Spartan #TBT -- Chris Baranski vs Coughlin

This week's Spartan #TBT features a play very common play in the Wyoming Valley West playbook.

Most casual viewers of football see a long pass for a touchdown and don't see how the play develops.  In this week's #TBT play, the long touchdown pass is setup long before the receiver gets past the last defender.

Quarterback Mike Baur sets up under center and fakes the handoff to RB Eric Acosta.  After completing the play action fake, Baur rolls to his right, where his TE, FB, and 2 WRs are running routes.  Baur then throws the intermediate pass to WR Chris Baranski.  Baranski then turns and runs upfield where his teammate WR Mike Sands throws a perfect block on the Coughlin DB.  Baranski then uses his speed to stay ahead of the safety and run the ball into the end zone.

This play shows how the Spartans offense develops.  Not every long touchdown happens because of a ball being thrown 50 yards downfield. Sometimes, you have to take the open short pass and turn it into a long run after the catch with a little help from a blocker.

Spartan #TBT -- Chris Baranski vs Coughlin

Weidman Selected to East/West Game!

Before the recent break in the school year, we received some more awesome news about another one of our players.  

Senior WR/DB Devon Weidman was selected to play in the PSFCA East/West All Star Game.  The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association selects the best players from each half of the state to play against each other in the annual game.  This year's game will be held in Pittsburgh on Sunday May 1st.  

Devon will join teammate Billy Davison on the East roster.  This marks the first time that the Spartans have placed two players onto the roster for this game.  It is also the first time that the Spartans will have 3 players participating in All-Star games, as TE L.J. Wesneski will play in the Big 33 game for the Pennsylvania team.

Now, Devon is not big on being interviewed.  So instead, we have decided to honor Devon with this week's Spartan #TBT video.  In the video, we show two of Devon's big plays from this past season's game against Pittston Area.  The first play shows Devon making one of the biggest hits in recent history, as he comes back and lines up an unsuspecting Pittston defender as Sean Judge runs the ball up field.  The second play shows Devon using his speed to turn a short pass into a long touchdown.

We are extremely proud of Devon, and cannot wait to see him and all of Spartans perform in the All-Star games!

Spartan #TBT -- Weidman vs. Pittston Area

Spartan #TBT Returns

After a short hiatus, Spartan #TBT is back this week.  We are continuing our trend of highlighting some record breaking performances.  
This week's Spartan #TBT looks back at a season long record that was broken during the 2013 season.  In 2013, senior WR Mike Sands broke onto the scene in a big way.  From early on in the season, Sands emerged as QB Mike Baur's go-to target.  This status was reflected in the stat line, week in and week out.  In week 12, during the District 2 4A Championship Game, Sands completed a feat that had only been done once before.

With a 65 yard reception in the 3rd quarter, Sands broke the 1,000 yard mark for the season.  Mike became only the second Wide Receiver in Wyoming Valley West history to break the 1,000 yard mark, following Jimmy Jordan in the 2002 season.

Mike's QB, Mike Baur could not stop the praise when we recently spoke.

"The best word to describe Mike is dangerous," said 2013 senior QB Mike Baur.  "He wasn't the physically intimidating type but at any moment he could make a team pay.  He caught everything thrown his way and then he would use his explosivemess and speed to create big plays at the most opportune times.  Having such a reliable WR like Mike made my job that much easier as a QB, because I knew that no matter what the situation was, there was no need to panic.  Our offense had so many weapons that I knew somewhere on the field, someone would make a play, and Mike was like the cherry on top of everything."

"I'll never forget coming off the field that night and his family waiting there for Mike and then for me to thank me, not that I accomplished anything that night as spectacular as him but because they were so grateful for what happened.  Mike was the same way, always grateful and never cocky.  He wrote his name in the record books that season, ahead of some pretty great names that played at Valley West."

Don't forget to scroll through the news feed to catch up on any Spartan #TBT that you may have missed!

Spartan #TBT

Davison Selected to play in East/West Game

Last month, we were pleased to announce that senior tight end L.J. Wesneski was selected to play in the Big 33 game.  Today, we are pleased to announce that senior Linebacker Billy Davison has been selected to play in the 15th annual PSFCA East/West game.

The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association selects the best players in the state to go up against each other, representing their geographical side of the state.  Being one of only four linebackers selected for the game, Billy is expected to play a large amount of the game, which will be played at Cupples Stadium in the south side of Pittsburgh on Sunday May 1st.

