Good Thursday morning to you all,
Look, I like to fancy myself as hip as the next 45-year-old. I am in touch with the latest trends (cough, cough). I have that Facebook, and I can post videos! I have Twitter or Tweeter or whatever the kids call it, so that I can keep up with my followers. I have an Instagram, but who really wants to see pictures of me? Yes, I use Periscope and I don’t live in a submarine.
Yesterday, interestingly enough, was Back to the Future day. Now, I am not really into these social media fascinations or topics going viral, but I am game on this one. I remember when Back to the Future and Back to the Future II were hits. I even think I took the time to buy a movie ticket, went to the theater and had popcorn and everything. Now, I just wait for the DVD and watch on my TV screen while laying on the couch. It’s more comfortable.
I thought this week, well heck, I can — as I often do — jump on a bandwagon. But, I wanted to take a different approach to the celebration of Oct. 21, 2015, the date that Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown traveled to the future. Sorry Cubs fans, they didn’t predict everything right in the film.
Any way, a little backstory. I actually live in the house I grew up in. That was more traditional back in the old days, especially in a rural community like Scott Township. Yep, the old homestead. I stayed for a number of personal reasons, and oddly enough, I am too broke to make any aesthetic improvements, but the government sure has forced me to do so, and that is a whole different rant for another day, so the place looks the same. By doing so, it also offers me the opportunity to venture downstairs, blow off the dust from the top of my scrapbooks that have been sheltered away like some treasured artifacts that Nicholas Cage will some day search for in hopes of unlocking the mysterious ailment commonly known as Al Bundy-syndrome. I decided to look back to the years 1985 and 1989, only because those were the years that Back to the Future and Back to the Future II were released. I remember where I was in both years, although I am a little hazy on 1989 because that was my sophomore year at Lafayette College and, well, my fraternity brothers could offer you all more clarity if you dare wanted to really know.
So, in 1985, I was a sophomore in high school. In those days, it cost about $3 to go see Back to the Future. My favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan, was becoming a national phenomenon and my favorite football player, Eric Dickerson, was still running wild for the Los Angeles Rams. Me and my chums went to see Rocky IV and Rambo: First Blood Part II as a group, because that’s what you did in those days. I think we saw both in the theater by K-Mart, which is now a church by the way, just to give you an idea of how much things have changed. And yes, I played football. In the spring of 1985, I garnered some attention for being fast at the junior high track and field championship meet — that was only because Raghib “Rocket” and Qadry “The Missile” Ismail were on the varsity level at Meyers High School. I remember being back deep on the opening kickoff of the season (wearing No. 29), and in the 1980s sophomores rarely played. There was a pecking order and you had to pay your dues. I was so nervous and of course the ball came right to me as if Riverside, our opponent, said, “Hey, there is the sophomore, kick it to him.” My knees were trembling, and they just didn’t want to move. It was like that dream you often have when you are getting chased and you are all of a sudden in slow motion and the villain is catching you. I eventually, got going, and did make a decent return. But my varsity season was spent mostly on the sidelines. See, we had a great tailback in Greg Hine, who ran for 1,000 yards in the Big 11, which was a very big deal. Enough about me, here is the tie-in to today’s blog post. The 1985 Big 11 and Eastern Conference champion: The Dunmore Bucks.
Travel with me four years later to 1989. The Ultimate Warrior, the most intense wrestler of his generation and my favorite, burst upon the scene. I was a starting receiver at Lafayette College with a busted up knee that dialed back my 4.3-second 40-yard dash to a rather pedestrian 4.6. I dealt with my frustration the best way I knew how then, but I don’t recommend anybody go through life emulating John Blutarsky from Animal House. Despite my throttled down speed, I still had a blast playing my only collegiate season. I have the greatest brothers who supported me every slow step of the way. For all the negative you read about fraternities, my experience is one I would hope is more common. I love those guys and will always love them. We get together every year for the Lafayette-Lehigh game and it is a blast reminiscing, again, another positive that people who dislike sports or fraternities can never appreciate. OK, enough, onto the tie-in. The 1989 Big 11 and PIAA Class A champion that season: The Dunmore Bucks.
In each of those years, let’s say that I had the opportunity to jump in a DeLorean and punch in October 21, 2015. I would probably be right here at my kitchen table covering high school sports. Growing up, sports were everything to me. I remember, I used to watch an NFL game, take notes and then write a story for a fake newspaper I created. In 1987-88, my senior year, I was the editor of the Lakeland Lance Newspaper and at Lafayette College, I was in charge of writing and publishing a monthly newsletter for my fraternity. I loved writing. One of my first professors, Michael Robertson, told me I had a real knack for capturing imagery. I never saw it, but if I did, that has waned over the years due to the volume of writing I am responsible for each week. All of my friends always told me I had the perfect face for radio, and as they turned away chuckling, mentioned I had a good voice, too. How about that? I am a sports writer and I have a radio show (Shameless plug — Monday’s and Friday’s In the Zone on NEPAs ESPN Radio 5-6 p.m.). But it’s amazing really, how you forge your life’s path. I rarely even think about how I actually got into this profession, other than, it just has always seemed like what I wanted to do in my life. I guess you would have to consider me a pretty lucky guy, even with the long hours and endless pots of coffee! Back to the tie-in. One of the best teams in the Lackawanna Football Conference in 2015: The Dunmore Bucks.
