HS Football Playoffs Week 4

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

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

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

“Big” Schools PRESEASON Poll

1)  Emmaus

2)  Parkland

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Nazareth

“Small” School PRESEASON Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Palisades

3)  Notre Dame

4)  Saucon Valley

And now, our FINAL polls…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Saucon Valley

3)  Northwestern

4)  Notre Dame

ANALYSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Is She Singing?

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 ain’t over until the fat lady sings”.  This phrase came about with the stereotypical overweight soprano singing her farewell song at the end of the opera leading to the dramatic finish.  So the opera was not over until she took the stage.

Now it has become a phrase often used in sports.  In that context, it means do not jump to a conclusion about your team until you are absolutely sure of that conclusion.  Don’t assume anything until it is true.

As you are well aware the Eagles lost to the Cowboys on Monday night 27-20.  Both the Cowboys and the Eagles have identical 4-5 records.  Both are two games behind the Redskins who sit at 6-3.  Two games does not seem like all that much to overcome, especially for the defending Super Bowl champion.  And the Eagles do have two games on the schedule with the Redskins.  But, has the “fat lady” started to sing?

According to the NFL, the Eagles are left with the hardest schedule in football.  Their future opponents have a combined record of 39-23, which is the best record any NFL team will face.

Up next, the Eagles travel to play the 8-1 New Orleans Saints.  Their other foes who are not in their division are the 8-1 Rams and the 6-3 Texans, who have won six in a row.  It will be very difficult to make up any ground in the East against any of these three teams.  Philadelphia will not be favored to win any of them.

Without such a difficult non-divisional schedule, there would be hope.  The Eagles have one game with the Giants (2-7), two games with the Redskins and one game with the Cowboys.

Now the East is weak and the Redskins could lose the next two – Houston and Dallas.  Dallas has Atlanta next week, but they just lost to the Browns (to the Browns!).

Right now, it looks as if the Rams and the Saints are definitely making the playoffs.  That would leave four spots for the Bears (6-3), Panthers (6-3), Vikings (5-3-1), and Washington (6-3).  The Packers (4-4-1), Dallas (4-5), and, dare I say, Eagles have a glimmer of hope.

On paper, it looks like the Eagles are done and could easily end the season with a losing record.  It was really wishful thinking anyway to expect another Super Bowl.  Back-to-back NFL championships have not been won for 14 years.  New England (of course) did it in 2004 and 2005.

This will be the fifteenth straight year that a team could not repeat.  Cue the “fat lady”.  She can start her aria.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. It would be an understatement to say that most coaches are rather high-strung. I see it every week at the high school and college level.  It seems it is no different in the NFL.  New Orleans coach Sean Payton smashed a fire alarm inside his team’s locker room in Cincinnati this past Sunday when it just kept going off.  By the looks of the alarm, he made it stop.

    seanpaytondesk

  1. Since sports betting is pretty much legal nowadays, it was interesting to see some recent results. In the NFL, two weekends ago, according to Vegas, was the worst for bookmakers in 32 years. Things got better quickly.  This weekend with all the upsets – Tennessee over the Patriots; Browns over Atlanta; Colts over Jacksonville; and the Cowboys over the Eagles, the bookmakers got much healthier.
  1. This Friday, I will be interviewing the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Joe Madden. The former Lafayette student is returning to College Hill for the rivalry game (see below).  The last time I interviewed Joe Madden was in Yankee Stadium.
  1. RCN-TV is once again proud to present across the country college football’s most played rivalry when Lafayette takes on Lehigh this Saturday at 12:30pm for the 154th It is always a very special event.
  1. District championship playoff football is on tap this week. The AAAAAA bracket is intriguing because neither team has ever won a District football championship – #1 Freedom vs. #2 Emmaus on RCN-TV LIVE at 7:00pm.  On Saturday, our attention falls to the AAAA championship between Bethlehem Catholic and Saucon Valley.  That game is LIVE at 7:00pm.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 9-5)  (Overall: 93-53-2  64% ) 

Week ELEVEN

 SEATTLE

CHICAGO

CAROLINA

DALLAS

BALTIMORE

NEW ORLEANS

TENNESSEE

HOUSTON

GIANTS

CHARGERS

ARIZONA

PITTSBURGH

RAMS

 

HS Football Playoffs Week 3

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

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

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

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

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Emmaus

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Saucon Valley

3)   Northwestern

4)  Notre Dame

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

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

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

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

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

HS Football Playoffs Week 2

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

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

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

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Notre Dame

3)   Northwestern

4)  Saucon Valley

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

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

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

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

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

 

Marketplace Model

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. 

