The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football “Preview” Poll

To be perfectly honest, I take great pride in an important and popular aspect of our fall football season here at RCN.

For quite some time, I was given the responsibility of putting together the District XI/RCN HS Football Poll, and I have enjoyed building this into what I believe is the most comprehensive scholastic football poll in the region.

Unlike polls that consist of a couple representatives within the same organization, our poll is much more varied with input from many different people over a wider scope.  Our voting panel consists of local media members from different outlets, along with local coaches and athletic directors from across the entire district.  The voters are not identified so they can give their honest impressions without any worry of outside pressures or “bulletin board” material, and we rotate different pollsters from different schools each year, including guests from our biggest to our smallest schools.

As in previous years, we take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN footprint.  All schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. The “Big Schools” consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Northampton, Nazareth, E. Stroudsburg-South, Whitehall, Southern Lehigh and Bangor.  The “Small Schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  Each pollster will identify their top five teams in each group—the top school gets five points, the second team gets four points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in the poll.

With the particulars out of the way, here’s a look at how our preseason poll shakes out…

BIG SCHOOL FB Poll (10 pollsters)
1) Parkland – 50 total votes ( 10 -1st place votes)
2—tied) Easton — 28
2—tied) Freedom — 28
4)  Liberty — 16
5)  Whitehall – 11

Other schools receiving more than one vote:  Emmaus, Stroudsburg

SMALL SCHOOLS FB Poll (9 pollsters)
1)  Bethlehem Catholic – 43 total votes (8  -1st place votes)
2)  Saucon Valley – 36 (1 – 1st place vote)
3)  Northern Lehigh — 20
4)  Central Catholic — 11
5)  Northwestern – 10

Other schools receiving more than one vote: Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Salisbury

I have a few initial thoughts on this poll, which we’ll be addressing in much more detail on this week’s “RCN SportsTalk.”  One thought is that Emmaus looks to be flying under the radar so far this preseason.  They did not have a great 2014 season and graduated a number of skilled position players, including one of the top all-around football stars (Andrew Davidson) in the area.  However, they have added a new quarterback (who has shown great ability in the preseason workouts), they have their entire offensive line returning, and their JV team from a year ago had a TON of speed that should be showcased at the varsity level this fall.  Don’t be surprised if the Hornets move up into one of the “top five” positions at some point this season.

Some may be surprised to see Central Catholic ranked lower than they usually are in previous years.  Without asking any of the pollsters, I believe a major reason for this is the Vikings schedule.  For the second year in a row, they really get hammered out of the gate, playing several of the top five teams (all large school programs) in the first half of the season.  Central Catholic has its work cut out for them to stay even this year, and will probably have to pull off an upset or two in order to make a run at the playoffs this season.  That being said, the Vikings have some nice pieces returning from last year and still could have a better record this fall than they did a year ago.

Another team to watch out for is Salisbury.  After several years of finishing at or near the bottom of the Colonial League standings, they very quietly put together a nice 2014 campaign and bring back many talented players this fall.  They were one of the schools we interviewed over the last week and the Falcons coaches and players seem determined to continue improving, both on the field in and in our poll.

Feel free to send us your opinions on our poll to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and join us this Thursday, live at 7pm on RCN-TV for our “HS Football Preview Show.” We might read your emails live on the air during this program, along with our panelists’ insights and predictions on the new football campaign, plus interviews with local players and coaches.  We’ll also have a segment devoted to NFL “fantasy” football, with tips and strategies on preparing your team for the upcoming season.  And don’t forget to check back to the “SportsTalk Shop” as the high school football season unfolds for the latest results of our bi-weekly high school football poll.

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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