The Rick, Week 7 – 2020

By Rick Notari, BDFN

@TheBigBlueDevil

(1504-408 overall, .788 winning percentage)

 

Time to restructure?

There was an interesting letter-to-the-editor in The Times-Tribune this week regarding a return to, “Big 11 football.” The letter asked for a return to the days where all of the Lackawanna County football-playing schools played each other and did so in hopes of claiming a league title that actually meant something while putting dreams of state championships on the back burner.

The writer – the sometimes outspoken and opinionated Skip Roskos, former baseball coach at West Scranton – makes a lot of valid points. The Skip talks about having rivalry games every week, matchups that will draw apathetic fans back to the stadiums, and hopefully, a shot at competitive football each week. All three would be a welcome change to what some schools have experienced during the Lackawanna Football Conference era. But how many of the schools in Lackawanna County would want to play in a new Big 11?

The Rick is sure their fans would love to see Old Forge playing Dunmore, Lakeland, West Scranton, Valley View and Prep every year. But what does that exactly do for the Blue Devils? Old Forge never won a Big 11 title, and at the end, the Blue Devils football program was probably one more Big 11 season away from coming to an end. Dunmore and Lakeland may feel the same way at this point in history. They won their share of Big 11 titles, and were never close to dissolution, but each has had some thin cycles since the Big 11 ended.

Now, if there were enough teams – say 14 – to play in an expanded, two-division Big 11 schedule, then maybe those three small-school powers would be willing to move away from the old Suburban schools. But what about Mid Valley? Carbondale? Would they be willing be part of that expanded conference? At their current strength, The Rick doubts that. And what do we do with Delaware Valley and Lackawanna Trail – two championship programs?

It is easy for someone to say, let those teams go play somewhere else without any regard for them. But that’s why we have a league organization such as the LIAA – to put ahead the needs of the many before the needs of the few. Does The Rick agree with the LIAA all the time? No. And actually, The Rick probably disagrees with them 4 out of 5 times. But the current setup is probably best – as a whole – for all 20 schools playing football. Still, this is something that needs to be looked at in the off-season. So for the hell of it, here is The Rick’s restructured football league with a nod to The Skip.

Big 11: Abington Heights, Dunmore, Lakeland, North Pocono, Riverside, Scranton, Scranton Prep, Valley View, West Scranton.

 Suburban Conference: Carbondale, Honesdale, Lackawanna Trail, Mid Valley, Montrose, Old Forge, Susquehanna, Wallenpaupack, Western Wayne.

 Independent: Delaware Valley, Holy Cross

Now, the explanations. You cannot place Delaware Valley into a Big 11 that features small schools Dunmore, Lakeland and Riverside. But the eight-game Big 11 schedule would allow Delaware Valley to pick up at least two of those teams, say Abington Heights and Scranton. The Warriors could then play four of the WVC teams – Williamsport, Valley West, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton Area for six games. The Warriors have not backed down from scheduling a Class 6A Philly school and making a trip to Florida for a game, so now that is eight games. Fill in two more big schools maybe from the Lehigh Valley or the Poconos and they are all set. Would it be an easy schedule to make? No, but it would be better for all parties involved – including Delaware Valley and their aspirations to compete on the state level.

On the other end of the spectrum, Holy Cross – and possibly Montrose – could go the same route with an independent schedule. The Crusaders could pick up two or more games from the Suburban teams, say Carbondale and Susquehanna or even rival Mid Valley. Then they could grab two games against Holy Redeemer and one each against Nanticoke or Hanover Area. Maybe they pick up Northwest or CMVT. An eight-game schedule for HC would be a good stepping stone to building a program.

The bigger schools in the Suburban – Honesdale, Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne could pick up two or three out of conference games with the Big 11 teams and then do the same with the WVC. Now maybe that’s what we did in an expanded role when the NEPFC was the District 2-wide conference. But at least now we would keep some of the rivalries The Skip wants.

Is there a perfect solution for all 20 teams in the LIAA? No, there isn’t. But there has to be a way where we can create more competitive matchups and foster the sport of football. Let’s face it kids have other options these days. No one wants to get beat 47-6 every week. Scores like that are going to ruin the sport. And those scores are not coming from poor sportsmanship, they come from matchups of the haves and have-nots.

The LIAA should try it for the next cycle because what we have now just isn’t working.

RICK’S SIX

Well, well, well… Look who finally was ready to bust into the Big Six – Valley View. The Cougars debut at No. 5 and are unbeaten and unscored upon after two games. Things get a little tougher the next two weeks, as they travel to Western Wayne and Scranton Prep – who are both ranked in the Small Six. But The Rick thinks VV is ready for the BIG TIME! The Wildcats are back in the Small Six at No. 5 as Wyoming Area dropped to No. 6 and Dunmore dropped out after a home loss to Tunkhannock.

