Did you listen to me? Did you go to Mountain Top to see Williamsport use superior athleticism and physicality to beat Crestwood last Friday night? Or, for those of you who reside north of Old Forge, did you travel to Varden to watch Coach Randy Wolff’s group manhandle Dunmore? Those were the contests I recommended last week. And we learned some lessons. Williamsport is the class of the Wyoming Valley Conference, and now will play a few more remote opponents like Altoona and Central Mountain. Western Wayne is a legitimate threat in Class 3A, pending a big-boy matchup against North Pocono this week.

So where should you go this week? What is the best use of your hard-earned dollars? Should you buy a Charleston Chew or a pack of Starburst at the refreshment stand? Let me see…

WYOMING VALLEY CONFERENCE GAME OF THE WEEK
Wyoming Area (1-0) at Wilkes-Barre Area (1-0) – Saturday, 2pm

First of all, do NOT look for this contest in Wilkes-Barre. The Wolfpack are playing their home schedule at Spartan Stadium in Kingston on the corner of Pierce and Tioga. This is an incredibly intriguing matchup that marks a struggle for credibility on the part of WBA. A win on Friday provides coach Ciro Cinti with an identity for his still-fledgling program. Memories of GAR, Meyers, and Coughlin will drift further into the distance should the Wolfpack emerge victorious over a bellwether program like Wyoming Area.

Javant McClary, Mekhi Nelson, and Howie Shiner, all underclassmen, are high octane tools that Cinti can utilize on Friday night. Nelson is electric. He can wreck a game and is certainly causing much consternation as preparations take place in West Pittston. Last week, the Pack took a punch to the gut from the Scranton Knights and then promptly reeled off 35 consecutive points. This is an exciting group to watch and will only become more dangerous as the schedule proceeds.

Wyoming Area is a blue-blood program in the Wyoming Valley Conference, just recently removed from a state title. Randy Spencer and the boys handled Hazleton, a quality win against a much bigger school. The load-bearer for the Warriors is junior, Drew Mruk, another in a long line of rugged tailbacks at Wyoming Area. It is no mystery what Coach Spencer’s strategy will be this weekend. If possible, the Warriors will punch the younger, less-experienced Wolfpack in the mouth and keep punching. Can WBA counterpunch?

As I stated earlier, a win by the Pack would not just be a statement, it would be a full-throated cry from the rooftops that WBA is for real. Something tells me though that the Warriors are just too much at this early stage of the schedule. Blue-bloods have that moniker for a reason. My guess is you’ll see that in Kingston on Friday.

LACKAWANNA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE GAME OF THE WEEK
Delaware Valley (0-1) at Valley View (1-0)

Keith Olsommer is a competitor. He was during his fabled high school career at North Pocono and his glory days in Happy Valley. Then, he created a monster of a program at Delaware Valley, one that he molded in his own image, calling upon principles he learned from Nick Donato and Joe Paterno. Toughness, grit, character, discipline. When the uninitiated or unaware wonder why he would schedule Gateway High School, one of the absolutely mammoth programs in the state, one has to laugh. He does this every year. He sends his unvarnished and inexperienced teams off to be whipped in Week 1. It allows him to do two things, both of which are integral to any coach worth his dry-erase markers. First, he learns who on his team can function in adverse situations. Everyone looks good up four scores against bad teams. Second, he gets the attention of the few young men in his program who have higher opinions of themselves than are warranted. Then he comes back and throws haymakers at his LFC opponents. I like his style.

It’s hard to gauge the Warriors from the thrashing they received Friday. So we will discover much when they travel to Peckville. If C.J. Ross can take some of the weight off the running game, and if Joey Sciascia can help to manufacture some time-consuming drives, the Warriors will do more than just compete in this muscular matchup on Friday.

Was anyone else impressed by Valley View’s demolition of Dallas? I certainly was. The Cougar faithful raved about the performance of the VV offensive line, particularly the work of Jakhai Simmons. Right now, the Cougars are the best team, in any classification, in the LFC. Where are the weaknesses? Their quarterback, the coach’s boy, Adam Howanitz, has staggering talent. Connor Hilling is a prototypical Valley View workhorse in the backfield. Their receiving corps is littered with playmakers. Their line is ridiculously experienced and athletic. And they have a championship pedigree. In fact, I will go so far as to say that they are the best team in all of District 2. But will they win on Friday?

Many of you may recall that this game, though scheduled last season, was not played. Valley View’s program was affected by COVID restrictionsin the summer and preseason and the Cougars were not prepared to play the Warriors. Both schools remember that and will utilize it for their own motivational purposes. I like anger. It’s a cleansing emotion. But I digress. While I don’t put much stock in home field advantage in high school football, I think it’s the only discerning factor between these two teams. One way or another, the winner lays claim to being the best in the area, at least for now.

And finally, it’s Charleston Chew over Starburst, every day and twice on game day.

A Face in the Crowd