Good day to you all.

Normally during a high school football work week, Thursday is a day to kind of go easy, make sure the legs are back at 100 percent, review and tie up loose ends in the game plan.

For me, however, this is pedal to the metal time. It’s Week 9, and last time I checked there are only 10 weeks in the regular season. While, I fancy myself as being the Master of the Obvious, this clearly means the regular season is concluding very soon.

Valley View senior Jake Osborne.

Valley View senior Jake Osborne.

These are tough, emotional times for players and coaches, and really everyone involved in the football program, including the band and cheerleaders. Football, some time ago, became a sport that requires a lot of dedication to excel. Weight training really changed the landscape, forcing young athletes to make an almost 12-month a year commitment to physical fitness, even if that means playing more than one sport.

For football players, the journey of a regular season begins “officially” in August. But let’s not be naive. It starts as soon as the last second ticks off the clock in Week 10. Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, because there are two weeks remaining and everybody is making the playoffs. Well, not quite everybody, but just about everybody.

I think, and I know I am an relic and sucker for nostalgia, the magic number for games that would satisfy a high school coach is 11.

So why can’t the mathematicians of the state come up with a way where teams play 11 games, then start the playoffs. I know we only want the calendar to go 15 weeks and that cramps things tighter than my belt, but it may be worth looking into rather than having so many teams qualify for the postseason.

That being said, I had a short discussion with PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi, a loyal former local administrator, and he said the governing body is receiving a lot of positive feedback to the six classification format and the added opportunities for teams. He said, it has created more significant games at the end of the season and piqued interest across the state. Those indeed were the goals, now I just hope the product on the field lives up to expectations and the crowds are equally energized when it comes to the finals at the spacious Hersheypark Stadium.

The change in format certainly has stoked interest, but it hasn’t done too much to change what teams are the Super Powers in the Lackawanna Football Conference.

Look at the top teams this season based upon records:

  • Dunmore 8-0
  • Scranton Prep 7-1
  • Lakeland 7-1
  • Delaware Valley 6-2
  • North Pocono 6-2
  • Lackawanna Trail 6-2
  • Abington Heights 5-3
  • Riverside 5-3

Since the start of the LFC and the two years of the NEPFC in 1998, these have been familiar winners, with the exception of North Pocono, which is having its best season since 2009.

No program has won like the Dunmore Bucks:

DUNMORE BUCKS

WINS

LOSSES

1998

8

4

1999

12

1

2000

8

3

2001

6

5

2002

8

4

2003

9

3

2004

10

2

2005

4

6

2006

10

2

2007

14

2

2008

11

2

2009

12

1

2010

7

5

2011

10

1

2012

14

2

2013

11

1

2014

14

2

2015

12

2

2016

8

0

188

48

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usualsuspects

After them, it’s also the usual suspects since 1998:

  • Lakeland — 164-60 .732
  • Abington Heights — 152-63 .707
  • Old Forge — 153-70 . 686
  • Lackawanna Trail — 142-78 .645
  • Scranton Prep — 119-85 .583
  • Delaware Valley — 117-89 .568
  • Riverside — 123-94 . 567

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RAILRIDERS BOWL

Congrats to RailRiders president and general manager Jeremy Ruby on another successful RailRiders Bowl. I could not attend this year due to a family commitment, but my daughter, Grace, did and she said it was a terrific game.

First, thank you for your cooperation in getting the GameFace cover and inside poster done, shot by photographer Jason Famer.

Lakeland defeated Old Forge, 44-14. Cy Babcanec and Michael Lowry were the MVP’s. What I like best about this game is, there is a trophy presentation at the end and that really makes a game in Week 8 special. I think more in-season rivalry games should consider the same.

Michael Lowry

Michael Lowry

Cy Babcanec

Cy Babcanec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things to consider in the future:

  • I don’t think it has to be a two-year commitment for schools. I think the more schools and different matchups the better. I know one school loses a home game, but who cares? It’s not like that school plays at The Big House in Michigan in front of 110,000 fans. Losing a late-season home game is very small sacrifice to participate in a Bowl Game atmosphere at a first-class facility like PNC Field.
  • Maybe an earlier start time. I don’t see why you couldn’t kick this baby off at 4 p.m. and still get a huge crowd. Whether we want to admit it or not, Saturday night is a tough sell. With everyone’s busy work lives, and this remarkable infatuation with Saturday Night College Football, which I also enjoy, friends and families want to spend that evening together. Now, you put this at 4 p.m., you get a game, a late supper and still time to watch college football. It’s an almost perfect storm.

Any way, congrats again, and continued success with this. The kids love it.

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WEEK 9

We are getting down to the nitty gritty. I can’t believe I just said that! But, I did and it’s true. We have played 95 games in the LFC schedule. Right now, it looks like 14 of the 20 member schools will be playing in the District 2 playoffs. That’s a pretty high percentage.

Here is what is in store for this week:

riverside2lackawanna_trail9-Riverside at

8-Lackawanna Trail

Friday, 7 p.m.

