HS Football 2019: Week 9

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’ve had the pleasure of calling some very enjoyable high school football games through the first 2 months of the regular season.  (No, that’s not a self-serving comment as I have nothing to do with, nor can take any credit for, the selection of teams and games broadcast on RCN.)  I’ve also had some great conversations in the hours and the days leading up to the games with both coaches and players and there have been some fascinating off-the-field stories from different schools.

However, things are now getting serious as we had down the home stretch of the regular season and then…the playoffs.

So to get you caught up on the RCN broadcasted games over the last month, here are the highlights of our high school games this fall:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCN customers can watch these games, in its entirety, for free, through Video-on-Demand. 

Our website readers nailed their predictions last week…in what turned out to be two blowout contests (Freedom scored on every possession and averaged 12 yards per play, while Northampton held a 41-7 lead at the end of the first quarter), our voters correctly selected both Freedom and Northampton to win last weekend’s games.  Check out this week’s voting section and give YOUR take on who you think will win this weekend’s RCN game between Parkland and Easton. 

PROGRAMMING NOTE: 

SportsTalk” is off this week due to RCN’s holiday parade coverage — our usual high school football polls and our “experts game predictions” contest returns next week.   

Also, keep checking back to our website for more highlights from games broadcast on RCN-TV throughout the fall season!

 

Who Wins NFC East?

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.

Well, we are six games into the NFL season and what do we know? I think we know that we didn’t know much about this year. Who would have believed that the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Rams would currently be on losing streaks? Would you believe that the Saints and the Panthers could both be on winning streaks AFTER they lost their starting quarterbacks?

Thank goodness (or of all teams why them?) the New England Patriots just continue to win, although even they haven’t looked all that invincible despite going 6-0. And teams like the 49’ers (5-0), Bills (4-1), and Texans (4-2) are surprising us.  That leads me to the NFC East – no team has a winning record! Dallas and the Eagles are 3-3; the Giants are 2-4; and the Redskins are 1-5 (they replaced their coach this week and barely beat the hapless Dolphins). So who wins the Division?

The Cowboys looked great the first three weeks against weak teams. They have looked anything like a team guaranteed the NFC East title in a mediocre (and that’s kind) division. “America’s team” is now mired in a three-game losing streak. They even lost this past week to the New York Jets (1-4). There are rumblings of discontent about their head coach and the team just seems lethargic at times during the game. Not many positives coming out of Dallas for a team that started 3-0.

Then, there is the Eagles. They have serious problems in their secondary. This past Sunday against the Vikings, the secondary was not competitive. It became obvious that Rasoul Douglas and Sidney Jones cannot cover the top receivers in the NFL without help. Will the injured Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox solve the problem? Jalen Mills still hasn’t played. There is no deep threat on the offensive side, so Carson Wentz is stuck throwing short passes, primarily to his two tight ends. This means if you “get behind the sticks”, drives stall. This adds
up to losses.

The Giants do not look like contenders, even though they are improved and the presence of Saquon Barkley (expected back next game) could certainly make them dangerous. Their offensive line does not look at all like championship material. If the Giants win this year, the division should be ashamed of themselves.

Then, there is the Redskins. We now know they are better than the Dolphins, but so, too, are the other 30 teams in the league. Enough said. It is hard to say who will win the NFC East. It may be easier to say which team will lose it less.

Eagles’ fans should not get too discouraged just yet. Remember, no one else in that division is very good either.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Quarterbacks are often given too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses, but the performance by Sam Darnold of the previously winless New York Jets over the Dallas Cowboys seems to disprove the adage. Darnold, who missed three games due to mononucleosis, passed for 383 yards and two TDs. The Jets looked like a different team. Give credit to the quarterback.

2. Don’t bet on the Atlanta Falcons. They are snake bitten. This past week, they fought their way back to within a point needing only an extra point to tie the game. Of course, they missed it and lost to the Cardinals. They were in the Super Bowl three years ago and now they are 1-5.

