The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football: Week 6 Preview

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.

 

While Emmaus has been a perennial title holder for girls’ field hockey in Eastern Pennsylvania, the Easton squad finds itself undefeated through the first month of their scholastic schedule.   We preview this Friday’s big Eastern Pennsylvania Conference showdown between the Rovers and the Green Hornets on “RCN SportsTalk.”

You can see highlights and more field hockey interviews by watching “SportsTalk” this Thursday at 7pm live on RCN-TV or through RCN On-Demand.

Turning our attention to the high school gridiron, we had three football games last weekend on RCN…

It’s time for this week’s edition of our high school football polls for teams in the District XI region…

“Big” Schools Poll

1) Freedom
2) Emmaus
3) Easton
4) Parkland
5) Northampton

“Small” School Poll

1) Bethlehem Catholic
2) Saucon Valley
3) Palisades
4) Northwestern

Our poll 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, Dieruff, Pocono Mountain West, Freedom, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Northampton, Nazareth, Whitehall, Southern Lehigh, East 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, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  The top four vote-getters are named.

The “PICK 4” Northampton vs. E. S’burg South Palisades vs. Notre Dame *on RCN-TV Dieruff vs. S’burg North Nazareth vs. Parkland
Gary Laubach Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland
Tony Cocca
 
Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland
Keith Groller
 
Northampton Notre Dame Dieruff Parkland
Chris Michael
 
Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland

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

Behind the Mic: Age is Just a Number

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.
 

When you get to be my age (and, trust me, it takes a while), and you are still doing what you love to do, it doesn’t hurt to find some inspiration from time to time. You know, some examples of those who could have packed it in and moved on, but decided to continue to give it a try.  Three of those stories played out this weekend.

I will start with Adrian Peterson, a running back for the Washington Redskins. At Oklahoma, in three seasons, he ran for 4,245 yards, 73 yards short of the career rushing record.  He did not play his senior year, opting to turn pro.  That was twelve years ago.  Adrian Peterson is 33 years old.

He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He stayed with the Vikings through the 2016 season.  In that time, he set or tied five NFL rushing records, and five Vikings’ records.

In the 2016 season, he needed knee surgery and he was released by the Vikings in 2017. The New Orleans Saints took a chance on him and signed him in 2017.  He played only four games and was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.  He injured his neck and did not finish out the season.   Great career, but it was time to retire, right?

Nope. The Washington Redskins took a chance and signed him this year.  This past weekend against the Packers, he rushed for 120 yards and scored two touchdowns.  He now has 102 touchdowns and it was his 52nd 100-yard game.  Thirty-three is old for an NFL running back, but, in this case, it’s just a number.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played quarterback in the NFL for seven different teams. After graduating from Harvard, he was drafted by the Rams.  He has played for the Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, and now the Tampa Bay Bucs.  For most of these teams, he was the backup given starting opportunities from time to time.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is 35 years old.

This season began with the Bucs’ starting QB, Jameis Winston, suspended for the first three games. Fitzpatrick got the start.  In week one, he threw for 417 yards and four TD’s.  His team upset the Saints 48-40.  He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.  In week two, he led the Bucs to an upset win over the Super Bowl champion Eagles 27-21.  He was again named the Player of the Week.

This Monday the Bucs lost to the Steelers, but Fitzpatrick led a second-half comeback. They lost 30-27.  Perhaps the game time was too late for this “old” QB.  Some would say he should be in bed!

And then there is Tiger. Tiger Woods is 42 years old.  He has won 14 major championships, 18 World Golf Championships, and has a total of 80 career wins, trailing only Sam Snead by two. Due to the wear and tear on his body AND his age, he went through four back surgeries and had not won a tournament in five years. Since his departure from the game, golf has become a young man’s sport with the real stars being in their early 20’s.  He was, more or less, written off as a future winner.

But this weekend, Tiger won again. At 42, he won the Tour Championship.  The five- year drought ended and golf had a resurgence of viewers.  The broadcast on Sunday drew three times the audience the same championship had last year.  And it was an NFL Sunday.  Since Tiger’s return, the size of the viewing audience has soared.  He was in contention for the PGA championship in August and the telecast drew the highest ratings in nine years.