By now, you probably know I would do almost anything to promote Dream Come True.  With that said, I want to let you know and please pass the word along that the 33rd Annual Telethon will take place this year on December 3, beginning at 6:00 pm.  There will be more about that in a later blog.

GaryDCT

What I never expected was to be asked to model for an upcoming article about Dream Come True.  It will be found in this month’s edition of Lehigh Valley Marketplace magazine.

The idea behind the session (notice I am already using modeling terminology) was to highlight the history of this wonderful event and offer a prelude to this year’s night.

I arrived in a suit and tie, but I failed to do any “mirror practicing” or spending time determining my best side.  Heck, I didn’t even work extra on my smile.  I figured I was in the hands of professionals and they would guide me through the process.

Makeup was the first challenge.  Now I want you to know that even though I have been on TV for almost 50 years, I can count on one hand the number of times someone had applied a base, some powder, and um… ( I don’t even know what I’m talking about here).  The makeup artist, called that because they can transform an artifact like me into a work of art, had me sit for the application.  It was moisturizer, a base, some powder, etc.  I was hoping she would capture my skin tone (who am I kidding here?).  Not surprisingly it took a little longer than most.  She, obviously, was working with a difficult canvas.  But, alas, I guess I looked as good as she could make me look.

It was on to the modeling portion.  I am assuming, since the magazine is not on the stands yet, that I can anticipate one or two pictures of myself and Scott Barr.  But the photographer took over fifty pictures while instructing me and Scott to “stand straight, don’t breathe, chin out, tilt your head, eyes open wider, and smile”.  For us, the list seemed endless.  Fifty plus pictures to find one or two good ones – with our faces, that sounds just about right.

The important thing, of course, is that attention is brought to Dream Come True and their worthy cause.  But I keep thinking that once the Marketplace magazine comes out, there just might be some heightened interest in more modeling jobs.  Will I need an agent?  A little plastic surgery?  Will I need to create “my people” so they can take calls from “their people”?  I will sit by my phone and wait (and probably wait and wait and wait).

But… maybe Sports Illustrated is reading this?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. It sure looks like the Steelers knew what they were doing in not settling with Le’Veon Bell. Bell refused to sign his $14.5 million contract.  James Conner has filled in very nicely, thank you.  In the last four games, all wins, by the way, he has touched the ball 108 times for 689 yards.  He is on pace for over 2,000 yards, much like Bell numbers.  Bell has one more week to come to terms.  His bargaining power has slipped.
  1. Jon Gruden is finding that his return to the NFL has been quite painful. With only one win, against the hapless Cleveland Browns, it appears the Raiders will not win another game this year.  Some think the team is just awful and others believe the game has just passed Gruden by.  I know there are rabid Raiders fans out there who have hated some of the trades made.  It’s a mess in Oakland right now.
  1. The Redskins lost on Sunday and that helps the Eagles who were in a bye week. Washington had a three-game winning streak until they met the Falcons on Sunday, losing 38-14.  Washington is now 5-3; the Eagles are 4-4.
  1. Alabama sure has stopped much of the FBS National Championship conversation when they demolished #3 LSU 29-0 on Saturday.  The defense was awesome; the offense was very impressive.  Maybe the semifinal game between #2 and #3 will be good.  The other one will not and it does not look like the championship game will be either.
  1. District playoff football continues this week. The AAAAAA bracket is down to four teams – #5 Parkland vs. #1 Freedom will be on RCN-TV LIVE at 7:00 on Friday night followed by  #3 Easton vs. #2 Emmaus at 9:30.  On Saturday, our attention falls to the AAAA semifinals.  At 1:00 PM, we will have Bethlehem Catholic – Pottsville LIVE followed by the LIVE telecast of the NorthwesternSaucon Valley game at 7:00 PM.

 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 10-3)  (Overall: 84-48-2  64% ) 

Week TEN

PITTSBURGH

JETS

ATLANTA

NEW ORLEANS

WASHINGTON

NEW ENGLAND

GREEN BAY

INDIANAPOLIS

CHICAGO

KANSAS CITY

CHARGERS

RAMS

PHILADELPHIA

SAN FRANCISCO

 

 

HS Football Playoffs Week 1

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

Special thanks to Greg Joyce of the “New York Post” for being on our “SportsTalk” program last week.  Greg had the unique experiences of covering pro and college sports teams in Boston, Eastern Pennsylvania and now New York, and had some great thoughts on comparing those huge sports regions, along with giving thought on the New York Giants, the Yankees off-season priority list, the Red Sox and the World Series, and more.

