2018 In Review-Part 2

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

If you missed our “Year-in-Review” program on “SportsTalk,” here are a few more opinions from co-host Keith Groller and me (plus, you can hear all our topics and greater discussions on each item on our podcast: rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk )…

1.  Our Biggest 2018 Prediction That Came True

Keith — That strife would continue in the high school ranks over the issue of boundary and non- boundary schools, the transfers and unlevel sports playing fields.

Chris – That the Bethlehem Catholic boys and girls basketball, Central Catholic and Bangor boys basketball and Southern Lehigh girls basketball teams would not lose more than 10 regular season games, combined.

2.  Biggest Roller Coaster of 2018

Keith – The Philadelphia Eagles

Chris – The Philadelphia Phillies and their top affiliates

3.  Most Intriguing High School Sports Storyline

Keith – What’s going to happen with the new Executive Education Academy Charter School in Allentown, which some feel is trying to become the Imhotep Charter of the Lehigh Valley

ChrisFreedom’s elevation to winning SEVERAL titles this year (including baseball, boys soccer, girls tennis, girls basketball and football) despite not always getting the respect or the amount of media attention that some other districts receive after similar accomplishments.

4.  Best “Bounce Back” Team/Storyline

Keith  – Northampton sports underwent a revival in 2017 with the boys basketball team reaching the District 11 finals for the first time in 45 years, the football team returning to the District 11 playoffs for the first time in more than a decade and other programs, like softball, also showing some spunk. One of the great mysteries in local sports has been why can’t Northampton simulate the success of neighboring schools such as Nazareth and Parkland. This year, the K-Kids came back to life and while they didn’t win championships they did become much more relevant than in the past

ChrisNorthern Lehigh Football team.  The Bulldogs were dead last in the Lehigh Valley last year with very low numbers for their football program (24 dressed players when we did their Pen Argyl game a year ago).  This year, they not only posted five regular season wins but made a run at a district playoff spot in the most competitive classification (3A) in District XI

5.  Hardest Working Sports Personalities

Keith  – All of the people who make the high school sports community special, from the custodians, to the ticket takers, to the concession stand workers, to the timers and scorekeepers and athletic directors and everyone involved. People who just watch the games on TV or attend them may never know how much effort goes into making each sports event a great community event that brings people together and provides a positive learning experience for our kids

Chris – RCN Videographers Mike Kingsley and Alyssa Sheckler.  Among all the hard-working people committed to local sports coverage in our studio, no two people worked more bizarre hours and make the kind of personal sacrifices they do to continue to shoot/edit/produce features for our “SportsTalk” program.

6.  Best Team No One (or Hardly Anyone) Talked About

Keith — The Parkland softball team. Because they were the last team alive in the 2017-18 school year, people were already in summertime mode and moving on with graduations, Senior Week trips and so on by the time the Trojans made it to the PIAA 6A finals late in the afternoon of June 15 at Penn State. They had a 3-0 lead late into the game, but couldn’t hold on and lost to Hempfield 4-3 in eight innings. Parkland finished 24-4

Chris – Nazareth girls basketball program.  One of the most consistently successful teams in the Lehigh Valley but have continued to be second banana for many years because of the lengthy state playoff runs by Central Catholic and more recently Bethlehem Catholic.  Head Coach Rick Bickert does it with a constantly rotating composition of talent and players (one year he has four guards, the next year he has a ton of “bigs”)

7.  2018 Will Be Remembered As . . .

Keith — The year Philadelphia had two championship parades – the Eagles and Villanova

Chris – The stories told by the coaches and players of the work they do OFF the court/field.  I’ve been talking about it for years on our show, but I made a special effort this year to bring those schools in that do a TON of charity work in the community and I think it reached a lot more people for me to ask them specifically about that and to have the teams themselves telling those stories on “SportsTalk,” describing what they did in the community.  Among those include Easton’s boys & girls cross country teams, Parkland boys and girls soccer teams, Freedom, Bell and Ballou football teams, and many others.

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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