And I just bet the audience was made up of all ages – young people who want to get to see Tiger’s greatness for themselves and the older viewers who can tell themselves, no matter what their age, that it is just a number! There is always more to accomplish.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. When the Bills beat the Vikings 27-6 this past Sunday, it was the largest NFL upset in the past 23 seasons. The Vikings were favored by 17 points. According to reports out of Las Vegas, one gambler bet $18,000 on the Vikings with a payout of just $1,000 if he won. He didn’t. Another person bet $9,000 on the Vikings to win $450. He didn’t either. And after the Lions beat the Patriots, the bookies had a good day.
  2. Carson Wentz did not have a great day for the Eagles on Sunday, but they won, he scrambled like old times, took some hits, dove for a first down, and came away healthy. That checked off a number of boxes!
  3. I’m sure Eagles’ fans who have been around for awhile remember Tommy McDonald, the small, but fast, sure-handed receiver from the 1960’s. He was part of the 1960 NFL championship team led by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. McDonald passed away this past week.
  4. It’s officially over for the Phillies this year in terms of post-season play. The way this season is coming to a close puts a real damper on any enthusiasm the start of the year might have had on next year’s success. Here’s hoping…
  5. With the Celtic Classic part of the weekend schedule, RCN-TV will present one high school this Friday night, but it is a good one – Palisades at Notre Dame live at 7:00pm. Chris Michael and John Leone will have the game. Saturday, Mike Joseph, John Leone and I will bring the Lafayette-Central Connecticut State game to you at 6:00pm. You’re invited join us.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 8-8) (Overall: 26-20-2  57% )
 
Week FOUR
RAMS
NEW ENGLAND
INDIANAPOLIS
ATLANTA
GREEN BAY
DETROIT
JACKSONVILLE
CHICAGO
PHILADELPHIA
SEATTLE
CLEVELAND
CHARGERS
GIANTS
PITTSBURGH
KANSAS CITY

Kissing Your Sister

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.

I know some of you may be a bit nervous about this title in this day and age, but I mean nothing out of place. The phrase “kissing your sister’ is how many in the sports world have described a tie game in sports.  It’s not all that bad, but it also is not all that good.  I mean – it’s your sister.  I hope mine is not offended.

I bring this up because in just two weeks of NFL football, there have already been two ties:  Pittsburgh-Cleveland (21-21) and Minnesota-Green Bay (29-29).  I also bring this up because of the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB), the NFL is the only one that finishes a regular season game without deciding a winner.  And I don’t like it!

According to Wikipedia, tie games in professional football were common prior to 1974 because there was no overtime provision.  The sudden death overtime period was instituted in 1974 and allowed a 15-minute period where sudden death was the rule.  If one team scored, the game was over.

I hated this rule, also.  There was a huge advantage to any team that won the toss to start the overtime period.  Score a point – win the game.  The opponent did not even get an offensive possession. Sure, they could defend against the score, but since 50+-yard field goals are not that uncommon today, the offense did not have to do much to garner a win – maybe just win the coin toss.

That stupidity continued until 2012 when the rule changed to the current situation, but it did not completely change for the better.  Now if a team scores a touchdown, they win, but if they only get a field goal, the other team gets a possession to see if they can score.  This is still not fair.

Seven ties have occurred since 2012 and two of those in the first two weeks of the 2018 season.  Conversely, there are no ties in college football or in Pennsylvania high school football.

In college the ball is placed on the 25-yard line and teams get equal possessions until a winner is decided.  That seems very fair.

In high school, the ball is placed on the 10-yard line and each team gets an equal number of possessions.  Equally fair.

So, can we learn something from these two non-professional levels of football?  We can.  Instead of a timed overtime period which could decide nothing and take a long time (I know the NFL wants to get to the other games and the networks want to get to their regularly scheduled programs), let’s do what the others do.  Since the pros are more skilled, have the ball placed on the 40-yard line of the team with possession and allow equal possessions until we have a winner.  A team always starts a possession from the other team’s 40-yard line.  There will eventually be a winner.

