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.

 

Football Preview #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.

Last week here at “The Shop” we brought you samples of our high school sports interviews featuring local coaches and players (more can be seen on our “SportsTalk” program).

This week, we have our pre-season high school football poll and the return of the “Pick 4” game predictions, along with samples of our interviews previewing the Lafayette College football season.

Now the unveiling of our pre-season high school football poll for District XI teams…

“ Big” Schools Poll

1)  Parkland

2)  Emmaus

3)  Freedom

4)  Easton

5)  Nazareth

 

“Small” SCHOOL Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Palisades

3)  Central Catholic

4)  Notre Dame

Other schools receiving votes:   Saucon Valley

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, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Northampton, Nazareth, Whitehall, Southern Lehigh, East Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.

“Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  Each pollster will identify their top five teams in each group—the top school gets five points, the second team gets four points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in the poll.  Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list!

Now, here are our RCN football experts weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend…

The
“PICK 4”
Catty at Bangor Nazareth at
Pocono Mountain East
CCHS at Stroudsburg Salisbury at Pen Argyl
Gary Laubach Bangor Nazareth CCHS Pen Argyl
Tony Cocca  Bangor Pocono Mt-East Stroudsburg Pen Argyl
Keith Groller  Bangor Nazareth Stroudsburg Salisbury
Chris Michael  Bangor Nazareth Stroudsburg Salisbury

 

Pro Football Prediction – #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.

The NFC looks to be much stronger overall than the AFC in the NFL.  For Eagles’ fans, that is not good news.  Add to that, even though there have been  seven repeat winners in the history of the Super Bowl, no team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since New England did it in ’04 and ’05.

Last week, I took a look at how I saw the AFC shaking out in their divisions.  This week, I will focus on the NFC.

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers– For me, they have gone from worst to first.  The 49ers did not make the playoffs last year, but they should this year with Jimmy Garopolo.  He was 5-0 as a starter last year and three of those wins were against teams in the playoffs.  Game one is against Minnesota so I will know early if I am dreaming that the 49ers make the playoffs for the first time in six years.
  2. Los Angeles Rams– I should pick this team to win the division. They did it in 2017. Their defense is outstanding.  Jared Goff looks to be a future star; the offense added more weapons; their defense got stronger (Ndamukong Suh now on the team); their young coach, Sean McVay, appears to be a potential genius.  So will they win their division again?  Probably – I don’t know why I picked the 49ers (but I did).
  3. Seattle Seahawks – Oh, remember when this was the team and the venue no other team wanted to face? No more.  Russell Wilson remains their greatest threat, but he has little around him and the historically great Seattle defense is no more.
  4. Arizona Cardinals – Steve Wilks is the new head coach. Sam Bradford will be at quarterback until Josh Rosen is ready.  The emphasis and strength should be on the defense.  This will not be their year.

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons – Their Super Bowl loss two years ago (a game they should have won) appeared to have carried over to last year when they were 10-6 and finished third in their division. They should be over it now.  Their offense looks to be unstoppable with talent at all of the skill positions.  The defense looks good enough.  I’m betting on this team again.
  2. New Orleans Saints– If the defense is good, this team wins. Drew Brees is still one of the elite QBs in the league and even with a decent defense, he usually will get you enough points to win.  And this year, the defense looks quite capable of getting the job done.  They will battle the Falcons for the title.
  3. Carolina Panthers – Remember that the Falcons, Saints, AND the Panthers all made the playoffs last year and could do it again. This is a good, solid all-around football team.  Cam Newton may still have his best years ahead of him.  The defensive secondary is somewhat suspect and may be their downfall.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – They were 5-11 last year and finished last in their division. It was supposed to be much better than that. Their defense improved in the off-season, but the big improvement needs to come from QB Jameis Winston.  We’ll know right away as they open with the Saints, the Eagles, and the Steelers.

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – This pick is completely based on the healthy return of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers were 7-9 last year and the primary reason was the broken collarbone suffered by Rodgers.  They added tight end Jimmy Rodgers, a real asset, and the defense looks better.  So, keep Rodgers healthy and they are my favorite to win the North.
  2. Minnesota Vikings–Watch out for the Vikings coming off a 13-3 season. Much of that success centered on the defense and Case Keenum.  Well, the defense is better, but Case Keenum is gone.  Veteran Kirk Cousins takes over and he can be very good with the right team.  They have won the division two of the last three years – could certainly do it again.
  3. Detroit Lions– I like Matt Stafford at quarterback. I also like the Lions (three winning seasons the last four years).  Head coach Matt Patricia is a defensive guru and that is really where they need to improve.   Can they beat the Packers and the Vikings in the four games they play against them?  If yes, then maybe…
  4. Chicago Bears – They have been the North’s last-place team four years in a row and this year should be no exception.  Matt Trubisky starts his second year at QB.  They added some nice pieces, but there aren’t enough to get out of the cellar.

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles won back-to-back East titles in 2004. They won the Super Bowl last year!  Can they repeat in both categories?  It looks like they are even better this year.  They have two solid starters at QB in Wentz and Foles; an outstanding running game; offensive line; defensive group, etc., etc.E-A-G-L-E-S!!!
  1. Dallas Cowboys – Speaking of QBs, Dak Prescott was not as good last year as he was the previous year and the Ezekial Elliot six-game suspension did not help either. They did not, however, improve their receiving corps.  Jason Witten went to ESPN and they lost Dez Bryant.  That’s their weakness.
  2. New York Giants – I so much wanted to pick the Giants ahead of the Cowboys. But they were 3-13 last year.  And their defense was awful – particularly in the secondary where they had some of the worst numbers in the league.  My hope is that Whitehall’s Saquon Barkley finds a way to electrify Eli Manning and the offense and it carries over to the defense.  Go Giants – beat Dallas!!
  3. Washington Redskins – They had two consecutive winning seasons before their 7-9 year in 2018. Kirk Cousins was their best player and he is gone.  Alex Smith takes over coming from Kansas City.  He is good, but Cousins was sacked 41 times last year.  Can Smith survive that?  My guess here is “No”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Since this seems to be prediction time, before actual games are played, let me suggest to you my choices for the high school football season. Even though it appears that Emmaus should have the best skill position people this year, it is difficult to pick against six-time District champion Parkland.  I also like Beca to be in the mix for the EPC South title.  There are plenty of other teams in this extremely tough division to create upsets almost every weekend.  Until someone else proves they can do it, I like Parkland again.  Ho-hum!
  1. The Colonial league should be just as competitive with four teams with enough talent to win it all – Saucon Valley, Southern Lehigh, Palisades, and Notre Dame. Our opening high school game – Saucon Valley at Southern Lehigh – may answer some early questions.  I like the creativity of Phil Stambaugh’s Notre Dame offense and the throwing ability of record-setting QB Cole DeFranco.
  1. Northampton moves to the EPC North Division under first-year head coach Kyle Haas. This move is good for the Konkrete Kids and maybe not so good for the North.  Stroudsburg will battle for the title.  I’ll stay local and pick Northampton.
  1. I know the Eagles did not look very good against the Patriots on Thursday night. It was their second lackluster showing in the NFL exhibition season.  Don’t worry – except to shake off rust and complacency, these games mean absolutely nothing!
  1. The Astros looked like they were going to run away with their division in the American league much like the Red Sox were doing in the AL East. The Astros were ten games up over the Oakland Athletics back on July 10.  As I am writing this, the A’s are now tied with Houston for first place in the AL West.  The Phillies continue to hang in there, too, in the NL East and one can hope that they will battle the Braves and Nationals to the end.