Behind the Mic: Beca-Nazareth Wrestling

It seems that every year the question on every District XI wrestling fan’s mind is, “Can ANYONE beat Bethlehem Catholic?”  The answer this year is a definitive “maybe.”

This past weekend the Golden Hawks dropped two dual meet matches to #4 in the nation Lake Highland Prep out of Florida and then lost to Malvern Prep, ranked #8 in the nation.  They will wrestle #9 Wyoming Seminary on Thursday, before moving on to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference “championship day”.

This Saturday on RCN, the #14 Nazareth Blue Eagles will take their shot at the Golden Hawks, in the Eastern PA Conference Championship match.  The teams are each champions of their divisions, and will meet at 7:00pm on Saturday night at the Easton Middle School.  The atmosphere should be much like the old days when fans looked forward to three or four outstanding dual meets each year.  That environment has been missing for a few years, but rest assured the Middle School gym will be rocking, especially if Nazareth can give the Hawks a battle.

Both lineups are peppered with nationally ranked talent, and both offer plenty of balance throughout their squad.  There is a very good chance that Beca, banged up with injuries, can be in the throes of a three-match losing streak by the time Saturday rolls around.  Granted—all three losses are to top-tier academies – but the losses are not something that Jeff Karam’s team is used to.  How will they react?

Nazareth, under legendary coach Dave Crowell, will have their hands full.  They will need bonus points from their blue chippers, and will need to grab at least two tossup bouts.  Even if this all goes the way of the Eagles, they may need one more upset.

If Beca prevails, as I suspect they will, fear not Blue Eagle fans.  This may be the first of three consecutive Saturdays that feature these squads.  There is nothing that can stop a rematch for the District XI Team Championship, and both are favored to make the PIAA State Championship finals.

Scott Barr (who assisted with this blog) and Jim Best will be there along with the RCN television crew to bring you these two powerhouses.  It will certainly take us back to the days when Easton-Northampton, Easton-Nazareth, Nazareth-Northampton, etc. were on every wrestling fans’ calendar.

Those were the good old days of Lehigh Valley wrestling!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Tom Brady of the Patriots and Matt Ryan of the Falcons text each other regularly during the NFL season. Matt Ryan played his college football at Boston College and Tom Brady always followed him.  Two good friends will try to beat the other in the Super Bowl.
  2. Up this way, we do not get to see the Falcons very often, but they were sure impressive yesterday against the Packers. No player was more impressive than Julio Jones – 15 catches, 247 yards, and 3 TDs.  Bill Belichick always says he wants to stop the opponent’s best player, but seven Falcons caught passes on Sunday.
  3. How do the Patriots do it? They draft Chris Hogan, a Penn State lacrosse player, and they make him a star wide receiver.  No organization is better at resurrecting careers and finding obscure players.
  4. During the Lafayette at Lehigh men’s game on Saturday, Lehigh honored the team that stunned Duke in the first round of the NCAA playoffs in 2012. The star of that team, C. J. McCollum, could not be there because he was preparing to play the Celtics as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.  He did send a recorded message that was played in the arena.  He went on to score 35 points against Boston and Portland won the game.
  5. Only Allen remains undefeated in high school basketball as Bangor suffered their first defeat to Stroudsburg this past weekend. And then there was one.  Allen has Liberty and Stroudsburg this week – two tests for the Canaries!

Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 1-1; Overall – 168-95-2 – 64%)
SUPER BOWL PICK NEXT WEEK
 

Behind the Mic: The NFL – Pre-Season Best and Worst

BEHIND THE MIC:
The NFL – Pre-season Best and Worst

I realize it is only July, but the summer seems to be flying by. I am already thinking about high school and college football. It will be here soon. And since I am writing this week’s blog and, in the fall, my blog includes my weekly NFL picks, it seemed like a good time to consider (in my estimation), which NFL teams will be the BEST and which teams will be the WORST.

Let’s start with the worst, since when these teams play (unless it’s against each other) my predictions should be easier. The five worst teams in the NFL for the upcoming season will be the:

Jets – Tim Tebow goes; Geno Smith comes in so the Jets still have a quarterback controversy (5 on their roster including Mark Sanchez) and they have gotten worse overall as a team.

Raiders – This team just does not have the talent to contend at all.

Bills – QB position is really questionable. 6-10 last year and they will probably struggle to surpass that win total.

Jaguars – They were awful last season and did very little in the draft to think they got better. Remember a 3-win season will be an improvement over last year.

Browns – They traded away draft picks in Rounds 4 and 5 so they had only 2 picks in the first five rounds and they find themselves in a division where everybody is better.

Titans – In case I’m wrong, the Titans should improve on their 6-10 record, but most of that responsibility rests on the QB Jake Locker.

