The Rick, Week 3 – 2020

By Rick Notari, BDFN

@TheBigBlueDevil

(1456-395 overall, .786 winning percentage)

 

PIAA PUNTS AGAIN!

 

The Rick hates to sound like a broken record, but for the sake of those sitting in the back, WHAT IN THE *&%$#@& is the PIAA doing?!?!?!?! After months of sitting by and doing nothing to direct, lead and govern its member schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the PIAA did what it does best on Wednesday – it punted. AGAIN!

The PIAA released state championship brackets for football and other fall sports on Wednesday, leaving districts, leagues, football coaches, the media and fans scratching their heads in figuring out how representatives will be determined for the state playoffs. In their ultimate wisdom, the PIAA has five of the six championship brackets starting in what they have deemed “Week 9” – which is about as accurate as Week 0.

Week 9 is listed with the dates November 6 or 7. And while the casual fan is just giddy over the fact we are going to have a state championship tournament, the people with a stake in the games, the kids, and the sport are wondering how exactly District 2 representatives are going to be determined when the regular season ends just one week before the playoff start date. “Week 8” is October 30 or 31.

So that has The Rick thinking – and determining – that three of the six classes in District 2 will have an APPOINTED champion. Whoever the top seed is – as determined by the district’s power rating – will be the District 2 “Champion” in Class 1A, 2A and 6A. In the other three classes – 3A, 4A, and 5A – the top TWO teams in the power ratings will play in Week 9 in a Championship game.

The only way this changes is if the Lackawanna Football Conference and the Wyoming Valley Conference decide to chop the last week of their regular-seasons off.

There are a few glitches in The Rick’s hypothesis.

First, Class 1A is a subregional with District 1. According to the District 1 website, only Jenkintown and Bristol are playing, and they aren’t playing each other. They are both playing Lower Moreland – TWICE. EACH. So Jenkintown has two games against Lower Moreland – which is a Class 4A school by the way – and Bristol has two games against Lower Moreland.

So The Rick’s thought is both D1 and D2 will put the four Class 1A teams – Old Forge and Holy Cross – are the D2 teams – and take the highest rated team and give them the bid to the state playoff opener on November 6 against the District 11 champ. If the districts actually wanted to play a subregional title game to determine the bid to the state playoffs, the top teams from each district would have to cancel their games in “Week 8.” Old Forge faces Trail in Week 8, Bristol plays Lower Moreland and Holy Cross plays Susquehanna.

In Class 2A, there are five teams fighting for the top seed – Riverside, Trail, Susquehanna, Dunmore and Northwest. If the district wanted a title game in Week 8, the four LFC teams would have to drop their last schedule game. Riverside and Dunmore play each other in Week 8 – a game that could determine a lot. Northwest is currently not slated to play Oct. 30.

In Class 6A, you have two of the four teams that look to be legitimate contenders for the “appointed” spot. Delaware Valley (4 games) and Wilkes-Barre (8) could both be deserving of at least one playoff game. Delaware Valley doesn’t have an opponent in Week 8 right now. Wilkes-Barre plays Valley West who may not have to play if District 11 opts out. But let’s save that for next week’s column.

In Class 3A, the top two teams could meet for a title in Week 9 (11/6). But how are those teams determined? Right now if you used the power rating, Lake-Lehman and Wyoming Area would face off. But LFC contenders Lakeland, Scranton Prep and Western Wayne have yet to play a game. So what will D2 decide? Will they take the top two rated teams regardless of conference? Or will they take the top rated LFC representative and the top WVC representative. The latter makes the most sense as the teams involved all get a shot at playing each other during the regular-season slate. All things being equal, The Rick feels the one-and-one scenario is the best option in 3A.

But it might not be the best option in Class 4A.

The better Class 4A teams this year seem to reside in the WVC with Dallas, Crestwood and Berwick all having designs on a title. So in a normal playoff year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see two WVC teams facing off for the title. But that isn’t exactly fair either for the LFC teams, especially Valley View, West Scranton and North Pocono. Again, both of these groups will face off during the regular-season, so it makes sense to take the top rated LFC team and the top WVC team and put them in a title game. Is it what’s best? We will see.

In Class 5A, another subregional, Valley West is the lone D2 team in a group of District 11 teams, East Stroudsburg South, Pocono Mountain East, Southern Lehigh and Whitehall. The top two rated teams in Class 5A should meet in Week 9 with the champ going to the state tournament.

