The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football: Week 6 Preview

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Big” Schools Poll

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

“Small” School Poll

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the Mic: Age is Just a Number

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

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

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

The SportsTalk Shop: All-Star Accomplishments

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.

 

From time to time we like to honor the young athletes in the RCN viewing area when they are named to special teams or reach accomplishments.

First, here are the current Track & Field performance results for boys and girls student athletes in the Lehigh Valley’s Colonial League:

Boys

Girls

Here are the final results from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences Cheering competition: Congrats Easton!

Here is the All-Star list for the EPC wrestling team (Nazareth’s Sammy Sasso was named the league’s MVP).

1st Team

Nate Lackman, Becahi

Matt Maloney, Liberty

Cameron Enriquez, Stroudsburg

Patrick Noonan, Stroudsburg

Patrick Gould, E. Stroudsburg South

Steven Storm, Pocono Mt. East

Cole Handlovic, Becahi

Luca Frinzi, Becahi

Caden Wright, Emmaus

Sammy Sasso, Nazareth

Adam Lizak, Parkland

Cade Wilson, Nazareth

Jacob Frank, Easton

Sami Khamis, Stroudsburg

2nd Team

Peyton Brown, Emmaus

Evan Gleason, Easton

Matt Lackman, Becahi

Kenny Herrman, Becahi

Jonathan Miers, Easton

Ryan Anderson, Becahi

Zach Ortman, Parkland

Lenny Pinto, Stroudsburg

Kevin Vrablik, Parkland

Tyler Delorenzo, E. Stroudsburg South

Tavion Banks, Becahi

Robert Spezza, Becahi

Damen Moyer, Liberty

Hunter Werkheiser, Northampton

Last but not least, the Colonial League basketball All-Star teams for the girls

…and the boys

As we get closer to the end of this scholastic school year, don’t forget to send us your lists and/or encourage your school’s athletic directors to pass honors and accolades along to us here at the “SportsTalk Shop” by email at chris.michael@rcn.net and we’ll try to mention them in an upcoming post.

Behind the Mic: MLB – Expected – Unexpected

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 ended last week’s blog with a “Go, Phillies!” sign-off. Well, they are indeed playing well. As teams approach the completion of the first quarter of the season, they are, unexpectedly, rising in both the standings and in admiration.

But, I digress. The team that was really expected to do very well was the Yankees and they have not disappointed. They are tied with the Red Sox for the best record in baseball. They have won 19 of their last 22 games; average six runs per game and are carrying a team ERA of 2.88 which happens to be the third best in baseball. With those stats, they win most games by three runs!

Everyone expected them to have one of the best, if not the best, offenses in baseball, but I do not think fans expected their pitching staff to be this good. If the pitching and the bats continue as they have, they can certainly claim to be one of the best teams in baseball history.

The Phillies, on the other hand, were not expected to be one game out of first place and winning 60% of their games at this point or at any point in the season. They still trail the Braves by a game, but have been winning 73% of their home games and have won seven of the last 10.

Odubel Herrera is batting .360 and leading the National League in hitting. And that is a shock! The last Phillie to lead the NL in hitting was Richie Ashburn 60 years ago! Manager Gabe Kapler seems to be pushing the right buttons (the three-run homer by pinch-hitter Nick Williams in the sixth inning on Sunday to beat the Mets is a good example).

Last year, they were 6-22 in May and ended up losing 96 games. With the additions of Rhys Hoskins for a full season, Scott Kingery from the minors, Carlos Santana, and Jake Arrieta via the trade route, they are greatly improved. Aaron Nola’s ERA is 1.99. It is a team with good starting pitching and an adequate offense. Their bullpen remains suspect with two saves blown last week.

Talent-wise, the Nationals and the Braves could stand in the way of the Phillies making the playoffs. The Nationals look like the best team in the division and are making their climb to the top. The Braves are obviously in first place as I write this. But the Phillies ARE sandwiched between the two.

The Yankees, on the other hand, appear to be, as expected, the best team in baseball. However, it is always exciting to look forward to the unexpected – Go, Phillies!