"I am extremely proud of Billy for this outstanding accomplishment," said Head Coach Pat Keating.  "Billy and his family should take great pride in his selection to play in the East/West game."

I was able to sit and talk with Billy about his selection and some of his other favorite and least favorite moments from his high school career:

 

RP: First off, congrats on your selection to play in the PSFCA East/West game.  What was your initial reaction when you found out that you were selected to play in the East/West game?

BD: Thank you.  I was very surprised when I got the email.  I thought I would never get the chance to play in a high school football game again, so I am going to make the most of this opportunity.

RP: What does this mean to you personally, to be chosen as one of the best seniors in the state of Pennsylvania?
BD: It means that all of the hard work I put into my four years of playing high school football paid off.  I am honored to be selected as one of the best players in the state.  It means a lot to me and I could not be more thankful to my coaches and my family for preparing me for this opportunity.

RP: You are the most accomplished player to come through the program in a few years, and very possibly ever.  You played in a number of big games and have been a part of some of the biggest moments in WVW football history.  What are some of the games/plays/moments that you will be telling stories about for years to come?
BD: I would have to say that causing 2 fumbles against Nazareth and recovering both of them, but especially the second fumble, right after Sean returned the kickoff for the TD.  Another one has to be flipping over the line against Liberty for a touchdown.  There were just so many great plays to name them all.  Besides the plays, I will always remember, and definitely miss, playing under those lights on a Friday night and the adrenaline rush you get just before kickoff.  Just being able to say I was a part of it, and playing with guys that you grew up with, building bonds that could never be broken, celebrating after a victory in the locker room, the whole experience has been a great honor.

RP: The team accomplished so much this year and played in so many big games, give me a few plays or games that will also stick with you from earlier in your career.
BD: Really, any game that I was able to play with my brother will stick with me.  Also, all of the great people I’ve been around including coaches and friends will play a big part of my future.

RP: With you being on Varsity for 4 years, you were involved in some great games.  Some of those games did not turn out the way we would have liked.  One that sticks out to me was the Easton game during your sophomore year.  You carried the ball on a two-point conversion that would have changed the outcome of that game.  How did that play change you as a player?
BD: With that play, I felt like I let the seniors and my coaches down.  After that game, I couldn’t even look them in the face.  But, after the game, I was picked up off the ground by two seniors on the team and they explained to me that there was nothing I could do about.  It was that moment that showed me what it meant to be a leader and what being a leader was about.  I took that and used it during my senior year making me a better player and individual.

RP: Finally, what does it mean to you to be able to represent WVW one more time as a high school player?
BD: It means so much to me.  I am looking forward to representing WVW the way it should be represented and that’s by leaving it all on the field.

#SpartanTBT 2012 Eastern Conference Championship Game

This week's #SpartanTBT takes us back to 2012, which turned out to be another historic year for Wyoming Valley West.

In 2012, the Spartans were tasked with replacing All-State player Eugene Lewis, TaShawn Bunch, Matt Reams, and many other talented seniors. After a rough first half of the season, the Spartans went on a late run led by junior QB Mike Baur and seniors FB/LB Brett Good and RB Derrick Simms, along with many other juniors and seniors. Unfortunately, the Spartans could not overcome a large deficit in the race for a District playoff spot, but they were invited to the Eastern Conference playoffs.  After defeating Emmaus 6-0 the week prior, the Spartans faced Nazareth in the Eastern Conference Championship Game.

After they tied the game up at 14 in the fourth quarter, the Spartans scored in the first overtime but the Blue Eagles matched it.  In the 2nd overtime period, the Blue Eagles scored a quick TD to take a 28-21 lead.  This leads us to the plays in this weeks' #SpartanTBT:

After a quick 9 yard run by sophomore RB Eric Acosta, Baur caught the Nazareth defense (and our excellent cameraman) off-guard with a quick snap and a QB sneak to make it 28-27.  After a discussion, the Spartans decided to go for 2 and the win.  Baur turned and handed the ball of to Good who found a hole in the defense to give the Spartans the 29-28 win and the FIRST EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP in school history.

Scroll down to the next post to see the plays and the reaction from the crowd!

#SpartanTBT

2016 Schedule Released

A few weeks ago, the Wyoming Valley Conference Athletic Directors released the 2016 football season schedule.  Because of the change in the number of classifications, football schedules saw many changes. From different teams to rivalaries during different weeks, noby was exempt from a schedule shakeup, including the Spartans.