3. I am not a Yankees fan, but baseball needed them in the playoffs. Television was hoping for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, I’m sure, but the Yankees-Astros series will be every bit as entertaining for the Division championship.  The walk-off home run by Carlos Correa on Sunday night in the 11 th inning showcased baseball at its best.

4. When there is a 2-1 vote, 2 usually wins, right? Not in the case of Gabe Kapler, the former Phillies manager. John Middleton, the Phillies’ managing partner, overruled his president and his general manager, both of whom wanted to keep Kapler. The Phillies are now looking for a manager. It’s good to be king!

5. Parkland travels to Easton with District XI ramifications this weekend on RCN-TV. The game will be broadcast LIVE at 7:00PM.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 8-6) (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 61-29-1 68%)

KANSAS CITY
GIANTS
HOUSTON
BUFFALO
MINNESOTA
GREEN BAY
JACKSONVILLE
RAMS
SAN FRANCISCO
TENNESSEE
SEATTLE
NEW ORLEANS
PHILADELPHIA
NEW ENGLAND

 

 

HS Football 2019: Week 8

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..

This week we start to take our first hard looks at the playoff situations for both local leagues and the District XI playoff picture.

For both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (South Division) and the Colonial League, any team that has more than one loss right now finds itself in a tough situation to try to make a run at capturing a crown.

For some (but not all) of the district classifications, however, with the expanded playoff format, there are quite a few teams that have struggled this year, yet still have a very good chance at seeing some post-season action.

On this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” on RCN-TV, Sports Director Gary Laubach will join us as we take a look back at the recent weeks-worth of games and look ahead to a full slate of games this weekend, plus delve into the potential playoff implications these contest may have.

As you have been seeing on our program, we’ve been featuring a number of new coaches and up-and-coming student-athletes like Ramie Moussa, Damien Garcia, and others, in both the Colonial League and the EPC all year long.  That trend continues this week as we provide a game recap of last Saturday’s battle of Colonial football teams (one of them was in our pre-season poll to keep an eye on this fall), which ended in dramatic fashion. We also have game highlights and interviews as two of the top girls soccer teams in the league (Salisbury, currently 3rd in the Colonial League, and Southern Lehigh, currently first) squared off against each other.

Also on this week’s show, we will have a feature on one of the prominent high school programs in the Washington DC area–the Woodrow Wilson football team, as produced by our friends from DKN Sports at the Office of Community Television.

*****

Time for a look at our high school football “big” and “small schools” polls (as voted by select media members, coaches & administrators within the RCN-TV viewing area) and our “Pick 4” game predictions for games that will be played this weekend.               

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Nazareth

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Northampton

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Central Catholic

3)  Northwestern

4-tie)  Saucon Valley/Notre Dame  

 Other schools receiving votes: Northern Lehigh 

Our poll remains with the standard format that we have utilized for many seasons.  For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of:  Parkland, LibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

 “Small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua. 

 Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list!

 *******

 Now, here are our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the most competitive high school games this weekend…

The “PICK 4” Easton @
Bethlehem Catholic
Liberty @
Central Catholic
Salisbury @
Bangor
Saucon Valley @
Northwestern
Gary Laubach  Easton Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
Tony Cocca  Easton Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
Keith Groller  Becahi Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
John Leone  Easton Liberty Salisbury Northwestern
Chris Michael Becahi Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern

You have the chance to vote right here on our website on who you think will win the Easton/Becahi game, plus other Eastern Pennsylvania Conference games we’ll have on RCN this weekend: Allen vs. Northampton and Emmaus vs. Freedom.

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

 

 

What Happens Now?

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 NCAA has a huge mess on its hands.  This past week, the governor of California signed into law a bill that now allows California student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or image.  They also can hire agents to represent them.  It’s called the Fair Pay to Play Act.  Several other states have said they would also pass a similar law.  Pennsylvania is one of them.

The NCAA strictly prohibits their athletes to be compensated.  So what happens now?

