Good Thursday everyone!

It’s been a dreary couple of days here in NEPA, and being someone who has family and has visited Florida many times, our thoughts should be with those who will be dealing with much more severe conditions in the next few days.

OK, it’s time to talk football. Week 2 really got me pumped up. Yes, we still had our share of lopsided games, and yes those outcomes give us more data to work with as the evaluation process begins to create a Lackawanna Football Conference for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. But, so too will be the game that really excited and invigorated the area.

That is so important during this crucial time for high school football.

After Delaware Valley rallied past Valley View, 28-24, in one of the most intense regular-season games I have covered in a long time, I got taken aback by some of the things I heard following the game.

  • “I guess Delaware Valley isn’t as good as we thought.”
  • “Is Valley View really that good?”
  • “What happened?”

We have become a fan base so accustomed to, or so expectant of, one-sided scores even in games where the two teams matchup very equally, that when we finally get what the sport is in desperate need of, we are immediately skeptical.

Look, this was a very good, if not one of the 10 best games played in the LFC since the dissolution of the Big 11 and Suburban Conferences, and it certainly ranks up there in the Top 5 in the last five seasons. This is what high school football used to be in the old days, and as much as I hate using that phrase, it’s true.

 

The Prelude

Valley View began the night by celebrating its storied history the way a high school football program proud of its tradition should.

The Cougars honored and recognized Hall of Fame coach Frank Pazzaglia and his longtime assistant, the late Tom Krempasky. Video and photos don’t do justice to the mass of humanity gathered at the fieldhouse enterance to John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium or the outpouring of love the former Cougars showed the man who had a great influence on their lives. Sure Pazzaglia and Krempasky had more than 300 wins together, but they had the devotion of thousands of young athletes, many of whom returned to form a tunnel for Pazzaglia and the family of Tom Krempasky to walk down to a showering of applause. It was a who’s who of past high school football stars who played a huge part in the Valley View glory days. It was also a moving tribute to one of our scholastic sports legends and his dearest friend.

 

 

E.J. Weston, a former all-scholastic linebacker and tight end for the Cougars who starred for their 1986 Big 11 championship team, was one of the driving forces for the weekend of celebration. His speech was eloquent in its sincerity and passionate in its delivery. He, like the hundreds who returned, bleed blue, gold and white.

Then, Pazzaglia took the mic. And, as only he can, the longtime coach found his sense of humor, fought through his welled up eyes, and displayed the Cougar Pride he established when took over as the program’s first head coach in 1969. His wit and graciousness brought generations of fans who gathered in the stadium bleachers to their feet. And his speech impassioned this latest group of Cougars who stormed the field moments later breathing fire, just as so many of the teams from the past did following his charged up sermons during pregame.

Delaware Valley coach Keith Olsommer saw this coming. He is a player with a historical place in this area’s football landscape, as well. He played for North Pocono from 1989 to 1991 and his teams had some memorable, exhausting games during those years. In 1989, North Pocono won a thriller, 21-18, and in 1991 when North Pocono was trying to complete an undefeated season, it beat the Cougars, 19-15. He knew, as talented as Valley View looked on film, the inspiration of playing after this tribute would certainly be a wave of emotion difficult to withstand.

It was indeed.

 

Delaware Valley’s quaterback Nick Reilly (12) throws a touchdown pass to Dylan Kelly against Valley View in the first half.
Jake Danna Stevens / Staff Photographer

 

The Game

Valley View gave Delaware Valley all it could handle through the first two quarters. What really stood out was how well Valley View matched up against the Warriors’ size and speed. Sure, it was sloppy at times, but that’s often a by-product of intense, hard-hitting football.

Dylan Kelly scored two touchdowns against Valley View.
Jake Danna Stevens / Staff photographer

Delaware Valley’s Ryan Obiso and Dylan Kelly helped the team grab a 14-3 lead. For the most part, the Warriors were in control, and while their physicality was overwhelming at times, the Cougars were still only able to generate a couple of first downs. But then a late interception by Mason Kordish, one of the players who is a legacy being the son of the late Randy Kordish often considered one of the grittiest players in Cougars history, set Valley View up for points at the end of the half. But Kelly thwarted the threat with an interception at the 1-yard line.

Valley View head coach George Howanitz and the Cougars began conjuring up the ghosts of the program’s past in the second half. The Cougars Den has welcomed many opponents and threats, and even superior teams, that often left with many scratches. Valley View played like a team possessed, desperate to complete what those outside the program would consider a monumental upset. Two quick touchdowns by speedsters Traon Jones and Seth Vernon and the Cougars had not hope, but belief, leading 17-14.

Delaware Valley answered when Kelly, the biggest thorn in the Cougars’ paws all night, broke free for a score that grabbed back the lead 21-17.

Valley View quarterback Chandler Fuller runs up field against Delaware Valley.
Jake Danna Stevens / Staff Photographer

Undaunted the Cougars picked up the intensity. They kept chipping away at the clock, while taking away the ball, until finally, it seemed victory was in their grasp. And when Jones scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, Valley View led 24-21. From there, the Cougars dominated. They forced a couple of fumbles and had a key fourth-down stop. Momentum was on their side and the roar from the stadium crowd was steady and unsettling. It’s an echoing sound so many teams had succumbed to through the years.