And isn’t that why they play the game? 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I’m sure Eagle fans are not thrilled with Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick after he riddled their defense this past Sunday. For me, I have an affinity to him.  I was fortunate to broadcast two of his college games when he played at Harvard in 2003 and 2004.  Both were wins for the Crimson.  In 2004, Harvard did not lose a game.  He threw for over 5000 yards in his career and ran for almost 1500 yards.  The most interesting story prior to being drafted suggested that he, based on the NFL’s intelligence test, was the smartest player ever to play QB in the NFL.  He scored a 48 or 49 (out of 50) on the Wonderlic test in the fastest time ever (nine minutes).  Maybe Eagle fans shouldn’t feel too bad if he outsmarted the defense.
  1. Did you know that since the current NFL playoff system was put in place, 88% of teams that start 0-2 miss the playoffs? Buffalo, Oakland, Houston, St. Louis, Detroit, Seattle and the Giants are all 0-2.
  1. Carson Wentz will be back this week against the Indianapolis Colts so Eagles’ fans should not be apologetic for long after losing to Tampa Bay.
  1. A couple of nice stories came out of the Patriot League this past week. Colgate was to play football at Furman which is in Greenville, SC, this past Saturday.  Due to Hurricane Florence, the game was cancelled.  Colgate donated their hotel rooms, their pre-game and post-game meals to the relief effort for those in need.  Former Lafayette field hockey coach Andrew Griffiths brought his Old Dominion team up from Norfolk, Virginia, to Lafayette to play Providence instead of cancelling the game due to the hurricane.
  1. RCN-TV will present three good high school match-ups this Friday night. Live at 7:00pm, Mike Joseph, Tony Cocca and I will call the undefeated Easton versus the undefeated Emmaus game.  Chris Michael and John Leone will have the  Liberty at Parkland game at 9:30pm.  Saturday, Chris and John Breidinger bring you the Nazareth at Bethlehem Catholic game at 7:00pm.  As always, you’re invited join us.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 9-6-1)  (Overall: 18-12-2  60% )

Week THREE

CLEVELAND

MINNESOTA

HOUSTON

KANSAS CITY

ATLANTA

GREEN BAY

PHILADELPHIA

MIAMI

BALTIMORE

CAROLINA

JACKSONVILLE

RAMS

DALLAS

CHICAGO

NEW ENGLAND

TAMPA BAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HS Football: Week 5 Preview

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.

An extra big shout-out to our fall sports athletes as the remnants of Hurricane Florence stormed through our coverage area, arriving just as most contests were getting underway.  As I could attest, the pounding rain made for ultra-slick conditions and tough visibility (yes, I was out in the storm at a soccer match—thoroughly protected, I thought, with an umbrella, hat and rain slicker).

The players I talked with afterwards said it was an interesting experience and told me they had a lot of fun playing in the sloppy, soaking conditions.

For me?  I’ll be doubling-down on the Vitamin-C for the next few days as I continue to try to dry out from the event.

As far as high school football this past weekend, we had a pair of great games on RCN-TV as both Easton and Bethlehem Catholic won in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion…

Don’t be surprised if a few plays from these games come up again on our “year-in-review” recollections in a few months—both on the TV “SportsTalk” program and here at “The Shop.”

With those games behind us, it’s time for this week’s edition of our high school football polls for teams in the District XI region…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)   Northampton

 “Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Palisades

3)  Saucon Valley

4)  Northwestern

Our poll 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.

Now, I won’t spend much time pointing out that I was the ONLY person who picked winless Whitehall to beat 2-1 Central Catholic last weekend in our “Pick 4” contest…

(pause here for your applause)

…but as my former “SportsTalk” partner’s favorite line goes, “even a blind squirrel can find a nut every once in a while.”

So here we go with this week’s football experts (and me) weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend…

The
“PICK 4”
Easton vs. Emmaus  Northwestern vs. Bangor Southern Lehigh vs. Palisades Liberty vs. Parkland
Gary Laubach Emmaus Northwestern Palisades Parkland
Tony Cocca  Emmaus Northwestern Palisades Parkland
Keith Groller  Emmaus Northwestern Palisades Parkland
Chris Michael  Emmaus Northwestern Palisades Parkland

Check back next week for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.

 

HS Football: Week 4 Preview

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 had a great time on our “fall season premiere” of “SportsTalk” last week as PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Mertz discussed a number of scholastic sports topics and touched on a number of positive initiatives the organization has done to help student-athletes.

You can catch the entire interview through RCN On-Demand and by hearing our podcast.