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. New York Giants QB Eli Manning will be in court this week defending himself against a lawsuit that says he sold fake helmets to collectors. The plaintiff wanted “game-used” helmets and claims the ones he received were “bogus” and Manning knew they were. Interesting case. Stay tuned.
  2. This might make Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but some sportswriters are claiming that the NFL Cleveland Browns may have improved the most through the draft. Of course, if the Browns win three games, the writers can claim that they were right. The bar is not set very high here.
  3. It was obvious the Yankees were probably going to have the best offensive team in baseball. They have not disappointed. For the first time in their exulted history, they had four players hit 10 or more home runs by the 40th game. They had never had that distinction in 50 games before! By the way, the Texas Rangers did it in 2003.
  4. The Celtics crushed the Cavs by 25 points in the first game of the NBA Eastern Finals and held LeBron James to just 15 points. Despite not receiving one Coach of the Year vote from his peers, Brad Stevens has shown in the playoffs that he is already one of the top coaches in the league. It was his formula that stopped Ben Simmons and the Sixers in the Eastern semifinals.
  5. Speaking of the NBA, I unexpectedly have really enjoyed the playoffs. There is plenty of defense, intensity, and some spectacular offense. I have become a fan!

The SportsTalk Shop: 2017 Year-in-Review

First of all, props to Morning Call sports writer Steven Gross—not only did he recently get married and treat his new bride to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at Yankee Stadium (yes, she’s a die-hard pinstripe fan!), he captured the “Best of RCN-TV” award by receiving the most votes for our “SportsTalk” program during a contest held recently on our website.

To see Steve’s “winning” appearance from this past year, tune in to RCN-TV on January 1st for the entire lineup of the top moments from our broadcasting schedule from this past calendar year!

**********

Speaking of holiday programming…

Morning Call Senior Sports Writer Keith Groller and I conducted our annual “Year-in-Review” show live last Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV.

We’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback following the initial airing of the show and invite you to check out the show when it repeats again as part of the holiday’s special programming schedule coming up this week (check out the entire RCN-TV broadcast schedule over the next week here on the website).

Just to give you a little sample of what we talked about, here are a few “brief” responses to most of the topics we discussed on this program. Keep in mind, there was quite a bit of “cross-talk” and debate about a few of these issues, along with some interesting opinions and some “fun and games” we also had on the show, which we hope you will check out for yourself.

“Year-in-Review Topics for 2017”

    1. Best collection of sophomores?

Keith:  How about Carson Wentz, Doug Pedersen and the entire Eagles coaching staff? After some first-year mistakes, this crew has definitely avoided any notion of a sophomore jinx.

Me:  Nazareth Football, a team I got to see five out of six weeks in a row this year—and boy did they never disappoint! Anthony Harris (one of several great 10-th grade QBs in the area), Nate Stefanik (who made the catch of the year at BASD setting up a big win), Kyle Paccio (an underrated running back in a pass-happy offense), Jake Wilson (probably the most underrated two-way lineman among any under classmen) and more.  Definitely a team to watch for next year.

    2. 2017’s Sign the Sports Apocalypse was at hand?

Keith:  The Yankees firing Joe Girardi, who took the team within a win of the World Series and hiring Aaron Boone, who has no previous managerial experience

Me:  A parent attending a high school sports practice while watching a program (I “think” it was “The Walking Dead”) with the volume up while the coach was trying to teach his players

    3. Biggest sports embarrassment?

Keith:  The US team failing to qualify for the World Cup

Me:  Chip Kelly’s hiring at UCLA…not necessarily the move itself but one of the comments from their President saying that Kelly would restore “respect” to the program (he’s replacing, Jim Mora, who was a classy guy, while Kelly was on probation while at Oregon, had some major PR issues and a checkered past with Philadelphia and San Francisco and wasn’t really “respected” as an analyst this past fall)

    4. Worst story of 2017?

Keith:  The tragic way Roy Halladay died.

Me:  Continued issues of inappropriate hazing and multiple stories of disrespect between schools, including a few incidents when one football team ran out onto the field showing up another team—and one time an administrator got involved in the back-and-forth of school on Twitter

    5. Favorite Lehigh Valley story?

Keith:  The two nights the PPL Center rocked with high school or college sports fans – the District 11 6A semifinals packing the place for basketball and the Lehigh-Penn State match bringing all the wrestling fans out.

