Good Thursday to you all!
Let’s begin by saying, my free time gets greatly diminished starting this week, so last weekend I took the opportunity to enjoy some down time. However, it really set me back. It’s hard sometimes for those outside of this process to understand how consuming this can all be at times, unless you actually experience it and try to pull away from the computer, if even for just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.
So, yes, I am scrambling to catch back up. Throw in additional duties with high school tennis and volleyball, and this is like a full plate at the buffet.
That being said, I usually base these football posts on some statistical information that I can’t delve into too deeply in print because of the heavy volume of copy needed for gameface each week. But, what I did want to address, basically because of tennis I will be spending a lot more time with District 2 expert Mike Ognosky, is the schedule for this new six classification format and first year of a two-year cycle.
Here’s the deal: Every coach would like to hand pick their team’s schedule. If you don’t believe that, think again. First and foremost, again, allow me to emphasize that just about every team in District 2 is going to the playoffs. Don’t believe me?
- Six teams with less than .500 records and are a combined 9-27 are occupying playoff position in the District 2 standings.
- Three teams with a combined mark of 4-18 automatically play in the postseason.
- Two other teams with 3-3 marks occupy playoff spots.
So, when people choose to criticize the regular-season schedule, remember there are a lot of opportunities to reach the postseason.
And, yes, some teams schedules appear to be more challenging. That’s a positive as far as I am concerned. Others would argue that is a negative.
Through six weeks here is what we have learned about the schedule at least in the Lackawanna Football Conference:
It is a very competitive conference. For all of the concern about the few number of teams in Division I as compared to Division II, and the worry that the Class 6A teams would unbalance the schedules of the Class 4A teams, it has worked itself out.
Imagine this if you will. What if Division I and Division II just simply combined into one division? Well, the mid-season reports would look like this record wise with only games against LFC Division I-II opponents counted:
- Western Wayne (1-0): Win is over Honesdale
- North Pocono (4-1): Has wins over Scranton and Delaware Valley
- Abington Heights (2-1): Has a win over West Scranton
- Delaware Valley (2-1): Has win over West Scranton
- West Scranton (3-2): Defeated North Pocono last week
- Scranton (2-2): Has wins over Valley View and Honesdale
- Scranton Prep (1-1): Has win over Valley View
- Wallenpaupack (1-2): Has win over Honesdale
- Valley View (1-3): Has win over Abington Heights
- Honesdale (0-3): Has faced Scranton, Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne
Now, Western Wayne, which moved up into this grouping after playing mostly Class 2A schools, still has to play the bulk of its schedule against Division II opponents. But, you get the idea here. The competition is pretty even. And with two divisions, there is an extra caveat that teams are still chasing a league title.
Look, I know a four-team division is not ideal. But that is the way the enrollment numbers broke this down. If West Scranton would have been forced to play up in Division I as some debated, it would have a chance at a title. But if it were in that division and had a win over North Pocono, a program with a similar Class 4A enrollment, well, that would be cause for an argument.
As it stands now, West Scranton, Scranton Prep and Western Wayne lead Division II after one week, and guess what? They all have head-to-head matchups remaining.
In addition, the ONLY team that is not occupying a playoff position in its respective classification after six weeks is Honesdale.
Now in the small-school division things get a bit tricky in terms of competition. I am not sure too many fans would argue that Blue Bloods of the division have what would be considered a distinct advantage.
- Dunmore (5-0 in division): Has won its Division III games by an average of 31 points.
- Lakeland (4-1 in division): Has won division games by an average of 27.5 points
- Riverside (4-1 in division): Has won division games by an average of 23.8 points
- Old Forge (3-2 in division): Has won division games by an average of 11.3 points.
Those numbers are to be expected. Dunmore, Lakeland, Riverside and Old Forge have won a combined 25 District 2 championships. But what we see here, is a balance of competition in this division. Everybody must play each other, leaving no debate when it comes time to reaching the District 2 playoffs.
