The SportsTalk Shop: FINAL 2121 FB POLL

Full disclosure time!

With the high school football playoff season winding down, it’s time to take a look back to our preseason predictions from early August and see how our SportsTalk pollsters did this year.

Most years we can brag a little (although we really don’t do much of that) or, if we were completely off base, we are fully prepared to offer up a mea culpa to our readers and viewers.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools within the RCN broadcast area.  This season was the first year in which Colonial teams cross-scheduled and played teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll reflected teams in the Lehigh Valley while many local teams did not play a majority of teams within the Lehigh Valley area. 

So below we have both our preseason and our final high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (PRESEASON)

1) Freedom
2) Parkland
3) Emmaus
4) Nazareth
5) Bethlehem Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Allentown Central Catholic, Northampton, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, and Nazareth.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (FINAL)

1) Freedom
2) Emmaus
3) Parkland
4) Nazareth
5) Central Catholic

Our posters were correct in naming Freedom as our preseason number one team as they captured District XI 6A title for the first time since 2018. Emmaus, Parkland and Nazareth were also in our top four, both before this season back in August and in our final tabulation.

Central Catholic Head Coach Tim McGorry was on our “SportsTalk” program recently and freely stated that his younger players developed much quicker than he had anticipated. SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller also admitted vastly underestimating the Vikings in his preseason prognostications on our last episode, citing that he ranked them eight out of 10 teams back in August.

Regarding Bethlehem Catholic as our preseason “number five,” the Golden Hawks ended up going through a transition under their new coaching staff. It was clear late in the season when I talked to Head Coach Kyle Haas that his emphasis with the program was more on changing the culture, instilling more discipline and building for the future than on winning games this year.

COLONIAL TOP 5 (PRESEASON)

1) Notre Dame-GP
2) Northwestern
3) Palisades
4) Saucon Valley
5) Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh, Palmerton and Palisades

COLONIAL TOP 5 (FINAL)

1) Northwestern
2) Northern Lehigh
3) Notre Dame-GP
4) Palmerton
5) Southern Lehigh

It’s clear this wasn’t our most accurate poll we’ve ever done, but it’s due to many good reasons and we are quite happy to be proven wrong in a few circumstances.

One of the area’s nicest head coaches, Northern Lehigh’s Joe Tout, has had an incredible season after his program really struggled the last few years with injuries and low participation numbers.

Tout was quite vocal when the schedule came out.  He complained his school, one of the smallest in the area, had a disadvantage in playing much larger schools and much better football teams – on paper – than other schools his size.

Joe’s team lost to three teams this fall (including our “number one” team, Northwestern), but remains the last school “alive” from our viewing area in the state playoffs. RCN TV is looking forward to bringing you live coverage of his team’s game against PIAA powerhouse Southern Columbia this Friday night!

Palmerton was another team that had struggled to keep their program going in recent years but became another feel-good story by becoming one of the top teams in the Colonial League this fall.

The resurgence of these two teams was reflected in their appearance in our poll, complete with the Bulldogs defeating the Blue Bombers for the 2A championship.

Notre Dame suffered an incredible rash of injuries and, in one of the biggest surprises of the year, failed to even reach the 3A championship this year.

Palisades also had a disappointing season.  Fresh off a district championship in 2020, the Pirates struggled mightily this fall and saw their head coach resign at season’s end.

Of course, these polls are for amusement purposes only and we hope you enjoyed following along all season. Keep checking back to “The Shop” and to our “SportsTalk” show on RCN TV as we get you ready for the winter sports season, rapidly approaching!

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.

HS FB POLL: 11/17/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
2021 continues to be a banner year for Allentown Central Catholic athletics!
The Vikings have already captured two state titles this year. This fall, they’ve won four district titles and have three teams still alive in the state playoffs.
Central Catholic will also be on the short list of “teams to beat” this winter in boys’ basketball and the girls’ team will likely be in the state playoffs as well. With several spring sports teams returning a bunch of solid players, there’s no reason why their string of gold medals won’t continue into 2022.

#2
You couldn’t have asked for a much better night of high school football last Friday.
As you saw on RCN TV, Emmaus came from behind with 21 unanswered points in pulling the upset over the number one seed, Parkland, to advance to the 6A title game.
In the 4A championship, Central Catholic came from behind with two straight scores to beat Northwestern.
In the 5A title game, East Stroudsburg South scored two very late touchdowns to force overtime and win in their championship contest over Whitehall.
Let’s hope the 6A championship game this Friday will be just as exciting!

