Spend the offseason at voluntary workouts and in the weight room. Then sweat through double sessions.
Then comes opening night and … disappointment. For Meyers and Northwest, more disappointment will come for one of them when they play at 7 p.m. Friday at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
Northwest traveled last Friday to Lackawanna Trail — a team it’s in direct competition with for two District 2 Class A playoff berths — and left with a 34-14 loss.
“They beat us handily,” Northwest coach Lon Hazlet said. “They beat us physically — offense, defense and special teams. It was certainly not the type of outing we were looking for. We got beat by a good football team, but we certainly hoped to make it more competitive and we did not.”
At the same time, Meyers was at Riverside and went to overtime only to fall 27-21. The Mohawks had the lead three times only for Riverside to rally and force overtime with a late fourth-quarter touchdown.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Meyers coach Jeff Labatch said. “Riverside is a good team, very well coached. But we didn’t capitalize on opportunities we had. We had some turnovers we didn’t capitalize on and some good field position we didn’t capitalize on.”
Friday’s game carries a little more importance to Northwest, which can’t fall farther behind the D2-A playoff chance even though the season is quite young. The two other D2-A teams — Old Forge and Holy Cross — also won. Defending champion Old Forge is expected to be a big factor since it’s the defending champ. Holy Cross not so much as its 14-12 win over Holy Redeemer snapped a 25-game losing streak.
But Northwest can afford to worry about the D2-A championship game the first weekend in November unless it takes care of the next nine weekends.
“I don’t want to look too far down the road,” Hazlet said. “As I said, we did not play well on Friday and we’re not looking down the road. Our focus has been getting better the past couple of days. We can’t worry too much about our improvement until we take care of our own house a little bit.”
Meyers has much more wiggle room to make the D2-3A playoffs as eight of the nine teams qualify. But getting one of the top-four seeds would be beneficial.
First, it would mean a home game. Secondly, it would likely mean no quarterfinal matchup with either Scranton Prep or Wyoming Area, who appear to be the classification’s heavyweights after convincing Week 1 wins against quality opponents.
“Everybody is going to be tough this year,” Labatch said. “Ideally, you want to get a home playoff game if you could. But you have to take care of business one week at a time.”
Meyers’ main concern will be a couple Northwest veterans in quarterback David Piestrak and receiver Connor Hazlet, the coach’s son. Both are among the few returners from last season’s 8-3 team. Tyler Stevens is also among the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3A-A’s top two-way players.
The Mohawks were fairly one dimensional in 2017 as quarterback Janssen Wilborn was the focus of the offense. Wilborn, though, is gone and now playing at Kutztown University. In his place is a multi-prong attack featuring running back Kevin Dessoye, receivers Reese Patronick and Darrian Tyson and tight end Najee Hood. Plus, Meyers has a size and experience advantage in the trenches.