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.

The Sports Talk Shop: Chris’s “ALL-UNDERRATED” Football Edition (Part 1)

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.

Last year, I did a blog entry here at “The Shop” reflecting back on the past basketball season that was well-received and seemed to generate some very positive comments.

The idea for that blog was not to single out the best players, teams and individual plays, but to spotlight student-athletes and coaches who did something great but perhaps didn’t get the attention he or she deserved.

As with the “All-Underrated Team” I did last spring, it’s completely arbitrary and was based solely on the games that I witnessed in person—either as a broadcaster or as a spectator. It did NOT include any games or videos I watched through RCN On-Demand, HUDL or any videos I saw on social media.

With that in mind, I wanted to single out some individuals who fit that same criteria during this past District XI high school football season.

The awards go to…

MOST UNDERRATED KICKER

Whitehall’s Alex Khouri.

The Zephyrs had a rare poor season and was one of the few Lehigh Valley teams that did not qualify for the playoffs this year.  However, Khouri was one of the most consistent extra point kickers in the area and had a strong leg on kickoffs in the few times we got an opportunity to see Whitehall this past season.

MOST UNDERRATED DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN A GAME

Southern Lehigh Linebacker LB Asher Smith. In a game I witnessed as a fan, the junior really stood out in a much-needed win over Palmerton after the Spartans were upset against Saucon Valley to open the season. Smith had a team-high nine solo tackles (10 total), five pass breakups and one pick-six….he also played well, was all over the place the previous week in keeping his team in the close game in the Panthers loss and also ended up with several returned kickoffs as one of the “up men.”

MOST UNDERRATED DEFENSIVE PLAYER/SEASON

Bethlehem Catholic’s Tavion Banks and Paul Carreras

Banks was one of the preseason “running backs to watch” in both local papers, however, he impressed me even more with his defense this past fall.  Banks is one of the top cover men in league—I kept reading in the high school football capsules each week that Becahi’s secondary was a weakness and that teams will look to exploit the Hawks’ ability to give up big plays.  However, the Hawks’ passing yardage was right in line with their opponents (153 yards per game vs. 158 at the end of the regular season).  I thought Banks did a great job keying on other teams’ top receivers and Becahi had just as many big players (if not more) than many other LV teams.

Carreras deserves extra mention because he was not only a standout linebacker all year long, but he was impressive offense (and both a running and a blocking back) and even excelled in the thankless role of a punter (averaging over 37 yards per punt during the regular season—one of the top marks in the area) and filled in kicker when Penn State-bound Anthony DeSilva went down with an injury (and did an admirable job in that role, too.)  All he did on defense was lead his team in tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks (77, 22 and 8, respectively, using his final regular season numbers).  Not too bad anchoring a defense that—for the third straight year—many people called the best “Front 6” in the entire Lehigh Valley.

MOST UNDERRATED IMPACT (IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME)
 
Parkland Running Back Isiah Rico.  Before last season started, I heard great things about Rico’s potential as a quality back in the Lehigh Valley.  When senior starter Joseph Guida went down with a major injury, the sophomore Rico had to step into the spotlight in what may have been the team’s biggest regular season game against Bethlehem Catholic—only to sustain several serious injuries himself in that contest.

But what impressed me the most about Rico’s season was not the numbers he posted during his brief varsity experience this fall, but rather the conversation I had with him the week after suffering the injury.  When I talked with him the before the Liberty game, he was very positive about the team’s ability to overcome losing its two top running backs (at a time when there was still much indecision about the Trojans’ quarterbacks as well).  He also was in great spirits and refused to say anything negative about the situation surrounding the injury (on a controversial hit) and really gave some great responses in what could have been a very tough situation for him.

I am sure he will go on to post great numbers in his junior and senior seasons, but I instantly became a fan of Rico going forward based on the maturity he displayed in an off-the-field conversation.
 
MOST UNDERRATED UPSET

The then-winless Zephyrs. They defeated a Central Catholic team that had won two of its first three games, including an impressive victory over a Nazareth team that was also feeling good about themselves following terrific performances the first few weeks of the season. Whitehall not only pulled the upset but did it by scoring 75 points (and several Vikings fans admitted they probably could have scored more than night if they wanted to).

