How Bad Is It?

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 past week, it was announced that the Pennsylvania state legislature was going to introduce a bill that would separate the boundary (usually referred to as the public) schools and the non-boundary (private, Catholic, charter) schools.  The competition between the two has been going on since 1972 when Act 219 was passed.

The PIAA has long held the position that it was up to the legislature, not their governing body, to change the format of the state championships in football and basketball.     Boundary schools, particularly in the western part of the state, have been vehemently calling for the change.

The first question to ask – is it an unfair playing field?  “Non-boundary” is at the root of the problem.  Public school enrollment is determined by their geography or their boundaries.  By their very nature, private schools must recruit students to attend and are allowed to go where they need to go to get their student population, thus, “non-boundary”.

In other words, private schools do not abide by the same set of rules as public schools.  They also have the advantage that once they become seen as possessing outstanding football and basketball programs, the more talented players want to go there.  They reason, and rightfully so, that they will be exposed to more college scouts for potential scholarships and will participate in more state championship contests.

Approximately 75% of the 350,000 potential students attend boundary schools. Yet, the private schools have dominated the state playoffs and the state championships.  The football championships were split this year, but the school populations are far from split.  But history has shown that around 60% or more of the titles go to the private schools even though they have a much smaller percentage of the student population.

Maryland has separate playoffs for the public and private schools.  It seems to work.

With six classifications in Pennsylvania, it would be easy to break the numbers down.  Four public school champions and two private school champions would seem to be fair to everyone.

I, for one, will be every interested to see what Harrisburg does.  Stay tuned.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. This was a tough sports weekend for me. I’m not very interested in the NBA All-Star game – watching guys play one against one basketball is not very appealing.  The weekend golf in Los Angeles took forever to complete due to bad weather every day.  Thanks goodness I could watch the Lafayette win over Loyola on the internet.  With RCN high-speed Internet, watching a game on the computer is not much different than watching it on TV.
  1. The Flyers continue to climb in the standings. They have won 12 of their last 14.  Their new goalie, Carter Hart, continues to be the difference.  The Flyers are generating excitement once again.  Can they get to the NHL playoffs?
  1. With the March Madness pools coming shortly, Duke is, once again, the top-ranked team in the polls. Duke starts four freshmen and has not lost a game at full strength.  They play North Carolina this week.  That “usually’ creates some excitement in the ACC.  Where will you put them in YOUR pool?
  1. Congratulations are in order for the Bethlehem Catholic boys and girls basketball teams and the same goes to the Southern Lehigh boys and girls teams. All of them have a championship – the former winning the EPC and the latter winning the Colonial League.  Beca’s Justin Paz had quite a week: he made a 3-point shot from mid-court to beat Nazareth by two points in the EPC semifinals and drove the length of the court to beat Emmaus in the championship game with 2.5 seconds on the clock.
  1. It’s on to the District basketball and the District individual wrestling championships. It’s the best of times for winter athletics.

 

 

 

Mid-Winter Highlights (Part 3)

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

Once again this week we’ll take a look back at game highlights as seen on RCN-TV recently…

 

Remember to check out all the action from these games through RCN On-Demand!

Mid-Winter Highlights (Part 2)

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

It’s just about time to get ready for the winter scholastic sports playoffs with our coverage on RCN-TV.

Before the post-season gets underway, here’s a look at our recent high school sports broadcasts on RCN (a reminder that all of RCN’s productions are available to watch for free for RCN video customers for two months following their initial air dates.  Be sure to check out these games in their entirety through RCN On-Demand).


Stephon, briggs

Also, as our post-season coverage gets underway, make sure you bookmark the RCN High School Sports Schedule page here on the RCN-TV website.  Our schedule will be updated regularly with our broadcasts of your favorite teams though the league, district and PIAA state playoff season!

Will You Watch?

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

It’s called the Alliance of American Football (AAF).  It was spawned by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol after he made a documentary about the old XFL, a league that failed.  Former NFL general manager Bill Polian is considered a co-founder.  Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Justin Tuck, Mike Pereira, and Dick Ebersol are all involved.  The league played this past weekend.

The eight teams will play four games each weekend (two on Saturday and two on Sunday).  There is an Eastern Conference (Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos) and a Western Conference (Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, San Diego Fleet).  The season will last 10 weeks with a four-team playoff and a championship game April 27 in Las Vegas.

Every player signed a three-year, $250,000 contract ($70,000 the first year).  Every player no matter the position is paid the same amount with potential bonuses.  Community contributions can earn a player more money.  Some players were selected based on their college locality and the AAF team’s location.  It was called a territorial draft so fans in a given region would know some of their players.