Be sure to check out our interview with Greg through RCN On-Demand or hear our podcast here on the RCN-TV website.

Coming up this week we’ll be previewing the opening weekend of the Lehigh Valley high school football playoffs with RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach.  You can call in or email us with your questions and comments as Gary, co-host Keith Groller and I go over all of this weekend’s playoff games and make predictions.

Next week, the high school post-season kicks off in the DMV region and we’ll have Monet Anderson of Fox Sports Radio DC on the program to get her thoughts on the top teams, games and players to watch.

And, in a few weeks, we’ll have guests on from different regions to talk about the state playoffs in both PA and DC and give insights on the teams still standing in our coverage areas.

Also, don’t forget to bookmark and keep checking back to the RCN-TV broadcast schedule page to see which teams and games we will be featuring each weekend!

Before we get to this week’s polls and predictions, here are highlights of last weekend’s games on RCN…

Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Nazareth

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Notre Dame

3)   Saucon Valley

4)  Northwestern

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

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

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

The
“PICK 4”
Central Catholic vs. Northwestern Emmaus vs. Nazareth Bangor vs. Pottsville Tamaqua vs. Notre Dame
Gary Laubach Central Catholic Emmaus Pottsville Notre Dame
Tony Cocca  Central Catholic Emmaus Pottsville Notre Dame
Keith Groller  Central Catholic Emmaus Bangor Notre Dame
Chris Michael  Northwestern Nazareth Pottsville Notre Dame

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

Prime Time

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 don’t know how you felt about it, but I absolutely loved watching NFL football in the morning.  The Eagles’ game on Sunday started at 9:30 AM.  I ate breakfast before the game and was ready for lunch after the game.  And… there was still the rest of the day.

It also made me think how nice it would have been to actually watch Game Three of the World Series on Friday which ended at 2:30 AM.  It was a great game no one saw.  If they would have started the game at 4:00 EST, we might have lasted until the end.

I remember when I vacationed in Hawaii and was able to watch golf tournaments to the very end and it was not time for “60 Minutes” like it is back here.  Heck, it was only 1:00 PM in the afternoon.  The weekend was not yet over.  The beach was waiting, there were still two meals on the horizon, and I had a happy wife.  What could be better?

So, here is what I am proposing for the NFL – play the 1:00 PM games at 9:00 AM; the 4:00 PM games at noon; and the 8:00 PM games at 4:00 PM.  I am guessing that anyone who lives in Hawaii or California or nearby Pacific Standard Time states, for that matter, would rather be outside during the day anyway and they can DVR the games and watch them whenever the weather turns bad.  You have it all already – a beautiful climate, nearby ocean and beaches, al fresco dining, etc. (AND YOU HAVE IT ALL YEAR ROUND).  Let those of us in the East get some benefit out of our location by allowing us to get our sports out of the way so we can enjoy life.

At least be willing to compromise during our winter months.  Cabin fever is real here in the East – “extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time”.  That malady creeps into my house, for sure.  At least we have football, but what about the wives?  They are forced to suffer extreme cabin fever – at times, it’s almost epidemic – like when the Eagles are on a Super Bowl run!

Perhaps, the easiest thing to do is move all the NFL teams to England.  Heck, the NFL wants to go global – do it!  The crowd at Wembley yesterday seemed no different than the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.

Okay, I have stopped making any sense at all!  I could move, but I know the minute I did that, monsoons would hit Hawaii, wild fires would run rampant in California, and who knows what global warming is planning.

At least I had the good life for one Sunday morning.  Thanks, NFL, for creating a “prime time” I could really enjoy.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Red Sox did it! What an unusual series, especially the pitching rotation.  Boston did not hesitate to use starters as relievers and David Price, a starter, did not care when he pitched.  Manager Alex Corda looked like a genius throughout the season and certainly he looked even more so in the playoffs.  Hats off to the Bosox!
  1. If you happen to be the coach of the Cleveland Browns, be very wary of the second game of the season with the Steelers. The last five Browns’ head coaches – Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine – were all fired after the second Steelers game of the season.  And it happened again this week when Hue Jackson was fired after losing to the Steelers in the second game.  The Steelers won this weekend 33-18.  The Browns tied them earlier in the season.  History, I guess, shows it’s time to change coaches.
  1. It looks like the Sixers will keep Philadelphia fans interested all year. The Flyers will not!
  1. Penn State would be one of the best teams in the nation if they didn’t have to play the fourth quarter. They lost to both Ohio State and Michigan State when they had fourth-quarter leads.  This week against Iowa, they barely hung on in the fourth and came away a winner.  They have now played four straight games decided by six points or less.  The last time that happened was in 1894 (No, I didn’t see those games).  On to #5 Michigan.
  1. It’s time for District football. The AAAAAA bracket is wide open.  #8 seed Liberty just beat the #1 seed Freedom this past Saturday.  #2 seed Emmaus takes on a #7 Nazareth team who they beat on the last play of the game earlier in the season.  RCN-TV Sports will have both those games on Friday night with the Freedom-Liberty game LIVE at 7:00 PM.  On Saturday at 12:30 PM, we will see if Lafayette can win their third game in a row when they take on Holy Cross.  The Bethlehem Catholic-Blue Mountain game will follow at 5:00 PM.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 11-3)  (Overall: 74-45-2  62% ) 

