The Rick, Week 4 – 2020

By Rick Notari, BDFN

@TheBigBlueDevil

(1465-397 overall, .786 winning percentage)

 

Ifs and buts

The Godfather used to say, “If ‘ifs and buts’ were candy and nuts we’d all have a merrier Christmas.” Well I am not ready for Christmas just yet, but the ‘ifs and buts’ are plentiful these days in regards to high school football.

Last weekend, just after the PIAA released its state championship brackets, word travelled over social media that District 11 would probably drop out of the PIAA bracket. On Wednesday, District 11 made it official.

Instead of participating in state playoffs, District 11 will hold its own championship bracket and then allow teams to play until Thanksgiving weekend should they choose to play a 10-game schedule. So what does that do to the PIAA bracket? Well it obviously lessens the strength of the state tournament. Between the Lehigh Valley, Poconos and Schuylkill Valley schools and leagues, you are talking about some very strong and tradition-rich football.

It also gives Wyoming Valley West – currently 1-2 – the subregional title and an automatic berth into the PIAA tournament. The Spartans are now scheduled to play the District 6-8-10 subregional winner on November 13 in “Week 10.” The omission of District 11 also gives Valley West an open date in Week 9 (Nov. 6). So if they wanted, the Spartans could schedule a game that week. Maybe they could play Scranton or Delaware Valley or one of the biggest Class 4A schools if they are still not playing.

So I mentioned Scranton and Del Val as possible Week 10 opponents for Valley West, but that’s only if either is not declared the D2 Class 6A champ. Right now the LIAA has yet to adjust schedules to hold a full district playoff slate before the scheduled start of the state playoffs. And the LIAA officially starts play tonight. So unless something happens between tomorrow and tonight (That’s a great KISS song by the way), look for the Class 6A champ to be appointed by the D2 power rating system. Yes, a big if, especially since the District 11 withdrawal doesn’t affect the District 2 side of the bracket. The D2 champ is slated to play either Williamsport or the District 6 champ in Week 9.

Because of the D11 withdrawal, Class 4A in District 2 has the opportunity to have a real tournament. Albeit, a smaller tournament that what would have been scheduled in a normal year. D2 was slated to meet D11 in Week 10, so with an open spot, District 2 can play a semifinal in Week 9 and then a championship in Week 10. That would give four teams an opportunity for a post-season. Looking at the list of Class 4A teams in D2, you can surmise that there are six teams battling for the four spots at this point – Dallas, Crestwood, Valley View, North Pocono, Berwick and maybe Wallenpaupack.

Class 3A also will not change as of now. District 11 is on the opposite side of the East bracket so District 2 Class 3A would play a title game in Week 9. Class 2A would gain an extra week with D11 dropping out, and allow for D2 to play a title game in Week 9. Class 1A gains a week so one of three things could happen – 1. District 1 and District 2 can play an on field championship game between “appointed” champions; 2. Should D1 also withdraw – which has been rumored – D2 can play its own championship game between its two teams; or 3. Maybe Old Forge and Valley West can hook up during their “bye week” and play in the “PIAA Bowl” like they did in 1975.

Like The Rick said, a lot of ifs and a lot of buts. Let’s hope Christmas is still a ways off.

RICK’S SIX

Dallas made the big jump this week, moving from No. 5 to No. 3 in The Big Six. North Pocono makes an appearance in the rankings this week after The Rick got a look at Air Trojan last Friday night. The Small Six saw Wyoming Area drop from No. 2 to No. 4 after its loss at home to Williamsport. The Rick also considered placing Northwest (3-0) into The Small Six, but decided to wait another week to see how the Rangers compete with South Williamsport.

 

THE BIG-SIX

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

 

THE SMALL-SIX

  1. Lake-Lehman (3-0) 1
  2. Lakeland (0-0) 3
  3. Prep (0-0) 4
  4. Wyoming Area (2-1) 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) 3-0

Wilkes-Barre Area at Williamsport

Both the teams in The Rick’s Masculine Matchup got off to great starts in 2020. Then Wilkes-Barre Area ran into Dallas last week, and the Wolfpack got knocked off track. Williamsport on the other hand continued to impress with a victory over Berwick. The Millionaires have stacked three wins and if they can get by WBA, they should be able to stack three more before Dallas comes calling in Week 7. It’s Top Hat time in Billport. The Rick only sees dollar signs.