Both Central Catholic and Nazareth proved to be playoff teams again this year, which further showed what a big win it was for the Zephs.  (Did I mention that I was the only Lehigh Valley football media member who had predicted that Whitehall would win that game in advance?  I won’t mention I also predicted their other upset win over another playoff team in Northampton.)

MOST UNDERRATED COMEBACK STORY

The Northern Lehigh football team. Not only did Head Coach Joe Tout and his coaching staff turned around last year’s dismal season by posting five wins, but would have easily qualified for the playoffs had the powers-that-be not reduced the 3A classification qualifiers from eight to four teams.

A playoff appearance for the always hard-working Bulldogs would have been the perfect cherry to top the dramatic turnaround, but this year’s team certainly laid the groundwork for what will probably be an even more impressive football squad for the 2019 campaign.

MOST UNDERRATED FAN BASE

Palisades. One of District XI’s smallest schools features one of the most passionate and classy fans—from students, players, parents and coaches.

We talked at length about how well this group handled the controversial situation involving the previous year’s state playoff game loss to Conwell Egan.  This year, the team was in the hunt for another Colonial League championship—yet had the dubious distinction of being in the 3A classification (which switched from eight playoff qualifying spots to just four) and faced a nearly impossible road to a potential post-season berth once the team picked up its first loss.

This group remained loyal when the team was struggling to get enough players on the field to play a few years back and have handled being one of the league’s elite teams the past few years with respect towards other schools.  It was very enjoyable to travel outside our coverage area to Kintnersville again this year to see the stadium (how can you go wrong with a pirates ship on the field?), to experience the warm hospitality I experienced and receive the nice comments they passed along to me regarding reading my blog.

More “awards” coming, next week….

2018 Video Recaps

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.

It’s the first full week of 2019!

First of all, I hope everyone had a restful and/or exciting holiday season and that your New Year has gotten off to a great start.  We here at the studio have a busy January already as we are in the middle of doing 12 sports productions during the first 12 days of this month.

Also, hats off to our staff for putting together our annual “Christmas Lights” show last month, which featured a tribute to our departed friend, Wally Ely.  Wally teamed with The Morning Call’s Bill White 19 years ago to create this annual holiday tradition on RCN-TV.

In trying to get caught up over the last several weeks, here are the video highlights of our RCN high school sports productions:

Don’t forget—all of RCN’s shows are available to watch for free for two months following their initial airdates by RCN video customers.  Be sure to check out these games in their entirety through RCN On-Demand.

Next week here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” I am going to be writing about something that got a pretty nice response the last time I tried it.

What might this be?

Check back next week to find out!

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.

2018 In Review-Part 1

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. 

Over the next couple of weeks we are going to look back on some of the top teams, players, coaches, storylines and more of the 2018 sports calendar year.

Today we bring you a sample of the topics and preliminary responses from SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller and me (we usually have more thoughts and debate on the show itself, which you can see live this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV).

1.  Clutch Play of the Year

Chris’ Pick:  Easton’s Naj-ee Adams

With the Red Rovers trailing late against Liberty, Adams fully extended to make an amazing catch on 3rd and long from deep in their own territory.  Adams then had the instincts to turn (dive, actually) forward to just surpass the first-down marker, keeping the drive alive en route to an amazing come-from-behind victory.

Keith’s Pick:  The Philly Special in the Super Bowl 

2.  Underrated Sports Personality of the Year

Chris’ Pick:  Bryan Geist

Northern Lehigh’s athletic director is always communicating news about his school district and has built a solid reputation by hosting big times sports events at one of the smallest schools in our coverage area.

Keith’s Pick:  Nationally, there is no such thing as an underrated sports personality because of all the sports-only channels and non-stop shows 24/7. Locally, I will go with Freedom football coach Jason Roeder, who has built the Patriots into a perennial power and this year broke down the stigma that Freedom can’t win the big one, by claiming the school’s first District 11 championship.