District 2, the LFC and the WVC have some serious decisions to make. And they needed to be made yesterday. One thing is for sure, the district shouldn’t MacGyver the playoffs. Make a blanket decision and follow it. Either take the top two rated teams based on numbers, or take the top team from the LFC and the top team from the WVC and play-off. If my memory serves me right, this is the way playoffs used to be determined in most sports.

RICK’S SIX

Not too much has changed this week. We have one big jump, one drop and one re-entry. Williamsport jumps up to No. 2 in The Big Six after an impressive win at Wyoming Area. With the loss, the Warriors drop to No. 4 in The Small Six. Berwick comes back to The Big Six at No. 6.

 

THE BIG-SIX

  1. Delaware Valley (0-0) 1
  2. Williamsport (2-0) 4
  3. Wilkes-Barre (2-0) 2
  4. Crestwood (2-0) 3
  5. Dallas (1-0) 5
  6. Berwick (1-1) NR

 

THE SMALL-SIX

  1. Lake-Lehman (2-0) 1
  2. Lakeland (0-0) 3
  3. Prep (0-0) 4
  4. Wyoming Area (1-1) 2
  5. Dunmore (0-0) 5
  6. Old Forge (0-0) 6

 

THE RICK’S PICKS (17-3 overall, 10-2 Godfather Games)

May their first child is a masculine child (The Big Boys) 2-0

Berwick at Williamsport

With two impressive road wins over WVC-2 opponents Nanticoke and Wyoming Area, Williamsport returns hope to take on Berwick. The Dawgs are playing their third consecutive game travelling. In the previous two outings, Berwick has started slow in a loss to Lake-Lehman and a win over Pittston Area. But the Dawgs have had strong second halves in both of those games. The challenge is to put together a full game which they will need to outlast the Millionaires. This will no doubt be Williamsport’s toughest challenge to date, but The Rick is taking the Boys of Billport to remain undefeated.

Williamsport 27, Berwick 20

 

The Luca Brasi (Toughest Pick of The Week) 1-1

Wilkes-Barre Area at Dallas

Boy did Dallas come out of the gates last week with an impressive victory in its opener. For a team expected to go through some growing pains this year, the Mounts throttled Valley West in what was the first varsity start for about 20 players. Wilkes-Barre on the other hand is battled tested after its first two weeks. The Wolfpack won on a late field goal in Week 1 and scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn back Hazleton Area. This is WBA’s first road game of the season and next week they travel to Williamsport, so it is time to see how they react to getting off the bus. The Rick thinks the late-game magic just might end this week.

Dallas 31, Wilkes-Barre 27

 

Don’t ask me about my business (No Rhyme or Reason) 1-1

Pittston Area at Valley West

Wyoming Valley West was supposed to be ready to turn the corner this year, but they are a disappointing 0-2 after two weeks. Pittston Area was thought to be in a rebuilding process this year, but played tough for a half with Berwick last week in its opener. The Rick should just flip a coin on this one. But you know what? The Rick will turn to an old adage in this one. Never go against The (extended) Family.

Pittston Area 24, Wyoming Valley West 14

 

Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Easiest Pick of The Week) 2-0

Holy Redeemer at Wyoming Area

Holy Redeemer is playing its first game of the season. Wyoming Area isn’t too happy about its play in last week’s loss to Williamsport. Mush could pick this one right from the bathroom.

Wyoming Area 57, Holy Redeemer 7

 

Going to the mattresses (A Rivalry-type Game) 2-0

Crestwood at Nanticoke

The Rick still needs to sharpen up his knowledge of the WVC map, but my instincts tell me the Crestwood and Nanticoke school districts border each other. So let’s go to the mattresses! Winless Nanticoke played the toughest two-game schedule so far in WVC-2 and it doesn’t get any easier when Crestwood comes to town this weekend. The undefeated Comets play its second straight on the road before returning home for two. Crestwood looks like a contender this year, while Nanticoke continues to build. The Rick is hoping for a rivalry-type game where records do not matter, but I am not so sure that will happen.

Crestwood 30, Nanticoke 12

 

I ain’t no bandleader (Give Some Respect) 2-0

Tunkhannock at Hazleton Area

Hazleton Area has started the season with two tough losses and may just well be the most respected 0-2 team in the state. Tunkhannock had its first game postponed before losing at home last week to Crestwood. The Tigers gave up a lot of points in Week 2 which isn’t a good sign coming into Week 3. The Cougars are learning under a new head coach and are ready to give him his first victory. The Rick expects that to come this week.

Hazleton Area 35, Tunkhannock 21

 

Time to settle all Family business (7-1)

Tamaqua over Riverside

Lake-Lehman over Hanover Area

Northwest over Bucktail

Louisville over Pitt

Steelers over Texans