Going into the game, nobody gave the Schuylkill Valley High School football team much of a chance. The Panthers played host to Wyomissing on Oct. 25. The Spartans came into the game undefeated in league play (4-0), and were the defending PIAA Class AS state champions last year after going a perfect 16-0 on the season.
In fact, Wyomissing had not lost a league game since Blue Mountain defeated them in the last regular season game of the 2010-11 campaign.
But this night belonged to Schuylkill Valley. Not only did the Panthers defeat the Spartans, but they did so handily, 34-14.
The victory gave a boost of confidence for the Panthers who had lost two of the previous three games. Schuylkill Valley also got a little revenge on the Spartans who knocked them out of the District 3-AA playoffs last year in the semifinals round.
“The win over Wyomissing was a big win for us because we needed it for the post season,” said Schuylkill Valley head coach Jeff Chillot. “Every game is important, whether it is Wyomissing, Hamburg, Donegal, or anyone. It was a total team effort on both sides of the ball, being able to defend and to run the ball.”
Things didn’t look good for the Panthers early, as Wyomissing scored two early touchdowns, one on a 77-yard run and one on an interception return of 95 yards. But The Panthers never got down on themselves. They recovered with five unanswered touchdowns to win the game.
The victory not only gives Schuylkill Valley an overall record of 6-3, but a win against a quality opponent. That was a big boost to the Panthers’ power rating.
Going into Friday’s game against Hamburg, the final game of the regular season, the Panthers were ranked fifth in Class AA power ratings, with the top eight teams making the district playoffs. Hamburg was right behind them in sixth place.
Last year the Panthers earned their first district playoff win in team history. This year, they would like to keep the momentum going in their favor.
The Panthers are 6-3 overall this season after winning eight games last year. There isn’t much that isn’t going right for them right now, including an offense that is clicking in all cylinders, scoring 244 points in nine games, just over 27 points a game.
“The key to the offense is desire and execution,” said Chillot. “When we get first downs and go fast, it’s a fun offense to play in. Everyone gets involved and players like Tanner White, Tanner Mish, Greg Johnson and Ed Shuttleworth can make big plays.”
Senior Nick Scheidt has also been a big factor in the team’s success. Heading into the Hamburg game Scheidt leads the league in rushing with 1,255 yards on 209 carries (just over six yards per carry). He has also scored 18 touchdowns on the season.
“Nick Scheidt is having a great season because he does all the right things both on and off the field, including the off-season,” said Chillot. “He’s a fierce competitor and never wants to come off the field. He’s one of our leaders and deserves all the success he’s having.”
He’s also getting some pretty good support. Shuttleworth has run for 739 yards on 118 carries (also over six yards per carry), and the passing combo of Tanner White and Tanner Mish has also been electric. Mish is tied for second in the league in receptions with 28, good for 471 yards, a 16.1 yards per completion ratio.
The passing game is coming along, as White tries to step into the shoes of graduating senior Kyle Beissel who threw for over 2,000 yards last year.
Coach Chillot is especially impressed with his younger players who have stepped up to fill in the holes left by the graduating seniors last year. If they continue to do that, a long trek through the district playoffs if a very real possibility for the Panthers. Maybe even a berth in the state tournament.