The quandary: Today, if you go into any store and buy a jersey, a poster, a mug, etc., with a player’s name, number, or face on it, the team or university derives some sort of royalty for that purchase.  The student-athlete receives nothing.  Obviously, the case can be made that the athlete is, in most cases, receiving a full scholarship and a complete education for his efforts.  Does the athlete deserve more or are they getting enough?

All students have the ability to work after-school hours in order to make some money.  Should we now consider athletes who “work” every day as a member of a team someone who should have the right to make money, if there is a demand for their wares directly associated with the university?

Sports agents at the college level are often portrayed as sleazy people who sneak around in the shadows of NCAA athletics.  Now, a student-athlete risks everything if they are lured into an illegal arrangement with an agent to gain financial rewards.  Often, these stories center around students who come from poor backgrounds and the lure of financial gain is quite enticing even at the risk of losing eligibility and their scholarship.  Should they now openly be allowed to hire an agent to help them get the best deal for their talent?

Colleges, universities, and the NCAA make billions of dollars on their product.  Coaches get paid millions at major sports institutions. Shouldn’t the athletes have the opportunity to share in those funds?

And, finally, will this law make these young people more athlete than student?  Will they spend more time setting up appearances and endorsement opportunities that they spend in the classroom?  Will academics take a back seat to the now-legal lure of making as much money as one can in the short time available to a student-athlete?

There are plenty of questions with, I’m sure, plenty of different answers.  And once again, it will be the courts that will decide the issue.  What is your opinion?  How would you rule in this case? For the athletes or for the universities?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Interesting move by the Phillies this week. They fired their pitching coach, Chris Young.  This makes me believe that they will not fire Gabe Kapler. You would have thought that would happen first and the new manager would decide on staff.  By the time you read this, I could be totally wrong and Kapler will be gone.  But, unless a more attractive manager says yes to the Phillies, Kapler will be the man. 
  1. It was a “good news-bad news” situation for the Gruden family after this weekend’s NFL games. Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday putting the Raiders at 3-2 for the season.  Jon’s brother, Jay Gruden, the head coach of the Washington Redskins, was fired after losing to the Patriots 33-7. He became the fifth coach fired by team owner Dan Snyder but he did last longer than any of the others. 
  1. Despite an outstanding performance by the Eagles’ defense against the woeful Jets, the offense looked pretty bad this past Sunday. They looked nothing like the offense that did their job the previous week against the Packers.  But a win is a win, I guess. 
  1. Watching the Cowboys on Sunday against the Packers, I felt they were pretty listless throughout much of the game. There was no spark at all until they finally put together some scoring plays.  There is something wrong in Dallas. 
  1. There are three high school games this weekend on RCN-TV. Friday night features Emmaus at Freedom at 7:00PM followed by Allen at Northampton at 9:30PM.  On Saturday night, we will bring you Easton at Bethlehem Catholic.  The action starts at 7:00pm on RCN-TV.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 11-3)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 53-23-1  70%) 

NEW ENGLAND

PHILADELPHIA

DALLAS

CAROLINA

BALTIMORE

SEATTLE

KANSAS CITY

NEW ORLEANS

WASHINGTON

RAMS

ATLANTA

DENVER

CHARGERS

GREEN BAY

 

 

Scholarships Haven’t Helped

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.

After five weeks of football, the Patriot League is 7-24 against independent teams.  Of those seven wins, only two would be considered quality wins: Holy Cross over New Hampshire and Fordham over Richmond.  The other five were not impressive, nor unexpected.

Three teams, Colgate, Lafayette, and Lehigh, who have won the most championships in Patriot League history (22) are collectively 1-13 after this past week.  That one win was by Lehigh over Merrimack by a 10-3 score.  Merrimack is not considered a football powerhouse by any stretch.

So what is wrong here?  Since the advent of scholarships in the Patriot League in 2012, not much has improved.  And, in fact, it could be argued that things have gotten much worse.  That was certainly not the goal when the presidents allowed football scholarships.

