The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football: First Impressions

The high school football season has arrived with an earlier-than-normal start to the season (the PIAA eliminated the second scrimmage week so that the season will start a week earlier and allow for an additional week of playoffs).

We have an unprecedented amount of local high school football coverage, both on RCN On-Demand and on our podcasts here at the RCN TV website.  Despite a busy week of transitioning to the football season, preparing for several “SportsTalk” programs as well as this weekend’s games and also conducting shows from the Allentown Fair this week, I was able to take a moment to reflect on the opening weekend of high school football action.

I’ve compiled a few “first impressions” after the first round of high school football games in the Lehigh Valley:

  • I stirred up some controversy on our “primer shows #1 & #2” by making some lofty predictions about Dez Boykin, Zach Gilbert and the Whitehall Zephyrs (which you can hear for yourself at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk). After the first weekend of games, I saw nothing that would cause me to back off those statements.
  •  There’s no question PARKLAND is the top team in the Lehigh Valley. They had their way with Allen in their season opener—and it won’t be the last time the Trojans put a licking on a local team this fall.  Without DeVante Cross and some other talented, graduated seniors, it won’t be easy for Parkland to equal its 2015 season, which culminated in a trip to Hershey for the PIAA title. Still, anything less than a couple wins in the state playoffs will be a surprise to me, and if you watched “SportsTalk” recently, you know other panelists have made even loftier predictions for the Trojans.
  • I’ve been saying for over a year now that FREEDOM has perhaps the most underrated sports programs in the entire Lehigh Valley, especially now that Bangor has collected some well- deserved recognition after capturing several championships over the last few months.  There might not be a more under-covered football sports story than that of the Patriots’ football program, that has one of the most miraculous turnarounds in recent memory—and to do it in one of the most competitive football leagues in the state!  Furthermore, Head Coach Jason Roeder’s team proved not to be just a once-and-done story, with a dramatic turnaround following a 2-8 season in 2013, but sustaining the success with back-to-back playoff trips the last two seasons.

Still, when I ask people for their impressions of the top EPC teams this fall, the initial responses from most people are always Parkland, without any hesitation.  Freedom does have a very competitive start to their season, with games against Easton, Parkland and Emmaus all in September.  You could also argue that the Patriots had the most challenging week one opponent of anyone in the EPC-South Division.  However, I would be surprised if the Patriots aren’t once again one of the top two teams in their classification this fall.

Do you think Freedom gets the respect?  We’ll talk with Coach Roeder and some of his players on the September 8th edition of “RCN SportsTalk,” and, if you think they should get more publicity, I hope you’ll make your voices known on that particular show.

  • There’s no question NOTRE DAME lost some talented personnel from last year’s record-setting team, but with Phil Stambaugh back operating the offense, I’m not expecting much of a letdown for the Crusaders this season. I fully expect Cole DeFranco, a sophomore quarterback, to thrive given the teachings of new Head Coach Phil Stambaugh.  The players who do return, headed up by Mitch Daniel and others, might make Notre Dame into the new, consistent power team that the Colonial League has featured in the past, like Saucon Valley, Catty, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Wilson before them.

Also, we’ll have Coach Stambaugh and several of his players on a “SportsTalk” show this September as well.

Feel free to send us your opinions on our poll to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and we might read your emails live on the air on upcoming programs.  You can comment on this week’s “SportsTalk” program and also, don’t forget to watch this week’s show, in person, at the Farmerama Stage Area at this year’s Great Allentown Fair.

Also, don’t forget to check back to the “SportsTalk Shop” for more on high school football and fall sports teams in the RCN viewing area over the coming weeks for more interviews, video highlights and insights!

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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