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West Shamokin sets sights on upcoming challenges against top teams

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 12:06 a.m.

A 3-0 record is a reality for the West Shamokin football team.

But what comes next?

While thoughts of a first-ever WPIAL playoff appearance for the Wolves seem reasonable, the immediate future holds two of the biggest tests the team will face thus far — undefeated and ranked Avonworth and North Catholic.

The No. 6 Antelopes (3-0, 2-0) will be first up when they visit West Shamokin on Friday. And Wolves' players say they're eager to line up against top competition.

“We've got to get in a good week's practice and put in the work, because they're going to be coming at us,” junior running back Andrew Wingard said.

“We're ready. We're definitely excited and ready,” junior quarterback Alex Lasslo said. “We have to have a great week in practice because what you do in practice is what you're going to do in the game.”

Avonworth has yet to be truly tested this season in wins over Rochester, Riverview and Leechburg, all of which were by 27 points or more.

West Shamokin also had lopsided wins over Northgate and Riverview, but its season-opening win over Springdale was close — 12-7. A late fumble-return touchdown put Springdale on the board in that game, but West Shamokin was able to keep control with its defense and rushing attack.

That gave the Wolves experience at closing out a tight game that they hope will benefit them against the Eastern Conference's other unbeaten teams.

“That win showed we can fight against adversity,” Wingard said. “Once we have something go wrong, we know that we can fight against it.”

Being able to bounce back over the course of a game is something new for a team from West Shamokin, which is two wins away from the first winning regular season in school history.

A driving force behind the Wolves' resiliency is the players' confidence, which began to build last season with the end of the school's four-year-long losing streak. Now with a 3-0 start, confidence is at an all-time high.

“Winning has made all the difference. It put a smile on our face to think that we were 2-0, and then we came out (against Riverview) and won again. 3-0 feels great,” Lasslo said. “It's been a while since I've seen our school on the front page.”

“There's a smile on our faces every Friday night, and we come out here ready to win a ballgame. It's just a different feeling,” Wingard said.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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