After getting blanked by West Scranton in its season opener, North Pocono needed to bounce back. Senior quarterback Donny Blaine helped make that happen. He threw for 140 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 45 yards and a fourth score to help lead the Trojans to a 28-3 victory over Western Wayne.
He threw TD passes of 35 and 30 yards to Dan Walsh and 6 yards to Dale Moore. He also had a 5-yard touchdown run. That performance complemented a defensive effort that, despite being on the field for a good portion of the first half, allowed just three points and intercepted two passes.
Here is more from Blaine’s interview:
Family: Father, Tim; mother, Tara; brothers, Timmy, Michael, Jake
Other sports I play: Track & field
Favorite teams: Denver Broncos, New York Mets, New York Knicks
Athletes I admire: Peyton Manning. He’s a quarterback I watched for a while. Tom Brady, too. They’re very good at moving in the pocket. I’m not a super-fast guy and neither are they. So I like their footwork stuff. It keeps them kind of quick and away from other players.
Favorite food: Barbeque ribs
Superstitions and rituals: After my freshman season, at our football banquet, the former superintendent gave me an old North Pocono coaches hat. I wear that every gameday and pregame. If we don’t have a game on Friday, I wear it the whole day.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Tom Brady. Carrie Underwood. And Abraham Lincoln because I share a birthday with him.
What was the week of preparation like for Western Wayne coming off the loss to West Scranton? We all had to focus a lot harder. We knew Western Wayne was a good football team. After watching film, they put up 30 points against Lake-Lehman, so we knew we had to stop their run. We just had to play a lot more physical than we did against West Scranton.
On the opening kickoff, you guys squibbed it, it deflected off a Western Wayne player and Dan Walsh recovered for you guys. Was that planned? We practice squib kicks. In our game against West Scranton, our kicked it and it hit one of their guys. Unfortunately, that didn’t go our way. But this one, they ended up bobbling it. All our guys ran down and Danny was in a great spot. He was able to pick it up and grab it.
You guys scored on the next play to take the lead 12 seconds into the game. You then scored right before halftime — 9 plays, 49 yards in 49 seconds with no timeouts. What was the mood and mindset in the huddle during that drive? Every Thursday, we have a two-minute drill at the end of practice. We run a few plays, clock the ball, practice getting out of bounds. It really helped us in the game stay calm in the huddle. I was just trying to get the ball to all our athletes so they could make plays. Our line blocked great, stayed calm and really helped us move down the field.
Talk about the job you defense did against Western Wayne, especially in the first half: We gave up 27 (points) to West Scranton, so we practiced so much harder. And even though we stayed on the field long (against Western Wayne), we never broke. Just giving up a field goal (on the first drive) really gave our defense a backbone to stand on. We had a fourth-down stop and Danny (Walsh) and Dale (Moore) had interceptions.
Talk about your scrambling ability. You had an 18-yard run on the scoring drive right before halftime that set up first-and-goal: We always work on scrambling drills in practice. It’s a big part of the game. You’re not always going to be able to sit back in the pocket and have an easy throw. It’s something I had to work on. Doing track in the spring and working on it in practice, it makes the game-time situation feel a lot easier.
How important was it to bounce back from the opening-week loss the way you guys did? No one likes to start the season 0-1. That week was tough for everybody in North Pocono with the loss of one of our students (Patrick Luptak). It’s not the way we wanted to start, but we knew we had to play like the team we know we are. In Week One, we didn’t do that. So our whole momentum for the season shifted and got a lot better.
How did the tragedy affect the team? He (Luptak) was a cross country and track runner and, before he did lacrosse in the spring, he was always in the weight room with us lifting. Throughout the week it was on our mind, thinking of ideas to remember him during the game. Thursday, as a team, we all went to his viewing. It stayed on our minds the whole week. We had to put football aside for a lot of it. But coach Dolhon always says high school football is not the most important thing in the world; we always have other things to deal with. Our effort and how we all came together as a community represented him well. Not only our student section, but a lot of other student sections represented him. Even though we didn’t play and win like we wanted to, that would have been the cherry on top. But I feel the community came together to represent him.
Post-graduation plans: I don’t know what school I want to go to yet. But I want to go play football somewhere. I’m looking at some schools in the Patriot League and PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) in Division II. Hopefully, one of those teams and schools will fall my way. I’d like major in economics.