 

THE BIG-SIX

  1. Delaware Valley (2-1) 1
  2. Williamsport (5-1) 2
  3. Crestwood (5-0) 3
  4. Hazleton Area (4-2) 5
  5. Valley View (2-0) NR
  6. Dallas (3-2) 4

 

THE SMALL-SIX

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

 

THE RICK’S PICKS (64-12 overall, 23-7 Godfather Games)

May their first child is a masculine child (The Big Boys) 6-0

Dallas at Williamsport

As The Rick writes this he wonders if this game will even happen. Rumors of COVID-related shutdowns plague social media and my text messages. Dallas is in need of a victory if it hopes to have any shot at playing in the District 2 Class 4A title tilt. Williamsport – who played without head coach Chuck Crews on Tuesday – looks to bounce back from its first loss of the year, a 41-0 defeat at the hands of Harrisburg. The Mountaineers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record so far and The Rick thinks that trend continues.

Williamsport 21, Dallas 10

 

The Luca Brasi (Toughest Pick of the Week) 4-2

Crestwood at Berwick

Every week The Rick asks himself, ‘Self, how good is Crestwood really?’ Well, The Rick is going to find out the next two weeks. Before the Comets host fellow unbeaten Lake-Lehman next week, they travel to Crispin Field in Berwick this week. The Dawgs are not having the season they quite expected to have, but they are still the Dawgs playing at home, and the mystique of playing Berwick at Cripsin Field still holds up, even in a down year. Berwick can surely play spoiler the next two weeks, especially if Dallas can pull the upset at Billport. But The Rick is not sure they are up to the task. If Crestwood overcomes the intimidating factors of playing at Berwick, we’re looking at an epic battle of unbeatens in the final week of the season.

Crestwood 24, Berwick 17

 

Don’t ask me about my business (No Rhyme or Reason) 1-5

Holy Cross at Holy Redeemer

The Rick is not sure what to say about this one. The game was moved from Saturday to Friday so all involved could enjoy their weekends I guess. Both Holy Redeemer and Holy Cross are desperate for a victory, but it looks as if the Royals are just a little ahead of the Crusaders. The Rick wishes these two teams would figure it out and co-op with each other to field one team and build a program worthy of the other sports programs at their respective schools.

Holy Redeemer 27, Holy Cross 6

 

Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Easiest Pick of the Week) 6-0

Prep over West

Did you ever think this matchup would make the Cannoli Game? A friend of The Rick and an old-school West Sider told me this week, “Sports is dead in West Scranton.” The Rick sure hopes he is wrong as there have been great athletes and great traditions that have come out of West Scranton. The Prep has too many weapons in this one. The Rick wonders how many of the Cavaliers live in West Side…

Prep 47, West Scranton 7

 

Going to the mattresses (A Rivalry-type Game) 6-0

Wallenpaupack at Honesdale

The Wayne-Pike Shrine Classic pits rivals Wallenpaupack against Honesdale this weekend in what may not be a five-star matchup, but will be a competitive game just because of the circumstances surrounding the game. Honesdale struggled mightily in its first two games, but played tough last week against neighboring Western Wayne. The Buckhorns on the other hand have battled in all three of its games, losing in the last two weeks by just one score. One of those games was against District 2 power Delaware Valley. Anything can happen in a rivalry game, but The Rick sees Wallenpaupack with the edge in this one.

Wallenpaupack 29, Honesdale 23

 

I ain’t no bandleader (Give Some Respect) 5-1

Dunmore at Lakeland

You may seem surprised to see one of these teams in the Bandleader slot. The Rick is quite surprised as well. But a lot of heads turned last week when Tunkhannock posted a victory over Dunmore on Senior Night in Bucktown. Halloween may have come early for the Crimson Tide because The Rick is sure most Dunmoreans – especially Sidney the Sea Monster – must have believed that someone other than the Bucks dressed up in their uniforms Friday night. So it is about respect for Dunmore on Friday night. And as per reports yesterday, it’ll be about respect for the Chiefs as well. This looks like it will be Lakeland’s last game of the season as school officials have said October 28 will be the last day of play for its student-athletes due to COVID concerns. Expect a championship like intensity on the gridiron at Chapman Lake.

Lakeland 31, Dunmore 19

 

Time to settle all Family business (37-7)

Delaware Valley over North Pocono

Scranton over Hanover

Notre Dame GP over Old Forge

Valley View over Western Wayne

Trail over Susquehanna

Riverside over Mid Valley

Hazleton over Valley West

Lake-Lehman over Tunkhannock

Wyoming Area over Nanticoke

Pitt over Notre Dame

Steelers over Titans