There were a number of very competitive games last week, including two overtime contests and four other games decided by less than seven points.


With all of last weekend’s big “showdown games” behind us, it’s time for this week’s edition of our high school football polls for teams in the District XI region…

 Big” Schools Poll

1)   Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  East Stroudsburg-South

 “Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Palisades

3)  Saucon Valley

4)  Central Catholic

Other schools receiving More Than One Vote: NorthwesternNotre Dame

Our poll 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, Dieruff, Pocono 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.

Here are our RCN football experts weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend . . .

The
“PICK 4”
Bethlehem Catholic vs. Parkland  Wilson vs. Northwestern Central vs. Whitehall Liberty vs. Easton
Gary Laubach Parkland Northwestern Central Easton
Tony Cocca  Parkland Northwestern Central Easton
Keith Groller  Parkland Northwestern Central Easton
Chris Michael  Parkland Northwestern Whitehall Easton

Check back next week for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.

Note: Yes, I did prediction winless Whitehall to beat Central Catholic, a 2-1 squad that just defeated Nazareth this past weekend.  No, I am not just picking a different team so we have some variety in this week’s picks.

I think the Vikings deserve a ton of credit for posting a very impressive win over the Blue Eagles and are in good shape for competing for a 4A district playoff spot going forward.

But Whitehall still has a lot to play for and this is one of their best regular season chances for a “W.”  Thanks to the new high school playoff format, the Zephyrs, despite their 0-3 record, are still considered in many circles as the team expected to capture this fall’s District XI 5A Championship.  They technically may not need ANY wins to qualify for the playoffs, but I think mentally it’s important for Whitehall to try to win this weekend’s contest.

Time will tell if my theory is correct.

Check back next week for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.

Sunday (and Thursday) Surprises

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.

The first week of the NFL season never ceases to surprise.  I have always felt (and am, obviously, not alone) that pre-season games “wins and losses” mean absolutely nothing.  As you can see when you get to the results of “Gary’s Guesses” that it is very difficult to get a true handle on a team until they play a real game.

Here are some things I (and maybe you) just did not know going into the regular season:

  • That the Eagles defense could be even better this year than last year.
  • That Nick Foles always seems to look like a back-up quarterback.
  • That the Saints offense may not be able to overcome the weakness of their defense.
  • That QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Bucs could still look amazing (417 yards passing and 4 TD’s). AND he rushed for a TD.  What do the Bucs do now with Jameis

Winston when he comes back from suspension?  The Eagles will help answer that question this week.

  • Why the Chiefs traded Alex Smith to Washington – because Patrick Mahomes looks like he really fits as the Chiefs new starting QB.
  • That the Steelers running game could look the same WITHOUT Le’Veon Bell. James Conner had a Le’Veon game (192 total yards), despite not having anywhere close to what will be a Le’Veon contract.
  • That the Bills are AWFUL (sorry, I guess you knew that already).
  • That Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins would miss two years of football and look like he hadn’t missed two weeks.
  • That the Browns might win a game this year.
  • That the Giants offensive line would be so bad (when everyone was talking about Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr., they should have been talking about the O-line).
  • That Denver might be good again.
  • That Dallas can’t score more than 20 points (at least they haven’t done it in the last four games), including Sunday when they piled up eight!
  • That Alex Smith would play better in a Redskins uniform than in a Chiefs uniform.
  • That the dispute over which QB is better (Brady or Rodgers?) still goes on.
  • That the Vikings might have the total package to win it all.  That, by now, you would be sick of me telling you what you might not have known. 

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I now find myself having to watch the Giants games because of Saquon Barkley. He did not disappoint yesterday when he ran for a 68-yard touchdown.  It was an electrifying run, just like in high school at Whitehall and in college at Penn State.  He rushed for over 100 yards and, for a while, looked like that run might catapult the Giants to a win.  It did not.
  1. Which baseball team is better – the Red Sox (98-46) or the Astros (89-54)? It’s the Cubs (83-59) in the National League, for sure.  Baltimore (41-102) is certainly the worst.
  1. Remember when the Phillies were 15 games over .500 on August 5?  They are 10-20 since – they have lost seven series in a row, nine of the last 10.
  1. It’s bad enough not to have won a football game this year, even though the season is still very young, but not to have scored a touchdown? That’s the predicament the Lafayette Leopards are facing.  They’ll get a chance to change that this Saturday at 6:00pm against the Monmouth Hawks.  The game is LIVE on RCN-TV.
  1. RCN-TV will present two interesting high school match-ups this Friday night. Live at 7:00pm, Mike Joseph, John Bowman and I will call the Bethlehem Catholic-Parkland game.  Chris Michael and John Leone will have the Easton at Liberty game at 9:30pm.  As always, you’re invited.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 9-6-1)  (Overall: 9-6-1  60% ) 