I cannot say it better than an anonymous writer offered up in October, 2015, in a blog titled, “What’s Wrong with the Patriot League?”  May I suggest you read the entire piece?

http://georgetownfootball.blogspot.com/2018/10/whats-wrong-with-patriot-league.html?m=1

The solutions offered are:

  1. Address the scholarship rules
  2. Revisit redshirting
  3. Look at scheduling and support
  4. Consider expansion

If you are at all interested, you should read the entire blog.  It is lengthy, but it is clear, well-researched, and to the point.  I cannot offer up a better conclusion than the author does:

“This isn’t the Ivy League.  Either the PL must grow or it runs the risk of atrophy and a slow death.

Because in the end, what’s wrong with the Patriot League is almost entirely self-inflicted, which is both hopeful as well as challenging.  Leadership, not platitudes, will set a course for its stability and future.”

I hope someone is listening.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Lafayette’s Joe Maddon is out of a job. After five seasons and leading the Cubs to the World Series Championship in 2016 (their first since 1908), Maddon was fired after the Cubs’ final game.  He will be a valuable “free agent”, for sure (perhaps, Philadelphia?) 
  1. There were plenty of other major league managers let go this past weekend – Clint Hurdle of the Pirates, Ned Yost of the Royals, Andy Green of the Padres, and Bruce Bochy of the Giants (retired). Will Gabe Kapler of the Phillies join the list shortly?  It did not happen on Sunday so he might hang in there.  I doubt it. 
  1. Since the media isn’t often depicted favorably anymore, there was a good story out of St. Louis on Sunday.  A videographer collapsed in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer, Derrick Goold, performed CPR and, according to medical officials, saved his life.  Goold was a former lifeguard and Eagle Scout. 
  1. What a week in the NFL – there were upsets galore: Eagles, Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans. All in all nine underdogs won. I knew my picks were going along too nicely! 
  1. The best of the Colonial League highlights our schedule this Friday night when once-beaten Northwestern takes on undefeated Southern Lehigh followed by once-beaten Freedom taking on undefeated Easton. The action starts at 7:00pm on RCN-TV.

 

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –8-7)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 42-20-1  68%) 

RAMS

PHILADELPHIA

BALTIMORE

CHICAGO

ARIZONA

CAROLINA

MINNESOTA

NEW ENGLAND

NEW ORLEANS

HOUSTON

BUFFALO

CHARGERS

GREEN BAY

KANSAS CITY

SAN FRANCISCO

 

 

HS Football 2019: Week 7

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. 

There are times when wins, losses and other statistical information takes a back seat and our “SportsTalk” program addresses more than who are the top teams, who’s playing well and what are the most important games to watch this weekend.

On this Thursday’s program, we have such a case.

Easton Middle School Head Football Coach Jeff Zimmerman recently found out that he is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.  The issue occurred with no warning whatsoever, and, in his current condition, his kidneys are functioning below 20% efficiently, which could cause a tragic outcome.

Jeff, his wife Ali, Easton Head Football Coach Jeff Braido and select members of the Rovers team will be in our studio this week to talk about his struggles and make a pitch for a donor to come through during this critical time…these actions may literally save his life.

We invite you to tune in to hear more about Jeff and Ali’s plight and ask that everyone spreads the word so that we can have a happy conclusion to this saga.  If you know of anyone who might be able to help, reach out to the Easton School District or contact me at our RCN studio (610-443-2841 or chris.michael@rcn.net ) and I will get you in contact with Coach Zimmerman.              

Now, for this week’s high school football poll for District XI teams… 

“Big” Schools Poll

1) Easton

2) Nazareth

3)  Freedom

4)  Parkland

5)  Emmaus

Other schools receiving multiple votes: Southern Lehigh

 “Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)   Central Catholic

3)   Saucon Valley

4)   Northwestern

Other schools receiving multiple votes: Salisbury, Notre Dame 

For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of Parkland, LibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

“Small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua. 