#3
When looking at the Northampton football 2021 season, a lot depends on whether you typically think the glass is half full or half empty.
The K-Kids, playing in the EPC North division this fall, had a record-breaking season in terms of wins and earned their first-ever district playoff victory. The playoff win, along with every other victory the team had this year, was against teams that averaged less than three wins on the season.
The community enjoyed the successes that came with an 11-0 season. However, as is often the case when playing a weak schedule, the lack of quality opponents seemed to hurt them in preparing for the postseason and for the stronger opponents from the Lehigh Valley.
Northampton suffered its first loss of the year last weekend against Freedom and their potential playoff run came to a grinding halt. At no point was the team ever ranked in the top five among any local media outlets, nor received any regional accolades whatsoever, while other teams with as many as three losses were ranked in the state polls.
Yes, this year’s team will go down in the record books as one of Northampton football’s best squads ever.
But the question remains – did the team have an overly successful season or something less?
With their administration choosing to stay in the North division for the foreseeable future, a season like this – for better or for worse – will probably continue for the next few years.

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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material. Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.
This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area. This season will be unique in which Colonial teams will be cross-scheduling and playing teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll will be an interesting barometer for teams in the Lehigh Valley since many local teams will not be playing the majority of teams within their own leagues!
So below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.
Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Freedom
2) Emmaus
3) Parkland
4) Nazareth
5) Central Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Northern Lehigh
3) Notre Dame-GP
4) Palmerton
5) Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to view the “upcoming eventshere on the website and check it frequently for our playoff broadcast schedule information for each week.

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.

HS FB POLL: 11/9/21

Before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area, a quick programming note for our RCN TV viewers.

Join us on Thursday’s “SportsTalk” show at 7pm for a comprehensive recap of last weekend’s first-round playoff games and a look ahead to this Friday and Saturday’s high school playoff football action.
RCN commentators will sound off on some interesting results last week along with a couple interesting matchups coming up this weekend.
That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material. Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.
This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area. This season will be unique in which Colonial teams will be cross-scheduling and playing teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll will be an interesting barometer for teams in the Lehigh Valley since many local teams will not be playing the majority of teams within their own leagues!
So below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

EPC TOP 5
1) Parkland
2) Freedom
3) Emmaus
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

There weren’t very many surprises here–if you have been following along with our polls all season long.
Last weekend, Parkland had no trouble dispatching Pocono Mountain West I their District XI 6A quarter-final. As you saw on RCN TV, Emmaus edged Nazareth in an exciting contest that went down to the final play.
The Trojans and Hornets will be the live game this Friday on RCN TV.
Freedom, meanwhile, jumped out to an early 30-0 lead before dispatching Easton from postseason action. Northampton continued to roll against teams from the Poconos. We’ll get a look at the K-Kids next weekend as well as they will host the Patriots on RCN TV.

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Northern Lehigh
3) Notre Dame-GP
4) Palmerton
5) Wilson

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Northwestern, Northern Lehigh and Palmerton all scored “mercy rule” victories over Wilson, Minersville and Catasauqua, respectively, in District XI semi-final matchups and Central Catholic scored a two touchdown victory over Pottsville.
As you saw last Saturday on RCN TV, Jim Thorpe edged Notre Dame – Green Pond in a very exciting contest that went down to the final minutes. With the Crusaders’ elimination, this means there will be no 3A representative from the Lehigh Valley in the state playoffs this fall. The Bulldogs’ win combined with Notre Dame’s loss also moved Northern Lehigh into the second spot in our Colonial League rankings.
Be sure to check back to the “upcoming events” section here on our website and check it frequently for any changes and for our ongoing playoff broadcast schedule information throughout the postseason.

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.

