The Rick, Week 10 – 2018
By Rick Notari, BDFN
@TheBigBlueDevil
(1174-321 overall, .785 winning percentage)

It’s Scranton… with clams!

Forgive The Rick for being a little late this week. I was up North the past few days catching some World Series baseball. It was almost like being home. You know Boston, it’s Scranton, with clams. But I am back now, so let’s get going.

The Rick has been hard on the Wyoming Valley Conference this year – and in years past – but I am going to give them credit where credit is due. The WVC schedule makers do things right. It’s the last week of the regular-season and it’s Rivalry Week in the WVC – and that’s how it’s supposed to be.

The last week of the season was always reserved for the matchups of bitter high school rivals. It gave teams having less than stellar seasons something to continue to practice and play for, while putting the most important game of the season on the final week of the schedule. It was a sort of championship week for most teams. It was everyone’s bowl game – especially if you weren’t making the playoffs. But now everyone seems to make the playoffs, and the Lackawanna Football Conference doesn’t put much stake into playing rivalry games on the final week of the regular season.

That’s a shame.

Instead of the LFC featuring games between Old Forge and Riverside, West and Scranton, Lakeland and Valley View, Prep and Abington Heights or Honesdale and Wallenpaupack, you get to see games like Old Forge v. Montrose, Riverside v. Susquehanna, Scranton v. Delaware Valley and West v. Honesdale.

So if you have a hankering for some old-school rivalry games in Week 10, head down to the Wyoming Valley and catch Dallas and Lake-Lehman, Hanover Area and Nanticoke, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area, or the last-ever Wilkes-Barre Meyers and Wilkes-Barre GAR game. It is sure to be an exciting night for all of those teams and their fans. Friday night will provide a great atmosphere for the participants to remember long after their high school careers are over. And isn’t that what playing high school football is all about – making memories.

Hustle and Harmony
When The Rick played high school football, NEPA was a hotbed for big-time college talent. During my three years of playing on the gridiron for the Blue Devils, there were four huge names from the Big 11 and WVC that were known nationally and would go on to play BIG TIME college football. Marc Spindler of West Scranton was one. The other three all came from Wilkes-Barre. All four would star in the NFL.

Greg Skrepenak from GAR, and Raghib and Qadry Ismail from Meyers were legitimate superstars. Maybe you have heard of them. If you are under the age of 40, maybe you haven’t. And if you haven’t, go check them out on YouTube. While Skrep didn’t have an interstellar nickname like The Rocket (Raghib) or The Missile (Qadry), he joined his rivals in partaking in what is a long and storied history between the Grenadiers and the Mohawks. Unfortunately that history ends tommorow when the two schools face off for the final time at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium on the campus of E. L. Meyers High School.

The two rivals are set to merge – along with Wilkes-Barre Coughlin – into one consolidated high school in two years, but the sports teams of the three schools will start playing together next season as the Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack. So if you want to be part of something special, see you if can sneak into the game. I say ‘sneak’ because the game has been sold out for weeks. There are sure to be a lot of dignitaries there for this one, and maybe even some famous alumni.

One thing for certain, this rivalry game will be one for the ages.

Pet Playoff Peeve
So last weekend The Rick learned that Nanticoke had passed on participating in the District 2 playoffs despite the fact the Trojans should finish the season 5-5. Instead GNA will head to the Eastern Conference playoffs.

At first this didn’t really bother The Rick because he is a realist. If Nanticoke beats Hanover Area tonight to be 5-5, they would finish either sixth or seventh in the D2 playoff standings and have to travel to either Dallas or Berwick in the opening round of the playoffs. But in the Eastern Conference, they could host District 3’s Big Spring or Hamburg for a championship.

Who would you rather play?

Spare me the “want to play for it all and aspiring to be the best at this point in the season” speech. Nanticoke would have to beat Dallas, Berwick and Valley View to win it all. No offense to the current Trojans, but that ain’t happening. So to The Rick, Nanticoke officials did the right thing.

Now the more The Rick thought about this, the more I became annoyed with the district playoff structure. Go figure right? No team with a record below .500 should make the playoffs with a bracket with more than four teams. If byes need to be awarded, then do it. Other districts around the states have byes in the playoffs. No reason we can’t do it. It may actually give our very good teams a better shot at advancing through the state playoffs if they got to take a week off and relax a little.

If the playoffs started today?
6A: Scranton at Delaware Valley, Hazleton Area at Williamsport
5A: Southern Lehigh at Wallenpaupack
4A: Honesdale at Valley View, Abington Heights at Dallas, Pittston Area at Berwick, North Pocono at West Scranton
3A: GAR at Prep, Hanover Area at Wyoming Area. Meyers at Lakeland, Lake-Lehman at Western Wayne
2A: Carbondale Area at Dunmore, Susquehanna at Riverside
1A: Old Forge at Lackawanna Trail

Ok. Here’s this week’s Rickter Scale. Valley View remains at No. 1 with Dallas moving ahead of Berwick to No. 2 after the Mounties upset the Dawgs at Crispin Field. Wallenpaupack moved up two spots, jumping Scranton Prep, and Delaware Valley, West Scranton and Wyoming Area each moved up a spot in the Top 10.