Some interesting differences with the NFL:

  • No TV timeouts (60% fewer full-screen commercials)
  • The goal is to play a game under 150 minutes compared to the 180 for an average NFL game
  • No extra points – only two-point conversions
  • Defenses can only rush five players and none from more than two yards outside the tackles
  • No kickoffs; possessions are started at the 25-yard line
  • The play clock is 35 seconds (the NFL is 40)
  • Only the coaches’ challenges will be replayed with automatic replays, if needed, in the final two minutes of each half
  • Overtime consists of putting the ball on the 10-yard line and giving each team a possession and the team can only score via a touchdown. After one possession, if the score is still tied, the game ends in a tie.
  • There will be an extra official (called a sky judge) who reviews every play and that judge can add or take away penalties missed or made by the on-field officials.

CBS, CBSSN, NFL Network, TNT, and Sirius XM will all air select games.  The NFL Network’s involvement is a good sign.  CBS, which televised the opening regional games, had higher ratings than the NBA game on ABC, but a rerun of America’s Got Talent had the highest ratings.

So, I ask you, “Will you watch it?”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. MLB’s spring training is right around the corner. The Phillies have already improved their roster, but the Philly fans want Manny Machado or Bryce Harper or both.  If they get either, watch out.  Between the Sixers and the Phillies, and maybe the Flyers, the town could go crazy!
  1. The Flyers are generating some hockey interest again with their new goalie, Carter Hart. He has won a record eight straight for Philadelphia, and set a record for consecutive wins by a goalie under 21 years of age.  They currently trail Pittsburgh by six points for a playoff spot.
  1. With all the excitement about the Sixers adding Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, JJ Redick performs at a high offensive level every night. He is averaging 18.7 points per game, makes 90% of his free throws, and 39% of his three-point shots.
  1. Congratulations are in order for the Bethlehem Catholic and the Northampton wrestling teams. The Lehigh Valley can be proud of the fact that two local teams were in the PIAA 3A championship final.  Beca won their 7th title and their second in a row.  But it is good to see Northampton is back.

P.S. Nazareth and Liberty are probably the next two best teams in the state.

  1. The EPC and the Colonial girls’ and boys’ championships are on RCN-TV on Friday night – six hours of outstanding basketball starting at 6:00pm.

 

Redskins’ Kyshoen Jarrett

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.

Redskins Assistant Coach Kyshoen Jarrett has had an interesting career in his 25-year life thus far.

In high school, he was a standout player for East Stroudsburg South High School, but probably didn’t receive nearly the amount of recognition as his southern competitors because of much less coverage of high school sports in the Poconos.

Then he went on to have a stellar career at West Virginia, culminating with his selection in the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.  His career was then cut short due to injury, but he transitioned into the coaching ranks with Washington and has gotten very good reviews of his work with the players thus far.

We will have a chance to speak with him regarding another roller coaster type of season for the Redskins and an offseason full of ambiguity for the entire organization on this week’s “SportsTalk” show.

Also, we’ll have something for our audiences in the Lehigh and Delaware Valley areas in addition to high school basketball fans in the DMV.

Maret HS Girls Basketball Head Coach Monique Liddell will be on to talk about her up-and-coming program that has started as many as five freshmen in games this year and hopes to keep their first-half season success going to qualify for the playoffs, which would be a huge step forward for her young squad.

Bonner-Prendie Head Coach Kevin Funstan will join us via Skype to talk about his team knocking off some of the top high school boys basketball programs in Pennsylvania—and how they plan on continuing their winning ways in the upcoming post-season.

And, we’ll be talking boys and girls Lehigh Valley basketball action and getting our first thoughts on what to expect in next week’s EPC and Colonial League playoffs.  Our in-studio guests will be members of the Notre Dame-Green Pond girls basketball team—the squad recently dubbed “Giant Killers” in a recent edition of “The Morning Call.”
As we get closer to high school basketball playoff time, I just wanted to throw this bold prediction out there…

Southern Lehigh girls basketball will again win the Colonial League BUT someone other than Bethlehem Catholic will win the EPC

Yes, this would be a shocker for girls basketball fans in the Lehigh Valley — both the Spartans and the Golden Hawks have been dominating local girls basketball for years.

Make no mistake, both programs will continue to post a ton of wins and have success in the state playoffs, but both leagues have quite a bit of improved programs.