Some highlights:
- Gone are Wyoming Area and Pittston
- New are Abington Heights and Wallenpaupack, who happened to be the Spartans scrimmages the past few years, and they are also the teams in the same classification as the Spartans
- While the rest of the teams stayed the same, the weeks in which they face the Spartans has changed.

So head over to the schedue tab to see what next season's schedule will look like.  Once the playoff format is decided, we will release it here.

#SpartanTBT

We're back with another edition of #SpartanTBT.  This week we look back at a play from this past season.

During the opening week of the 2015 season, the Spartans traveled to Wyoming Area in game that at first was a little closer than the Spartans would have liked.  After a long kickoff return and short TD pass for Wyoming Area made the score 14-7 in favor of the Spartans, Sean Judge gave the fans of preview of what was to come for the remainder of the season.

On a 2nd and 20 from their own 32, Quarterback Aaron Austin found Sean Judge in the middle of the field with some room to work with.  Sean then turnedup field and ran towards a group of defenders.  With the help of his blockers, including WR Devon Weidman catching up with him down the field, Sean turned the short pass into a long TD, something that would become very familiar for this season.  

That score put the Spartans up 20-7 and they never looked back, winning the game by a score of 42-17.

The video is embeded in the post below.  Remember to check back next week for another #SpartanTBT

#SpartanTBT

Wesneski Named to Big 33

The Big 33 Classic named Team Pennsylvania today, and the Wyoming Valley West Spartans were lucky enough to get a representative named to the team.  Senior L.J. Wesneski was name to Team Pennsylvania as a Tight End.  With L.J. being selected to the Big 33 team, it marks the 3rd time a Spartan has been named to the Big 33 team since Pat Keating has been head coach (Kyle Wallace, 2009 and Eugene Lewis, 2012 were the others).  Stayed tuned for more reactions and congrats to L.J. on the honor!

Contacted Friday night, here is what Coach Keating had to say about L.J.'s selection: "I am extremely proud of L.J. for being selected to play in such a prestigous game.  He is the first player from Valley West since Eugene Lewis to be selected to play in the game.  Very few players from Valley West have been chosen to play in the game, so L.J. and his family should be extremely proud of his accomplishments."

Also, I was able to get a few comments from L.J.  Here is a short Q&A:
RP: What was your initial reaction when you found out you were selected?
LW: I was completely shocked and excited. I just could not believe that I was selected.

RP: What does this mean to you personally, to be chosen as one of the 33 best seniors in the state of Pennsylvania?
LW: It's an amazing feeling to be considered one of the top players in Pennsylvania.  I have wanted to apart of this team since freshman year and it is really a great honor.

RP: Finally, what does it mean to you to be able to represent WVW one more time in your high school career and to be able to do it on such a big stage?
LW: It's an honor to be able to go out with the top players from Pennsylvania and show them that WVW should not be overlooked.  It's going to be great to be able to play in one more high school football game.  I cannot wait to play in this game!

Keating Honored by Colleagues

At their annual conference in State College, the Spartans Head Coach Pat Keating was given one of the biggest honors a head coach could receive. The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association named Coach Keating the PSFCA District 2 Coach of the Year.  

Coach Keating was given this honor after leading his team to an undefeated regular season, the District 2 4A gold medal, and 2 wins in the playoffs over schools from District 11.

Congrats to Coach Keating!

#SpartanTBT Debuts

Welcome to the initial installment of #SpartanTBT!  On Thursdays throughout the year, we will take a look back through our archives and show you some of the biggest plays in Spartan football history.  To leadoff our series, we take a look back at the first win of current head coach Pat Keating’s time with the Spartans.
 
In the fall of 2009, the Spartans started the year off with 2 straight losses.  In week 3, they traveled to Delaware Valley to face the Warriors in a District 2 4A showdown.  In a tight, back and forth game, a late interception by sophomore Eugene Lewis sealed the first win of the season for the team and Coach Keating’s first win as head coach. 