Me:  All the LV state champions we had this past year on our “SportsTalk” show …the fact we had zero this fall shows how rare and how special it was to have so many during the ‘17 school year

    6. Biggest “National” Question Mark of 2017?

Keith:  With the national anthem controversy taking hold and the continuing concerns about concussions and other major injuries, is the sport of football headed for a big dip in popularity – both from fans and participants

Me:  Phillies new manager and the “new direction of baseball”…trend is towards analytics and I love stats, but we’re losing the personality of baseball and some of the traditions of the sport (first time since 1970 the Phillies don’t have a former player on their coaching staff)

    7. Most underrated sports program?

Keith:  Southern Lehigh

Me:  Northwestern Soccer is one of the single sports programs that gets overlooked the most. If you look district-wide and across all sports… Bangor comes in second

    8. Most overrated team/personality?

Keith:  LaVar Ball. A poster boy for everything that’s wrong with sports parenting.

Me:  Roger Goodell…new deal/extension for over $25-million … acts like a czar one minute for things like over-inflating footballs by an ounce, then hides on other issues, including the awful brutality of NFL players against women

    9. Most underrated head coach?

Keith:  Freedom football coach Jason Roeder

Me:  Joe Stellato/Joe Arndt/Eric Snider – all three have issues they had to overcome this past year, yet all are overly welcoming when I come to their practices and games, year after year

    10. Best national sports story?

Keith:  The Houston Astros, just a couple of months after the city was ravaged by a hurricane, getting its first World Series title.

Me:  My answer to this was pretty descriptive and you really need to check out the show to hear my response to this in its entirety.

    11. Nicest Sports Group of 2017?

Keith:  Tie between three groups. Enjoyed our shows with the state champs from Moravian Academy field hockey, CCHS volleyball and Becahi girls basketball – all great kids as well as well as great athletes.

Me:  Pen Argyl girls soccer. A great turnaround story that made the district playoffs for the first time in a long time.  They were a very classy group and great to speak with when our cameras were up at their place to do a story on them—and it certainly was nice of them to promote us on their social media pages this year as well!

For more “year-in-review” comments, topics and opinions, make sure you watch the show on RCN-TV, on RCN On-Demand and our podcast, found here on the RCN-TV website!

Behind the Mic: Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 12-4; OVERALL – 155-84 – 65%)
 
Week Seventeen
 
BALTIMORE
DETROIT
BUFFALO
CAROLINA
NEW ORLEANS
TENNESSEE
NEW ENGLAND
INDIANAPOLIS
PITTSBURGH
WASHINGTON
MINNESOTA
PHILADELPHIA
CHARGERS
SEATTLE
KANSAS CITY
RAMS

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops: Final Report

We hope you enjoyed our coverage here at the “SportsTalk Shop” and on our TV show over the last several weeks of summer basketball action in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Washington, DC regions.

IMG_20170624_131250  IMG_20170624_131932 IMG_20170624_134436IMG_20170624_131250

Here are some of my final thoughts along with observations and predictions involving the teams and athletes in our coverage area, along with pictures of local competitions.

  • The Catty basketball team was one of the smallest schools—in terms of both school enrollment and height—last season. But this summer the returning players are all getting bigger and stronger. Isaiah Graves is among the players who has an increased wing span and looked solid on the court the last few weeks. The word is the Bangor will once again be the team to beat in the Colonial League, but the Rough Riders, who just missed the league playoffs a year ago, look like they will definitely be in post-season contention for the upcoming scholastic year

IMG_20170624_140401 IMG_20170624_141549 IMG_20170624_141728 IMG_20170624_141859 IMG_20170624_143907

  • I was very encouraged by what I saw and heard from the Dieruff players. They seem very mature regarding what they need to do, and are very enthusiastic about making a name for themselves, and putting the Huskies back in the competitive field. Fortunately, a number of their players (as of now) are back in the fold and seem genuinely excited to prove people wrong during the scholastic season. I believe they certainly can hang with some of the top teams in the area and I’m excited to see if the Huskies can achieve some of the lofty goals that they have set for themselves.

IMG_20170624_150427 IMG_20170624_154503 IMG_20170624_154949 IMG_20170624_155814 IMG_20170624_155956 IMG_20170624_160012

  • It was great to see some former high school standouts return for the summer league action—among them Matt and David Kachelries (from Emmaus) and Northampton’s Aja Blount. Those players got quite a bit of publicity (and rightly so) during their high school playing days and to see them back and supporting their former schools, along with local Lehigh Valley sports, speaks volumes about how many quality people we had the pleasure to experience the last few years.

