Solid with Souryavong


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Corey Souryavong has pieced together quite a stretch of games for Old Forge during the Blue Devils’ run to the state semifinals.

When the junior lineman takes to the turf at Hazleton Area on Friday, when the Blue Devils face District 3 champion Steelton-Highspire at 7 p.m., Souryavong will go about his business the same way he has approached all of Old Forge’s post-season games ...

Go hard, and make teams pay for overlooking his abilities.

“He has an endless motor, a constant work ethic,” Blue Devils head coach Mike Schuback said. “He is a tireless worker.”

That much has become expected of an Old Forge lineman these days, especially on the defensive side where the Blue Devils have dominated Northwest, Dunmore, Southern Columbia and Schuylkill Haven en route to the state semifinals. The last three teams on that list are programs that have won state championships. And with Souryavong playing at a peak level, Class A schools are finding out how difficult it is to contend with a team that features so many outstanding linemen.

It is that depth of talent that has become a chip on the junior’s shoulder, a driving force that has added extra motivation for Souryavong over the last month.

“He felt slighted when the all-stars were voted upon,” Schuback said. “He felt a little shorted.”

He has been taking out all of his frustrations out on Old Forge’s playoff opponents, making sure that he isn’t being viewed as a weakness on the powerful team.

Schuback, a standout lineman himself at Old Forge, understands what Souryavong has been going through, and even understands why the junior was bypassed for first-team honors in the Lackawanna Football Conference’s Division III all-star list.

“He felt disrespected,” Schuback said. “But when you are surrounded by a bunch of good players like [Ryan] Paulish, [Joey] Bruno, [Paul] Papi, Shane [Schuback] and Jordan [Sekol], you can be overshadowed somewhat, that’s going to happen.”

Souryavong has performed at such a high level that it may be hard to remember that in the off-season, he was just another player working hard to find his place on the team.

Schuback needed some help along the defensive front, and was trying to figure out who those players would be.

“[Corey] was a linebacker last year,” coach Schuback said. “We knew we needed some extra [defensive] linemen. Initially, we needed an end, and even considered Shane, but we were reluctant to pull him out of the middle.”

Shane Schuback, an outstanding linebacker, was just too valuable to put him at end, where teams could run away from him. Souryavong stepped in and impressed coach Schuback so much that the coach hasn’t had to reconsider the move.

“We decided to go with Corey, and it has paid off,” coach Schuback said.

With the season winding down to its conclusion, Old Forge is reaping the rewards of all its hard work. With Souryavong supplying his desire to excel, showing how quickly one can turn into an impact player, expect to see nothing but the best from the Blue Devils as the team chases down a state championship.

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