Here are the “rules” for our voters:

Each pollster identifies their top five teams among the “big schools” and the top four squads for the “smaller” group—the top school gets five (or four for the small schools) points, the second team gets four (or three) points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in both of the polls.

Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list!

Now, here are our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the most competitive high school games this weekend… 

The “PICK 4” Freedom @ Easton
*on RCN-TV
Northampton@
Stroudsburg
Northern Lehigh@ 
Salisbury
Northwestern@
Southern Lehigh
Gary Laubach Freedom Northampton Northern Lehigh Southern Lehigh
Tony Cocca  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
Keith Groller  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
John Leone  Easton Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
Chris Michael  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh


Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

Congratulations to you, our RCN-TV website readers! All voters correctly predicted both Parkland and Penn would be victorious in their games broadcast on RCN last week.  Be sure to try to keep the streak alive by checking out the “fan voting” section and make your pick for this Friday’s high school action.

Oh, That Schedule

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 happens around this time every year. We start to get complaints that a viewer’s team has not been shown. The questions are often the same: Why aren’t you doing this team? Why is this team on so often? Why are you predominantly focusing on one league? etc.

I suppose we could take this as a compliment that viewers want to see us cover their team. I’d like to think the RCN gang does a great job and, therefore, you want our production at your game. I am also not naïve and realize you may just want to see your son or daughter on TV. I get it.

So, allow me a chance to explain the process. A schedule is sought weeks before the actual start of the season. In other words, before any games are even played, a preliminary schedule for the football season is published. Obviously, this involves some picking of games based on the teams considered to be the best and finding the best match-ups for any given week.

And, so far, I would like to think we have done a pretty good job:

Notre Dame 42 – Northwestern 35
Freedom 24 – Bethlehem Catholic 21
Freedom 21 – Parkland 18
Nazareth 35 – Freedom 33
Nazareth 27 – Bethlehem Catholic – 13

There is no question these were the best games of the night. Except, perhaps, this past week when Easton beat Emmaus by one in the waning seconds. We missed that one. However, we will see Easton quite a bit the rest of the season.

There are also other factors. On some weekends, our production crew has other responsibilities such as the Allentown Fair, the Celtic Classic, and charity polo. Those events tie up one of our two production trucks. We cannot be everywhere and our football schedule reflects that.

We also contractually support the Lafayette football program, so their Saturday game may negate our ability to do a high school game that day. And please understand that our schedule is a transformational one. We may very well have picked a game in late July and a better match-up that we did not anticipate pops up. We will change. For instance, right now the Nazareth-Easton game (both teams are currently undefeated) is not on our schedule. I certainly expect that will change.

We thank all of you for your passion for our local coverage on all fronts. Believe me, our goal is not to slight anyone or any program. As far as football is concerned we try to bring the best games we can that will attract the greatest viewer interest. And then, we hope we are right!


ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. If the Eagles don’t get healthy quickly, they will not make the playoffs. Sunday showed that without DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, they have very few weapons at Carson Wentz’s disposal. It looks like 1-3 after Thursday’s matchup with the Packers. The Cowboys are already 3-0.

2. The headline read, “Antonio Brown will never play in the NFL again”. I hope that is true!

3. It appears Saquon Barkley has a high ankle sprain. He’s not out for the season, but this injury has a history of taking weeks to heal. Even with Barkley out, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones led the Giants to a comeback win over Tampa Bay.

4. It’s the final week of MLB and the Phillies are done. It looks like the Mets and the Cubs will not make it either. The Brewers and the Nationals appear to be the wild card teams, but the Brewers can still pass the Cardinals for the Division title. The Athletics appear to be a wild card lock with the Rays and the Indians battling for the other spot. Wild card scenarios make the end of the season interesting, for sure.

