Good Thursday to you all!
Before we “dive” into this week’s blog post, my day got off to a rocky start, so bear with me as we move forward. See, my normal Thursday routine consists of taking the girls to the bus stop, enjoying a cup of piping hot Java while reading the Sports Section and watching Columbo, then taking out the recyclables and trash, and preparing the dishes to be washed when my blog posts are done, then to the gym.
Today, I made it all the way to getting the dishes prepared. I emptied the sink, which Grace insists is equal to putting a dirty dish into the actual dishwasher. Usually, I have the pots and pans soak for a while, because I had a janitor at Lafayette College tell me one day when I had dish duty after a party, it made it easier to remove hardened food. So, I began running the hot water. I started the dishwasher. Then BANG! A thought entered my head for today’s blog post topic. I sat down, knowing I had some time before the dish tub filled. It would be easy enough to quickly jot down my idea then return to the sink. I started crunching my numbers and really got into it, like an accountant at tax time. Because the dishwasher is so loud, being side tracked meant all of my focus now fell to completing my blog post task.
Meanwhile, as I kept punching in statistic after statistic, the water is still running in the sink. I completed the math portion of my topic, began my outline, and slammed my pen down as if I just completed a 100-page term paper. I rise from my chair to refill my coffee and what do I see? The sink overflowing with suds and water! I quickly run over to turn it off and in my haste, slip and fall holding onto the counter. Water and soap suds were everywhere.
Once the water flow had been shut off, I had to dip into the sink and loosen the dish tub, which had formed a suction with the drain causing the flood. Remember now, Command Central is the kitchen. Then, as my heart began to race, I dashed into the bathroom for a supply of towels. A total catastrophe had been avoided, but I still have the dishes to do and this blog post to write, if I hope to get to the gym. So, let’s get to it.
As Delaware Valley and Williamsport feverishly ran up and down the field Saturday afternoon at Warrior Stadium, combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense, 91 points and 130 plays including punts, I thought to myself, this is the best high school game I have ever seen.
I know, I know, the old school guys, like myself, would prefer a little defense, and I think both Delaware Valley coach Keith Olsommer and Williamsport coach Chuck Crews would have also. But, sometimes, as Olsommer said after the game, “great players make great plays, and great plays make good defenses look bad.”
Check out these highlights:
Looking at the game even deeper, there were 36 plays which covered at least 10 yards. Of course, that helps account for the 40 first downs.
So, I got started scratching my head and wondered how many yards the best offenses in the Lackawanna Football Conference were gaining per play? (I know, get a life, right!)
But, I was curious. As I said earlier, I started thumbing through the stacked newspapers on my kitchen table where all the summaries are and got a starting point. I don’t have all day, so I limited my search to offenses which have gained at least 2,000 yards through the first seven weeks. I totaled up their number of plays and away I went.
Here are the number of yards per play the offenses with more than 2,000 total yards are averaging:
- Lakeland – 7.5 yards per play
- Dunmore – 7.4 yards per play
- Delaware Valley – 7.2 yards per play
- North Pocono – 6.8 yards per play
- Scranton – 6.5 yards per play
- Lackawanna Trail – 6.5 yards per play
- Scranton Prep – 6.4 yards per play
- Mid Valley – 6.0 yards per play
Delaware Valley is a prolific offense to say the least. The Warriors are averaging 60.3 plays per game with five games of more than 60 plays.
Scranton Prep (52.4), Mid Valley (50.7) and Scranton (50,3) are averaging more than 50 plays per game.
North Pocono (47.7), Lackawanna Trail (47.4) and Lakeland (43.0) are averaging more than 40 plays per game.
Yes, “defenses win championships” as they say, but you still need to score and move the ball. The eight teams averaging at least 6 yards a play are have a combined record of 42-14.
Folks, my heart is still hurting.
The Scranton Prep community lost one of its pillars. Tony “Taps” Cantafio died this week, succumbing to injuries he suffered at the Scranton Prep-Valley View game after a collision on the sideline. It is tragic, and almost surreal.
As a reporter, you get to meet so many wonderful people, especially those who help programs by taking statistics or score, just as Mr. Cantafio did. I call him Mr. Cantafio, because through the years we built a strong relationship and I insisted that he call me Joby, because Mr. Fawcett is my dad, and I haven’t earned anywhere near that level of respect. So, he gracefully agreed to call me Mr. Joby, because he was just a respectful man.
Sometimes we lose sight of what high school student-athletes mean to a community and the joy sports brings to it, until you meet someone like Mr. Cantafio, who I had the wonderful honor of meeting many years ago. He loved Scranton Prep, its students and its players. He always had a smile on his face, and win or lose, he found positives in EVERY game. If there were ever a statistical squabble, I could count on Mr. Cantafio, a math wizard, to help me get it corrected.
He is going to be terribly missed. Admittedly, going to a Scranton Prep basketball game will never be the same for me. We used to sit together during the second half of a JV game and just chat about the team.
As we get older, dealing with sadness and grief almost becomes a regular part of your routine. I ask only that we all — as football fans, parents, sons, daughters, family — take some time to offer prayer and thoughts to the Cantafio family.
