The Rick, Week 14 – 2021

By Rick Notari, BDFN

@TheBigBlueDevil

(1723-467 overall, .786 winning percentage)

A lot to be thankful for

While our society has become more hostile and volatile in the era of social media – which in many cases causes us to be anti-social – there are many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Week. Let’s start with The Rick.

Yes, I am thankful for The Rick – my pen personality. The Rick allows me to write about high school football in a colorful, less serious way, while also bringing you what I hope is some form of entertainment each week. Chris Kucharski and the NPF Network gets many thanks for allowing The Rick free reign – for the most part – while not stifling my creativity.

The Rick is thankful for high school football, obviously. But in the COVID-world, the fact we had a full season and have three of our teams still playing during Thanksgiving Week is another reason to be thankful. We don’t have Thanksgiving Day games anymore in NEPA, but three teams playing – two of which have great tradition – is nothing to sneeze at. And all three teams have a shot at advancing. Three teams playing in December would really be something to be thankful for.

The Rick is thankful for all our NPF Network sponsors. Broadcasting games for the Blue Devil Football Network every week, the number of businesses and families that help us put on our show is amazing. And that number grows every playoff week when the PIAA charges insane amounts of money to broadcast playoff games. I am sure all our networks at Valley View, Dunmore and Lackawanna Trail all get the same response from their communities. The Rick is thankful for all of you.

The Rick is thankful for another year of successful prognosticating. Maybe I didn’t pick all the games right, and maybe I only picked your team to win in 12 of the last 13 weeks, but my winning percentage rose this season, and that means I am thankful to the teams for making me look good most of the time.

And hey, we can’t forget about all the players and coaches in the LFC and WVC. Without you, The Rick wouldn’t be here. Thank you for your commitment to the sport we all love. Thank you for your perseverance through struggle, through injury and through dealing with each other and dealing with us the media. THANK YOU!

Ok. Time for the picks!

 

THE RICK’S PICKS (169-45)

The Rick submits. It is time to wave the white flag. This season we kept score in a friendly rivalry, matching picks with Consigliere Tom Robinson in his weekly feature on our partner website, NEPASportsNation.com. After 13 weeks, The Rick is cooked. I am now eight games behind Mister Robinson entering Week 14. I am still going to make picks, and Tom can continue to match if he likes, but the fat lady is singing. Turn out the lights. This party is over.

 

Check out The Consigliere’s picks at www.nepasportsnation.com.

 

Here are The Rick’s picks for Week 14.

 

PIAA Class 6A First Round (3-1)

D2 SEASON COMPLETE

 

PIAA Class 5A First Round (4-0)

D2 SEASON COMPLETE

 

PIAA Class 4A Quarterfinal (6-1)

Bishop Shanahan (10-3) at Valley View (12-1)

Cougar Crazies! Let me here yinz! Don’t worry, The Rick heard all you whiners last week, and I am not going to be ridiculed on social media again by a bunch of small-minded people who never put a helmet on their heads. You all know who you are. As for those who were respectful in their differing opinion on last week’s pick, thank you for being respectful. So, with all that said, The Rick was once again impressed by Valley View’s performance on Friday night. Coach George Howanitz sure had his squad ready, and boy did they deliver. Another home game this week should provide the same result. But it won’t be easy. District 1 champ Bishop Shanahan features dual-threat QB Cooper Jordan, a senior with 4.5 speed who can beat you with his arm and his legs. The Eagles have also played some solid defense this year, led by defensive end DaKendrick Daniels, but it won’t be enough. The Rick is Cougar Crazy this week.

Valley View 28, Bishop Shanahan 13

 

PIAA Class 3A Quarterfinal (5-1)

Scranton Prep (11-0) v. Wyomissing (13-0)

