The Rick, Week 9 – 2020
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1528-414 overall, .788 winning percentage)
Start. The. Count.
It’s that time of the year. Time to start the countdown to Hershey.
Three area teams have been appointed District 2 champs, another earned that title last week, and two more set their sights on the crown tonight. Can any of the six make it the Chocolate Factory? Let’s take a closer look.
Delaware Valley will have the toughest road, but they are also the best team of our six representatives. The Class 6A Warriors beat Hazleton Area last week to win the spot in the tourney and will get to host the Eastern Semi against the District 2 champ should they win this week. And they could win tonight, so don’t think the Warriors are just another opening round sacrificial lamb in the state’s biggest class.
Old Forge may have the easiest road, despite the fact they could play two of the traditionally top Class 1A teams in Steel High and Bishop Guilfoyle in the next two rounds. But the Blue Devils “road” will be one that leads only to 1 Elio Ghigiarelli Drive – the address of Old Forge Veterans Memorial Stadium. If the PIAA holds to its word, and the Blue Devils keep winning, they will host all three games on the “Road to Hershey.”
Crestwood is next on the list for The Rick. The undefeated Comets are rolling, and after their electric comeback win over Lake-Lehman last week, they are a solid favorite to move on this week. They would get to host a very winnable game next week in the Eastern Semi against District 4 stalwart Jersey Shore or resurgent Shamokin, and once you get to an Eastern Final, well who knows. The smell of chocolate does wonders to the soul!
Call The Rick crazy, but I think Lake-Lehman has a better chance to advance than Lakeland. That doesn’t mean the Black Knights are better than the Chiefs or will beat the Chiefs tonight. But Lake-Lehman has better balance on offense and can attack you in the air or on the ground. That is what will be needed if our District 2 team is going to beat either Wyomissing or Middletown in Class 3A. Plus, the Black Hole in the Back Mountain would be a great state playoff venue. The Class 3A team is also going to have an opportunity to host games right up until the title game in Chocolate town.
Dunmore has a tough road to the final despite hosting District 12 champ Bishop McDevitt tonight in Bucktown. The Bucks lost to McDevitt last season on the road and were a better team last year. The Covid climate hasn’t allowed a young Dunmore team to get into any kind of rhytym, and even if they win tonight, the Bucks will have to go on the road in the next two weeks with hopes of getting to Hershey.
Wyoming Valley West has the toughest road of the District 2 playoff teams. The Spartans haven’t played a game in to weeks and aren’t played this week. So they will have a month layoff before they take a potential trip to Erie to take on state power Eric Cathedral Prep in the “Eastern Final” next week.
Let the excitement begin! START. THE. COUNT!
The Rick keeps trying to put them out, but Valley View keeps pulling themselves back in. The Cougars with a huge win over Scranton Prep last week puts them back in the Big-Six at No. 5. Meanwhile, Crestwood, the best Big Six team not named Delaware Valley, moves up to No. 2. Despite the loss to the Comets, Lake-Lehman remains the No. 1 Small-Six team. Prep’s loss drops them to No. 4, while Western Wayne moves up to No. 2.
- Delaware Valley (4-1) 1
- Crestwood (7-0) 3
- Williamsport (6-2) 2
- Hazleton Area (4-3) 4
- Valley View (3-1) NR
- Dallas (4-3) 5
- Lake-Lehman (7-1) 1
- Western Wayne (4-1) 3
- Lakeland (4-0) 4
- Prep (4-1) 2
- Old Forge (4-0) 5
- Wyoming Area (4-3) 6
THE RICK’S PICKS (88-18 overall, 32-10 Godfather Games)
May their first child is a masculine child (The Big Boys) 8-0
Delaware Valley v. Altoona (at Danville HS)
District 6 champion Altoona defeated Williamsport last week in a subregional in a game they controlled from the start. Senior QB Marcus Day does most of the damage with his feet, having rushed for over 500 yards and 11 TDs. He also has also thrown for over 400 yards and three scores. To stop the Mountain Lions, Delaware Valley will have to stop Day. But junior running back Ethan Stroup has 724 yards rushing and six TDs for Altoona (4-2), including a 35-carry, 234-yard performance in a win against Chambersburg one month ago. Delaware Valley has seemingly been on a mission since the season kicked off. They will play anyone and want to play anyone to prove they belong in the conversation when you talk about the elite in the biggest classification statewide. The winner of this game will host the District 3 champion next week. The Rick believes the Warriors will host either William Penn (6-0) or Central York (7-0) next week in Milford.