HS FB POLL: 11/1/21

Before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area, I just want to take a moment to recap some news from the past several days.
Thanks to District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman for being on last week’s “SportsTalk” show and explaining the playoff system. If you’re scratching your head wondering why things shook out the way they did, you really need to go back and watch last week’s show through RCN On Demand.
Jason did a tremendous (and thorough) job explaining the weighted “ratings” system that is used for determining who gets in and how the teams are seated.
Speaking of “SportsTalk,” Tom Housenick of The Morning Call will be joining us this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. to preview this weekend’s district playoff games, highlight the key players, match-ups and teams to watch and give a comprehensive overview of the high school football postseason for all the teams in our coverage area.
Be sure to watch both last week’s and this Thursday’s shows before jumping into a busy weekend of playoff action.
Don’t forget to bookmark our website and check back for our playoff broadcast schedule each week.
Lastly, a big pat on the back to our crew members and all the people who worked last Friday night’s football game. It was one of the worst games in terms of the weather that I, and many others who have been around high school sports longer than me, had ever seen.
Rain, in particular, wreaks havoc with television equipment and our crew had to adjust on the fly and correct issues while we were live on the air during our broadcasts. Because of their hard work, I didn’t run into anyone this weekend who signaled a drop off in our broadcast quality and, in fact, we received a number of great comments from our viewers about our ability to broadcast in such treacherous conditions. Many of those viewers were able to stay home (and warm and dry!) while not missing a minute of the action, thanks to the efforts of our RCNTV crew members!

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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.
Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.
Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Parkland
2) Freedom
3) Nazareth
4) Easton
5) Emmaus

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Northern Lehigh
4) Palmerton
5) Wilson

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to view the “upcoming events” here on the website and check it frequently for our playoff broadcast schedule information for each week.

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.

HS FB POLL: 10/25/21

Before we take a look at this week’s high school football polls, just a little bit about how the RCN sports department is getting you ready for “Rivalry Week” in the Valley and setting up the final weekend of regular season football in the Lehigh Valley for our viewers.
On Thursday, we’ll have District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman on our “SportsTalk” show to give his thoughts on another intriguing high school football season, his opinions on the top teams and players and the latest local sports policies. Also, he will answer questions about the often-confusing playoff format system, outline the preliminary plans for this fall’s playoff schedule and discuss how COVID-cancelled games will impact the postseason seeding.
If you have any questions you’d like us to ask Jason about this year’s fall playoffs, email them to me at chris.michael@rcn.net by noon this Tuesday and we’ll try to ask on this week’s show, that will air at 7pm on Thursday night on RCN-TV.
On Friday, we’ll feature the number one (Parkland) and number two (Emmaus) ranked EPC teams in our coverage area, squaring off against each other, live at 7 pm. That game will be followed by the number 4 (Easton) and number 5 team (Nazareth) in our high school football poll (see more below).
We wrap up the weekend with the annual Christmas City battle between our third-ranked team (Freedom) taking on the hard-luck team of the fall, Liberty. The Hurricanes are clearly moving in the right direction under new head coach Shawn Daignault, but only have seven tough losses to show for it.
Liberty quite possibly could have won any of those last seven games–they lead Parkland 7-0 through most of the first half last week before losing to the Trojans, 22-10.
Saturday’s annual game is always filled with emotion and features a spectacular half-time show featuring the Liberty and Freedom bands, as well as Bethlehem’s middle school bands.
Many Bethlehem alums refer to this game as an “event” that starts on Monday. New sideline reporter Okezie Alozie (a Freedom alum) will be giving his insights on all that goes on during Freedom-Liberty week as well as analysis of the game as it unfolds this Saturday afternoon on RCN-TV.
All three of these games will also be important in determining matchups for next week’s district playoffs, and reveal who gets the top four seeds, which determines which schools will secure home field advantage for the first two rounds of the postseason.
Keep checking back to RCN TV to get your high school football fix this week!
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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material. Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.
This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area. This season will be unique in which Colonial teams will be cross-scheduling and playing teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll will be an interesting barometer for teams in the Lehigh Valley since many local teams will not be playing the majority of teams within their own leagues!
So below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.
Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Parkland
2) Emmaus
3) Freedom
4) Easton
5) Nazareth

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Northern Lehigh
4) Palmerton
5) Bangor

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to check the “upcoming events” here on the website and check it frequently as there continues to be changes from day to day.

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.