An early look at this game and one may think that it will be all Wyomissing. The Spartans have state playoff pedigree, have scored a ton of points, and have an impressive win on its schedule over Southern Columbia. But let’s look closer at that win. Yes, it was convincing, but so was Scranton Prep’s victory over Wyoming Area last week. What does that have to do with it? Well, Wyoming Area was three feet away from stopping that Southern winning streak just two weeks earlier than Wyomissing did. That tells The Rick, that these teams may very well be even, and the only advantage Wyomissing will have is that they are playing in their home district on a Saturday afternoon – something they are very familiar with. They are even in styles as well. The Spartans want to pound it on the ground. They feature three running backs with 15 touchdowns or more. Senior Thomas Grabowski leads the way with 23 TDs to go with 1,194 yards rushing. His backfield mates, senior Amory Thompson and junior Andrew Eisenhower have split 30 TDs and combine for 1,352 yards on the ground. Junior QB Ben Zechman is not a threat to run but has thrown nine touchdowns on 46-for-74 passing with 719 yards. Senior TE Aiden Mack is his top target with nine catches for 227 yards. Needless to say, this game will be won up front, and the Cavaliers have shown that they have the size and strength to do battle with almost anyone. So, expect a close one. But The Rick needs to upset one fan base per week – it’s in my contract. So here goes….

Wyomissing 23, Scranton Prep 21

 

PIAA Class 2A (4-0)

D2 SEASON COMPLETE

 

PIAA Class 1A Quarterfinal (2-1)

Old Forge (11-0) v. Canton (12-0)

When Old Forge takes the field on Saturday afternoon at Danville Area High School, it will be the first time since 2015 that the Blue Devils are among the Elite 8 in Class 1A, and only the third time in school history. Their opponent, the Canton Warriors, won their first-ever state playoff game last week over defending state champion Steel-High. Yes, the same Steel-High team that stole a victory (and possibly gold) over Old Forge in the opening round last season. District 4 champ Canton used a bruising running game, an opportunistic defense, and a long TD pass to win a thriller over the Rollers. The Warriors will go old-school, double tight-ends with a full-house, wishbone backfield to run over opponents. Junior Riley Parker leads Canton RBs with 1,214 yards and 22 TDs. Three other backs – including senior QB Cooper Kitchen – have all run for over 500 yards. Kitchen has 501 yards and 12 TDs, junior Hayden Ward has 525 yards and 10 TDs, and junior Weston Bellows has 633 yards and 6 TDs. Bellows is also the Warriors leading pass-catcher, having hauled in 13 passes for 486 yards and four TDs. Kitchen has thrown for 619 yards and seven TDs on just 25-for-52 passing. Canton will need its running game firing on all pistons as the Blue Devils have only given up 66 yards rushing per game. And Old Forge is hungry. Last year’s heart-breaking loss to Steel-High has been the motivating factor for the Blue Devils this season. The Rick expects that to show on Saturday.

Old Forge 36, Canton 13

 

Time to settle all Family business (86-20)

Harrisburg over State College

Erie Cathedral Prep over Imhotep

Bishop McDevitt over Lampeter-Strasburg

Danville over Neuman-Goretti

West Catholic over Northern Lehigh

Bishop Guilfoyle over Juniata Valley

 

BRACKET BUSTED!!!

Well, last week The Rick gave you his state title finalist and champions after filling out all six PIAA brackets. I struggled mightily. Only in Class 3A did my two finalists survive the Sweet 16. In the other five classes, all five of my Western finalists were beaten in the opening round. Ugh! So, let’s try this again!

 

PIAA Class 6A: St. Joseph’s Prep over Harrisburg

PIAA Class 5A: Imhotep over Penn-Trafford

PIAA Class 4A: Bishop McDevitt over Jersey Shore

PIAA Class 3A: Central Valley over Wyomissing

PIAA Class 2A: Southern Columbia over Farrell

PIAA Class 1A: Old Forge over Bishop Canevin

 

Pick Six

Valley View emphatically put its stamp on the No. 1 ranking in The Big Six with its decisive victory over North Pocono. Scranton Prep did the same thing in The Small Six with its big victory over previous No. 2 Wyoming Area. Old Forge is the other team still alive in The Small Six and has moved up to No. 2 ahead of the Warriors. With only three teams left total, this is the final poll of the season. Best of luck to the Cougars, Cavaliers and Blue Devils.

Here is the final Pick-Six….

THE BIG-SIX

  1. Valley View (12-1) 1
  2. Delaware Valley (9-4) 2
  3. North Pocono (10-3) 3
  4. Hazleton Area (8-4) 4
  5. Dallas (8-3) 5
  6. Berwick (7-5) 6

 

THE SMALL-SIX

  1. Scranton Prep (11-0) 1
  2. Old Forge (11-0) 3
  3. Wyoming Area (10-2) 2
  4. Lakeland (10-2) 4
  5. Mid Valley (9-3) 5
  6. Lackawanna Trail (8-4) 6