WEEK 9 RICKTER SCALE…. Record Rating LR
1. Valley View (9-0) 42.25 1
2. Dallas (8-1) 38.75 3
3t. Berwick (7-2) 35.50 2
3t. Wallenpaupack (6-3) 35.50 5
5. Scranton Prep (8-1) 35.00 4
6t. North Pocono (6-3) 31.75 6
6t. Delaware Valley (6-3) 31.75 7
8. West Scranton (6-3) 29.00 9
9. Wyoming Area (9-0) 28.00 10
10. Williamsport (5-4) 27.75 8
11. Valley West (4-5) 23.50 11
12. Hazleton Area (4-5) 22.75 13
13. Lackawanna Trail (8-1) 22.00 NR
Teams to Watch: Western Wayne (21.75), Dunmore (21.25), Pittston Area (21.00), Lakeland (19.00), Lake-Lehman (19.00), Nanticoke (18.50), Riverside (18.25)

Now let’s pick some games….

 

THE RICK’S PICKS (38-17)

May their first child is a masculine child (Class 6A) 5-4

Delaware Valley at Scranton

If things shake out the way The Rick expects them to shake out, Delaware Valley and Scranton will play a doubleheader of sorts. This weekend they will close out the regular season at Scranton Memorial Stadium (Or whatever they call it these days – Valor Field maybe? The Rick can’t keep track). Next weekend, the Knights will travel to Milford and take on the Warriors in the opening round of the D2/4 Subregional. See what I mean about teams below .500 making the playoffs?

Delaware Valley 44, Scranton 14

 

The Luca Brasi (Class 5A) 7-2

Valley West at Williamsport

Two teams going in the wrong direction to end the season meet as Valley West travels to Williamsport. The game probably means more to the Spartans as they are fighting for a District 2/11 Subregional berth. Currently they are on the outside looking in. A win doesn’t guarantee them a berth however. A loss puts them in the Eastern Conference probably. The only thing on the line for the Millionaires is a home game in the District 2/4 subregional. A loss could send them to Hazleton Area in the first round, a win keeps them home against the Cougars.

Valley West 26, Williamsport 24

 

Don’t ask me about my business (Class 4A) 7-2

Dallas at Lake-Lehman

The Old Shoe Game. I seem to write this every year – even when one team is a juggernaut, you can’t count the other team out. Dallas has one blip on the schedule and is coming off an emotional victory – possibly the program’s biggest victory this decade. Lake-Lehman is coming off a tough loss, but the Black Knights have had themselves a solid season. This should be a great game. A win by Dallas guarantees them home field until the championship game. A win by Lake-Lehman could give them a home game to open the playoffs against Western Wayne, the team they opened the season against.

Dallas 16, Lake-Lehman 14

 

Wyoming Area at Pittston Area

The Rick has been waiting for the Cross River Rivalry all year! I used to joke with my pals in Greater Pittston that this wasn’t a real rivalry because the teams would have breakfast together during the week of the game! What kind of rivalry is that? David never broke bread with Goliath!!! Anyway, The Rick has had this game circled from the summer because I felt this was one of only two games that would actually be competitive for the Wyoming Area. The Rick was wrong. The Warriors have yet to have a competitive game. They boys from the West Side of the Susquehanna River have steamrolled opponents for nine weeks this season. This game doesn’t mean much playoff wise for the Warriors. They will be the No. 2 seed barring a Prep loss at Western Wayne. Nor does it mean anything for Pittston Area in the Class 4A post-season. The Patriots are destined to face either Berwick or Dallas in the first round. So in reality, tonight is Pittston Area’s title game. A win at Charley Trippi Stadium over the Warriors will send the Patriots out on a high-note this season.

Pittston Area 21, Wyoming Area 20

 

Valley View at North Pocono

While this game may look good on paper, The Rick isn’t buying today’s news. North Pocono has been inconsistent and have beaten just one team that is going to end the season with a winning record – Delaware Valley. On the other side, Valley View has roared through all nine weeks of the season, including impressive victories at Berwick and at Dallas. Don’t get me wrong, the Cougars don’t have much to play for in this one. But staying focused on the task will be important to maintain the momentum they have built throughout the season.

Valley View 38, North Pocono 15

 

Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Class 3A) 6-4

Dunmore at Lakeland

The Rick is torn in this game. Dunmore has lost two games – one an opening season loss to Prep and the other to Lackawanna Trail on the road in a game they turned the ball over twice inside the red zone. In both games, the Bucks had trouble against teams that posed multiple threats on offense. On the other side of the ball, Lakeland had been playing really well until a close loss to West kind of derailed their momentum. A loss at Western Wayne two weeks later compounded that, and last week’s loss to Prep has fans wondering who this Lakeland team is. The Rick is going to be honest here. When I began writing this paragraph I was picking Lakeland to win this game. But as I finish typing this after studying the schedules, The Rick is going with Dunmore. HA! I guess I wasn’t torn!