Here is what Coach Keating had to say after looking back at that play and game:
“It was definitely a big weight off my chest and the staff’s chest.  The first 2 weeks were hard when we lost both running backs midway through the first game and then had to bounce back against Abington Heights who was the top team in the district that year.  I remember how proud I was of the players that night for going on a long road trip and fighting for that win.  When Eugene came down with that interception, there was no one thought in particular that ran through my mind.  I just remember how emotional the whole sideline was when we clinched the win”

“That win was definitely a turning point.  It turned the whole season around and we went on a win streak from there.”  Scroll down to the next post to see the interception that sealed Coach Keating’s first win!‚Äč

#SpartanTBT Coach Keating's First Win

Wall Commits to King's College

We would like to send out congratulations to OL/DL Jason Wall on his commitment to King's College.  I was able to sit with Jason and talk to him about his decision and some other topics as well.

RP: First off Jason, congrats on committing to King’s College recently.  What made you want to go to King’s?
JW: Thank you, it has been a very exciting past few days.  My decision was based mostly on academics.  King’s provides a great education especially for my major.  Another big factor in my decision was that it was close to home, and that means my family can come watch me play.

RP: What will be your major and why did you choose it?
JW:  I chose accounting.  I took Accounting during my sophomore year and it just came naturally to me.  Also, it is a very in-demand job and can get me plenty of job opportunities.

RP: Going back to the football aspect of this decision, what have their coaches told you about where they want you to play.
JW:  Even though I played primarily as a tackle in high school, the coaches told me that would most likely be playing me at center, which I also played a little bit during my senior year.  They also want me to the guard position as well.

RP: It seems like colleges are really focusing on having versatility with their lineman.  What are you going to miss most about high school and high school football?
JW: I am definitely going to miss seeing my friends everyday and I am going to miss a lot of the teachers from down the high school.  As for high school football, it has to be the feeling.  The feeling of high school football cannot be matched.  Walking out of the locker room, hearing Enter Sandman over the speakers, running through the banner with your friends surrounding you…  You can’t beat that!

RP: Your class has had too many accomplishments to list here.  But what I want to know is what has been your favorite personal accomplishment/highlight.
JW: I have never been about personal achievements or highlights.  All that mattered to me was that when the clock hit 0s, the Spartans came out on top.

RP: Then what was the game or series of plays that will stay with you the longest?
JW: It has to be the Berwick game from my senior year.  We all know that the Berwick game is the biggest game every year.  But this past season, it just meant so much more for us.  There was a lot of hype and talk going into that week but then it all changed, and it became about one thing, winning for our teammate.  That is all that we wanted to do, win that game for Chris.  And to do it in such a convincing fashion, just made it that much sweeter.

Coach's Awards -- Overview

On January 31st, the WVW Booster Club held the annual banquet to honor the past football season.  At the yearend event, the coaching staff released its annual awards.  Before we get to the awards, we want to take a moment to recognize some accomplishments of this senior class as a whole.  Since the seniors were sophomores:

·         They have never lost a season opening game.

·         Won 3 straight Wyoming Valley Conference AAAA Championships.

·         Finished with a 21-2 Wyoming Valley Conference record.

·         Led the first team in school history to win a state playoff game against a team from the Lehigh Valley.  Not only did they do it once, but they did it twice.

·         Led the first team in school history to reach the Subregional Final.

·         First and only class to leave the program with 2 District Gold Medals

·         Last, but certainly not least, these seniors won 10 games as sophomores, 8 games as juniors, and 12 games as seniors.  With the 30 wins, they are the class with the most victories in school history.

Just a quick note, the coach’s awards will be posted as individual posts for each award.  With the outstanding team we had this year, it was tough for coaches to choose just one player for these awards, so for most awards there are multiple winners.  The comments posted below the awards are taken from Coach Keating’s presentation during the banquet.  Make sure to click news and scroll down so you can read about all of our award winners.

Coach's Awards -- Team MVPs

Winners: Sean Judge and Bill Davison
Sean Judge had arguably the best single season performance in WVW history.  He finished with 1386 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs, 22 receptions for 379 yards and 4 TDs, 2 fumble recoveries for TDs, 7 interceptions with 3 returned for TDs including returns of 100 and 101 yards, 1 punt return for a TD, 1 kickoff return for a TD, and 1 passing TD.  All together he amassed 2254 all-purpose yards and 29 TDs. 

