Both Allen and Dieruff are holding heads high entering annual meeting

The Canaries are still encouraged despite a winless season, and the Huskies have a chance to get to .500.

In terms of league championships, and District 11 and Eastern Conference playoff berths that are at stake, Saturday afternoon's Allen-Dieruff game at J. Birney Crum Stadium may not even make the local high school football radar.

But the 57th meeting between Allentown's public schools still has a lot of meaning for the kids, coaches and parents involved.

For Allen, it is one last chance to avoid a winless season, while for Dieruff it is an opportunity to avoid a losing season for the first time since 2002.

Based on their four wins, the Huskies are solid favorites.

However, the Canaries were favored a year ago and lost 10-7.

"It's Allen-Dieruff. … I shouldn't even have to work to get them ready to play," Canaries coach George Clay said. "If they're not ready, I don't know what I have to do. But they'll be ready. They played well against Pocono Mountain East [a 38-20 defeat] and they're excited to play Dieruff."

Despite Allen's 0-9 record and being outscored 388-64, Clay is confident the program is headed in the right direction.

"Our numbers in the lower levels are coming up," he said. "This year we sat right under 50 kids on the varsity. If we're going to keep almost 50 kids every year, we're going in the right direction. Our freshman team won a couple of games. The kids are working hard to get better."

The best news of all is that the attitude has been nothing but positive.

"We haven't had any discipline problems," Clay said. "A couple of kids left for whatever reason, but the kids who have been here haven't stopped working. They've given me whatever they can."

Senior Garek Schleder, a defensive end and offensive center, believes better days are ahead.

"Moving forward, Allen's record will get better and the program will turn around eventually just because of the coaches they have in place," Schleder said. "It's just a matter of making it happen. It will happen. It's only a matter of time."

Schleder said Allen could have been more competitive this season were it not for an abundance of injuries.

"The injuries didn't help at all," he said. "We didn't have a full team until halfway through the season, and even then some of those guys weren't at 100 percent."

Senior Justice Anderson, one of Allen's top playmakers, has a bruised hand but still hopes to play against Dieruff. The game has extra meaning for him because he spent the first two years of his high school career as a Husky.

"I don't regret coming here because I love the guys here, but I am still close to all the kids over at Dieruff," Anderson said. "I'm happy for them. I still think we can beat them on Saturday, but it's going to take everybody playing 100 percent and taking no plays off. Dieruff's good. We're going to need to play our best."

The win over Allen last year seemed to spur Dieruff to more success this season. Allen might be looking for the same springboard.

"It's going to take kids taking the weight room more seriously," Anderson said. "The scores don't show it, but there's a lot of potential here and a foundation was laid. Hopefully, more kids continue to come out and don't quit."

A foundation is definitely in place at Dieruff. By winning four games and being competitive in several others, the Huskies have changed perceptions.

Next year holds even greater potential for the Huskies, who lose just four starters to graduation and have several talented kids emerging from the feeder teams.

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