Southern Lehigh still should have enough talent after graduating several top players to be the heavy favorites for their league title in February, but Bethlehem Catholic (currently undefeated in the league—again) will be tested by a number of different teams in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs, including Northampton, Nazareth, Freedom and possibly others.  No streak lasts forever, and while I do expect them to win the District and play deep into states,  I think this is the year the Hawks fall short in their league (I also wouldn’t be surprised if they bounce back and sweep everything in 2020, however).

We’ll see if this prediction comes through over the next several weeks on RCN!

Speaking of high school hoops, here are a few highlights of recent games on RCN-TV…

Super Bore LIII

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 last line on my blog last week was “Enjoy the game”.   I obviously meant the Super Bowl.  In all honesty, it was hard to enjoy because almost nothing happened. There was one touchdown and there were 14 punts, nine by the Rams alone, one meaningless turnover, two missed field goals and little “official calls” controversy.  In a word, the game was “boring”.

But I did keep some notes as I watched so here is how the broadcast unfolded for me in no particular order:

  1. You may have missed the best commercial of the day because it occurred in the post-game.  Take a look.  It is hilarious. Helium never fails to disappoint.

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/In2V/state-farm-helium

  1. I also enjoyed the Peyton Manning-John Malkovich introduction to the game. Manning has impeccable comedic timing and Malkovich is Malkovich.  Despite its length, it was a great way to start the pre-game.

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2019/2/3/18209771/peyton-manning-john-malkovich-super-bowl-intro-cbs-video

  1. There were 115 cameras at the game, according to CBS. That’s 109 more than we use.  Our crew still seems to get all the important shots.  But imagine if we had 109 more.
  2. Why does anyone interview Bill Belichik? His pregame stop to talk to the CBS announcer was a total waste of time and Belichik looked totally disinterested and put out that he had to answer.  The NFL requires the coach to do it.
  3. Wal-Mart did a clever job with the famous cars from TV and movies. I’m sure many, like me, spent the time trying to figure out where you had seen that vehicle before, while getting the subtle Wal-Mart message.  Isn’t that what a good ad is supposed to do – get the viewer involved?  This one did for me.
  4. I did not like the early penalty on the Rams for making a tackle on a Patriot receiver. They said he was defenseless.  It did not appear that way to me.  Not much was made of it.  If it occurred later in the game, it would have been emphasized more.
  5. The Hyundai “elevator” commercial was one of the best of the day. Car shopping was put into the same category as root canal, jury duty, a vegan dinner party, etc. as the elevator was going down.  The message was clear that would not be the experience if you shopped for a Hyundai.  The elevator was going up for that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5FzKB5TW0Y

  1. Mermaids selling spiked Seltzer did not work for me – I never heard of Bon-Vivo.
  2. The announcers’ jinx came into play on the first New England field goal attempt. No one had missed a field goal in that stadium all year (31-31), the announcers said.  Of course the field goal was missed and so was another later in the game.  I have the same problem when I mention a player is a really good foul shooter.
  3. I’m not a beer drinker, but based on Bud Light’s plethora of commercials, corn syrup is bad for me. It’s some form of sugar, I assume, and is in some beers, but not Bud Light.  I heard the corn farmers were really upset with the spot, as were the beers that were attacked for using corn syrup.  Let them battle it out in next year’s pre-game.  I know it’s not the Puppy Bowl, but….
  4. Okay, I am going to say it here – I am not a fan of Tony Romo. I know he has been getting a number of plaudits lately, but to me, he is annoying and has managed to bring Jim Nantz down with him.  There you have it.  Let me know if you agree or disagree.  The people I talk to tend to agree with me.
  5. The Audi electric car looks great! I want to drive one.  I also was amazed by the Google translator app.  Just point to the foreign phrase with your phone and your phone translates it into English – Oh, My!
  6. Did you see the set CBS built for the pre-game, half-time, and post-game announcers? A bit much, but impressive.
  7. I thought the Halftime show with Maroon 5, etc. was a bit disjointed and underwhelming. It was certainly not one of the best.
  8. CURE Auto Insurance “screw in head” commercial was really strange and cost @ $5 million. What?

https://www.popisms.com/TelevisionCommercial/207939/CURE-Auto-Insurance-Commercial-for-Super-Bowl-LIII-2019-Screw-in-the-Head-C