HS FB POLL: 10/18/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
Unfortunately, police activity ended up being the big story of the weekend, instead of any individual or team “on the field” highlights – as it should be.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Nazareth football team (this time at the Emmaus high school stadium) was besieged with a shooting threat to their game.
The anonymous 911 call, threatening bodily harm, precipitated radical changes to what should have been one of the biggest and most exciting regular season nights for high school football in the Lehigh Valley.
Fans were banned from attending, single-handedly ruining the Hornets’ homecoming activities – one of the biggest highlights of the students’ school year.
Sports has always been a means to escape the tribulations of the more serious aspects of life. But more and more over the last 18 months, it has been the more sinister elements of society invading what should be fun events for everyone.

#2
As we head down the home stretch of the high school football season, it’ll be an interesting final couple weeks as the district playoff picture comes into shape. This is always an interesting time for local sports fans, media members and even coaches and athletic directors to try to get a handle on the rather complex system used to see playoff teams and decide who gets into the postseason…and who doesn’t.
The system is based on having every team play the same amount of games and, in most cases, the same teams as everybody else.
This is certainly not the case this year, with many schools electing to play teams outside of the Lehigh valley and of course, the fact that Covid-19 has mangled this fall schedule.
A bunch of teams will, at best, play only nine games this fall and a few other teams will only play eight…and that’s if we don’t have any more disruptions over the next few weeks.
While very complicated and occasionally controversial, the weighted “PowerPoint” system has overall been very fair for all sports and District XI. The formula, however, is based on the concept that every team plays exactly the same amount of games. This year, its’ strategy will obviously be tested with all the different elements and problems that local schools have had to deal with.

#3
Head coaches from the school districts that have been more extremely cautious about protecting their kids from the virus report being hampered in terms of their “on the field” productivity. At some schools, any sign of a single symptom requires at least a three-day quarantine from the rest of the team which, depending on what day this diagnosis takes place, virtually eliminates that player from preparing for that week’s game.
There are clearly larger issues here and the student athletes’ health is the primary concern, as it should be. But in terms of sports, it has already made a challenging fall season even tougher to navigate for local coaches trying to prepare for games each week.
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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Emmaus
2) Parkland
3) Freedom
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Palmerton
4) Bangor
5) Northern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to check the “upcoming events” here on the website and check it frequently as there continues to be changes from day to day.

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.

HS FB POLL: 10/11/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
Congratulations to Emmaus field hockey head coach Sue Butz-Stavin for surpassing 1,000 coaching victories for her career this past week.
We alerted you she was closing in on this milestone achievement a month ago here at “The Shop.” Now achieved, it is truly staggering to take in all the consistent success she has had over the last several decades and to ingest all that she has accomplished in her career.
Among one of the more mind-blowing statistics about her legendary coaching run: the last time her Green Hornet team did NOT win a district title…Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.
How long will this amazing streak continue? The local field hockey playoff season begins next week. Coach Butz-Stavin will be a guest on SportsTalk in a couple weeks to talk about her momentous accomplishments and this fall’s post-season action.

#2
We made a unique choice for our tape-delayed RCN broadcast this Friday, which features Catasauqua facing Pine Grove.
There are quite a few reasons it became one of our picks for this weekend.
For one, it’ll be the first time we feature the Catasauqua football team in eight years on our network. Also, this week’s contest is scheduled to be the first game played at the school district’s brand new/refurbished Alumni Stadium.
It’s been tough seeing teams like the Rough Riders and the other schools schedule games outside our coverage area, but it will be our pleasure to break our own protocols for this one week and feature a regular season game featuring a non-Lehigh Valley opponent for the special circumstance.
It should be a great night for Catasauqua residents and their sports fans. We wish everyone with the Roughies program all the best on this special evening this Friday!

#3
Of course, the big football story last weekend was the Central Catholic / Nazareth game being postponed due to a bomb threat. I already have a call in to Nazareth head coach Tom Falzone and Central head coach Tim McGorry to talk with them about the incident. I will have details on all that happened that night this Friday when we have the Blue Eagles game against Emmaus and Central’s game against Whitehall on Saturday. Both games will be live on RCN-TV.
By the way, Friday’s live contest game will feature our number four and number one ranked teams, respectively, squaring off against each other in our polls (see more on that below.)
Elsewhere, it was great seeing Notre Dame-Green Pond getting back to action last Friday after missing two games because of Covid-19 issues. The Crusaders weren’t exactly thrilled with the game’s end result. They played undefeated North Schuylkill and suffered their first loss of the year – by a significant margin.
While Notre Dame returned to the playing field, two other Lehigh Valley games were canceled this past weekend — Dieruff versus Pocono Mountain East and Easton at Bethlehem Catholic — both because of the virus.
It certainly has been another unique fall sports season.

