Good Thursday to everyone!
WOW! I walked out of Scranton Memorial Stadium last Friday night shaking my head and appreciating what I had just covered. The showdown between Scranton and North Pocono gave high school football another jolt of energy this season. It was the type of game the sport desperately needs to continue fueling more interest.
For the fourth straight week, The Times-Tribune Game of the Week was very competitive. It was also the third straight week when the final outcome wasn’t chiseled in stone until the final or next to final possession. It’s these dramatic finishes between the heavyweights of the Lackawanna Football Conference that have certainly done their part to create a buzz surrounding a conference which will be searching for a new scheduling format in the next two-year cycle. If the outcomes of the most recent big games are any indication, officials will need to work extra hours to come up with matchups as intriguing as these last few have been.
This is edge-of-your-seat stuff. And it’s been really exciting.
Scranton put its foot on the gas pedal and sprinted to an early lead against North Pocono. Led by Ky’Ron Harbin and Rheyse Green, the quick-strike Knights built a 19-0 lead. Then came a bolt of lighting from North Pocono sophomore Jacob Owens who hit a seam and returned a kickoff 80 yards, setting his team up at the 10-yard line. There was some really hard hitting even through these early minutes and Joe Ianni powered his way to a touchdown.
The lead ballooned to 27-6 with another spectacular catch by Harbin on a jump ball pass. North Pocono responded with a pair of touchdowns — a 14-yard run by JC Gaughan and a 1-yard run by Ianni — and the score stood at 27-20 at the half. This was a game. A really exciting game. And the fans were getting into it on both sides of Memorial Stadium.
Grit and determination
In a real testament to the toughness of Green, he came back for the second half despite suffering an injury to his shoulder in the first half. He hit North Pocono with another darting run to set up a Harbin touchdown that got the Knights rolling again in the third quarter.
The game became very physical and both teams played with a sense of urgency in the fourth quarter. North Pocono scored to close back to within 34-27. Scranton answered when Robbie McAndrew eluded a pass rush and threw a touchdown pass to Nasim Fullard that pushed the lead back to 42-27. But, North Pocono marched right back down field — converted a couple of fourth downs — and Gaughan scored to close to 42-35. If you can’t get charged up for a game like this, you will never be excited about high school football.
Finally, Scranton put the game on ice with a methodical drive where Green dug deep and kept pounding away and chipping away the clock. McAndrew took two knees to close it out and the two battle-weary teams exchanged hugs after the game.
Scranton moved to 4-0, North Pocono fell to 3-1. The players on both sides were battered and bruised. It, dare I say it, reminded you of old Big 11 battles where the only thing that eased the pain was the feeling of victory. Both teams have little time to recover, however, as Scranton will play rival West Scranton in the annual Battle for the Bell, while North Pocono will play at Delaware Valley.
This type of game is a good trend among the big schools.
“It’s Friday night under the lights and with two teams coming in 3-0, you know it’s going to be intense,” Harbin said. “North Pocono is a great team and has a lot of aggressive players. I just feel like we really wanted it tonight and we were as aggressive as them.”
— KY’RON HARBIN
Scranton standout had three TDs
“Adrenaline just took over. It was great knowing I could stay in this game. North Pocono is a very physical team. They tackle real well, they are just a great team, so this is a big win.”
— RHEYSE GREEN
Scranton RB after returning from an injured shoulder
“Nobody on this team will ever quit. No matter the score, no matter how much time is left we are never going to quit. We are always going to keep fighting. I am proud of the way we did that.”
— JC GAUGHAN
North Pocono LB-RB
- Delaware Valley 19, Central, Fort Pierce, Florida 14
- Scranton 58, Wyoming Valley West 48
- Delaware Valley 28, Valley View 24
- Scranton 28, Valley View 21
- Delaware Valley 35, Wyoming Valley West 25
- Honesdale 43, Tunkhannock 31
- Scranton 42, North Pocono 35
- Wallenpaupack 32, Honesdale 21
These close games will certainly pique interest, especially once the LFC begins playing head-to-head game. The Division II schedule begins in Week 6 and right off the bat there will be great matchups. But that is getting too far ahead of ourselves.