  1. Did you know there was skull shaver? Me, neither.
  2. Have you noticed I am not writing much about the game because nothing happened!
  3. Eat at Burger King, like Andy Warhol does. I can’t wait for my next Whopper now!
  4. The MVP went to Julian Edelman for his 10 catches and 141 yards. It should have gone to the defense of the Patriots, but it is hard to divide it up into so many pieces.
  5. Sony Michel, the Patriots running back played for the NCAA national championship on the same field a year ago, only to come back and play in the Super Bowl. What a year!
  6. CBS’ Tracy Wolfson had a tough job after the game trying to interview Tom Brady. It was a mob scene and she was getting crushed.  You would think there would have been some post-game preparations for the interview.  And, how do all those people get on the field?
  7. With all that, I still can’t wait for LIV!
  8. Finally (this blog is almost as long as the game – my apologies), I did predict the correct winner. My final numbers are:

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 1-0)  (Overall: 168-82-2  67% )

SUPER BOWL WINNER –  NEW ENGLAND

Test Your Knowledge

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. 

TopEnd Sports has offered up some interesting facts and figures about the Super Bowl.  Which of these did you already know?

  • The first Super Bowl game was played on January 15, 1967, as a playoff between the AFL and NFL champions. The game was called the “World Championship of Professional Football”.
  • No network footage exists of Super Bowl I. Apparently it was taped over for a soap opera.
  • At every Super Bowl, two Lombardi trophies are present in the unfortunate event that one is accidentally destroyed in the celebrations.
  • Super Bowl day is the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, following Thanksgiving.
  • Mike Ditka and Tom Flores are the only two men to win a Super Bowl both as a player and a coach.
  • Each Super Bowl trophy is handcrafted by Tiffany & Co. master artisans at their workshop in Parsippany, New Jersey, and is valued at $12,500.
  • The lowest amount of points scored in a Super Bowl is 3, scored by the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
  • The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched U.S. television broadcasts of the year, attracting many companies to spend millions of dollars on commercials.
  • Each Super Bowl trophy takes approximately four months and 72 man-hours to create.
  • The name ‘Super Bowl’ came from AFL founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. He had jokingly referred to the proposed interleague championship as the “Super Bowl” after seeing his daughter playing with a toy called a Super Ball. The ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have played in four Super Bowls, but have never led a Super Bowl for even a single second.
  • Chuck Howley, the MVP winner from the 1971 Super Bowl, is the only player from a losing team to be named MVP.
  • The last true day game (one which ended before local sunset) was Super Bowl XI in January 1977.
  • In 1978, both Randy White and Harvey Martin were co-winners of the MVP award.
  • The only player to win a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal was Bob Hayes. He won the 100m at the 1964 Olympic Games, and was part of the winning Dallas Cowboys team of 1972.
  • The record crowd at a Super Bowl game was 103,985 in 1980 at the Rose Bowl stadium.
  • In what is now known as the Philly Special, during the 2018 Super Bowl, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles caught a touchdown pass, and became the first player in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown.

ENJOY THE GAME!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. I would like to see the Rams win Sunday’s game, but I find it hard to believe that Bill Belichik will be outsmarted in this one, although I really think Sean McVay is a great coach. The cities have had this championship matchup before but never in football.  This past year, the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.  The Boston Celtics played the Los Angeles Lakers 11 times in NBA championships.  Boston won eight.  It sure looks like Boston has the edge.
  1. The Patriots were moved this week from 2.5-point favorites to 3-point favorites. That just means most big bets are picking the Patriots.  One Vegas sportsbook operator said so far 94% of all bets taken on the game picked the Patriots.  By the way, it is estimated that $6 billion will be bet on the game.
  1. EA Sports’ Madden predicts the Rams will beat the Patriots 30-27. The game says that Tom Brady will be sacked four times by Ram defensive lineman Aaron Donald.  According to the simulation, the Rams score a late touchdown to win the game.
  1. Eagles’ fans: Las Vegas is predicting a 9-7 season next year for the Birds. That should, once again, make them a playoff team.
  1. It is hard to believe there are only two weeks left in the regular season of high school basketball. There are still league, conference, and district slots to be filled.  We’ll try to help you figure it out with doubleheader action on Tuesday and Friday nights.  The District wrestling team championship is LIVE on Saturday at 5:30pm.  In addition, Lafayette basketball features a women’s and men’s doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 6:00pm.  The women play Boston University and the men play arch-rival Lehigh.  The men play Army on Saturday at 2:00pm.  Find a comfortable chair. 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 2-0)  (Overall: 167-82-2  67% ) 

SUPER BOWL WINNER 

NEW ENGLAND

 

Mid-Winter ‘19 Sports Recaps

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

We’ve reached the midway point of the winter high school sports season and hope you have been enjoying our coverage of scholastic wrestling and basketball action so far this year.