I am just throwing this out there, and believe me I am no Carnac the Magnificent, but if you jumped in that DeLorean again and punched in Oct. 21, 2040, if there is still football in the future, the Dunmore Bucks will still be winning championships.
It truly is amazing the program that coach Jack Henzes has built at Dunmore and I thought, I should point that out this week as it tries to win its 23rd straight LFC Division II game against Western Wayne on Friday.
What is also interesting is how similar this season has gone to what this generation considers the old days. I hear it almost every week from fans. The teams are more like traditional NEPA teams. Big up front, strong in the running game and physical on defense. The competitive balance is much better. Games are much closer and played more in the teens and 20s on the scoreboards. It is refreshing in a lot of ways. It kind of makes this old guy feel young again. Now if I can just stop my hair from falling out and my belly from getting any bigger!
Well, that was fun. But, before my boss Chris Imperiale, a baseball star at Sacred Heart in 1985 and at Wilkes University in 1989 who crushed pitches like Daniel Murphy in the postseason, hits me with a “Glory Days” reference and orders me for professional counseling, I better get back to my duties (I did say duties) and blog about the present! I can hear him now (only because I am nowhere near the office these days), “stay on point.”
Here are some key points then to look at as Week 8 gets ready to kickoff:
- Delaware Valley at Scranton: This is a huge game. And just to aggravate “CI” neither program in its current being even existed when Back to the Future and Back to the Future II were released, so who could have predicted this would be the case? Here we are today and they are two of the best in the area. It seems every year that these two heavyweights are at least challenging for the LFC Division I championship. Delaware Valley is the defending division champion and winners of five straight (four on the field). Scranton earned a win last week over North Pocono after spending three weeks on the shelf because of a teachers strike. The outcome of this game is very important for both teams’ playoff hopes. Delaware Valley has developed a strong running game with Austin Cernek and its young offensive and defensive lines have come of age. Scranton quarterback Jacob Watts and the team’s overall speed could be tough for the Warriors to defend. Both defenses play very hard and since 2012, Delaware Valley has won twice and Scranton has won twice in the series. Overall, it is all even at 9-9. I am expecting a terrific, hard-fought, battle.
- Valley View at Scranton Prep (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.): This is a rivalry even from back in the old days. In 1985, Scranton Prep defeated Valley View on the final day of the regular season, 12-7, as part of a four-game losing stretch for Valley View that turned a 6-1 start into a 6-5 final record. That victory moved Scranton Prep to 7-4 and a game ahead of the Cougars in the final standings. In 1989, Scranton Prep defeated Valley View, 21-12, interestingly enough in another season where Valley View finished 6-5. Here is the deal, a loss hurts. Valley View at 5-2 cannot afford too many more slip ups if it hopes to get back to the District 2 Class AAA playoffs. Scranton Prep has a little more room for error, but with a game against Delaware Valley looming, it would behoove it to stay on course. Know this, these teams have played some tight battles, even if the odds favored otherwise. I expect these teams to play with a high level of intensity, again, in a game that will resemble an old Big 11 knockout game.
Hey, I took video last week, so here are highlights of Valley View vs. Delaware Valley: (I get a bonus for how many views, WINK! No, I don’t)
- West Scranton at Abington Heights (Saturday, 2 p.m.): Heck, how many story lines does a game need? First, Joe Repshis, the head coach at Abington Heights who just welcomed a son, Tyler Jospeh, last week, is a West Scranton graduate. Brian Fahey, West Scranton’s head coach, was a teammate of Repshis and was the former defensive coordinator at Abington Heights. Throw in there that both teams are trying to salvage their seasons and this has the makings of a classic. West Scranton showed that it worked hard during the teachers strike and came out firing against Wallenpaupack last week in a 19-0 win. Abington Heights’ last win came against Wallenpaupack, 10-7, in a thriller where the Comets gained less than 100 yards. Here’s the situation: West Scranton and Abington Heights do have faint playoff pulses. Both will likely need help, but that starts with winning this game, because essentially the losing team will have four losses and that is not likely going to be good enough to get it done in Class AAA this season. Because both Repshis and Fahey are defensive guys, this one could be played between the 20s. But then again, I am usually wrong.
So, one thing for sure this weekend, I am going to be busy. But isn’t that always the case? I’m sure, if I could go Back to the Past, I think I would adopt that new 6-hour workday I am hearing about on the Facebook and I would probably make a 5-day work week. Wait? What? That is such a silly concept.
Until next Thursday, enjoy the games!