Now that I have upset the Jets and Browns fans, I wish the Eagles, Steelers and the Redskins (my boss’s team) would now show up in my top 5. But, alas, that will not be the case. To me, the very best will be the:

 • 49ers – They were outstanding last year; had a decent draft and will have a new starter at safety (Eric Reid).

Broncos – Peyton Manning and a talented stable of receivers (including Wes Welker) make this team extremely strong offensively, but they, also, have one of the top defenses. They could win it all.

Falcons – They just needed to improve their defense and they did that with great improvement at the cornerback positions. They were 13-3 last year and, if possible, they could be better.

Seahawks – They have a great coach, terrific chemistry, and improved in the draft on both sides of the ball. They are one of the very best and will battle the 49ers for the Division title.

Packers/Patriots – Both of these teams have outstanding quarterbacks who could carry them to a win every weekend. The Packers got better at the running game. The Patriots did not do much with the draft and lost Welker so time will tell if they will be better this season.

 Oh, by the way, the Redskins and Giants should finish in the upper half, the Steelers in the middle, and the Eagles in the lower half.

Please, please don’t blame the messenger.

 

Behind the Mic – January 15th

I have been an observer of sports almost all of my life.  I choose “observer” in order to make my point.  I spent much of my youth watching the NFL, rooting for the Colts; the NBA, cheering on the Celtics; and MLB, as a Willie Mays and New York Giants supporter.  Notice I did not say fan.  As I remember back to those days, I can say that I truly enjoyed watching the games.  I now realize if I TRULY ENJOYED the games, I was not TRULY a fan.  You see, I have come to the conclusion that if you are a rabid, color bleeding, screaming, remote throwing FAN, you CANNOT enjoy the game.

For example, suspend your passion for the Eagles or the Steelers or any other NFL team and, for a moment, assume you are a Seattle Seahawk FAN this past Sunday.  First, you must suffer (the natural disposition of a true FAN anyway) through a 20-0 halftime deficit.  You have watched your team move the ball up the field only to come up short on two “4th and ones” and to have the clock run out at the half when you are in a position to score a touchdown or a field goal.  You end up with neither.  You are feeling a sickness in your stomach that beverage, wings, chips, dips cannot dissipate.  However, a true FAN believes a 20-0 deficit can be overcome – right?  GO SEAHAWKS!

In the third quarter Seattle exchanges touchdowns with Atlanta, so the Seahawks do not eat into the 20 point lead at all.  Your agony just gets worse!  Pass the Maalox.

You know your defense is good.  You just need a break and an Atlanta “choke” (something they are known for in the playoffs).  The Seahawks intercept a pass (the break).  Russell Wilson runs for a TD, throws for a TD, and hands the ball off to Marshawn Lynch for an apparent score, but he did fumble at the goal line (how is your blood pressure, heartbeat, pounding headache doing now, Seattle FAN?).  The ruling is a TD and an extra point is all that is necessary to complete the greatest fourth quarter comeback in NFL playoff history!  The extra point is good and the Seahawks lead 28-27 with 31 seconds to play.  You, Seattle FAN, have tossed aside the “agony of defeat” and are now experiencing the “thrill of victory”.  This rollercoaster of emotions cannot be good for the body, but 31 ticks of the clock stand between you and another excruciating week of playoff football.

Atlanta ball.  Matt Ryan to Harry Douglas for 22 yards – timeout- Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez for 19 yards – timeout – 13 seconds to go.  Matt Bryant kicks a 49 yard field goal.

Falcons – 30    Seahawks – 28

Well, Seattle FAN – How did you enjoy the game?  Feeling sick again?  Get used to it. It is a feeling you will now have for 8 months.

P.S.  You know and I know it is all worth it!!

   

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 1.                  Although I am not always in favor of all the graphics, sound effects, and commentary offered up by the network football coverage, I really do like the addition of Mike Pereira as a rules interpreter for Fox.  He is an expert on the rules and, on a number of occasions this year, has truly enlightened the viewers on some rulings.  I wish I could say the same for the sideline reporters.

2.                  The Notre Dame – Alabama game was the second highest rated program in cable television history with over 26 million viewers.

3.                  I think hockey fans will find the shortened season to actually be more exciting since the regular season games will take on much greater importance than they have in the past.  Hockey fans are rather rabid in their support and will come to the arenas to support their teams, despite their disappointment in the prolonged negotiations.

4.                  The Ravens double overtime win over Denver and the Falcons dramatic win over the Seahawks were two of the best games ever!  San Francisco and New England made it look easy, by comparison.

5.                  Well, I picked San Francisco to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season, had my doubts in the middle, but I am feeling pretty good about that choice right now.

 

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK

(Last week – 2-2)  (87-53 for the season – 62%)

 SAN FRANCISCO

NEW ENGLAND