The Rick, Week 14 – 2018
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1219-336 overall, .784 winning percentage)
Change the Bracket
As The Rick writes my column after a great Thanksgiving dinner, I give thanks for having common sense. I wish the same could be said for the PIAA. A look at the brackets in each of the six classifications and the normal fan can see that they just make no sense.
It makes absolutely zero sense that some teams have a bye and a week off this late in the state playoffs. In Class 6A, Harrisburg is off this week and has a bye into the Eastern Final. In 3A, Aliquippa is off this week and has a bye into the Western Final. In 2A, York Catholic had a bye last week before its game against Southern Columbia tonight. In 1A, Halifax had a bye two weeks ago before beating Muncy to reach this week’s Eastern Semi, and Our Lady of Sacred Heart is off this week and has a bye into the Western Final.
Now out west, The Rick realizes that a lot of the schedule is dictated by the PIAA’s fear that the WPIAL will pull out of the state tournament all together. The WPIAL is audacious and thinks playing in a PIAA championship in Hershey is second to a date at Heinz Field for the WPIAL title. But the WPIAL could have its cake and eat it too. Just play a week later. Heinz Field is open this week. The Steelers are on the road in Denver. There was no reason games couldn’t have been played today, tomorrow and Saturday. Could you imagine a Thanksgiving Day WPIAL championship at Heinz? It would be pretty cool don’t you think?
So what’s the solution? It’s easy. When Week 11 comes, take the best 64 teams in each bracket. If there are not 64 teams in each bracket, then give teams byes until Week 12 or Week 13. If throughout the tourney there are not 64 or even 32 teams to fill a bracket, then wait until September to start the season. Playing two games in August also makes no sense.
But hey, we’re talking about the PIAA. At this point we shouldn’t expect common sense.
Now let’s pick some games….
THE RICK’S PICKS (69-26)
May their first child is a masculine child (Class 6A) 10-4
The Luca Brasi (Class 5A) 11-2
Don’t ask me about my business (Class 4A) 14-4
PIAA Class 4A Quarterfinals
Valley View v. Imhotep
The preliminary fights are over for Valley View. It’s time for the main event. The Cougars return to the state playoffs for the second straight year and the opponent will be the same – District 12 champ Imhotep Charter. The Panthers have played for the state championship three years in a row and are built to make another trip to Hershey in 2018. To say Imhotep has a collection of great talent would be an understatement. There are reports of anywhere from six to 11 Division I players on the roster. The Rick, however, has only been able to find solid information on four players with offers from Division I schools. Still not bad, especially when you look at the players. Running back and safety, Tykee Smith has committed to West Virginia. He is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 4 player in Pennsylvania’s 2019 class. Yusef Terry, a 6-4, 175-pound senior wide receiver has committed to Baylor. On the opposite side of Terry, junior wideout Karam Cummings Jr. has an offer from Baylor and senior WR Anthony Gordon has an offer from UMass. That’s a lot of known talent to overcome, especially when you combine it with the unknown talent that the Philly schools continually put on the field. It isn’t easy finding info on the teams in the City of Brotherly Love. As good as Valley View is, and as much as The Rick would like to see the Cougars get to the Eastern Final, I am a realist. Valley View is by far the most talented team in Northeastern PA. The Rick is not sure that talent will have enough to match the talent of Imhotep.
Imhotep 32, Valley View 21
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Class 3A) 13-5
PIAA Class 3A Quarterfinals
Scranton Prep v. Montoursville
It its four year-run of domination in District 2, it looks like this year is the best chance for Scranton Prep to advance to the PIAA Eastern Final. An extended district playoff bracket has the Cavaliers in the PIAA Quarterfinals for just the second time in school history. Their opponent is a team they’ve had experience with in the past in state playoff action in the Montoursville Warriors. The District 4 Champion exacted a bit of revenge last week in the D4 final by shutting out Danville, 32-0. The Ironmen had throttled the Warriors earlier in the season. Montoursville other loss this season came at the hands of Jersey Shore. The Rick is looking at the Warriors 10-7 win at Selinsgrove as an indication that Prep has a golden opportunity. The Seals are not a common opponent of the Cavaliers and Warriors, but they also lost to Berwick this season, and knowing the strength of the WVC compared to the LFC, Prep fans should be optimistic. That said, the Purple Haze defense has its work cut out for them. The Montoursville (11-2) offense features 2,000-yard passer Hunter Shearer. The 6-foot, 180-pound signal-caller has 29 touchdowns against only five interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes this season. Junior Jaxon Delana, a 6-3, 195-pound wideout has 52 catches for 957 yards and 13 touchdowns. Delana has caught 16 passes the past two weeks during the D4 playoffs. Logan Ott leads the Warriors on the ground with 713 yards and nine touchdowns on 131 carries. Three other backs have combined for 1,126 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. That’s a whole lot of offense, but The Rick is going to pick an upset here.
Scranton Prep 31, Montoursville 23
Going to the mattresses (Class 2A) 7-6
I ain’t no bandleader (Class 1A) 9-4
PIAA Class 1A Quarterfinals
Lackawanna Trail v. Halifax
A message to Lackawanna Trail fans – The Hershey Lodge is really nice. You should probably start thinking about booking a room. The Lions ran all over District 11 champ Tri-Valley last week and face another Tri-Valley League member in District 3 champion Halifax (11-1). Halifax defeated District 4 champ Muncy last week, 19-18, in the first round of the state playoffs. They defeated Tri-Valley, 29-12, during TVL play earlier this season, and their only loss came during conference play, to Williams Valley. And while that all seems impressive, the Wildcats do not play the same level of schedule as Trail does. MaxPreps ranks the Wildcats almost 100 spots lower than Lackawanna Trail in their state ranking system. All the said, the Wildcats give up less that 10 points per game, but are only averaging 22.5 on offense. That doesn’t mean Halifax cannot be dynamic on offense. West Birginia-bound Broc Grosser leads the Wildcats on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The 6-1, 170-pound athlete has 766 yards and nine touchdowns on 40 receptions and 197 yards and three TDs on 14 carries on offense, and 111 tackles and 12 interceptions on defense. Grosser isn’t the only threat on offense. Senior quarterback London Johnson has thrown for 1,576 yards and 16 TDs on the season. Running backs Evan Billow and Jay Zerby have combined for over 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Billow, a 5-11, 210-pound fullback, has also added 319 yards and four touchdowns on 15 catches. Passing defense is something Trail has struggled with at times this year, but the Lions will control this game in the trenches and with its potent running attack. The Rick smells chocolate.
Lackawanna Trail 34, Halifax 14
Time to settle all family business (113-13)
Juniata Valley over United
Middletown over Conwell-Egan
Bethlehem Catholic over Pottsgrove