3.  Biggest Myth of the Year

Chris’ Pick:  That all media members hate catholic schools.  I can’t speak for other media outlets, but here’s a few facts from the past year:  The Bethlehem Catholic  football team was on RCN-TV more than any HS team;   Becahi & Central boys basketball were on more than any other pair of teams; Notre Dame football was on RCN-TV more than any other Colonial League team and all three schools were included in multiple features during this year on our “SportsTalk” show.

Keith’s Pick: That there’s parity in big-time sports when teams like the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots and Alabama continue to win championships or get very close almost every year.

4.  Biggest Sports Embarrassment

Chris’ Pick: ESPN continuing to include politics in their on-air conversations. Whether you agree with athletes or not, sports has always been about escape from the everyday issues and I hear more people complaining about the lack of “real sports” coverage constantly from viewers.

Keith’s Pick: Colin Kaepernick not having an NFL job. I hated the National Anthem controversy he brought on and do not agree with his stance, but teams in bad need of a quarterback – hello, Redskins – should bring him aboard and simply keep him in the locker room during the anthem if that’s an issue. But don’t pretend there’s no boycott because it’s pretty obvious by now there is one and teams are lying to their fans when they say they’re doing everything they can to win when it’s obvious they’re putting politics over competition by keeping Kaepernick out.

5.  Underrated Team(s) of the Year

Chris’s Pick: (Tie) Emmaus Boys Swim Team and Ballou football team.  All that the Hornets do is win district titles, yet among the sports that don’t get much coverage, even less is said about Emmaus’s consistency and multiple district championships in a row (11 in a row and 13 over the last 14 seasons).

I also picked Ballou because of the way they (and the DC community) rallied around Jamal Speaks’ issue this past fall–we spoke about it quite a bit on “SportsTalk” this past year (if you missed it, check out our interview with Head Coach Minoso Rogers online at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk).

Keith’s Pick: Muhlenberg College going deep into the NCAA Division III football tournament. Unfortunately, there’s so much going on in the world of sports in the Lehigh Valley, the local colleges often get overlooked. Once upon a time, Muhlenberg sports were big around here. That’s no longer the case. But the Mules should be saluted for a terrific 11-2 season, reaching the national quarterfinals.

6.  Biggest “FADE’ During 2018 (Something That Was Big but Lost Its Luster)

Chris’s Pick: The 76ers were one of the hottest non-high school sports topics on our “SportsTalk” show a few years ago—just as they were just turning the corner and starting to win games.  Now, even after a great playoff run and a good start to this season, hardly anyone seems to want to talk Sixers basketball and, when they do, it’s mostly about the controversy surrounding Ben Simmons and the Kardashians…really?!

Keith’s Pick: The Phillies’ playoff hopes going from first place in the National League East July to a complete disaster by mid-September.

7.  Best Coaching Hire of the Year

Chris’s Pick: Notre Dame Alum Connor Higgins to Allen High School.  The Canaries already have one of the best coaching staffs in the Lehigh Valley but this hiring showed their continuing to try to connect to youth.

Keith’s Pick: (Tie) Ed Ohlson getting back into coaching with the Parkland girls and Scott McClary, a former Muhlenberg coach, getting the Becahi boys basketball job.

8.  Biggest Achievement

Chris’ Pick: (TIE) Centreville boys basketball (of Virginia) winning their first Concorde Conference title in 16 years and Bell High School (in DC) winning its first two titles ever (Gravy Bowl and DCSAA) after reaching the finals but failing to win the championship in five previous tries.

Keith’s Pick: (Tune in to this week’s show to find out).

Keep checking back to “The Shop” here on the RCN-TV website for more opinions from this past year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Fall 2018 All-Stars

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.

Around the end of each high school sports season, we try to highlight the special accomplishments of individuals who get team to all-league, all-league and/or all-state honors, in addition to special accomplishments achieved by student-athletes in the RCN-TV coverage areas.

We especially appreciate the athletic directors who make us aware of these honors and would encourage you to email me directly (chris.michael@rcn.net) if you know of an extraordinary award placed upon someone in our region.