Bill Davison has been around the varsity program for 4 years, even though it seems longer.  From the beginning, his work ethic and hard-nosed mentality made him stand out.  From workouts, to practices, to games, he does everything 100%.  He didn’t care about recognition or being in the spotlight, all he wanted to do was win, and that’s how he prepared himself.  Over the 4 years, he amassed close to 450 tackles from his linebacker position.  On offense, he lined up at every skill position except QB, but spent the majority of his time doing the dirty work in order for someone else to be in the spotlight.  And don’t forget, he was an All-District punter 2 years in a row.  Bill is the most accomplished player to wear a Spartan uniform winning 4 consecutive WVC AAAA Championships, an Eastern Conference Championship, a District Silver medal, 2 District gold medals, and surpassing Michael Baur’s win record with a new record of 39 wins.

Coach's Awards -- Offensive MVPs

Winners: Devon Weidman and L.J. Wesneski
Devon Weidman
brought as much excitement to the field as anyone.  His approach to the game is what any coach would want.  He trains with attitude.  He practices and plays with top-end speed.  Defensively, he was tasked with covering the opposing teams #1 receiver every week.  On offense, he lined up at tailback, wing, tight end, and he even through a TD pass as a junior.  At wide receiver he could turn a short pass into a long gain, catch a tough ball in traffic, run by someone covering him, or go up over the top of his defender.  He turned many short runs into long, touchdown runs because of his effort and skill in downfield blocking.

L.J. Wesneski played multiple positions such as TE, WR, wing, and even a little fullback.  He is a player that is very dedicated to his craft and never missed a practice.  His ability to create matchup problems is what allowed us to do many of concepts we used on offense this year.  He was a size mismatch on defensive backs and was faster and more athletic than linebackers.  For the past 2 seasons, he was in the top 5 in the state statistically for many categories.

Coach's Awards -- Defensive MVP

Winner: Chris Reese
Chris Reese
had his share of battles on and off the field over his 4 years with our program.  He overcame injuries early in his career to become a 3 year starter.  Offensively, he was the most dominant blocking TE in the WVC the past 2 years.  Defensively, he started as a DT and worked his way outside to DE and became one of the most dominant defensive linemen in District 2.  He held down the strong side edge and was always relentless in chasing down the opposing QB.  Chris will also be remembered as one of the strongest willed players to come through the program in recent history for how he composed himself and persevered this past year through the personal devastation that completely shattered his world.

Coach's Awards -- Linemen of the Year

Winners: Jason Wall and Kris Wolfe
Jason Wall and Kris Wolfe are both players that were 2-way starters who played multiple years.  The typical lineman gets classified as “dumb”, but these two are anything but that.  On offense, they were physical at the point of attack, excellent pass blockers, and were able to play multiple positions if they had to.  Defensively, they complemented each other very well.  One often got to the football while the other had excellent gap control.

Coach's Awards -- Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes
Winners: Josh Sokoloski and Aaron Austin

Josh Sokoloski excelled on a defense that was filled with playmakers and he may have been overshadowed by those playmakers.  But he brought something to this defense that is hard for the people in the stands to see, he had the ability to make sure his teammates were in the correct call before the snap.  He knew scouting reports inside and out.  Along with his defensive work, he excelled on just about every Special Teams unit.

Aaron Austin entered the year as a “question mark” according to the media.  But that question mark turned into an exclamation point.  His biggest games came in our biggest games.  At Berwick he was fantastic.  For the state playoff games, he went above and beyond what anyone could have expected, including catching multiple interceptions even though he rarely played on defense during the regular season.  His final stat line looked like this: 1850 passing yards, 27 passing TDs, 687 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs, and 1 receiving TD.

Coach's Awards -- Ironman Award

Winner: Brian Hoffman

Brian Hoffman is a player who battled injuries, played through pain, exhibited raw toughness, and possessed a workman’s like attitude.  He never missed a practice or a game, and he got better as the season progressed.

Coach's Awards -- Most Improved Player

Most Improved Player
Winners: Nelson Colon and Sammy Novas

Nelson Colon did not start in his sophomore or junior seasons, but worked his way to being a starter as a senior.  He may not be the most physically gifted player on the team, but he was a hardworking and very dedicated player.  Despite being outsized for his position nearly every week, he kept battling and improving as the season went on.  His best game came against Scranton when he controlled their All-Conference Nose Guard who out-weighed him by almost 100 pounds.

Sammy Novas grew tremendously from his days as a young player.  He was very committed during this past offseason.  He also possesses a million dollar personality.  His leadership qualities showed throughout workouts, practices, and games.  That quality also appeared last year when after he broke his ankle, he did not sit around, he went to the weight room every day, and did anything he was able to do.  He also possesses a million dollar personality.

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