?
Will a reeling Bethlehem Catholic wake up from their slump?
And who earns the right to say they play second fiddle in the Colonial League?
All things are answered in this week's top ten.
1. Parkland (7-1)
Last week's rank: 1
Trojans keep rolling.
The Pick: Parkland 42- Central Catholic 14
For Catasauqua's Jake Rusnock, one race can't define a season.
But for a senior that's had a stellar season on a Rough Rider cross country team low on numbers, the disappointment from a 35th place finish in the 2013 Colonial League cross country championships was undeniable.
Rusnock finished with a time of 18:50, which put him out of contention for a medal, something the senior had his sights set on coming into the day.
Becky Tyson didn't hesitate in reference to her reaction to being a participant in the third annual Football for a Cure Powder Puff Football game that is a fundraiser for breast cancer.
"Absolutely," boasted the Hokendauqua player, who has played all three years of the contests. "Heck, yeah, I love it! We all played hard and it is very intense. It is for a great cause and a terrific fundraiser.
"We all want to win, but we're really playing to help stop breast cancer."
This past weekend (Oct. 19) marked the opening of squirrel hunting season, the one-week muzzleloader season for antlerless deer, plus the ruffed grouse and woodcock season. These all coincide with the ongoing archery deer-hunting season throughout the Pennsylvania.
Catasauqua's boys soccer team understood their fate was hanging in the balance of their final two games of the regular season.
If they won both games, the Roughies would put an exclamation point on an exhilarating season with a district berth. Anything else, however, wouldn't get them a postseason berth, but it would reinsure and fortify some mental and physical groundwork for the future.
Unfortunately, Catty dropped its final two games to Bangor and Northern Lehigh and finished the year with an overall 7-11 mark.
Knowing this is his final season, Jared Stephen is cherishing every moment on the Catasauqua football team. He also truly is grateful for merely having the opportunity to start on the Roughies' defensive line this fall and is making the most of it.
Last season, Stephen was the team's sixth offensive lineman and filled in along the way when needed. Defensively, he played on the program's JV squad.
Tough lessons were learned last week for the likes of Bethlehem Catholic, who have fallen from the top five. Emmaus keeps teaching us to not overlook their workmanlike approach to the game, while the top three teams in the poll seemed to have taken their feet off the gas pedals last week.
Let's see if teams can turn up the heat as week eight approaches.
1. Parkland (6-1)
Last week's rank: 1
Could be the game of the week.
The Pick: Parkland 28- Becahi 21
2. Easton (6-1)
Last week's rank: 2
Two teams going in different directions.