Good morning!

I know, I know. I said that I was going to be back soon, but, what can I say. … Late to bed, early to rise. This job, it consumes me sometimes. The coffee is hot and I remembered too that today is Thursday and that means my weekly high school blog post is due. I am telling you, someday, I am going to figure out how to put fewer hours in, but that day is not today.

So, I hope you all enjoyed my tour Around the Camps. I am thinking I need to add Roman Numerals after the title now, you know, Around the Camps VII, which this one was. But, I’ll need to get approval on that, I never want to go rogue.

Later today, I am heading out to work on the first GameFace feature. And speaking of GameFace, this year’s edition is available Sunday. It is a 48-page spectacular this fall.

GameFace2016Honestly, folks, I have very little to do with the GameFace Season Preview Edition. I feel awful dumping the work on my colleagues, but I know they can handle it, because they are the best in the business, and I don’t care what the anybody says. Jason Farmer has taken this year’s cover to a whole new level with his photo illustration. But, wait until you see what he did on the inside photos. See, folks, we don’t just go to practices and take candid photos. No, we set up professional photos. Conor Foley has designed this amazing edition. Without giving too much away, the presentation will blow you all away. It’s fresh, it’s hip and it is really sharp. Herbert Smith, after putting up with my nonsense for two weeks, typed in the schedule and all of the rosters, logging a lot of long hours. As we cover the ultimate team sport, this is a team effort. Things started very innocently on June 19 when the first emails went out, and wrapped late last night from what I am told. The coaches, head coaches and assistants, several athletic directors, the players, Jeremy Ruby and Curt Camoni at PNC Field, everybody, really did a remarkable job. While I have been jet-setting on my tour Around the Camps, Conor, Jason and Herb are burning the midnight oil. And if we had an Athlete of the Month award, those three should share it and the competition shouldn’t be close. Wait, we have something like that? Hmmmm…..

OK, just some quick housekeeping items. My friend, Jim Stout, Media Manager, Eastern U.S. for CBS MaxPreps, Inc., sent me this note and I think it’s important:

  • CBSMaxPreps recently launched Touchdowns Against Cancer, a national campaign that unites high school football teams across the country in the fight against childhood cancer.  In partnership with PLEDGE IT and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, high school football fans may now join the fight by pledging money for every touchdown their team scores between September 15 and October 1.  High school football coaches can get started by logging into their team account on MaxPreps and clicking the “Start Campaign” button at the top of the page.  For additional information, please visit www.TouchdownsAgainstCancer.com.

Here is this week”s scrimmage schedule. I have heard a lot of grumblings about having only one scrimmage, but coaches, let’s be honest, if there were two scrimmages most teams would be resting starters and let’s not be coy, teams are practicing all summer. I kind of like the reduced scrimmage schedule. Not really sure about how I feel about the Aug. 8 start for my tour Around the Camps, just yet, but as Clint Eastwood said in Hearbreak Ridge,

“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!”

 

Saturday’s scrimmages

  • Riverside at Valley View, 9
  • Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack at Lackawanna Trail, 10
  • Carbondale Area at Meyers, 10
  • Dallas at Dunmore, 10
  • Holy Cross at Nanticoke, 10
  • Hanover Area at Honesdale, 10
  • Mid Valley at West Scranton, 10
  • Montrose at Wyalusing, 10
  • Old Forge at North Pocono, 10
  • Pittston Area, Scranton at Coughlin, 10
  • Scranton Prep at Crestwood, 10
  • Susquehanna at Athens, 10
  • Lakeland at Wyoming Area, 10
  • Delaware Valley at Bethlehem Liberty, 11
  • Abington Heights vs. Bethlehem Catholic at Moravian, 5

Remember, our remarkable preview of the LFC for 2016 will be in The Sunday Times. And it will cover all of your typical preseason topics, including the PIAA move from four classifications to six. One item I saved for the blog, because you know, I want to be a part of this operation too, is exclusive right here. …

I am looking at the spotlight games, I think are can’t miss clashes for Week 1 based upon what I saw on my tour, the information the team put together in GameFace and my instincts. Am I going to be right on all of these? Heck, no. In fact, I am not even sure I know anything about high school football any more. But, this will be a talking point this week and help you all schedule your opening weekend plans.

WEEK 1

riverside2Riverside at North Pocononpnew

Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.

It is going to be an electric atmosphere at North Pocono Trojans Stadium. The school district will unveil its new FieldTurf with colorful end zone design. After all of the hoopla, the two combatants are pretty talented teams. Riverside has almost its entire starting lineup back from an Eastern Conference Class AA championship, while North Pocono is expected to be one of the top teams in the LFC Division II after a 5-5 season.

– – –

lakelandLakeland at Valley Viewvalley_view

Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.

Last year’s game fell a little short on excitement, but not in intensity. This is one of — if not the — best rivalries in the LFC. When these two teams get together, they bring with them more combined league championships (32) than any other two teams. The Chiefs have explosive backs and the Cougars have size on the line. While it has no impact on the LFC division standings, this one is important in the record books for the rivalry. Valley View leads the all-time series, 22-13 and has won five straight on the field (The Cougars had to forfeit the 2013 game).

– – –

ScrantonnewScranton at Wyoming Valley Westwyoming_valley_west

Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.

It doesn’t get any better than two of the big boys going at it on opening night. Scranton has an abundance of young talent and the best quarterback in District 2 in Jacob Watts. Wyoming Valley West will be ranked among the top five Class 5A schools in the state. Again, this game will have no impact on either the LFC or the WVC standings, but if you are a fan of wide-open football — a game that more closely resembles college games with spread offenses, passing and stunting defenses, I recommend this one. Get the popcorn ready!

– – –

mvnewAbington Heights at Scranton Prepscranton_prep_flip

Saturday, Aug. 27, 1:30 p.m.

This would have been a headliner for a Friday night. It would be great if both programs would move to evening games, but we will settle for a day after opening night battle at Valor Field at Scranton Memorial Stadium. This is a fierce rivalry, only gaining more heat as Scranton Prep establishes itself as a yearly powerhouse among the big schools. Scranton Prep will likely open the season as one of the top 5 Class 3A teams in the state, while Abington Heights is building back to its championship level.

Others:

  • Delaware Valley at Downingtown East: Two big schools with talent.
  • Dunmore at West Scranton: Rivals who first played in 1944.
  • Susquehanna at Montrose: The Battle for the Blue Stone.

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That is it for this week. …

I promised myself, my daughters, my wife and my doctor that I would not spend the entire football season sitting at my kitchen table working. See, my heart isn’t the greatest and my weight, well, I think we are all aware of how heavy I have gotten. I do have some good news, though. I weighed in at 237 pounds on June 26, today, I weighed in at 226. I really have my daughter, Meghan, to thank for this. She inspires me every day that we are in the gym and she forces me to do the treadmill, even when I don’t want to. And, I will brag a little bit here. She made me very proud this summer. She lifts weights, pushes when it hurts and does catching drills every day either with me or coach Tom Rudzinski, who I can’t thank enough for all he has done for her. .. And for me, because, let’s face it, I did lose 11 pounds!

Yes, I love this job and I love giving you all the insights I can, but this year, I will stay committed to getting to a healthy weight.

So, enjoy this post and look for my BLOG POSTS every THURSDAY at thetimes-tribune.com.

As always, ENJOY!