**********
That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.
Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.
Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Emmaus
2) Parkland
3) Freedom
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Northern Lehigh
4) Wilson
5) Bangor

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

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.

Behind the Mic: America’s Guest (The Saga Continues)

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

In my previous blog, I spoke of having played seven of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  The caveat of doing that was that I had not paid to play any of them.  Due to RCN, Lafayette, and a couple of “Joes”, I had managed to be a guest at all seven.

You can find the courses listed on this site: Golf Magazine’s 20 Best PA Golf Courses and the ones I played on my previous blog.

I bring this up, because on July 2, I was supposed to play my 8th – the Philadelphia Cricket Club, which is #4 on the list.  Once again, this was as a guest.  I was prepared to put another checkmark on my bucket list.  That morning (7:31 AM) I received this e-mail – “There are no carts out today due to the week’s heavy rains.  Any issues or concerns?”

For me, there were both “issues” and “concerns”.  I had no idea if this would be a difficult walk and, at 75, the last thing I wanted to do was hold up my three playing partners, all of whom were much younger and had lower handicaps.  I did not wish to spoil their enjoyment.  As disappointed as I was, I told them to play without me and enjoy the day.

At 8:49 AM, this email arrived: “Good news- Joe bailed us out with a tee time at Saucon/Old Course at 12:30 today.  Let’s meet around noon and hit a few balls.”  This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  I have played it before, but it is a golfing treasure.  Any opportunity to play it is certainly special.  This past Friday was no exception.  The course was in magnificent condition; the golf was good; and the camaraderie and the friendly insults were flying.  It was what a day of golf should be.

More importantly, I continue to be amazed by friendships that offer benefits far beyond my ability to reciprocate.  The best I could do here was to give my hosts Saucon Valley Senior Open golf hats as a token of my appreciation.  Naturally, however, they gifted, not a sleeve of golf balls, but a BOX of golf balls (of course, they were Titleists).  As you can see, it’s hard to balance their generosity.

The final line of the last email said, “I will circulate some alternate Cricket dates and we can reschedule that visit, too.”

In conclusion, I WILL get to play the Philadelphia Cricket Club (#4 on the list of Pennsylvania’s best courses) this summer.

I think you would agree that the early disappointment caused by the “no carts” rule at the Cricket Club was more than overcome by what transpired the rest of that Friday and what is certain to be another memorable round of golf in the future.  I am not sure why I am so fortunate and I am not sure how I will ever repay their generosity, but the list of things I am thankful for is constantly growing – friendships being near the very top of the list.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

  1. Did you watch golf’s The Match – Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson vs. Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau? On the second hole, Mickelson made the comment, “We’re not in a rush”.  And they were not.  The round was not good television – little drama, with few great shots by the pros, and much, much too long.  Thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers.  His shots, especially his putts, made for some enjoyment.
  2. It was announced this week that there will be no fans at the Olympics in Tokyo. Does this mean that those who have the rights to broadcast the events are disheartened or secretly smiling?  Now the only way for anyone and everyone to get their Olympic “fix” is by watching the events on television.  And, ironically, it is because of television that the Olympics will go on.  75% of the IOC’s income for the Olympics comes from television rights estimated to be worth $3 to $4 billion.
  3. It has been a long time since I set aside the time to watch the MLB All-Star game and an even longer time set aside for the Home Run Derby. But this Monday and Tuesday, I want to watch because of the LA Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.  He is a two-position All-Star (pitcher and DH) and the modern day Babe Ruth.  He will be in the HR Derby and he will also pitch in the game.  He is worth watching.
  4. Speaking of All-Star games, 50 years ago, the All-Star game featured 22 Hall of Famers – Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Roberto Clemente, who would sadly be there for the final time. The managers, the Orioles‘ Earl Weaver and the Reds‘ Sparky Anderson, are also in the Hall of Fame. This was the greatest collection of baseball talent on one field ever.

 

 

 

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

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 continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

Behind the Mic: Merry Christmas!

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.

 

and

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 141-80-1 – 64%)

  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Arizona
  •  Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • LA Chargers
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • Buffalo