The Toughest Opponent

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This week the District XI was in the unenviable position of trying to play schedule a playoff football schedule. In the scope of things, I know that is not so important. And rest assured, I am not making light of what is happening here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.  In just this past weekend alone, Pennsylvania Covid case numbers skyrocketed to over 9,000 with no sign of diminishing.  The situation seems to worsen every day with daily tragic results.

And, yet we try to find ways to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our everyday existence.  In this environment, the District XI athletic committee has tried to put together a football championship tournament.  Knowing the powers that be, they must be literally pulling their hair out, what little they have (that’s for Jason and Bob).

For high school football, what transpired the past ten days or so has shown what this pandemic can do to any attempt at normality.  After a shortened regular season, the tournament brackets were put in place.  In all honesty, the bracketing looked quite like it has in past years.  It appeared that the season would continue towards champions being crowned in the six categories.

But this is 2020 – the year of chaos where nothing seems to go right.  The Covid scheduling nightmare all started in the 4A bracket.  Saucon Valley was forced to withdraw from the tournament.  They were replaced by Bangor, who a few days later, also, withdrew from the playoffs.   Central Catholic would advance without playing a game.

Next up was the 5A bracket – #1 seed East Stroudsburg South (4-0) said they were out.  They had their best team in decades.  Many thought they could challenge for a state title.   Now their season was over.  Pocono Mountain East (1-3) would automatically now play for the championship.

The 6A bracket followed the strangest path of all. Earlier last week, #4 seed Stroudsburg had to drop out of the 6A bracket, meaning Parkland would advance without playing their Friday game.  Then Stroudsburg said they could play this past Friday, but their opponent, Parkland, now said they could not play – Stroudsburg was back in; Parkland was now out.  Are you following this?  It doesn’t end there.

Friday, while I was on my way to do the EastonEmmaus game, I received word that the #1seed and undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles were forced to drop out of the tournament.  But wait!  On Sunday, it was announced that Nazareth was back into the tournament if Pleasant Valley would agree to play them on Monday night.  PV graciously said they would.  Nazareth won and continues on.

We move into another week with championships to be decided in 1A, 3A, and 5A and semifinals due to be played in 2A, 4A, and 6A.  But with each day, what is obvious is that the toughest opponent for everyone right now is the Covid virus.  Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. On Friday night, the 6A football game between Easton and Emmaus was one of the best of the year. Easton upset Emmaus 28-23 with the game coming down to the final minute.  Easton’s Marcus Williams put on quite a performance with 314 yards of total offense.  He scored on two kickoff returns of 94 and 96 yards.  He scored a touchdown on a 65 yard run and he caught a 21 yard pass for a touchdown.  That’s right – 4 touchdowns.  He finished the night intercepting an Emmaus pass inside the Easton 20 stopping a game-winning drive.  A performance for the ages.
  1. I haven’t mentioned any gambling stories this year, but with legal betting now happening all over, here is a good one: On Friday, a bettor in Las Vegas bet $4,000 that he could pick seven correct winners in college and pro games. The odds were 110-1.  His picks were: Maryland over Penn State (a 4 TD favorite), Liberty over Virginia Tech (a 17-point favorite), and favorites Oklahoma, Ohio State, Appalachian State, and Iowa State. He picked all 6 correctly.  The only game left was the Steelers (14-point favorites) over the Cowboys.  At the half, the Steelers trailed 13-9 and Ben Roethlisberger was being treated for a knee injury.  Roethlisberger returned and the Steelers won 24-19, knocking down a pass in the end zone by the Cowboys as time ran out.  The payoff for the bettor was $438,643!
  1. The Bills beat Seattle on Sunday. They are now 7-2, behind 8-0 Pittsburgh and 8-1 Kansas City, which makes their road to the #1 seed in the AFC a tough one.  Are they Super Bowl possibilities?
  1. You may not know that I went to Wilson High School. I say that because the biggest upset in the District XI tournament so far happened this past Friday night.  The #7 seed, Wilson beat the #2 seed and defending District champion, Pottsville, 18-14.  “Give me a W, give me an I, give me an L, etc”
  1. District playoff action continues this week in high school football. We think we have a really good match-up for you on Friday night at 7:00 PM when Easton travels to Freedom.  The two teams met in Week 2 with Freedom winning 21-14.  Freedom has since replaced their quarterback and Easton had to replace their top running back.  It should be a good one.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-4; OVERALL- 88-42-1 – 68%)

Tennessee

Pittsburgh

Detroit

Cleveland

Green Bay

Philadelphia

Carolina

Las Vegas

Buffalo

LA Rams

New Orleans

Baltimore

Miami

Minnesota

 

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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