In Class 2A, only four of the seven teams are going to qualify and right now:
- Dunmore has wins over the heavy hitters — Lakeland and Riverside — and three of its Class 2A opponents.
- Lakeland is at Riverside this week and has wins over Carbondale Area and Susquehanna in Class 2A.
- Riverside hosts Lakeland and has wins over Mid Valley, Susquehanna and Montrose in Class 2A.
- Susquehanna faces Dunmore this week, and is 0-2 against Riverside and Lakeland.
- Mid Valley lost to Riverside, but still has games left against Dunmore, Lakeland and Susquehanna.
In short, these teams will earn a spot in the District 2 tournament on the field. In years past, because of the unbalanced schedule, there could be a debate as to the Class 2A teams who played against opponents in the LFC Division III as opposed to Division II, especially when head-to-head games were not played. That won’t be on the table this season.
As for the Class 1A teams involved in the LFC Division III, well, this week should tell us a lot when Old Forge travels to Lackawanna Trail.
- Lackawanna Trail: Has losses to Dunmore and Lakeland by exact, 27-7, scores, but has a win over Mid Valley.
- Old Forge: Has a loss to Mid Valley and one to Riverside with games remaining against Dunmore and Lakeland.
- Northwest Area: The Rangers, who are the only Class 1A team or Class 2A team in the Wyoming Valley Conference, have a loss to Lackawanna Trail and that will be an important factor as the season finishes.
Now we have a very critical regular-season game to talk about among the smallest schools. And I think that is outstanding for the conference and football in the area.
So, now that the games are being played — And folks, you have to play the games — you can see, the schedule, while not perfect, will provide not only balanced competition and weekly challenges, but will produce the best playoff teams.
That’s what a schedule should do.
I almost couldn’t believe it until I counted on my fingers, but it’s true. … We are into Week 7 of the season. It is truly flying by this year and I am usually the one reminding people that time is equal and can never go faster or slower!
Still, we are headed down the final straightaway. As is usually the case around this time of year, the weather becomes the great equalizer and a nuisance. Hurricane Matt is bearing down on the southern east coast and we are going to get some rain Saturday. Figures since this is the busiest Saturday the LFC has had probably in its existence. There is always the possibility of having Abington Heights, Scranton Prep, Susquehanna and Holy Cross all playing on the same Saturday at home, which is happening this week. Throw in Delaware Valley hosting Williamsport for Warrior Day and that makes for a tight day on the afternoon calendar.
We have some very good matchups this week, so let’s take a look:
Friday, 7 p.m.
Riverside Veterans Memorial Stadium
These two teams have played one-point games in each of the last two seasons. Lakeland is hobbling into the game, though, while Riverside is hitting its stride. The Chiefs have been explosive on offense, but are still waiting to find a true rhythm. It’s been the defense that has impressed after giving up 32 points to Dunmore in Week 3, the unit has smothered Carbondale Area, Lackawanna Trail and Susquehanna. But facing Riverside and its now NASCAR offense will be a challenge. The Vikings were hitting on all cylinders in the annual Triboro Rivalry last week, rolling up more than 400 yards of offense. The defense has been equally impressive and physical up front where it will have a big advantage throughout the remainder of its schedule.
– – –
at 9-Western Wayne
Friday, 7 p.m.
Sharkey Rossetti Sports Complex
OK, this game will give us a lot to chew on afterward. North Pocono is trying to rebound from its first loss of the season. The Trojans ran a heck of a gauntlet to start the season, beating Riverside, Abington Heights, Scranton and Delaware Valley — all teams ranked at the time of the game — by an average margin of 18.8 points. They fell to West Scranton, 27-20. Western Wayne has done its part during a 5-1 start, winning the games on its schedule. This will be, however, its first game against a team with a record better than .500. Western Wayne first-year coach Randy Wolff played and earned all-star honors at North Pocono, so throw that into the mix.
– – –
at Valley View
Friday, 7 p.m.