Week NINE

SAN FRANCISCO

MINNESOTA

KANSAS CITY

PITTSBURGH

CAROLINA

MIAMI

ATLANTA

CHICAGO

HOUSTON

SEATTLE

RAMS

NEW ENGLAND

DALLAS

 

 

Is This the Year?

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. 

With one week remaining in the regular season for high school football, and, dare I say, the titles are pretty much decided.  Notre Dame, after their dramatic 49-44 win over  Saucon Valley on Friday night, appears to have their first Colonial League championship with one game remaining against 1-8 Wilson High School.

Stroudsburg has a one-game lead over Northampton.  They will play 1-8 Pleasant Valley on Friday and should wrap up the EPC North title.

Freedom will try to win their first EPC title outright by beating Liberty on Saturday afternoon.  They could actually wrap up their championship before they play if Parkland knocks off Emmaus.  Emmaus is the only team that has a chance to tying Freedom if they win and Freedom loses this weekend.

Then everyone’s attention turns to the District and State playoffs.  Four teams get into the 3A and 5A brackets, but both are sub-regional brackets so other districts also qualify.  Eight teams qualify for the 4A and 6A brackets, all from District XI.

In 3A, only one team is guaranteed a spot at the moment – North Schuykill, but Notre Dame should get in and Palisades has an outside shot.

In 5A, Southern Lehigh appears to be our only local team.

5A features Northwestern, Saucon Valley, Bethlehem Catholic, and Allentown Central Catholic.  This appears to be an extremely competitive bracket, with Bethlehem Catholic probably being the favorite.  This is also the bracket where one of our teams could make some noise in the state playoffs.

As is often the case, the 6A bracket possesses the most intriguing possibilities.  Freedom, Emmaus, Parkland, Stroudsburg, Northampton, and Easton have qualified.  Nazareth is looming and Liberty has an outside chance.  Freedom will enter as the favorite, but they only beat Parkland and Emmaus by one point and Emmaus took them to overtime.  Easton just destroyed Parkland this past weekend and their game against Nazareth this Friday looks like a great matchup.

Parkland has won six (that’s right, six) 6A District championships in a row.  They beat Freedom the last two years in the championship games.  And Freedom has never won a football District Championship.  This year, it appears that no less than four teams – Freedom, Emmaus, Easton, Nazareth – have a realistic chance to end the Parkland streak.

Does Parkland finally lose the title?  Does Freedom win their first?  Does some other team upset them both?  Is this the year?

Stay tuned to RCN-TV as the playoffs unfold.  I, for one, can’t wait.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Since betting is now legal in some states, you might be interested that the only team this season to cover the spread every week in the NFL is the Kansas City Chiefs. They are 7-0 against the spread.  Of note, also, is that the Packers start this week as 8.5-point underdogs to the Rams.  This is the largest underdog number since Aaron Rodgers became the Packers quarterback.
  1. With the Eagles and Dallas losing and the Redskins winning, is the NFC race over? The Redskins have the easier schedule and it is hard to fathom right now that an NFC East team will be a wild card team.
  1. At the Staples Center on Saturday night, fans came to an NBA game and a hockey game broke out. Three players, two from the Lakers and one from the Houston Rockets, were suspended for this incident that occurred this weekend.  Check it out.http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=25045119
  1. Break up the Crimson Tide!! Alabama went to 8-0 this past weekend by beating Tennessee 58-21.  It was their eighth straight blowout this season.  The #1 ranked team has won every game by at least three touchdowns.  Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan follow in the rankings with only Clemson looking like a team that could possibly keep Alabama from another National Championship.
  1. RCN-TV Sports will conclude high school football’s regular season (hard to believe) this weekend with rivalry games on tap. Friday night, Parkland travels to Emmaus for their grudge match.  The game is LIVE at 7:00pm.  On Saturday at 1:00pm, we will present the Freedom-Liberty game LIVE with the Allen-Dieruff game to follow at 5:00pm.  Then, on to Districts.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 8-6)  (Overall: 63-42-2  60% )

Week EIGHT

HOUSTON

PHILADELPHIA

PITTSBURGH

KANSAS CITY

CHICAGO

WASHINGTON

DETROIT

CINCINNATI

CAROLINA

INDIANAPOLIS

SAN FRANCISCO

RAMS

MINNESOTA

NEW ENGLAND

 

HS Football Week 10

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.