Here are the video highlights of our last several weeks of coverage on RCN-TV…

We’ll be talking about some of these games (including the battle between the Lehigh Valley teams with the two best records in the area — Becahi and Emmaus) on this week’s “RCN SportsTalk” program.  Our guests include Head Coach Steve Yoder and members of the Green Hornets basketball club to talk about their current number one seeding in the area’s largest classification.   They also have some unique storylines this season that should be interesting to our viewers to check out along with their thoughts on the playoffs coming up in a few weeks.

Also on this week’s show will be Lou Trivino, who is from the RCN viewing area and made his Major League Baseball debut this past year and is looking to return to the “bigs” this spring.

Taking Pride

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 sure it is only natural for a parent to feel proud of their children and their accomplishments.  I know I do.  In all honesty, I am not sure how much credit I can take for their success (it was probably Mom), but most parents do it anyway.  We tend to disregard any of their shortcomings and, if we accept them, we certainly do not take the blame.

Well, a teacher has a very similar response to their former students.  If they do well, then the teacher feels as if he or she had a very positive influence on their growth and career achievements.  Should a student struggle in their life pursuits, then certainly their teachers are not to blame.

As a teacher, I have had students who ended up in jail, embezzled money, and committed murder.  Don’t look at me to take any of the blame.  They went wrong somewhere, just not under my tutelage.

On the other hand, I have taught scientists, writers, news people, actors, authors, etc.  I’m “sure” I played a part in their intellectual growth.

For example, in this week between the Conference championships and the Super Bowl, I want to brag a bit about one of my former students, Jeff Fisher.  You may remember him locally as a sports director and announcer for WFMZ. He created The Big Ticket, which is still the place to go for a recap of Lehigh Valley Friday night high school football action.  He worked for FOX Sports Net in Chicago and he has reported on the Olympics, the World Series, and the Super Bowl.  He is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football in America (highschoolfootballamerica.com).

Jeff has written a book you might enjoy if you are a football fan – High School Football in Texas.  In 23 chapters, Jeff traces the lives of the very best national football figures who began their athletic lives playing football in Texas.  The list includes Drew Brees, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Andy Dalton, “Mean Joe” Greene, Andrew Luck, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and so on and so on.  There are over 45 famous football players and coaches highlighted.  Each has a unique story to tell.

For instance, Drew Brees did not play tackle football until the ninth grade.  He was the only player on the team who did not play in his first scrimmage.  He wasn’t even the starting QB on his JV team.  When the starter was injured, Drew moved in to the starting role.  That team went 10-0 and Drew’s career towards becoming an NFL Hall-of-Fame began.

Football fans certainly remember the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” and their leader, “Mean Joe” Greene.  Well, it turns out, in his early high school days in Texas, he was not so mean.  In fact, he was bullied.  Despite weighing 150 pounds in seventh grade and being tall, he was afraid to walk home.  It wasn’t until a friend of his took $5 given to him by his mother that he learned to stand up for himself.  He was bullied no longer and went on to win four Super Bowls with the Steelers.

That’s only two of the stories found in the book.  Each is interesting in its own way.  The road to success in any field, obviously, takes many paths.  You will enjoy the stories of these famous Texas football people.

Rumor has it he wants to do a similar book on Pennsylvania football players.

Jeff Fisher was one of my students.  I am proud of that.  I hope he remembers me as playing a small role in his success.  If not, I’ll take some credit anyway, much like a parent.

You can order the book on his website.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. As you can see at the bottom, I went 2-0 for the AFC and NFC championship games, but I do not feel good about it. The Saints should have won the game, if not for the HORRIBLE missed pass interference or helmet-to-helmet call at the end which allowed the Rams to tie the game.  I picked the Rams.  I should have lost.
  1. I hate the NFL overtime rule. In college and high school, the teams get an equal number of possessions in overtime.  If one team scores on their possession, the other team gets a chance to match that score until a winner is determined.  Allowing just one team to possess the ball and then win if they score a touchdown is ludicrous and unfair.  Winning a coin toss should not determine the outcome.  I picked New England, but I do not feel good about it.
  1. So the best young coach (Sean McVay) takes on the greatest coach ever (Bill Belichick). McVay took over a 4-12 mess when he took the Rams job.  In two years, he has 26 wins and is taking his team to the Super Bowl.  Belichick is headed towards his ninth in 18 years and third in a row.  I will root for the youngster, but will pick the GOAT.
  1. Drew Brees said he will be back for a 19th season, despite turning 41 next season. This year he broke Peyton Manning’s NFL record for career passing yards.
  1. So many high school basketball teams find themselves “on the bubble” trying to fight their way into the District playoffs. You need to win half your games (11) or half your league games (8).  We will feature four teams trying to earn a spot this coming week.  RCN-TV also has the EPC wrestling championships on Saturday night.  We are closing in on “crunch time”.  Join us. 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 2-0)  (Overall: 167-82-2  67% ) 