Delaware Valley 27, Altoona 23
The Luca Brasi (Toughest Pick of the Week) 5-3
Lake-Lehman at Lakeland
The last time these two teams met in the D2 playoffs, Lakeland won a slugfest in overtime, 6-3. The Rick expects another slugfest, albeit with more points. Lake-Lehman (7-1) travels to Chapman Lake to take on the Chiefs in for the Class 3A championship and a spot in the PIAA tournament. The winner will host the District 3 champion next week, either Wyomissing or Middletown. The Black Knights lost an overtime heartbreaker last week to Crestwood last week while the Chiefs had the week off. The Rick doesn’t want to say Lake-Lehman backed into the playoffs, but if Scranton Prep wasn’t upset by Valley View, the best team in the Back Mountain would have been home watching this game on TV. Instead, Coach Jerry Gilsky will try to get that high-octane offense back up and running this week. Lakeland (4-0) will rely on a punishing defense and ground game to try and return to the state playoffs. The Rick thinks it’s finally Lake-Lehman’s time to shine.
Lake-Lehman 27, Lakeland 18
Don’t ask me about my business (No Rhyme or Reason) 3-5
Dallas at Crestwood
The once thing you can say about Crestwood (7-0) this year is that they have been consistent. And that is almost the opposite of what you can say about Dallas (4-3). It’s what should be expected of a veteran team and an inexperienced one. Yet, here are both teams in the District 2 Class 4A final. Both teams rallied for victory last week with the Comets beating Lake-Lehman in overtime and the Mountaineers winning at Berwick. The Dallas pedigree should keep them in this game, but Crestwood has rolled for the most part all season. The victor will host the winner of the District 4 final between Shamokin and Jersey Shore.
Crestwood 24, Dallas 14
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Easiest Pick of the Week) 7-1
Bristol at Old Forge
In his first season as the head coach at his alma mater, Mike Schuback took Old Forge on a road trip to Bristol and earned his first playoff victory. Eighteen years later, the Blue Devils welcome the Warriors to Old Forge Veterans Memorial Stadium as a heavy favorite to advance to the PIAA Class 1A tournament. Bristol is 2-3 with victories over Kutztown and Lower Moreland. However, the Warriors also lost against Lower Moreland while dropping its first two games of the season to Academy of the New Church and Pennington Prep (NJ). ANC beat Riverside earlier this season. The Blue Devils have a chance to host three straight playoff games. The Rick thinks Old Forge will definitely host two.
Old Forge 42, Bristol 14
Going to the mattresses (A Rivalry-type Game) 8-0
Wyoming Area at Pittston Area
Well, The Rick didn’t have to wait until 2021 to see how Pittston Area would react in some vandalism done last week on their school campus. The Patriots will host ARCH-RIVAL Wyoming Area tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. The game was supposed to be played last week but COVID-19 complications had Pittston Area on hiatus. The Patriots (0-4) haven’t played in a month while Wyoming Area’s last game was two weeks ago in a win over Nanticoke. The Cross-River Rivalry is one of the best in the area. The Rick is happy to see it being played this year, especially with the added incentive of the Patriots wanting to paint the town red. Unfortunately, the Warriors (4-3) are going to send the hosts home sick, green with envy.
Wyoming Area 33, Pittston Area 30
I ain’t no bandleader (Give Some Respect) 6-2
Lackawanna Trail at Riverside
Way back in the spring when the original high school football schedules were released, Lackawanna Trail was set to visit Riverside. Yet, when the Covid slate was released these teams were not set to meet. So when the powers that be allowed for teams who were eliminated from playoff season to continue to play, the Lions and Vikings decided to get together again. The game will be played on Sunday at 6 p.m. and offer another opportunity for Lackawanna Trail’s Ray Melnikoff and Riverside’s Johnny Gilchrist to add to their respective record-setting careers. The game itself will be a tale of two opposites as the Lions want to punish you with the run while the Vikings want to air it out. The Rick gets whacked every time he picks the Vikings, so let’s go with the Lions this week.
Lackawanna Trail 24, Riverside 20
Time to settle all Family business (52-10)
Bishop McDevitt over Dunmore
Western Wayne over Wallenpaupack
Tunkhannock over Wilkes-Barre
Honesdale over Mid Valley
Malvern Prep over Valley View
Florida State over Pitt
Steelers over Cowboys