So I managed to get to the Wallenpaupack at Lakeland game last weekend, the one that I had labeled as the Lackawanna Football Conference Game of the Week. By now you are all well aware that my wife holds little regard for high school athletics. In order to drive up to Chapman Lake on Friday night, I had to agree to spending my Saturday at a symposium with my wife where two distinguished academicians were arguing about whether Charles Darwin wore boxers or briefs. Prior to my eyes glazing over, I had time to consider the results of Friday night, as well as some ideas for this week’s marquis games. Also, I wondered about the relative alimentary merits of Munchos and Funyuns.

Lakeland beat Wallenpaupack in a game littered with mental and physical errors that are common in high school football games that are emotionally charged. Two students sections chanting insults at one another, grandparents shouting obscenities at the guys in the stripes, and the melodic cadence of cheerleaders overcome by the moment: all of these caused me to consider my own existence and a faraway youth for a few beats. Where have all the flowers gone? Ah, but I digress…

I favored the Buckhorns, but the Chiefs continue forward to the midway point unbeaten. Had it not been for some untimely turnovers, the game could have been over at intermission. Down South, as expected, Hazleton stretched past Pittston Area, evening their record at 2-2. Watch out for the Cougars. They may be a tough out down the stretch.

So where to this weekend? So many viable options. Wherever I may be headed, I am truly excited by my new Louie Prima playlist on Spotify.

Wyoming Area (3-1) at Crestwood (1-3)

Pay no attention to the disparity between the records. Forget about the Warriors’ near miss against the monolith that is Southern Columbia. Disregard the Comets’ stunning loss to Tunkhannock a few short weeks ago. This is a game between two highly skilled teams and it is falling in a week that will lead to a close result.

If you head to Mountain Top on Friday, you will watch a Crestwood offense that bears little resemblance to the group that opened the season in a tight tilt against Williamsport. Jay Swank is the new quarterback and Noah Schultz is the tailback. Schultz only averaged over 10 yards per carry in an absolutely stunning 21-0 victory for Crestwood over the previously unbeaten Western Wayne Wildcats. No one outside of the Crestwood locker room expected that result. Credit to Coach Arcangeli and his squad for circling the wagons. This weekend they get Wyoming Area, fresh off a loss that was whiskers from being a history-making win.

Southern Columbia is the dictionary definition of a dynasty, and the Warriors punched them in the face and attempted to steal their lunch money. But, in the manner of all true winners, the Tigers recovered and snuck out of West Pittston with a victory. So where does that leave Randy Spencer’s team. A bit battered and bruised, I suspect. And perhaps, lacking the requisite emotion to waffle the Comets Friday.

My take is that this one will seesaw back and forth until the Warriors do unto others as was done unto them last Friday. With a seasoned and gritty bunch, Randy Spencer will do just enough to go to 4-1.

Scranton Prep (3-0) at Western Wayne (2-1)

At this point, you are all aware that Western Wayne was forced to cancel their travel plans to Staten Island in Week 3 to face Moore Catholic. That was unfortunate, as the week off left the Wildcats stale as Martha’s (my intrepid cat) six month-old Kit and Kaboodle. Perhaps they were peeking ahead to the Cavaliers this week, and perhaps not. But the combination of the derailment of a much-anticipated road game, a contest against a winless opponent, and a looming date with the Jesuit Giants was enough to doom Randy Wolff’s football team last Friday night. Can they recover this week against, arguably, the most impressive offense in all of District 2?

Prep fought their own COVID demons this past week as Dunmore bowed out because of exposure during their Week 3 contest against Lehman. While many expected the Cavs to nail down an opponent from either near or far, no game was played, putting Prep in exactly the same situation as Western Wayne the week before. There is one significant difference, though. Prep will not look past Western Wayne. My guess is that Terry Gallagher spent the entirety of two weeks readying his squad for Friday’s trip to Varden.

These two teams recognize that this may be the first of two meetings as they are compatriots in Class 3A. What can a win mean for each? For Randy Wolff, it would place the flag on top of the mountain, indicating that his program can compete with anyone in their classification on any given day. For Terry Gallagher, the win is the latest step on the road to a titanic battle in Week 10 against Valley View. While coaches will never talk about such things, they never stop thinking about them. It consumes them.

So how will this play out? I went against Prep once a few weeks ago and have the scars to show for that indiscretion. I shall not venture in that direction again. Prep is the better team, is well-rested, and their confidence has not yet been shaken. Had Western Wayne been healthier, I may have considered a closer outcome. As it stands, I’m guessing Prep by two touchdowns in what may be a dress rehearsal for a semifinal matchup later in the fall.

And I’ve always been a Munchos guy. The bright red bag does something to my rods and cones. When I see the shiny paper, my mouth waters like Pavlov’s dog’s.

A Face in the Crowd