LOYSBURG - In 1975, the last time the Northern Bedford Panthers football team went undefeated in the regular season, Jeff Batzel was, in his own words, "a little-used sophomore" on the team.
In 2010, the latest time the Northern Bedford Panthers football team went undefeated in the regular season, Batzel was a very happy, very proud Panthers head coach.
Northern Bedford finished off its first undefeated season in 35 years on Friday night, blowing out West Branch, 42-0, behind more than 200 yards rushing and five touchdowns by running back Preston Albright. The 9-0 season meant every bit as much to the coach as it did to his team.
Northern Bedford coach Jeff Batzel discusses his team's undefeated regular season
"My father was the athletic director here from the 1960s until his retirement in the '90s," Batzel said. "So I'm very aware of the history of things here. ... I guess I never thought when I was coaching basketball at Everett 20 years ago that I'd be head coach of a football team like this at Northern Bedford."
The Panthers shone on both sides of the ball against the Warriors, racking up 318 total yards - 278 on the ground - and holding West Branch to just 77 yards. Northern Bedford's defense has been dominant this year, but Albright is the key to the Panthers' success. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior passed 1,400 rushing for the season and tallied his 27th touchdown of the year, by far the most scores in the area this season.
"From midseason on, he's just turned it up another notch," Batzel said. "He's making a lot of good decisions out there right now."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Northern’s Logan Fluke runs against West Branch.
Lost in Northern Bedford's celebration was a gutsy performance by the Warriors. Though West Branch fell to 1-8, the team never stopped battling, playing literally until the final whistle, led by quarterback Dylan Corl.
Corl had a hand in most of his team's yardage, passing for 39 yards and rushing for 22. He also knocked down two sure touchdowns as a cornerback on the defensive side of the ball.
"We didn't quit. We kept battling in the end," said coach Rob Lazauskas. "We got beat by a bigger, faster, stronger football team - it's as simple as that."
The Warriors, who dressed less than 20 players against the Panthers, finish the season at home against Williamsburg next week.
Northern Bedford will be the second seed in District 5 Class A playoffs and will host the winner of the Meyersdale-Rockwood game, which will be played at Rockwood today, in the first round next Friday. Whatever the postseason may hold, Batzel said the team will always have its perfect regular season.
"These kids really have worked hard - they just worked their tails off all year," he said. "They're very deserving of this. They're just a great bunch of kids. No matter what happens in the playoffs - good, bad or indifferent - nobody can take this undefeated regular season away from them."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
West Branch0 0 0 0 - 0
Northern Bedford14 21 7 0 - 42
NB-Albright 7 rush (Thomas kick), 8:03.
NB-Albright 5 rush (Thomas kick), 5:55.
NB-Albright 13 rush (Thomas kick), 9:00.
NB-Oswalt 25 pass from Fluke (Thomas kick), 4:29.
NB-Albright 31 rush (Thomas kick), :54
NB-Albright 2 rush (Thomas kick), 8:23.
RUSHING: West Branch-Slippey 10-27, Speigle 3-10, Rees 2-0, Corl 12-22, Rothrock 1-(-11). Northern Bedford-Albright 24-205, Troutman 3-18, Fluke 3-24, Suter 1-7, M. Sollenberger 1-3, Mi. Brown 1-4, Kagarise 2-18, O'Neal 1-1, Baker 1-(-2).
PASSING: West Branch-Corl 6-23-0-39, Rothrock 0-1-0-0. Northern Bedford-Fluke 5-8-0-40.
RECEIVING: West Branch-Rothrock 2-11, L. Gower 1-9, Speigle 3-19. Northern Bedford-W. Sollenberger 1-12, R. Hershberger 1-5, Albright 1-(-5), Oswalt 1-25, Miller 1-3.