Week TWO

CINCINNATI

WASHINGTON

ATLANTA

MINNESOTA

CHARGERS

HOUSTON

PITTSBURGH

JETS

PHILADELPHIA

NEW ORLEANS

RAMS

SAN FRANCISCO

NEW ENGLAND

DENVER

DALLAS

CHICAGO

 

 

 

 

 

HS Football: Week 3 Preview

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’ve passed the Labor Day holiday—and already we’re approaching the third week of high school football campaign!

It’s still hard getting used to these early starts to the season, but, ready or not, we have one of our most competitive weekends of the fall, filled with many intriguing match-ups.

Speaking of high school sports, our special in-studio guest on this week’s “SportsTalk” will be PIAA Assistant Executive Director Melissa Mertz, as she discusses a number of scholastic sports topics and controversies over recent changes to the high school sports landscape.  You can call with a question or comment on our live show this Thursday on RCN-TV, or email us your opinion right now to rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and we might read and respond to it on this week’s program.

Now, here are our first “in-season” high school football polls for teams in the District XI region…

“ Big” Schools Poll

1)  Parkland

2)  Emmaus

3)  Freedom

4)  Easton

5)  Nazareth

Other schools receiving votes:  Liberty

 “Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Palisades

3)  Saucon Valley

4)  Notre Dame

Other schools receiving votes: Northwestern, Central Catholic

Our poll remains in the standard, tried-and-true format that we have utilized for many seasons.  We will take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.

“Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, NorthwesternWilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

Here are our RCN football experts weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend . . .

The
“PICK 4”
Whitehall vs. Emmaus Southern Lehigh vs.  Notre Dame Parkland vs. Freedom Liberty vs. Bethlehem Catholic
Gary Laubach Emmaus Southern Lehigh Parkland Bethlehem Catholic
Tony Cocca  Emmaus Notre Dame Parkland Bethlehem Catholic
Keith Groller  Emmaus Notre Dame Parkland Bethlehem Catholic
Chris Michael  Emmaus Southern Lehigh Parkland Bethlehem Catholic

Check back next week for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.

By the way, if you saw all of our “SportsTalk at the Fair” programs last week, you already know that Keith and I have “upped the ante” by pledging that if either of us loses this year’s “Pick 4” contest, we agree to do a Fortnight Dance, live on “SportsTalk” (we’re still waiting to hear if Gary and Tony will commit to this).

 

 

“Gary’s Guesses” Returns

 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.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks

Week ONE

PHILADELPHIA

PITTSBURGH

MINNESOTA

INDIANAPOLIS

BALTIMORE

JACKSONVILLE

NEW ORLEANS

NEW ENGLAND

TENNESSEE

CHARGERS

SEATTLE

CAROLINA

ARIZONA

GREEN BAY

DETROIT

RAMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Did We Learn?

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.

The first weekend of high school football in the Lehigh Valley is completed.  And as in the past, we learned virtually nothing about the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and a great deal about the Colonial League.  This has been the case each year since the EPC was formed back in 2014.  The same can be said about the Colonial League.  Good for the Colonial League, not so good for the EPC.

The EPC South always opens up their football schedule against the EPC North and, with very few exceptions, the South routs their northern opponents every opening night.  This past weekend was no exception.  Just check out the scores:

Liberty 42 Pleasant Valley 0
Easton 56 Pocono Mountain West 7
Nazareth 35 Pocono Mountain East 7
Emmaus 62 Allen 6
Central Catholic 38 Allen 6
Freedom 68 East Stroudsburg North 14
Bethlehem Catholic 54 East Stroudsburg North 14
Parkland 41 Northampton  0

The lone North winner:  East Stroudsburg-South 37,  Whitehall  28

So what did we learn or, in this case after four years, NOT learn once again.  The EPC which basically forces this schedule upon the teams does neither division ANY good.  The South always opens up with a glorified scrimmage, which really helps neither team – one team walks to a victory while the other team starts with a demoralizing defeat.  The years of our powerhouses opening games against the likes of North Penn, or one of the Philadelphia schools, went away when this new league was formed.