Someone asked me when I was leaving Saturday’s Emmaus/Bethlehem Catholic  football team if, in my entire football watching experiences, I had ever seen a game as wild as that evening’s 50-49 tilt.

My response?

“Yes I have…the night before!”

It was clearly the biggest scoring weekend of games I have ever announced in my career, with nearly 200 points being scored in two games.

Saturday might not have been the cleanest of games, with way too many penalties and two huge (and extremely costly) turnovers, but Friday’s game between Saucon Valley and Notre Dame for the right to the Colonial League crown was as good of an offensive showing as I’ve seen in years…maybe ever?

It was a great contrast of styles between the aerial attack of the Crusaders and the “Ground-and-Pound” Panthers, who were nearly perfect on the few passes they attempted.  Great coaching calls, clutch players, spectacular plays…if you don’t care about defense, you would have loved that game!

Don’t forget—all of RCN’s productions are available to watch for free for RCN video customers for two months following their initial airdates.  Be sure to check out both of these high scoring games next time you have a chance.

The results of last week’s games around the area fell pretty much in line with what our District XI big and small school polls have been for the past few weeks… 

Big” Schools Poll

1)   Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)   Stroudsburg

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Saucon Valley

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, RCN’s Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca and I team up with The Morning Call’s Keith Groller to weigh in on four District XI high school games coming up this weekend (once again, I’m going out on an island by myself with my picks)…

The
“PICK 4”
Northampton vs. Whitehall Allen vs. Dieruff Emmaus vs. Parkland Saucon Valley vs. Palisades
Gary Laubach Northampton Allen Emmaus Saucon Valley
Tony Cocca  Northampton Dieruff Emmaus Saucon Valley
Keith Groller  Northampton Dieruff Emmaus Saucon Valley
Chris Michael  Whitehall Allen Parkland Saucon Valley

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

HS Football 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.

First of all, thanks to all of last week’s “SportsTalk” guests…even with Keith Groller on another assignment, we had no shortage of big-named personalities on our program.

For our Pennsylvania sports fans, District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman joined me in-studio and discussed the changes with the district’s playoff system and other rule changes for high school football.  “Zim” also gave our audience a great overview of the local playoff races and insights on many of the teams in the RCN-TV coverage area.

For sports fans in the Washington DC area…we had interviews featuring players and coaches from the 8-0 HD Woodson football team.  Woodson is tied with several of the other top teams in the DMV for first in the 6A divisional playoff race.

Then, following our live preview from the Meadowlands which covered that evening’s Giants/Eagles game, we also chatted with Mt. Vernon Head Football Coach Monty Fritts about the amazing job he’s done turning around his program.  Coach Fritts took over a team that had gone 3-26 in the three years prior to his taking over the helm and has guided the Majors to an 18-9 record so far during his tenure.

He reported that the team he took over had just 37 students on the roster and they didn’t even have money to buy new uniforms that were badly needed.  The team hadn’t had consistent, sustained success in decades.  Fritts reported players would be ashamed to wear their “MV” lettermen jackets in public and that the football program was frequently the target of jokes in the community because of its futility.

Now, he has over 120 students competing for spots.  He has players at or near the top in a number of key statistical categories.  His team has broken 31 school records over the last two years and, should their success continue this fall, it would be just the second time in school history that his school made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons (the first time was in the 1930s).  His turnaround story is one of the most dramatic in the entire nation.

All of these “SportsTalk” interviews are available through RCN On-Demand and via our podcasts found here on the RCN-TV website.

 

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)  Parkland

4)  Stroudsburg

5)  Easton

“Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Saucon Valley

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.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much diversity in this week’s “Pick 4” contest…

The
“PICK 4”
Liberty vs. Whitehall Emmaus vs. Bethlehem Catholic Salisbury vs. Palmerton Saucon Valley vs. Notre Dame 
Gary Laubach Liberty Bethlehem Catholic Palmerton Notre Dame
Tony Cocca  Liberty Bethlehem Catholic Salisbury Notre Dame
Keith Groller  Liberty Bethlehem Catholic Palmerton Notre Dame
Chris Michael  Liberty Bethlehem Catholic Palmerton Notre Dame

 

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