Lions Pride Stadium

This should be a very good game. It’s interesting, because when Lackawanna Trail and Riverside tied at No. 7 for The Top Programs of All-Time List in GameFace, it came with really my only complaints. The two teams are very successful (just look above). Head to head, Riverside leads the series, 11-8. Both teams have played similar opponents, but let’s cut to the chase. Riverside lost to Dunmore, 41-13, and Lakeland, 42-14, while Lackawanna Trail lost to Dunmore, 27-7, and Lakeland, 27-7. I expect this game to be competitive. Lackawanna Trail is locked into the District 2 Class 1A playoffs, while Riverside will play in the District 2 Class 2A playoffs.

– – –

WWnewvalley_viewWestern Wayne at 

5-Valley View

Friday, 7 p.m.

John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium

When will I learn? I attended a wedding Saturday where many of the attendees are residents, former players and longtime fans of the Valley View Cougars. I should have seen it coming, but you know, I am old. No, Cougars fans, I didn’t pick you against North Pocono. I know, I know, I know, you all did. And yes, I got berated for it, as I often do when I miss a pick. Funny, nobody berates me when I pick a game correctly? Folks, come on, nobody is perfect (except Dunmore this season). It’s true, Valley View is playing fantastic football, and if it can win here, it is in good position to host a playoff game, which is a far cry from its 0-3 start. Western Wayne stood at 5-1 after six weeks. The LFC Division II schedule is a bit more challenging. The Wildcats are in position to still qualify for the postseason, but that loss in Week 1 to Carbondale Area could haunt them.

– – –

west2002-09scranton_prep_flip10-West Scranton at

3-Scranton Prep 

Saturday, 2 p.m.

Valor Field, Scranton Memorial Stadium

We say, West Scranton at Scranton Prep, but this is a vs. game because it’s also the home venue for the Invaders. Look, Scranton Prep has been playing with heavy hearts since the death of longtime statistician Mr. Tony “Taps” Cantafio. But, the Cavaliers have also been playing with a chip on their shoulders and punishing their opponents. Since Week 1 when they lost 21-14, Scranton Prep has yielded 25 points in the next seven games. Again, my math isn’t as sharp as it should be, but that seems pretty good. West Scranton has big-play ability with Tamon Brown, quarterback Nick Gioia and DaShawn Minnick and it appears headed to the District 2 Class 4A playoffs.

Helmets courtesy of pahemetproject.com

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HONOR ROLL

Hard to believe, but I spent last Friday at the District 2 tennis championships and did not cover one high school game (with the exception of my Disney trips) for the first time since 2009.

So, forgive me, this is the most out of the loop I have ever been.

Mazzoni

Mazzoni

Angelo Mazzoni

Valley View

Had an outstanding game on both sides of the ball as the Cougars limited North Pocono to 60 yards rushing on 25 carries in a 12-7 win.

 

 

 

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Grady

Grady

Jake Grady

Scranton Prep

He is the top threat in the team’s passing game and had four catches for 33 yards in a win over Western Wayne.

 

 

 

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Jablonowski

Jablonowski

Jason Jablonowski

Carbondale Area

Ran for 195 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers defeated Montrose.

 

 

 

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Sottile

Sottile

Nick Sottile

Riverside

When will teams stop kicking to this guy? He returned the opening kickoff for a score for the fourth time this season. That’s probably some sort of record. Oh yeah, he also had 85 yards rushing and 2 TDs and a 9-yard TD pass.

 

 

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Cavallaro

Cavallaro

Matt Cavallaro

Delaware Valley

This is insane. The kid threw for 230 yards and 4 TDs. He is up past 2,000 yards passing for the season with 24 TDs. And he is likely going to play ice hockey in college, go figure?

 

 

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Brown

Brown

Tamon Brown

West Scranton

Ran for 187 yards and 3 TDs in a win over Honesdale.

 

 

 

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Shoemaker

Shoemaker

Nick Shoemaker, OL-DL

Dunmore

Dominant two-way lineman for the Bucks, who are mauling opponents, as they limited Mid Valley to 82 yards rushing on 28 carries.

 

 

 

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Johnson

Johnson

Kevin Johnson, DE

Lakeland

Had three sacks to give him seven on the season for the Chiefs, who defeated Old Forge in the RailRiders Bowl.

 

 

 

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McCreary

McCreary

Colin McCreary, QB, DB, K, P

Abington Heights

The only thing the kid didn’t do was work the concession stand. He had 143 yards rushing and 3 TDs, threw for 107 yards and a TD; Kicked four extra points and a field goal in win over Wallenpaupack.

 

 

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Bergey

Bergey

Matt Bergey, WR

Lackawanna Trail

Hauled in two passes for 39 yards in a win over Susquehanna.

 

 

 

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That’s all for today.

gameface08I have another tennis match to cover this afternoon, but I will be covering football this weekend, I assure you.

Now, I am planning on going to the Montrose at Lakeland game. My niece, Molly, who is the Homecoming Queen and cheerleader, is having her Senior Night, so I am going to see her. And on Saturday, I have the West Scranton at Scranton Prep game.

Remeber to pick up a copy of GameFace for what is one of the hardest, and heart-touching stories you will read this season. The Valley View Cougars have been great the last month, and been inspired by one of the strongest young men I have ever met, Jimmy Dougherty. Again, PLEASE READ this story.

As always, ENJOY!