IMG_20170624_161331 IMG_20170624_162922 IMG_20170624_165338 IMG_20170624_163128

 

Don’t forget to catch the final game of the Catasauqua “Tournament of Champions” event to be seen on RCN-TV. This year’s “TOC” finale will be played at the Catty Playground near the Catasauqua Middle School next Thursday. Check back to the RCN-TV website for more details on air dates and times.

Behind the Mic: When Worlds Collide…

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes (and there are many) is the one where Elaine becomes friends with George’s girlfriend, Susan.  George has a theory that it is just not good if these two separate worlds collide intermingling his friendship world with his romantic world.  Take a look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koUGfRumE1k

I bring this up because I wanted to watch the episode again and because it made me think about the upcoming Pay-per-View event – Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor.

In case you do not know, Conor McGregor is a mixed martial artist and professional boxer with the MMA and the UFC. He is the biggest Pay-Per-View attraction in MMA history.  His rematch after a loss against Nate Diaz became the highest selling pay-per-view in UFC history with 1,650,000 purchases.

Now, McGregor is moving into the boxing world of Floyd Mayweather. McGregor can box (it’s considered his greatest skill).  As a UFC fighter, he would often insult the skills of Mayweather.  Mayweather heard enough and announced he would come out of retirement for a boxing match with McGregor.

Floyd Mayweather is considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, undefeated and a winner of fifteen world titles. He is an accurate puncher with outstanding defensive skills both on display in his biggest win over Manny Pacquiao.  His record going into the McGregor fight is 49-0.

On August 26, the two will meet. The match will be held under boxing rules.  Ten-ounce gloves will be used.  No kicks or takedowns will be allowed.  Each round will be three minutes and it is scheduled for 12 rounds.  All of these rules, one would think favors the professional boxer – Mayweather.

The expectation is that this will create the biggest LIVE gate in history surpassing Mayweather-Pacquiao which earned over $72 million. Ticket prices begin at $3500.  The Pay-Per-View audience is also expected to break records with prices in the $90-$100 range.  Mayweather-Pacquiao created 4.4 million buys.

The pre-match hype has featured bombastic challenges using the most profane language. Most experts feel that Mayweather’s boxing skills give him a great advantage, but McGregor certainly possesses tremendous knockout power.

Mayweather is a huge favorite to win, but rest assured, MMA fans will back their man, who promises to win by knockout in less than four rounds.

So, on August 26, the two worlds will be colliding. Is it good for boxing? Is it good for the MMA?  And, as George says, “There’s going to be trouble” and could cause both to “cease to exist” as we know them.

You have a few weeks to decide how interested YOU are in the outcome.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

    1. Monica, Ed, and Billy McCaffrey were all great athletes at Allentown Central Catholic. Ed’s son, Christian, was a great player at Stanford and a Heisman runner-up, and was selected eighth in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. He is both a running back and a receiver. Early word out of the Panther camp is that no one can cover him one-on-one out of the backfield and linebackers can’t tackle him. If his career is anything like Ed’s with the Denver Broncos, I may become a Panther fan.
    2. An eating disorder, depression and thoughts of suicide are not descriptions often associated with a college placekicker, but Penn State’s #99 Joey Julius suffers from all of these psychological problems. So, he has checked himself into a treatment center in St. Louis and will not be part of the Penn State roster this season.
    3. The NFL has eased the rules on touchdown celebrations. Group celebrations will be allowed and the ball can be used as a prop, but no obscene gestures, throat slashing, gun or bow and arrow shooting. How creative will the players get?
    4. With high school and college football practices set to begin, I reflected back to the three-a-days we went through in the heat of August – morning, afternoon, and evening practices to get ready for the season. The NCAA now restricts formal practice to one, three-hour session, live contact only three days a week, and one day off. All in the interest of safety. Good idea!
    5. No blog next week. One more break before football!

The SportsTalk Shop: Summer Hoops 2017 (Part 4)

We’re continuing our look at high school summer basketball news, notes and interviews with local athletes this week here at the “Shop.” A few teams that had some major question marks entering the summer have had some happy news of late, along with clips of interviews from three teams that are looking to make some major noise this winter—although each has some unique hurdles to overcome, along with talented teams to compete with in order to do so.