First, here are members of the EPC All-Conference Tennis team…

EPC Most Valuable Player: Elessa Jacobs – Easton

EPC Girl’s Tennis First Team All-Conference:

Singles:

Elessa Jacobs- Easton

Brenna Magliochetti- Bethlehem Catholic

Tashanna Smith- Freedom

Doubles:

Jess Davis/ Emma Sweterlitsch- Central Catholic

Anjali and Olivia Chhuggani- Freedom

Caitlin Maloney/ Taylor Adams- Bethlehem Catholic

EPC Girl’s Tennis Second Team All-Conference:

Singles:

Halle DeNardo- Nazareth

Natalie Sinai- Freedom

Murong Yao- Parkland

Doubles:

Samantha Sands/ Katie Kresge- Nazareth

Cecile Szollas/ Kaitlyn Hartman- Bethlehem Catholic

Twinkle Gupta/ Megan Smith- Freedom

EPC Girl’s Tennis Third Team All-Conference:

Singles:

Belen Blasco- Bethlehem Catholic

Jenn Soika- Nazareth

Joanna Wu- Parkland

Doubles:

Sophia Lee/ Maya Paul- Parkland

Mercedes Bator/ Jenna Sloan- Stroudsburg

Sabrina Yurconic/ Kara Wang- Central Catholic

Next, here are your EPC Golf All-Conference teams…

EPC Most Valuable Player (Male): Andrew Hozza – Northampton

EPC Most Valuable Player (Female): Olivia Patrow – Stroudsburg

EPC Golf First Team All-Conference:

Andrew Hozza – Northampton

Mitch Machulsky – Emmaus

Olivia Patrow – Stroudsburg

Michelle Cox – Emmaus

Ian Arnold – Central Catholic

EPC Golf Second Team All-Conference:

Nolan Beagell – Liberty

Chris Panny – Parkland

Devon Britton – Northampton

Aiden LeBlanc – Emmaus

Matt Zerfoss – Emmaus

EPC Golf Third Team All-Conference:

Joey Altemose – Liberty

Tom Gaudette – PM West

Trevor Grimm – Parkland

TJ Bohl – Nazareth

Evan Cartwright – Liberty

Here are the members of the All-Colonial League girls volleyball squad…

Click here to view the 2018-19 COLONIAL LEAGUE
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL ALL-LEAGUE TEAM

The EPC Cheer Championship results and winners were:

1st Place – Bethlehem Catholic

2nd Place – Nazareth

3rd Place – Pocono Mountain West

Last but not least, here are your Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s Scholar Athlete winners for each of the fall sports:

Boys Cross Country – Joseph Ozgar – Easton

Girls Cross Country – Charlize Smith – Easton

Boys Soccer – Callen Reid – Emmaus

Girls Soccer – Caitlyn Lazzarini – Nazareth

Girls Tennis – Elessa Jacobs – Easton

Girls Volleyball – Lina Perugini – Liberty

Field Hockey – Kayla Kisthardt – Emmaus

Football – Tyler Slomiak – Stroudsburg

Golf – John Angelella – Parkland

Keep checking back to “The Shop” as we get more award winners and honors given to our local student-athletes throughout the school year!

2018 Year-in-Review Nominations

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.

Part of the “RCN SportsTalk” tradition this time of year is our “year-in-review” program, in which the co-host and I get together and highlight some of our top players, coaches, games and special moments that we witnessed over the previous 12 months.  We also throw in some new topics each year just to keep things fresh. Not only will we be doing that show again later this month, but we once again want you to weigh in with your opinions!

Here is our preliminary list of the “topics” (we try to mix in old favorites with new ideas each year) that we are looking to discuss on the 2018 edition of this show.

1.   Clutch Play of the Year
2.   Underrated Sports Personality of the Year
3.   Biggest Myth of the Year
4.   Biggest Sports Embarrassment
5.   Underrated Team of the Year
6.   Biggest “FADE” During 2017 (Something That Was Big but Lost Its Luster)
7.   Best Coaching Hire of the Year
8.   A 2017 Prediction You Saw Come True in 2018
9.   Biggest Roller Coaster of 2018
10. Most Intriguing HS Sports Storyline
11. Best “Bounce Back” Team/Storyline
12. Hardest-Working Sports Personalities
13. Least Favorite Sports Item in 2018
14. Best Team No One (or Hardly Anyone) Talked About
15. Underrated Story of the Year
16. 2018 Will Be Remembered As…
17. Best Piece of Advice for 2019
18. Bold National Prediction for 2019
19. Bold Local Prediction for 2019
20. “Stone Cold” Lock for 2019

If you have a thought for a topic and/or a suggestion or answer to any of these that you would like to mention, we might include your idea for this program. Email your thoughts to chris.michael@rcn.net and tune in for our takes on the 2018 calendar year, another with other special standout moments from our program, on this special episode of “SportsTalk,” that will air several times around the holiday season.