Late in the game, the Cougars’ Vernon scored a touchdown. It sent fans into a frenzy, but there was a penalty for an illegal formation. Two plays later, Chandler Fuller scored again, and seemingly sealed the game as bedlam broke loose. But another penalty, this time a hold, erased the score and the celebratory screaming turned unruly. Delaware Valley held, but the clock showed less than 2 minutes remaining and 80 yards ahead of it that needed to be navigated in order to rescue a win.

Valley View fans were still in a lather when Obiso turned a screen pass into a 55-yard completion. Suddenly, it was Delaware Valley playing with urgency. Only a week earlier, the Warriors had defeated Central, Fort Pierce, 19-14, thanks to some late-game heroics defensively. This time, after two more completions, Delaware Valley did it with offense and scored on a Nick Reilly 1-yard dive. The comeback was completed at 28-24.

“It was crazy. Our heads were down and then boom, we just came back. It’s just crazy how it all happened. I don’t want to say luck, but. … I don’t know? It’s pretty good.” 

— Ryan Obiso, Delaware Valley RB

 

“The way we came back is just a character builder for this team.”

— Dylan Kelly, Delaware Valley WR-DB

 

 

“When we were down, 14-3, we were still fired up and we knew the game wasn’t over. We knew we had a shot at beating one of the best teams in the conference.”

— Chandler Fuller, Valley View QB

 

 

The Aftermath

These are the types of games the LFC desperately needs. And based on what we have seen in the first two weeks, there are some head-to-head games fans should be very interested to see. Right off the bat, both Valley View and Delaware Valley have to gather their emotions quickly as they face strong opponents this week. The Cougars will play at high-flying Scranton, while Delaware Valley will play at Wyoming Valley West.

All I can add is that last week sure was fun. I hope this trend continues.

 


 

 

BY THE NUMBERS

 

 

OK, as exciting as the Valley View-Delaware Valley game was and the imprint it left on the early part of the season, it’s time to shift gears and review just what is happening with the small schools.

Simple: Dunmore continues to impress.

The Bucks got a pretty solid jolt in Week 1 from West Scranton, which is always expected with that intense rivalry. Then, last week, Lackawanna Trail made the going tough on the Bucks and trailed only 7-0 at the half, before eventually losing 34-7.

Darcy

In the game, Dunmore quarterback Gavin Darcy threw three touchdown passes. That number alone was glaring considering the Bucks have steamrolled just about every opponent in its way over the last decade. It took that kind of effort to keep Dunmore’s 21-game regular-season winning streak and 35-game division winning streak going.

 

 

 

Take a look at how much Dunmore has ruled small-school football in the LFC since 2007:

 

2017 SMALL-SCHOOL OPPONENTS

DUNMORE RECORD AGAINST SINCE 2007

OVERALL RECORD AGAINST

Lackawanna Trail

5 – 0

8 – 0

Lakeland

13 – 1

29-20

Riverside

8 – 5

52 – 19 – 2

Holy Cross

3 – 0

3 – 0

Montrose

8 – 0

16 – 1

Susquehanna

3 – 0

4 – 1

Mid Valley

10 – 0

34 – 3

Carbondale Area

8 – 0

36 – 4 – 4

Old Forge

5 – 2

37 – 22 – 8

 


 

 

WEEK 3

 

 

 

This is going to be an interesting week. We have the aforementioned Valley View at Scranton game. I think that is a pivotal game for Valley View for sure. Yes, the Cougars proved they are a worthy contender for the LFC Division II title and the District 2 Class 4A crown, but the type of performance they gave can have a dual impact on a season. Sometimes, you carry a little motivation a long way. Sometimes, you can’t get that loss out of your heads. We will see, because the LFC Division II looks very balanced.

  • Valley View at Scranton
    • Friday, 7 p.m. at Valor Field at Scranton Memorial Stadium

 

The question of the week is when will Scranton Prep and Western Wayne give up points? Both teams have recorded shutouts to start the season.

  • Scranton Prep at Lake-Lehman
    • Friday, 7 p.m.

 

  • Western Wayne at Northwest Area
    • Friday, 7 p.m.

 

I know on paper the West Scranton (0-2) at Abington Heights (0-2) game doesn’t look appealing, but listen, Abington Heights coach Joe Repshis is one win away from 100 in his career. He was an all-scholastic player at West Scranton and an assistant coach at the school before guiding the Comets. Brian Fahey, West Scranton coach, was also an Invader, close friend and longtime assistant to Repshis at Abington Heights.

  • West Scranton at Abington Heights
    • Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Comets Stadium. Note: Start time has changed.

 

GAMEFACE 

 

Don’t forget to grab The Times-Tribune on Friday for this week’s GameFace. It features a couple of teammates, C.J. Stone and Ryan Carmody, from Susquehanna who began their careers as freshmen and have gone through highs and lows before leading the Sabers to a 2-0 start to the 2017 season.

 

That’s all for today.

Here is where I will be this weekend:

Friday

Valley View at Scranton

 

 

Saturday

West Scranton at Abington Heights

 

 

ENJOY!