  • Nazareth’s Johan Dotson’s return is huge news for both the football and basketball programs. While his future is probably on the gridiron, when I spoke with him he seemed genuinely excited to help out a basketball squad that lacked experience last season. However, the returning players look much more comfortable—with some nice size up front—and Dotson’s court savvy and ability to distribute the basketball instantly makes the Blue Eagles a team to be reckoned with for the upcoming season

  • Whitehall lost no less than eight players to graduation, but don’t expect a lengthy rebuilding period—especially with the team playing at the 5A classification. Their kids have been working hard—and working well together-on the court. I saw them play several games this month—their players played with great tenacity and their on-court chemistry might end up being better than last year…

    

  • The Emmaus boys’ basketball team deserves some props for working hard this offseason and filling some very prominent shoes in their backcourt. After graduating probably the greatest pairing of guards in East Penn School District history and losing their first two games of this summer, the Hornets’ returning players have not lost a step and looked solid against some very strong teams this summer. Everyone knew standout big men Josh Artis and Zack Sabol were going to be back, but I’ve been impressed by how well the team has worked together and is sharing the ball. Forget using the term “rebuilding” for the Hornets, as Emmaus will probably find themselves among the upper echelon once again this season.

Don’t forget to catch our final “SportsTalk Gets Wild” show of the summer, broadcasting live from Buffalo Wild Wings (on Grape Street in Whitehall) this Thursday, when our featured guests will be organizers, coaches and players who participate in the annual Catasauqua Summer Basketball Tournament. We’ll share memories of preview’s year’s “TOC” games along with top moments, players and special games, along with previewing this year’s event which will commence next week.

Behind the Mic: Youth Must Be Served

Even if you are not into golf, by now even you know of the amazing rally by Jordan Spieth at the British Open on Sunday. He played the final five holes five under par after losing the lead in the tournament for the very first time in four days.  In doing so, he, along with Jack Nicklaus, became the second player to win three of the four Grand Slam tournaments by the age of 23.  If he wins next month’s PGA Championship, he would be the youngest to win the Grand Slam.

So I now know what Spieth has accomplished at such a young age. It made me curious about some of the accomplishments of other young athletes in other sports.  Who were some of the others to make an early name for themselves as a youngster?

Baseball: Julio Urias (19 years old) – Became the youngest starting pitcher to pitch in the major league for the Dodgers in 2016. He lasted 2-2/3 innings.

Tennis: Michael Chang (17 years old) – Won the 1989 French Open, becoming the youngest winner of a tennis grand slam singles event by beating #1 Ivan Lendl in a four- hour match.

NFL: Amobi Okoye – (19 years old) – Played college football for the Louisville Cardinals at age 16; drafted in the NFL at age 19 and played in an NFL game at the age of 20.

NBA: Andrew Bynum (18 years, 6 days) – Played for the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant (who at 18 years, 158 days became the youngest ever to start an NBA game), made an All-Star team and was a member of two championship teams.

Soccer: Freddy Adu (14 years old) – Became the youngest athlete to sign a professional contract, the youngest to appear in an MLS game, and the youngest to score a goal in the MLS.

NASCAR: Joey Logano (18 years old) – Became the youngest to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

Men’s Golf: Guan Tian Lang (14 years old) – The youngest golfer to qualify for the Masters. He made the cut and became the youngest to do so.

Women’s Golf: Michelle Wie (10 years old) – The youngest player to qualify for the US Amateur; later she became the youngest to make an LPGA cut and the youngest to play in a PGA event.

“Children should be seen and not heard” is a phrase I heard often as a child.  I am assuming all of the teenagers who I just mentioned rarely heard that idiom.  Instead, “youth must be served” seems much more appropriate in these remarkable examples of early accomplishments.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

  1. Chicago Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman used the Heimlich maneuver to save a man’s life in a Texas airport on Sunday. The man was choking while Freeman was enjoying a brisket sandwich. His quick action probably saved the man’s life.
  2. The Cubs had a mediocre start to the MLB season prior to the All-Star break and were five games out of first behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Since the break, they have won eight of nine and moved into a tie for first place in the NL Central. Is the magic back?
  3. The British Open featured two of the easiest players to get behind and root for – Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar. So Spieth’s win was not a disappointment for this fan, but one had to feel for Kuchar who was trying to win his first major. Kuchar did win $1,067,000, however, to ease his pain.
  4. A golfer who made the cut in the British Open and finished dead last (70th) earned $23,600 for his efforts. Still not a bad paycheck for a week at the office.
  5. Mark your calendar – Freedom takes on Central Catholic in our opening football game of the year. Tune in at 7:00pm on Saturday, August 26.