And remember Mr. Cantafio’s smile.
Well, we are into the final third of the season. Look, there is not much intrigue because so many teams are going to qualify for the playoffs, however, LFC Division championships matter. Things get started in Division I as the four teams begin their Round-Robin finish. I know it’s not ideal only having four teams in a division, but this is going to be fun in the next three weeks as Delaware Valley (5-2), Abington Heights (4-3), Scranton (3-4) and Wallenpaupack (3-4) fight it out on the field.
Plus, there are some big games in the other divisions as we have only LFC head-to-head games remaining.
Let’s take a look:
Friday, 7 p.m.
Dunmore Veterans Memorial Stadium
It’s been a long time since Mid Valley has been in a featured game like this during the regular season, so there should be great fan support. Look, Dunmore has won 31 straight games against division opponents and that almost doesn’t seem fair. The last time Dunmore even lost to a Class 2A program came in 2011 when Riverside upset it in the District 2 semifinals. And the last time it lost to a 2A program in the regular season happened in 2010. I’m not Conor Foley when it comes to statistics, but that is a long time. My hair and beard were still dark! The Bucks are averaging 304.6 yards rushing per game, while Mid Valley brings in an offense that is averaging 280.3 yards rushing per game. So, the game should be over by 8:30 p.m. I expect this to be a good one, Dunmore’s first real challenge since Weeks 3 and 4.
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Friday, 7 p.m.
Trojans Stadium, Moscow
Boy, Conor Foley is giving me a lot of grief about this one not being the Game of the Week. Being a Democrat like he is, I would think spreading the wealth a little would be encouraged. I mean, North Pocono has hosted the Game of the Week three times already this season and played a fourth at Abington Heights. Wait a minute! That must mean the Trojans are playing a tough schedule. And in my continuing effort to beat home a point, yes, North Pocono is playing its SEVENTH ranked opponent in EIGHT weeks. Valley View is also enduring a difficult schedule. The Cougars are also playing their SEVENTH ranked opponent in EIGHT weeks and their four losses have come to teams with a combined record of 20-8. These two teams play each other very tough. In 2010, North Pocono knocked Valley View out of District 2 Class 3A playoff contention with a 20-3 win. Since that game, Valley View is 3-2 against the Trojans.
– – –
Friday, 7 p.m.
Looking at the records you are probably saying, huh? Big game? But, truthfully, if Scranton quarterback Jacob Watts is back at 100 percent, there is a chance we see another combined 80-point game. Historically, these two big schools play good, hard football. When they get together on the same field it is usually entertaining. In 2012, the two combined for 836 yards the first time they played and 770 the second. In 2014, they combined for 603 yards, and last season, they piled up 839 with 85 points scored. I hope whoever is covering this tilt (Herb Smith), has enough 4-color pens!
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5-Lakeland (6-1) vs. Old Forge (3-4)
Saturday, 7 p.m.
PNC Field, Moosic
When Jeremy Ruby signed on for this game, he did so knowing both programs have great fan support and remarkably successful histories. I know you have been following my series on off-track betting in the Himalayas more closely, but The Top Programs of All-Time are being revealed each week in gameface. Lakeland came in at No. 5, while Old Forge listed at No. 4. Lakeland is coming off its biggest win for the program probably since 2010 when it topped Riverside, 42-14, last week. Old Forge is looking to snap a three-game losing streak, a stretch it has not had to endure in more than a decade. Remember, also, Old Forge has won each of the last two meetings in the series.
Cy Babcanec, RB
Ran for a career-high 220 yards on 15 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns on a 55-yard run and a 54-yard run in a win over Riverside.
Matt Cavallaro, QB
and Ryan Obiso, RB
Cavallaro threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while Obiso ran for 191 and scored four touchdowns in a win over previously undefeated Williamsport.
Nathan Steffen, DE
Had 15 tackles, including 3 for loss with 3 sacks in a win over Dallas.
JC Gaughan, LB
Had six tackles and a sack in a win over Western Wayne.
Joe Chylak, RB
Ran for 179 yards and scored four touchdowns in a win over Montrose.
Austin Eiden, DL
Had 11 tackles with a sack for minus-12 yards in a win over Hazleton Area.
Ethan Carey, DB
Had seven tackles, one for loss, and an interception in win over West Scranton.
Jordon Petrowski, FB
Ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Susquehanna.
Jordan Tolerico, QB
Threw for 97 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers ended five-game losing streak.
Jake Ryan, QB
Threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Honesdale.
That’s all for today.
Remember to pick up The Times-Tribune on FRIDAY for gameface Week 8. It’s got a preview of the Third Annual RailRiders Bowl at PNC Field and a lot of other information that allows me to justify my existence.
Also, I know you all might find this hard to believe, but I may be out of the mix this week. District 2 tennis is Friday and my cousin, Phil Ross, a pretty darn good football player at Valley View in the early 2000s is getting married Saturday night. It all means, I am booked pretty solid for a Week 8 in the fall.
I know the guys on the staff will do a GREAT job in my absence, and I will hardly be missed. It will give me a good indication if I can ever retire!
As always. … ENJOY!