Calling Fall “All-Stars”

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.

Before we talk about the final results in this fall’s “Pick 4” contest (one that will see the RCN personality with the fewest correctly prediction games this year having to do Fortnite dances live on an upcoming edition of “SportsTalk”), I wanted to send out my annual call for local athletic directors and league and district administrators in our RCN-TV viewing area.

At the end of each sports season, I like to highlight the student-athletes (typically in sports that do NOT receive the lions’ share of the media’s attention) that achieve honors, awards and are named to different All-League, All-District and/or All-State teams.

If you have an individual or a group listing of these outstanding accomplishments by athletes, if you could email them to be no later than December 10th, so we can mention them in that week’s edition of “The SportsTalk Shop.”

My email address is chris.michael@rcn.net

One All-Conference squad has already been named and came across my desk was the Colonial League Cross Country All-League Selections…

2018 Colonial League XC All League Seclections

I hope to be receiving more post-season awards soon and check back to our website in a few weeks for more fall sports highlights.

Now, here are “some” of the details for this fall’s “Pick 4” contest.  Going into last weekend’s games, the standings were:

“Pick 4” Contest Correct Game Predictions
TIE Gary Laubach 37 wins
TIE Chris Michael 37 wins
Tony Cocca 36 wins
Keith Groller 35 sins

Now, with just two games involving the remaining Lehigh Valley teams, it was pretty evident that both Gary and I (each with a two “game” lead) were able to hold onto the top two spots in our poll.  In doing so, we avoided what surely would have been embarrassing ourselves with our lack-of-dancing prowess (sorry Gary, but I’ve heard rumors…).

The real race was for the last spot, in which Tony had a one “game” lead over Keith.

Did Tony hold onto the lead?

Did Keith over take Tony in dramatic fashion with the final two games?

Is there a tie…and, if so, how will the tie be broken?

And who is Naomi?

(Feel free to Google “The Original Electric Company” with Morgan Freeman to find out what the heck I’m talk about with that last question).

All the other questions will be answered by checking out this week’s “RCN Sports Talk” show.  Our in-studio guest on the program will be David Mika, Owner/Editor-in-Chief of EasternPAfootball.com who will break down all the remaining PIAA state playoff games that will be going on this weekend, and giving his thoughts on some of the outstanding high school football accomplishments from the past season, with emphasis on the teams in the RCN-TV viewing areas in both the Delaware and Lehigh Valley areas).

HS Football Playoffs Week 4

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.

It was championship weekend in the Lehigh Valley with the District XI 6A  title game seen on RCN-TV…

With all of last weekend’s championship games behind us and the start of the Pennsylvania state playoffs commencing this weekend, it’s time to unveil our final District XI polls of the season.  But first, here is a look back at our preseason poll (just to see how our experts did with their picks in early August)…

“Big” Schools PRESEASON Poll

1)  Emmaus

2)  Parkland

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Nazareth

“Small” School PRESEASON Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Palisades

3)  Notre Dame

4)  Saucon Valley

And now, our FINAL polls…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Saucon Valley

3)  Northwestern

4)  Notre Dame

ANALYSIS:

Once again our RCN pollsters (a mix of local media members, district administrators and football coaches) did a really good job of giving some insights on which schools would be the top teams this year.  Our “Big School” preseason poll had all of the top five teams correctly identified, with just the order of the teams mixed in the final results (a year which included a first-time District XI champion).  Parkland also saw its six-year consecutive title run come to an end with a loss in the semifinals to Freedom.

