Lackawanna Trail had never beaten Dunmore in eight previous meetings on the football field. But with the help of Nate Rolka, that changed.
The senior quarterback ran for 99 yards and two first-half touchdowns and passed for 65 yards. Defensively, he had nine tackles — three for loss — one sack and two pass breakups as the Lions held off the Bucks, 21-15.
Here is more from Rolka’s Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Baseball
Favorite teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Phillies
Athletes I admire: LeBron James. He’s the greatest player of out generation. He’s a great guy, always giving back to the community. And he really has an outstanding work ethic.
Favorite food: Steak
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Marshawn Lynch, Barry Bonds and coach Scot Wasilchak, our gym teacher
After Dunmore took a 7-0 lead, what was the mood of the team? We just tried not to get too worked up about it. Because our first drive on offense, we did have a little bit of success moving the ball; we just had a couple penalties and setbacks. We knew if we just stuck to our game plan and executed, we would be all right.
You scored on a 68-yard run two plays later to tie the game. Then late in the second quarter, you scored on a 1-yard run to give the team a 14-7 lead. That was just a really tough drive. I think it was 15 plays and we got a lot of great runs from our backs. Really just running the ball tough was the key on that drive, getting 3 or 4 yards a clip. I think we held the ball that drive for like nine minutes, too. That was huge, we really burned a lot of time off. And being able to punch it in at the end was huge.
What was the attitude in the locker room at halftime, leading by a touchdown? We just proved to ourselves that we could do it and win the game. We knew they were going to come out strong after half, so we knew we were just going to have to keep playing 100 percent the whole game. That was one of our goals this week — to play a full four quarters. I think we did that. Our guys really stepped it up when we had to.
How about the job you did on defense in the game? I never really liked playing defense that much. But I got moved to defensive end this year and I think I found my niche. Obviously, playing quarterback for four years, I really enjoy playing there, too. I just enjoy being on the field.
Does this victory raise or change any expectations you have for the rest of the season? Not really. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week. We believe that is a perfectly realistic goal. If you put all your energy and focus into the team you’re playing that week, we feel we can do that. It’s just another step in our process.
You announced last year that you will attend the University of Delaware to play baseball. How has making that decision taken off some of the pressure of your senior year? It’s been huge. I think I committed right after football season ended last year. After that I could just really focus on my conditioning, lifting, film study, everything like that. It took a lot of pressure off. I can just play loose and have fun.
Last season in baseball, you were the Lackawanna Division V Coaches Player of the Year and a Times-Tribune All-Region selection. Batted .541 with five HRs and 23 RBIs. On the mound, you were 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 96 strikeouts. Were you pleased with how your season went? It was a pretty good year, but I think we ended up 6-6 in the regular season and lost our playoff game. Not trying to look ahead to baseball yet, but I think we’re going to have some high expectations for that. We only lose one senior, D.J. Klinges, and he contributed a lot. But I think we can surprise a lot of people in baseball this year, too.