John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium, Blakely
Boy, West Scranton really infused its season with wins over Scranton and North Pocono the last two weeks. Look, the Invaders have talent and we all should have seen that based upon how well it played in Week 1 against Dunmore. But a combination of injuries (which are always a factor, but we rarely know because this isn’t the NFL) and a rough schedule put the Invaders almost out of sight and out of mind. But, now they are emphatically in everyone’s mind because of the speed and athleticism. Valley View is looking to turn its season around. Don’t be fooled by a 2-4 record. The win at Abington Heights is huge, and a strong effort last week against Scranton Prep could go a long way in maintaining the team’s confidence. At home, the Cougars will be tough this week, looking to shake up the division just as West Scranton did last week.
– – –
at 6-Abington Heights
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Comets Stadium, Clarks Suummit
Going back to the opening of this blog, how can you ask for a more balanced schedule? Last week, Wyoming Valley West (Class 5A) played Wallenpaupack (Class 5A) and this week it will be at Abington Heights (Class 5A). They are the only three Class 5A teams in District 2! This should be a good one, especially because Wyoming Valley West’s best strength is on offense and Abington Heights’ is on defense. That’s not to say either isn’t strong on the other side of the ball, it’s just where they play best. Historically, these two programs have always played good games with the exception of a few when the contests got away from the other. This game will go a long way in determining the Class 5A team which will receive a bye in the District 2-11 Class 5A subregional playoffs.
– – –
at 3-Delaware Valley
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Weather could be a factor. I am not sure, but I am guessing that with all of Williamsport’s speed and explosive players, rain could impact this one. First and foremost, this is as true a road game as you can have in District 2-4. The distance between the two schools is 146 miles and based on what MapQuest is telling me, an estimated 2 hours and 40 minutes away by car. This is a full day for the Millionaires to say the least. Heading out to Delaware Valley, guessing they want to be there by 2 p.m. would be somewhere in the 11 a.m. range. If the game ends in a reasonable amount of time, it should give them a departure of around 7 p.m. and a return to Williamsport around 10:30 p.m. YIKES! On the field, the Millionaires are a track team at the skill positions with a 62-19 pummeling of Scranton on its resume. Delaware Valley has a 67-point game to its credit against West Scranton. I am hoping I have enough 4-color pens!
Tamon Brown, RB
Can’t do much better than 275 yards rushing and 24 points against a defense that entered the game giving up 171.8 yards on the ground and 10,6 points.
Cody Glogowski, QB
Had his best day throwing, totaling 208 yards with two touchdowns in a win over Old Forge.
Ricky Morgan, RB
Ran for 91 yards and a touchdown in a hard-fought win over Valley View.
Colin McCreary, QB-DB-K
Had 58 yards rushing and two touchdowns, threw for 79 yards and a touchdown, and hit all seven of his extra points.
Colin Holmes, RB
Had 81 yards on only six carries and scored a touchdown in a win over Montrose.
Anthony Berrios, RB
Ran for 73 yards and scored two touchdowns in a win over Carbondale Area.
Matt Pidgeon, WR-DB
Had five touches offensively for 77 yards and a touchdown and added a return of a fumble on a kickoff that covered 80 yards for a touchdown.
Colin Munley, RB
Starting to come into his own as a running back, totaling 121 yards and two touchdowns on only three carries in a win over Holy Cross.
John Actisdano, DL
Helped the Warriors defensive line with a pair of tackles and a sack in a win over Hazleton Area.
Kobe Sauter, RB
Ran for 86 yards and had a 15-yard reception in taking the Wayne-Pike Shrine Bowl MVP for his team.
Don’t forget to get Friday’s Times-Tribune for gameface Week 7 which features a feature on Mid Valley running back Zach Fiume and his father, Al Fiume, the program’s first back to gain 1,000 yards in a season.
I will be at the Lakeland at Riverside game Friday night and the Williamsport at Delaware Valley game Saturday afternoon.
Until then. … ENJOY!