5. There is no doubt that the Nazareth Blue Eagles are the surprise of the football season thus far. With back-to-back wins over Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic, can they avoid a letdown this Friday at Parkland? Tune in to RCN-TV for the LIVE telecast at 7:00pm on Friday night. Lafayette takes on Penn on Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm, also on RCN-TV.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK –12-4) (YEAR-TO-DATE – 34-13-1 72%)

GREEN BAY
GIANTS
HOUSTON
BALTIMORE
CHARGERS
INDIANAPOLIS
KANSAS CITY
NEW ENGLAND
ATLANTA
RAMS
SEATTLE
MINNESOTA
JACKSONVILLE
NEW ORLEANS
PITTSBURGH

 

 

 

HS Football 2019: Week 6

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.

First of all, a programming alert that we will be having a preview of this weekend’s big Penn State/Maryland Big 10 showdown on this week’s “RCN SportsTalk,” in addition to an exclusive Skype interview with current All-American Tailback Shane Simpson (a former Easton product now playing for Towson).  Plus, high school fall sports features, previews of this weekend’s games and a feature on DMV sports legend Bob Headen, in a jammed-packed show for you this Thursday, live at 7pm on RCN-TV and available through RCN On-Demand!

Also, be sure to enjoy a special weekend on RCN as we present exclusive coverage of the Celtic Classic, including the National Highland Athletics Championships, the Tartan Parade, and some of the finest entertainers and musical groups from around the world, performing at this year’s event.

*****

In case you missed last year’s “Pick 4” contest, Keith Groller “lost” (aka, had the fewest number of correct football game predictions) and had to perform Fortnite dance moves live on our “SportsTalk” program.  Since he was such a ‘grateful loser” (aka, he still complains that the contest that he oversaw each week was rigged against him, with the Russians somehow involved), I told him back in June he could come up with whatever he would like to do, to whomever lost THIS year’s contest (there’s no way he’d lose two years in a row, right?).

Well, after forgetting to do so each week for over two months but vowing each time he’d come up with something the following week (and then claiming that he never made that promise–until we showed him footage of previous shows), he finally decided to defer to the Pen Argyl football team, who were our guests on “SportsTalk.”  Keith said he’ll leave it to them and do whatever they came up with as the task that we all would have to adhere to. (By the way, Keith did suggest having the loser doing something with shoveling manure, but both the players and I agreed that was way too gross).

So after some careful deliberation, the student-athletes came up with this year’s “prize” to whomever had the least number of correct predictions…

Running.

That’s right, the students said they would like to see their favorite RCN personality run a lap around a track.  Now, thanks to the RCN-TV HD cameras you can clearly see that not all of us are in the best physical condition (some more than others) of our careers.  However, we are willing to risk our health, pull muscles galore and even sacrifice our entire bodies…just for our customers’ amusement!

Needless to say, I speak for all the announcers when I say that we are completely thrilled and excited about the possibility for this fall’s task for one of us “lucky” participants.

In a completely unrelated story that clearly as nothing to do with the results of our Pick 4 contest, we are also on the lookout for young and fit RCN broadcaster-lookalikes for a yet-to-be-announced project coming up later this year (right around the time high school football season comes to an end;).  If you know anyone that might fit that bill, please have them email me at chris.michael@rcn.net

In the meantime, if anyone can recommend some quality litiment that works wonders, I’d be much obliged.

*****

Speaking of the “Pick 4” contest, here are this week’s picks as our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend…   

The “PICK 4” Liberty vs. Emmaus East Stroudsburg South vs. Northampton Parkland vs. Nazareth Wilson vs. Pen Argyl
Gary Laubach Emmaus Northampton Nazareth Wilson
Tony Cocca  Emmaus Northampton Nazareth Wilson
Keith Groller Emmaus East Stroudsburg South Nazareth Wilson
John Leone  Emmaus East Stroudsburg South Parkland Wilson
Chris Michael  Emmaus East Stroudsburg South Parkland Wilson

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall. 

The loser better have a good pair of track shoes!

 ***** 

The majority of last week’s RCN game viewers’ poll here on our website had Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic as the favored teams to win, although both teams ended up losing by significant margins on Friday. 

Don’t forget to try again this week by voting and giving your opinions on who will win RCN’s Friday high school game and Saturday’s Penn/Lafayette contest! 