SUPER BOWL WINNER 

NEW ENGLAND

 

Chris’ “ALL-UNDERRATED” Football Edition (Part 2)

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

A week ago I started naming my underrated sports personalities from last fall’s football team (see last week’s blog entry for the “rules” and the previous week’s “winners.”)

Continuing on with that list… 

MOST UNDERRATED RUNNING BACK

 Liberty’s Nasir Legree.

While Legree was one of several outstanding backs in the Lehigh Valley, I think you could argue that none of those other stud backs had as much of a single target placed upon him than this senior.  When I saw him against Parkland, which featured one of the fiercest rushing defenses in the EPC, Legree was working with a quarterback making his debut (who showed great flashes of potential and will be a player to watch for 2019-20).  The team was also without several key lineman and facing a Trojans’ squad that was sending everything they had at Nasir, daring someone else to beat him—a strategy many opposing teams employed during the year.  Legree was also huge in one of the biggest upsets of the year—against the eventual District XI 6A champions—and Liberty’s biggest rival, the Freedom Patriots.  

MOST UNDERRATED CONTRIBUTION OFF THE FIELD

Parkland Cheerleaders, band and PA announcers.

The Lehigh Valley boasts some of the top cheering squads in the state and the Parkland cheering section has to be one of the Valley’s best in terms of their spirit and their routines on the track during football games.  They do a tremendous job adding to what already is normally an exciting atmosphere for the school’s home games.

While Liberty, Freedom and Easton seem to get the most attention for local bands, the Trojans can’t take a back seat to anyone with their performances every year.

But a personal highlight for me this past football season was when these two groups, along with Parkland Stadiums’ announcers, went through the different branches of the military at their home games.  The band played the theme songs from the corresponding service corps and the cheerleaders led a salute to the veterans in attendance for standing during their halftime shows.  It was a really great idea and well-executed! (Also, the Parkland dance team has been exceptional again so far this winter—keep an eye out for their performances in the gym!) 

Parklandcheer2

parklandcheer1

MOST UNDERRATED PLAY

Easton Wide Receiver Nahjee Adams getting an extra six yards for a first down after it appeared he was going to be down before getting to the sticks in a key game against Liberty.  Not only did Adams make a spectacular grab but he had the idea of fighting to get the extra yardage needed to get the first down on a 3rd down and 25.  This play also set up the game-winning touchdown and gave the Rovers a big win en route to qualifying for the district playoffs.  It was one of the most dramatic plays in a crowded field of close regular season games this past fall.  

MOST UNDERRATED QUARTERBACK

Notre Dame’s Cole DeFranco.

It might be hard to say that the District XI’s leading passer (by far!) could be underrated, but in a year which Ethan Parvel, Jared Jenkins, Logan Edmond and others were getting tons of attention, all DeFranco did was complete 208 passes for a school record 3,441 yards (more than 1,600 yards than any other District XI player) and set another seasonal school record with 43 touchdowns thrown in a season.

All told, DeFranco finished his career completing 675 of his 1,026 attempted passes and set career school records with 9,904 total yards and 99 touchdowns.  He threw over 4,500 more total yards than any other active player in the district.

DeFranco got some accolades in the media, but probably deserved more than was given after you look at both the team and individual accomplishments this season (not to mention some of his tremendous throws in their dramatic win over Saucon Valley which gave his school its first-ever Colonial League championship).

Coming up on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program, we’ll have an all-star panel of wrestling experts breaking down thoughts from the current regular season for high school wrestling, including thoughts on the top teams and individual wresters heading into the post-season.

Plus, we’ll be previewing this weekend’s Colonial League wrestling championships and the EPC “Challenge” and next week’s District XI team wrestling finals—the latter two events can be seen live on RCN-TV.

Among this week’s guests are the Morning Call’s wrestling beat writer Tom Housenick, long time wrestling official Gene Waas and members of the RCN wrestling announcing crew!

Email your wrestling comments and questions to us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and we might read and respond to your emails live on this Thursday’s live show!