Chuck Sonon looked comfortable on the Bethlehem Catholic sideline on Saturday.
The longtime football coach has been there and has done it before as interim head coach of the Golden Hawks.
He is perhaps one of the few coaches in the region, if not the only one, to have completed three spells at the same school in six decades.
Sonon, who was first hired as Becahi’s coach in 1979 to replace Rich Mazza, said in a 2017 Morning Call article, “I may soon retire as a teacher, and people are asking me if I will continue to train. Well, I don’t fish, I don’t hunt. It’s my pleasure. As long as my legs are holding up and I’m feeling good, I’ll keep training.
A former Lehigh University player and coach, Sonon loves football, loves competition, loves a challenge. And he loves Bethlehem Catholic, where he also coached as an assistant and became head coach for the second time in 2002 after the old East Penn conference dissolved and the Lehigh Valley conference formed. .
There was a lot of hard feelings at that time and Bethlehem Catholic found itself at the epicenter of the league’s uproar. Sonon was a good choice to calm rough seas.
Whenever the school needed him, he answered the call. He did it again last week when Kyle Haas abruptly quit for what he said were personal reasons.
While rumors of a change involving Haas surfaced this summer, Thursday’s announcement came as a shock to most members of the local football community.
What came as no surprise was that Bethlehem Catholic manager Lucas Wilde and sporting director Chris Domyan looked to Sonon to provide stability.
Sonon has seen it all in his more than 40 seasons on the fringes of the region. For a Becahi side that showed flashes of excellence in a 4-4 start, he’ll keep the players focused for the rest of the season, which includes games against Freedom and Allentown Central Catholic and possibly the District playoffs. 11 4A.
Parkland beat Becahi 38-14 in Sonon’s debut as interim coach on Saturday night, but the Golden Hawks played much better in the second half after going 31-0 down at halftime.
“We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone and try to clean things up,” Sonon said. “There is absolutely talent here. It’s just a matter of hard work.
Sonon and a team that includes other veterans such as Gene Legath and Rich Gierula will work with the players to ensure there are no more distractions.
Parkland coach Tim Moncman has never coached with Sonon but has known him for decades and, like most in the local football community, has great respect for the former math teacher at Emmaus High.
“I’ve known him forever,” Moncman said. “I saw him before the game and gave him a hug and told him he was always a class player and a great guy. For the situation he’s in, he’s the right guy.
Becahi probably needs one more win to secure a place in the district and it won’t be easy, but Sonon, who put his booming voice on the sidelines, will make sure the players fight too hard as they can.
“We want to compete and we will compete,” Sonon said. “We started the year with three team goals. One was to win the EPC South, another was to win the District 11 4A title and we want to win the city championship. Some of those goals are still there, starting with the championship, so we’ll stay after that.
For the first time this season, District 1, after a deep dive into its complicated power ratings, has confirmed that five EPC teams have secured spots in the District Playoffs.
These are Emmaus, Nazareth, Freedom and Northampton in Class 6A, which will be a sub-region with the Wilkes-Barre area of District 2 and Hazleton and Williamsport of District 4.
Whitehall also surprised Whitehall, fresh off their stunning 37-6 win over Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night.
The Zephyrs won the 5A title in 2020 and lost in an overtime heartbreaker to East Stroudsburg South in last year’s final, and graduated many of their skill-position players from those two teams.
Whitehall finished 4-7 last year and have already surpassed that win tally this season. Coach Matt Senneca is up for Coach of the Year for picking a team to finish last to EPC South in the playoffs.
Four standout performances from Week 8 matches:
Easton Senior Aidan Hutchison: If Hutchison had been healthy all season, Red Rovers would probably be better than 3-5. Back from injury, Hutchison continues to post big numbers. He had 151 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns in a 26-7 win over Liberty, Easton’s third victory in his last four games.
Whitehall senior Nigel Linton: The fast running back continues to have a great second half of the season. He rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries and scored on dashes for 60, 14 and 15 yards in the win over ACCHS. He has 460 yards and six touchdowns in the Zephyrs’ last three games.
Northampton senior Antonino Russo: The Konkrete Kids became the last undefeated in the EPC with a 48-0 rout of Pocono Mountain East. Russo was 9-for-10 passing for 141 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Freedom Senior Ethan Neidig: The Patriots quarterback had one of his most effective nights of the season, going 8-of-11 for 149 yards and a touchdown in his team’s 49-0 blowout against Pleasant Valley.
Pocono Mountain West took a big step toward a District 11 5A playoff berth with a 10-8 win over East Stroudsburg South on Friday night, and would likely clinch a berth with a victory over Pleasant Valley this week.
Emmaus visits a resurgent team from Easton on Friday night. The Red Rovers are still mathematically alive in the hunt for a 6A playoff spot and have beaten the Green Hornets three times in a row, including a 28-23 loss in the 2020 District 11 6A quarter-finals.
Stroudsburg have won four of their last five games and could clinch a playoff berth with a win over longtime rival East Stroudsburg South on Friday night. The Cavaliers, defending District 5A champions, have lost four straight and are in danger of missing the postseason tournament.
Team, Division, All, PF, PA
X: Northampton, 7-0, 8-0, 382, 46
Pleasant Valley, 5-1, 5-3, 214, 174
Stroudsburg, 5-1, 5-3, 201, 146
PM West, 4-2, 4-4, 164, 183
ES South, 3-3, 3-5, 149, 162
Diéruff, 2-4, 2-6, 166, 255
ES North, 1-5, 1-7, 46, 361
PM East, 1-6, 1-7 60, 295
Allen, 0-6, 0-8, 65, 369
Team, Division, All, PF, PA
X: Emmaus, 5-1, 7-1, 284, 91
X:Nazareth, 5-1, 7-1, 305, 95
X: Liberty, 4-2, 6-2, 264, 126
X: Whitehall, 4-3, 5-3, 217, 168
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Beth. Catholic, 3-3, 4-4, 161, 172
Park, 3-3, 5-3, 251, 123
Central Catholic, 3-4, 4-4, 165, 172
Easton, 1-5, 3-5, 197, 195
Freedom, 0-6, 2-6, 134, 248
X: Place at District 11 tournaments
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