So have we figured some things out yet? I think, as we move to the second semester of the season, that the wheat has been separated from the chaff. We begin the month of October on Friday night. “Everyone goes home in October.” Those inimitable words belong to Beat legend, Jack Kerouac, who, as a high school football star in Lowell, MA, dreamed of gridiron glory like so many others before and after. While his fame came as a novelist and poet, as evidenced by that quote from his magnum opus, On the Road, he understood the heart that beats inside every athlete who makes the turn for home and seeks the rewards at the end of that road.

So why do I wax poetic in an article on high school football? Indulge me.

And so, without further whimsical stutter steps, here are, easily, the two biggest games of the week. Each represents a significant ride from my inconspicuous hovel in farm country, but I have dug a tunnel, a la Andy Dufresne, out under the well in my yard. If I claim to be cleaning Martha’s (my intrepid cat) litter box, I may be just be able to avoid a Friday night of scrapbooking with my wife and make a clean getaway in my smartly colored brown Ford Escape.

Delaware Valley (2-3) at Hazleton Area (3-2)

Both games this week feature inter-league contests between teams who are in the same classifications in District 2. This one, to be settled in the hills of Hazleton, is big on big, two 6A titans who have designs on district hardware. Both come in hot as DV has won two in a row after their three-game gauntlet to begin the season. The Cougars have notched three wins, including conquests of Berwick and Dallas on the road, no small feat. I believe that the Warriors have to travel by Amtrak, then two Martz connections, and finally covered wagons to get from Milford to Hazleton. No matter.

Senior quarterback, C.J. Ross, has come of age for Coach Keith Olsommer. He has found a playmaker in sophomore tight end, Aiden Black. Ross has begun to spread the ball around to a bevy of talented receivers who complement tailback, Joe Sciascia. We have reached that point in the season where DV realizes that they have too much talent to struggle. At home, Hazleton may keep it close for a bit, but once the Warriors get over the malaise caused by their insanely long trek, it’s lights out.

My guess is that DV does not lose in the month of October.

Wyoming Area (4-1) at Lakeland (5-0)

Class 3A rivals meet at Chapman Lake in what is certainly the most intriguing matchup of Week 6. Yes, the Warriors are 4-1, but the 1 is far more impressive than the 4. No one will forget the thunderous scare Coach Randy Spencer put into the Tigers of Jim Roth and Southern Columbia. Kudos to Wyoming Area for putting that heartbreak in its rearview and stomping Crestwood last week. In my humble opinion, the Green and Gold are clearly the best team in the Wyoming Valley Conference at this juncture and a legitimate threat to the Jesuit Giants residing on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton in Class 3A.

But what about the Chiefs? The spread offense run by Lakeland is exciting, maneuvered by quarterback Dominico Spataro, who is certainly among the two or three most valuable offensive players in all of District 2. Spataro sends at least four receivers into patterns on nearly every play, stretching defenses and confusing coverages. The corps of wideouts, Nick Mancuso, Jon Seamans, and Kevin Snyder, has teamed with mammoth tight end, Lacota Dippre to notch 58 catches for nearly 950 yards and 12 touchdowns. And that’s in half a season! The Chiefs are dangerous and extremely confident, particularly in their home environs.

So what gives on Friday night? My guess is both teams will put points on the board, particularly early as the respective defenses adjust. The Chiefs are defending District 2 champs in this classification and on their home field. Still, I’m a believer in Wyoming Area. Their quarterback, Blaise Sokach-Minnick, threw for four scores a week ago. Senior Rocco Pizano is a legitimate burner on the outside. Expect the Warriors to take some punches but wear down Lakeland in what should be a truly entertaining tilt.

One worthy of that shifty tailback from Lowell with a gleam in his eye and stories to tell.

A Face in the Crowd