Dunmore 19, Lakeland 13

 

GAR at Meyers

All The Rick knows about this rivalry is what I wrote above. Its two community-based schools going at it in its last games against each other. Both will make the district playoffs, and wouldn’t it be great if somehow both GAR and Meyers could get to the District 2 Class 3A final to play one more time. But that is about as realistic as The Rick losing 100 pounds between now and then. Sorry Grenadiers and Mohawks. You know what would be cool? If both teams finished regulation in a tie and the coaches refused to play overtime, allowing this great series to finish on even terms. Enjoy the game, the atmosphere, the competition and the camaraderie on your final night. The Rick says, “LET THEM TIE!”

Meyers 27, GAR 27

 

Prep at Western Wayne

This was supposed to be the year Prep fell off a little bit. But quarterback Leo O’Boyle and the Purple Reign defense would have nothing of it. The Cavaliers are 8-1 and sitting in the top spot of the Class 3A tournament. Western Wayne is on a four-game losing streak since beating Lakeland, with tough losses to West and Dunmore in their last two games. The Wildcats are playoff bound once again and in line to host a first-round game. But a win at the Sharkey Rosetti Complex could push the Cats into the No. 3 spot where they would have a legitimate shot at a rematch with the Preppers in the final. The Rick doesn’t think that is going to happen, but who am I to steal someone’s dream.

Prep 37, Western Wayne 11

 

Going to the mattresses (Class 2A) 6-3

Susquehanna at Riverside 
The Susquehanna-Riverside game is another game that could turn into a doubleheader. The Vikings and Sabers play in Lackawanna County on Friday and the winner will determine where the two teams meet next week. A Riverside win puts this game right back in Taylor next week. A Sabers win, and the Vikings travel to Susquehanna to open the D2 Class 2A tournament. Don’t sell the Sabers short. They have a pretty good defense but they’ll need to be a little better than pretty good to contain the Vikes. The Rick thinks the playoffs return to Taylor.

Riverside 20, Susquehanna 13

 

I ain’t no bandleader (Class 1A) 7-2

Northwest at Holy Redeemer

You may be asking yourself, “Really? This was the best game involving a Class 1A school?” The Rick’s answer, “YES!” Northwest played a pretty good first 12 minutes last week against Old Forge. However the Blue Devils scored four touchdowns on returns over the next 12 minutes to put the game away. The Rangers ran the ball pretty well, and stopped the run half decent. If they can clean up their special teams and not turn the ball over in the passing game, they could be a tough out in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Holy Redeemer is trying to avoid a winless season. The Royals have not shown much promise this year, but have battled each week. The Rick would like to make a suggestion to the two catholic-school football programs in District 2 – MERGE! Tell me why Holy Cross and Holy Redeemer could not combine to form ONE football team. The team would probably remain at 3A and could play in the LFC 4 division, with non-division games against a few of the smaller WVC teams. The Rick thinks the idea is genius. Take advantage school administrators. I won’t charge a finders fee.

Northwest 45, Holy Redeemer 21

 

Time to settle all family business (104-14)

Wallenpaupack over Abington Heights

West Scranton over Honesdale

Carbondale over Mid Valley

Trail over Holy Cross

Old Forge over Montrose

Berwick over Coughlin

Hazleton Area over Crestwood

Nanticoke over Hanover Area

Midd-West over Tunkhannock

 

Top 10 Hardest Schedules (Per The Rickter Scale)

For fun, to give you an idea if how hard a team’s schedule is, I am going to post every week the top 10 hardest schedules based on the Rickter Scale. The OR is the combined record of a team’s opponents.

 

TOP 10 TOUGHEST SCHEDULES

RANK TEAM RECORD RATING OR LW
1t. Pittston Area (4-5) 5.00 (52-38) 9
1t. Coughlin (0-9) 5.00 (49-31) NR
3t. Western Wayne (5-4) 4.75 (49-31) 4
3t. Abington Heights (2-7) 4.75 (56-34) 2
3t. Honesdale (2-7) 4.75 (54-36) 2
3t. Scranton (1-8) 4.75 (56-34) 1
3t. Mid Valley (1-8) 4.75 (54-36) 5
8. GAR (1-8) 4.50 (48-42) 9
10t. Valley View (9-0) 4.25 (51-39) 5
10t. Dunmore (7-2) 4.25 (48-42) 9
10t. Carbondale Area (2-7) 4.25 (48-42) 9

TOP 5 EASIEST SCHEDULES
RANK TEAM RECORD RATING OR
1. Wyoming Area (9-0) 2.00 (29-61)
2. Tunkhannock (3-6) 2.25 (30-59)
3t. Delaware Valley (6-3) 2.75 (39-51)
3t. Williamsport (5-4) 2.75 (37-53)
5t. Holy Cross (2-7) 3.00 (35-55)
5t. Meyers (6-3) 3.00 (34-56)
5t. Lackawanna Trail (8-1) 3.00 (37-53)