***** 

And now, here are this week’s high school football polls for District XI teams… 

“Big” Schools Poll

1) Easton

2) Nazareth

3)  Freedom

4)  East Stroudsburg-South

5)  Parkland

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Northwestern

3)  Central Catholic

4)  Saucon Valley

Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list.

 

Friday the 13th

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 am not a superstitious guy.  I have opened an umbrella in my office.  I’m sure I have walked under a ladder (although I was probably NOT using it).  I have certainly stepped on a crack and, as far as I knew, my mother never suffered any undue back distress.  I cannot remember the last time I spilled salt, but if I did I would just clean it up, not make a bigger mess by throwing it over my shoulder.

So, once again, I am not a suspicious guy.  However…

This past Friday was the 13th.  Yes, Friday the 13th.  I know the date has some history to it.  The number itself is supposed to be unlucky.  Many hotels avoid having a 13th floor.  Thirteen disciples came to the Last Supper and that did not turn out well at all.  Even Hammurabi (you remember him?) left the number 13 out of his famous code.

I bring this up because this past Friday was the 13th and I had a football game to do – undefeated Nazareth at undefeated Freedom.  I always plan to arrive at the venue by 5:00pm for a 7:00pm game.  When I get to Bethlehem School District Stadium I ALWAYS park in the same place – just across the street from the stadium.  It allows easy entrance and, more importantly, easy exit.  But, my space was taken!  That never happens.

I was forced to find another.  Okay, no big deal.

About 20 minutes before the start of the game, I was informed that the officials I was given during the week were all changed.  This meant that our graphic was completely wrong.  Luckily, we managed to make the change before game time, but I was left wondering why the change.

The game began and, as is the norm, I wanted to get a report from Tony Cocca, our sideline reporter, before the opening kickoff.  His microphone would not work and never worked for the rest of the night.  He could hear us.  We could not hear him.

When a touchdown is scored, I quickly have to recap the drive and make some notes so I can recap when necessary.  Freedom scored in the second period to make it 14-13.  I started writing – time of score, who scored, how many TDs the player has scored this season, etc.  After all, the extra point was a given.  The Freedom kicker, up to that point, was a perfect 14 for 14.  He missed, but I missed the miss!

For the next ten minutes or so, I kept giving the score as being tied – 14-14.  I asked my color analyst why he didn’t point out my mistake.  He told me he missed the miss, also.

Later in the game, I “promo-ed” a game we had dropped from the schedule.  That’s right, I was building up the viewers’ expectations for another game to follow, but I was wrong.  The game was originally scheduled but then dropped from the schedule.

The culmination of the night was the outcome.  Every sportswriter (10 of them) picked Freedom to win the game.  Nazareth won 35-33.  Freedom was forced to go for a two-point conversion (because of the missed extra point that I originally missed, too).  They failed.

As I walked back to my car wondering where I had to park it, I began to think that maybe this Friday the 13th stuff has some merit to it.

Thank goodness, it only comes rarely!  KNOCK ON WOOD!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Two of the superstars in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Drew Brees of the Saints, may both be facing surgery after this past Sunday’s games. Roethlisberger grabbed his throwing elbow after throwing a pass and Brees injured his wrist and thumb after hitting the hand of a defensive tackle. 
  1. Time for my Saquon Barkley mention (seems to come up every week). His presence has me now watching the Giants, too.  He is great; his team is awful.  And Eli Manning (I know his offensive line is awful) looks lost out there.  He has no one to throw to and he seems to panic at times.  It is time to see what his backup Daniel Jones can do.  I mean, come on.  I want to enjoy the Barkley games. 
  1. Who will beat the Patriots? No one until maybe November.  That’s when they have Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Dallas.  If they win those and Tom Brady stays healthy, it could be 16-0. 
  1. Remember Keith Jackson, Don Meredith, and Howard Cosell behind the microphones for Monday Night Football? That was (are you kidding me?) 50 years ago.  September 21, 1970 was the first broadcast of Monday Night Football.  The Browns played the Jets that night.  They played each other this week on (you guessed it) Monday Night Football.  The Browns won. 
  1. The high school football just gets better and better each week. RCN-TV has a terrific football lineup this weekend.  On Friday night at 9:30pm, the undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles take on the once-defeated Golden Hawks of Bethlehem Catholic, who “mercy-ruled” Parkland this past Saturday.  Our LIVE game at 7:00pm features Parkland at Liberty.  Both teams already have two losses and cannot afford another.  Join us.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –11-5)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 22-9-1  71%) 