Williamsport 29, Wilkes-Barre 18

 

The Luca Brasi (Toughest Pick of The Week) 2-1

Dallas at Lake-Lehman

When The Rick looked at the schedule in mid-August, I thought to myself, ‘Boy that stinks. The Rick cannot believe the Old Shoe Game will be played in Week 4. This is a game deserving of a Week 10 slot!’ But here we are, and if we needed something to keep our interest going in these COVID times, the football gods have given us the undefeated Black Knights and the unbeaten Mountaineers to entertain us on the first football Friday of October. Lake-Lehman is on a roll. Ethan Adams and Ryan Eiden are the real deal. But the Mounts have some new faces that aren’t ready to give up Dallas spot on top of the Back Mountain – including R.J. Wren. The Rick has a feeling this could be a Top 5 game of 2020 when the season is all said and done. My head is telling me Lake-Lehman but my gut is telling me Dallas. Let’s go against my better judgement.

Lake-Lehman 26, Dallas 23

 

Don’t ask me about my business (No Rhyme or Reason) 1-2

Hanover Area over Nanticoke Area

Hanover Area is 0-2. Nanticoke Area is 0-3. Something has to give right? I mean this isn’t the NFL where you can play for a tie like the Eagles on Sunday. In the Trojans defense, they haven’t had the easiest schedule to start the season. Nanticoke has played three teams that are each 3-0. Still The Rick isn’t sure which way to go. If you compare the common opponent – Lake-Lehman – the Hawkeyes would be a four-point favorite. Plus Hanover is home. The Rick loves to be a homer. Doh!

Hanover Area 27, Nanticoke 23

 

Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Easiest Pick of The Week) 3-0

Lackawanna Trail over Holy Cross

If my reading comprehension skills didn’t fail me on Sunday, I could have sworn that I read the Holy Cross quarterback will play his first football game on Saturday. EVER! God bless the Crusaders signal-caller against the Trail Lions. Could the schedule-makers have given the young Crusaders a worse opening game? Who do they have Week 2, Old Forge???? Oh wait. They do.

Trail 55, Holy Cross 0

 

Going to the mattresses (A Rivalry-type Game) 3-0

Riverside at Old Forge

The Vikings and Blue Devils meet for the 74th time in gridiron history. Old Forge leads the series 38-31 with four ties, winning three in a row and nine of the last 10. But Riverside is looking for some payback after last season’s game ended with the Vikings threatening inside Old Forge territory in a 33-26 Blue Devil win. Old Forge kicks off its season with this game while Riverside has already played three games as it rebelled against the LIAA decision of not starting the regular-season until this weekend. But hey, what would you expect from Vikings. They’re rebellious. Riverside is 0-3, but its young, inexperienced receiving corps now has a few games under their belts and will be better prepared for the Old Forge defense. The Blue Devils managed to get in two scrimmages, so they will not totally be unprepared for game-night conditions. The Rick expects a battle from the best rivalry in the Commonwealth, but Riverside’s 2020 game experience won’t be able to overcome the Devil Machine.

Old Forge 34, Riverside 21

 

I ain’t no bandleader (Give Some Respect) 3-0

South Williamsport at Northwest

If there has ever been a bandleader among the small schools it’s Northwest. The Rangers are 3-0 on the season but those three wins have come against three teams that traditional struggle to post victories during football season. This week they welcome South Williamsport to Shickshinny for their home opener. The Mounts opened with a victory last week and are traditionally one of the stronger small schools in the East. So are the Rangers ready for Prime Time? A win in this game and the rest of the Class 2A schools in District 2 need to take notice. The Rick is curious as well.

South Williamsport 26, Northwest 18

 

Time to settle all Family business (11-2)

Hazleton Area over Pittston Area

Crestwood over Holy Redeemer

Wyoming Area over Tunkhannock

LaSalle College over Delaware Valley

Scranton Prep over Honesdale

North Pocono over Scranton

Dunmore over Wallenpaupack

Western Wayne over West Scranton

Lakeland over Mid Valley

Susquehanna over Montrose

Pitt over NC State

Steelers over Titans