Thirteen seasons was enough to prove a point.
Regardless what happens at Crispin Field in Berwick on Saturday afternoon, Dallas has accomplished quite a feat.
During that 13-year span, 100 teams in District 2 have started the season 0-3. Only two of them have qualified for the district playoffs. (The 100 includes District 4's Williamsport since it plays in the Wyoming Valley Conference and qualifies through our district).
Dallas' achievement, though, trumps that of the 2009 Riverside squad that made the D2-A playoffs after starting 0-3. Riverside was battling just five other teams for four spots. The Vikings made it with a 3-7 regular-season record as two of those teams finished 1-9.
After three weeks, Dallas was buried in last place in a 15-team battle for four D2-3A playoff berths.
The Mountaineers (7-3) head to Berwick riding a seven-game winning streak, tied with Wyoming Area for the longest in the WVC. You'd have to go back to 1999 to find a D2 team that lost its first three and entered the district playoffs with a non-losing record. Scranton did it by finishing 5-5 and was promptly dumped in the Class 4A first round.
I'm going to go back to that first win, Dallas first-year coach Bob Zaruta said. We found out how to win that fourth game of the year. From there, we just kept doing what you've seen us do. We get better each week. They're still things we have to work on (after defeating Lake-Lehman on Saturday).
There is a togetherness on this team that's very special, very special for scholastic football.
Togetherness that was fractured when Zaruta took over.
There was an obvious dividing line – those who supported the new coach and those who thought former coach Ted Jackson got a raw deal when he was replaced after posting 26 winning seasons in 27 years as the Mountaineers coach, including a Class 2A state title in 1993.
Dallas had players that knew how to win, like seniors Logan Bullock, Buddy Shutlock, Jason Simonovich and Ryan Zapoticky. It also had a new head coach who was barely a blip on the WVC radar screen. Zaruta spent a season at GAR as freshman and assistant varsity coach and five years with the Dallas freshman program, the final four as its head coach. He said his final season at Dallas was in 2007.
But once the Mountaineers defeated Coughlin 17-7 on the fourth week, there seemed to be a different aura around the coaches and players.
We knew we had three tough opponents in a row and just needed for things to click, Shutlock said after Saturday's 51-6 dismantling of playoff-bound Lake-Lehman. Now things are clicking for seven straight games.
Northwest left Montrose last Friday with a 19-7 loss and no chance at the postseason … until.
Sayre declined a bid to the Eastern Conference Class A playoffs. Northwest was up next. The Rangers will travel to top-seeded Muncy Friday.
Coaches trying to rebuild programs often say that their players need to learn how to win. Well, Montrose took that to another level after defeating Northwest 19-7 last Friday.
The Meteors, who snapped a 35-game losing streak earlier this season, wanted to dump the Gatorade container over the head of coach Russ Canevari. Instead, they inadvertently poured it over a newspaper reporter.
The change to the District 2/4-11 Class 4A playoff field made it tougher for local teams to make the tournament. District 11 received six spots – up from five in the past – and District 2/4 got two like always, but the elimination of the wild card prevented a third from making it.
The switch didn't matter. D2/4's third-place team was Wyoming Valley West and it would have lost out to D11's sixth-place team East Stroudsburg South for the wild card under the old format.
Don't look for any District 2 games on television this weekend or next. District 2 charges $2,000 to telecast the semifinals and $3,000 for a championship game.
However, northeastpafootball.com will have six games broadcasted on its website. Also, wyomingareafootball.org is scheduled to broadcast the Warriors' D2-2A semifinal against Lake-Lehman.
Crestwood receiver Kota Kishel just fell short of being the first WVC player to record 1,000 receiving yards during the regular season since 2002. He finished with 936. However, Holy Redeemer's Eric Kerr did with a huge game against Pottsville Nativity last Saturday.
Kerr, who needed 226 in the season finale, finished with 1,026 as Redeemer threw on nearly every down.
The last WVC player to reach 1,000 receiving yards during the regular season Valley West's Jim Jordan, who finished with 1,015 on 43 receptions. Kerr needed 60 catches to reach his mark.
Seven WVC quarterbacks finished the regular season with at least 1,000 yards passing. Four accomplished the feat in 2011. Eight had at least 1,000 in 2010.
Scranton and Delaware Valley are District 2's participants in the District 2/4-11 Class 4A subregional tournament. Since there are only two teams, down from sometimes three in the past, here's how the D2-4A champion will be determined.
If the two meet in the subregional tournament – that would happen next weekend if both win Saturday – then the winner of that game is the District 2 champion. If they don't, then it reverts to state points in the regular season and Scranton would be the champion.
Under the latter scenario, Scranton could lose Saturday and DelVal go on to win the state title and Scranton would still be the champion.
Teams are ranked on performance regardless of classification. Number is parentheses is last week's ranking. NR means not ranked.
1. (1) Scranton (10-0)…Will be at home throughout the subregional with D11.
2. (2) Delaware Valley (9-1)…Playoff opponent Whitehall brings a lot of firepower.
3. (3) Old Forge (10-0)…Gets backyard rival Riverside in D2-A semifinals.
4. (5) Dunmore (9-1)…Hasn't been tested much since 21-0 loss to Old Forge.
5. (4) Abington Heights (8-2)…Never could swing the momentum in 35-0 loss to Scranton.
6. (6) Wyoming Valley West (7-3)…Playoff opponent Emmaus has deceiving record.
7. (7) Berwick (9-1)…Should expect a much better game from Dallas this time around.
8. (8) Wyoming Area (8-2)…Waited eight weeks to avenge one-point loss to Lehman.
9. (9) Dallas (7-3)…Playing at a high level, but need to take it up a notch vs. Berwick.
10. (12) Valley View (7-3)…Losses were to teams ranked in the TL's top five.
11. (11) Lakeland (7-3)…Will face a much different GAR team that it routed 34-7 earlier.
12. (13) GAR (7-3)…Needs its running game because it's tough to pass at windy Lakeland.
13. (14) Lackawanna Trail (8-2)…Has Dunmore and has struggled against strong offenses.
14. (10) Crestwood (7-3)…Stumbles into Eastern Conference with two losses in last three.
15. (15) Riverside (7-3)…High-powered Old Forge scored 54 in a week five meeting.
Dropped out: none.
Given consideration: Coughlin (6-4), Lake-Lehman (6-4), Scranton Prep (6-4).
RB – Coughlin
Evans rushed for 262 yards and five touchdowns – both career-highs – as Coughlin defeated Crestwood 42-20 to secure an Eastern Conference Class 3A playoff berth.
Evans opened the scoring with a 41-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. After Crestwood pulled ahead 14-7, he put the Crusaders back in front with TD runs of 43 and 11 yards in the third. He finished off the fourth with touchdown runs of 35 and 14 yards.
Eric Kerr – WR – Holy Redeemer
Corey Moore – QB – GAR
Buddy Shutlock – OL/DL – Dallas
Mike Baur – QB – Wyoming Valley West
Jay Popson – QB – Crestwood
Dustin Jones – RB – Lake-Lehman
Derrick Simms – RB – Wyoming Valley West
Nick O'Brien – QB – Wyoming Area
Lucas Benton – WR/RB – GAR
Nick O'Brien – QB – Wyoming Area
Jimmy Strickland – QB – Holy Redeemer
Ryan Zapoticky – QB – Dallas