It’s time to re-evaluate the independent schedules thrust upon the North and the South.  If you are going to keep this league as it is (and that is a topic for another blog), allow some leeway in the scheduling.  It would help both divisions.

Now the Colonial League is the direct opposite in their structure.  Due to the number of teams, there is no room for any independent games.  All games are League games.  The excitement of opening night far exceeds that of the EPC.  And that proved out with a big game between  Saucon Valley and Southern Lehigh.  Southern Lehigh was favored and Saucon won 27-13.  Northwestern upset Colonial League pre-season favorite in a nail-biter by a 42-41 score in overtime when they kicked an extra point.  Pen Argyl beat Salisbury  17-16.  Palisades,  Bangor, and Northern Lehigh won by larger margins, but each of those games were important because they count in the standings.

I am well aware that the EPC will not change their division alignments, but the time has come to allow the South to schedule more competitive games outside the Conference.  It would benefit everyone. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. It looks like players and officials are beginning to understand what the helmet rule means. There were 51 penalties for lowering the helmet in the first two weeks and just nine this past week.  Officials are not penalizing “inadvertent or incidental contact with the helmet and/or facemask”.  If the initial contact comes from another part of the body (shoulders and arms), officials can ignore the helmet contact.  Rest assured, most fans will not understand this.  Let the booing begin.
  1. Imagine being asked the same question every single day when the answer is always the same. That just might get frustrating.  Just ask Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.  Every day after practice, Pederson talks to the press and every day he is asked about the health and expected return of Carson Wentz.  He cracked a bit on Sunday.  “I don’t know how many times I can answer this question… ask it a different way or you’re going to get the same answer.”  Everybody’s getting more tense – it must be getting closer to opening night.
  1. I am not one to put ANY stock into NFL pre-season games, but it would have been a bit comforting for the Eagles to beat the Browns or to maybe just score a point against the Browns or, perhaps, have Nick Foles look like he knew what he was doing against the Browns. Just saying…
  1. The Phils are fading, not just from the NL East, but also from the Wild Card standings. They certainly need to regroup and refocus.  Some timely hitting and better bullpen production wouldn’t hurt either.
  1. RCN-TV will present a great early season inter-city rivalry game between Bethlehem Catholic and Freedom on Saturday LIVE at 7:00pm. Mike Joseph, Tony Cocca, John Bowman and I will be there to call our first game of the season.  Can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

HS Football: Week 2 Preview

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 take a look at our first in-season high school football poll and “Pick 4” selections, a quick plug for our “SportsTalk” show, which will be broadcasting on location from the Great Allentown Fair this week.

For the 10th year in a row our shows will feature area cheering squads, marching bands and special guests looking at the new HS football season and catching up with legendary names from local high schools in the Lehigh Valley.  Check out the shows in person on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6pm from the Farmerama Theater.

If you can’t make it out to the Fair, you can see the shows on RCN-TV or RCN On-Demand.

Now, here are our first “in-season” high school football polls for teams in the District XI region…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Emmaus

2)  Parkland

3)  Freedom

4)  Easton

5)  Nazareth

Other schools receiving votes:  Liberty

 “Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Palisades

3)  Central Catholic

4)  Saucon Valley

Other schools receiving votes: Northwestern, Notre Dame

Our poll remains in its’ standard, tried-and-true format that we have utilized for many seasons.  We will take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus,  Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.

“Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, NorthwesternWilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

Here are our RCN football experts weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend . . .

The
“PICK 4”
Freedom vs. Bethlehem Catholic Easton vs. Whitehall Emmaus vs. Nazareth Northwestern vs. Salisbury
Gary Laubach Bethlehem Catholic Easton Emmaus Northwestern
Tony Cocca  Bethlehem Catholic Easton Emmaus Northwestern
Keith Groller  Bethlehem Catholic Whitehall Emmaus Northwestern
Chris Michael  Freedom Easton Emmaus Northwestern

Check back next week for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.