BATTLE FOR THE BELL
Scranton will be taking center stage once again this week when it takes on West Scranton in the annual Battle for the Bell Trophy at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
I have to thank Matt Nycz, who provided me some interesting information for this year’s clash.
West Scranton Records
255 Yards (1998)
340 Yards (2007)
205 Yards (2005)
26 points (4 TD’s & 2 Point Conversion) in 2007
224 Yards (2005)
309 Yards (2007)
152 Yards (2007)
32 Points (5 TD’s & 2 Point Conversion) in 2014
All-Time Series Records
|Scranton Central 35|
|Scranton Tech 32|
|West Scranton 23|
|Scranton Central 14|
|West Scranton 28|
|Scranton Tech 9|
|West Scranton 13|
Scranton vs. West Scranton
Series began in 1991
1991 West Scranton 14, Scranton 0
1992 West Scranton 19, Scranton 0
1993 West Scranton 34, Scranton 6
West Scranton 21, Scranton 6 (District 2 Class 4A game)
1994 West Scranton 32, Scranton 0
1995 Scranton 6, West Scranton 0
1996 West Scranton 14, Scranton 12
1997 Scranton 26, West Scranton 8
1998 West Scranton 28, Scranton 7
1999 West Scranton 39, Scranton 28
2000 Scranton 21, West Scranton 12
2001 West Scranton 23, Scranton 0
2002 Scranton 33, West Scranton 14
2003 Scranton 24, West Scranton 8
2004 Scranton 21, West Scranton 0
2005 West Scranton 41, Scranton 27
2006 Scranton 34, West Scranton 20
2007 West Scranton 43, Scranton 32
2008 Scranton 27, West Scranton 7
2009 Scranton 33, West Scranton 14
2010 West Scranton 34, Scranton 8
2011 Scranton 49, West Scranton 7
2012 Scranton 35, West Scranton 20
2013 Scranton 42, West Scranton 14
2014 Scranton 42, West Scranton 0
2015 Scranton 21, West Scranton 14 (OT)
2016 West Scranton 28, Scranton 21
Yes, the Scranton vs. West Scranton game does occupy much of the spotlight as the LFC season reaches the half-way point. However, there are some other big games that will hold your attention.
at 1-Delaware Valley
Look, this could be a very pivotal game. Last season, North Pocono defeated the Warriors, 27-20, and were off to a 5-0 start. However, the win took its toll on both teams, but really on the Trojans, who finished the season losing three of five in the regular season. They recovered to win the District 2 Class 4A title. Delaware Valley has won four straight to start the season by an average of 15.3 points, soaring upward because of a 42-0 win last week against West Scranton.
at Mid Valley
Old Forge is coming off an impressive win at Susquehanna. Mid Valley will bring the LFC’s most potent rushing attack in against the Blue Devils who are physical and tenacious on defense. Old Forge LB Brendan Mozeleski is one of the best all-around players in the conference. Mid Valley running backs Joe Chylak and Colin Hazelton are two of the top runners in Division III.
at Hazleton Area
This is a very important game for Wallenpaupack. The Buckhorns rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Honesdale. Hazleton Area is trying to be a factor in the District 2-4 Class 6A playoff picture. Wallenpaupack has played outstanding defense against the run in posting its two wins. Hazleton Area’s strength has been in the passing game.
That is all for today.
Make sure you pick up a copy of The Times-Tribune on FRIDAY for GAMEFACE WEEK 5. We have a great feature on Honesdale RB Andy Carroll who is the leading rusher in the LFC; A look back at the year 1987, which was a long time ago. … I know because that was my senior year (special thanks for Scotty Walsh for chipping in out of the bullpen), and a preview of all the games in Week 5.
Where will I be? You ask. …
Well, on Friday I will be making my first real road trip on a Friday night, then Saturday I will see an afternoon tilt at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
North Pocono at Delaware Valley
Wyoming Area at Scranton Prep, 1:30 p.m.
See you at the games.