JACKSONVILLE

GREEN BAY

PHILADELPHIA

KANSAS CITY

BUFFALO

INDIANAPOLIS

MINNESOTA

NEW ENGLAND

DALLAS

TAMPA BAY

CAROLINA

SEATTLE

CHARGERS

SAN FRANCISCO

RAMS

CHICAGO

 

HS Football 2019: Week 5

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.|

In the years we’ve been doing the “Pick 4” high school football prediction contest, we usually keep the predictions’ themselves, for the most part, exclusively here on the RCN-TV website, while we post the weekly standings only on our TV show.

However, a couple times each season, we usually like to share the standings with our internet readers, just to give you an idea of how your favorite RCN personalities are doing with this year’s contest.

One of those traditional times would be this week, as we approach the midway point of the regular season. Our up-to-the-minute standings are as follows…

Tony Cocca 14-2
Chris Michael 12-4
Keith Groller 11-5
John Leone 11-5
Gary Laubach 10-6

Keep in mind, there’s plenty of time (and games) left with the second half of the season and several weeks of the playoffs yet to come. Also, it is a tight horse race (as usually stays that way into the postseason) between all participants and should make for an exciting finish in November.

Continue to watch our weekly show and hear our “SportsTalk” podcasts (found here on the RCN-TV website) for the latest standings (along with commentary from those participating in the contest).

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

The “PICK 4” Parkland vs. Liberty Dieruff vs. Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley vs. Northern Lehigh Bethlehem Catholic vs. Nazareth
Gary Laubach Parkland Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley Bethlehem Catholic
Tony Cocca  Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth
Keith Groller Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth
John Leone  Parkland Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley Nazareth
Chris Michael  Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

Also, be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well! 

 *****

Before we get to the polls, a reminder for NFL fans to subscribe to get your “NFL Red Zone” packages.  The season is now underway and you won’t want to miss a minute of the action. Call 1-800-RING-RCN or log on to rcn.com to learn the easy way to see all the great gridiron action this fall. 

Also, be sure to check out the tailgating contest that RCN is running to find out how to win great prizes and truly enhance your tailgating parties this football season.  You won’t want to miss out on all the goodies available to win! 

***** 

Now, here’s our look at our high school football “big” and “small schools” polls (as voted by select media members, coaches & administrators for District XI teams)…

 “Big” Schools Poll

1)  Nazareth

2) Easton

3)  Freedom

4)  East Stroudsburg-South

5)  Parkland

 

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Central Catholic 

Each pollster identifies their top five teams among the “big schools” and the top four squads for the “smaller” group—the top school gets five (or four for the small schools) points, the second team gets four (or three) points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in both of the polls.   

Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list! 

Programming Alert!!! 

Cleary, RCN-TV will be broadcasting the best EPC game of the weekend with our “Big School” & “Small School” number one teams playing each other (Bethlehem Catholic/Nazareth, Friday, tape delayed at 9:30pm), but the best Colonial League match-up will be a pair of 3-1 teams (Saucon Valley & Northern Lehigh) squaring off–the winner staying one game back of the top spot in the conference. 

We’ll not only have a preview of that game from one of the key people who will be involved in that Friday contest on our “SportsTalk” show this week, but he will be telling us about a special ceremony that will also be taking place at that game, along with a couple other surprises.  Tune in Thursday at 7pm on RCN (or hear our podcast, posted on Friday) to hear the big news!!!