There were more changes in the “small school poll,” with the exception being Bethlehem Catholic holding onto the #1 position from start to finish.

The big surprises were Saucon Valley and Northwestern getting much better play from some of their “unknowns” this season.  Senior Tailback Ian Csiszak hardly played offense last year for the Panthers, but became the District’s top rushing back (both in terms of carries and total rushing yards) this fall.

The Tigers got outstanding efforts from a number of different players and won a few more games than many had expected (and two of their losses were by just one point each).

This will also be our final “Pick 4” contest (actually now down to just two Lehigh Valley teams this week.)  All season long RCN’s Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca and me teamed with The Morning Call’s Keith Groller and have been weighing-in on games involving the games involving District XI squads.  We’ve included a “tiebreaker” because the competition is so close heading into our final week.

The
“PICK 4”
Pottsgrove vs. Bethlehem Catholic St. Joe’s vs. Freedom Total Points Scored Among the 4 Teams:
Gary Laubach Bethlehem Catholic St. Joe’s None Given
Tony Cocca  Bethlehem Catholic St. Joe’s 126 – 1/2
Keith Groller  Bethlehem Catholic St. Joe’s 135
Chris Michael  Bethlehem Catholic St. Joe’s 139

We’ll have the some of the tallies both next week here at “The Shop” and on the following week’s “RCN SportsTalk” program—and unveil which RCN personality will have to partake in doing Fortnite dances LIVE on the air!

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day holiday!!!

 

 

HS Football Playoffs Week 3

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.

Mother Nature threw another curveball at us again this past weekend—the weather forecast caused District XI officials to postpone all of Friday’s games and push everything back to Saturday.

That being said, two of our three broadcast playoff games were relatively close contests…

As we move closer to our “final” poll of the season, here’s a look at where things stand (both polls had one significant change following last weekend’s games)…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Emmaus

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Saucon Valley

3)   Northwestern

4)  Notre Dame

Our poll structure remains with the same structure that we’ve utilized for many seasons.  We take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV broadcast area.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, DieruffPocono Mountain West, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East.  The five schools receiving the most votes are listed above.

Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of both Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and Colonial League teams —  Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, NorthwesternWilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  The top four vote-getters are named.

We are down to the final few teams remaining in our RCN Viewing area.  RCN’s Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca and myself team with the Morning Call’s Keith Groller to weigh in on games involving the four teams remaining in District XI—all four teams are matched-up against each other high school games coming up this weekend…

The
“PICK 4”
Saucon Valley vs. Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus vs. Freedom
Gary Laubach Bethlehem Catholic Freedom
Tony Cocca  Bethlehem Catholic Freedom
Keith Groller  Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus
Chris Michael  Bethlehem Catholic Freedom

A reminder, the RCN pollster with the least number of correct predictions will have to do a couple Fortnite dances on our live “SportsTalk” show in a few weeks.  Tune in to Thursday’s show to check out who should be limbering up for some possible on-air routines.  Also, check back next week here at “The Shop” for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.

HS Football Playoffs Week 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.

We are down to the final weeks of our high school football polls and our “Pick 4” contest!

We will get a good read of how our experts did in our poll as a number of our top teams will be squaring off against each other this weekend in District XI semifinal matchups (four of them will be on RCN-TV). 

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Notre Dame

3)   Northwestern

4)  Saucon Valley

Our poll structure remains with the same structure that we’ve utilized for many seasons.  We take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV broadcast area.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, DieruffPocono Mountain West, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East.  The five schools receiving the most votes are listed above.

Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of both Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and Colonial League teams —  Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, NorthwesternWilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  The top four vote-getters are named.

RCN’s Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca and myself team with the Morning Call’s Keith Groller to weigh-in on four of the biggest District XI high school games coming up this weekend…

The
“PICK 4”
Pottsville vs. Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus vs. Easton Freedom vs. Parkland Saucon Valley vs. Northwestern Lehigh
Gary Laubach Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus Parkland Northwestern Lehigh
Tony Cocca  Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus Parkland Northwestern Lehigh
Keith Groller  Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus Parkland Saucon Valley
Chris Michael  Bethlehem Catholic Emmaus Parkland Saucon Valley

Check back next week here at “The Shop” for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.