The Rick, Week 7 – 2021
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1629-451 overall, .783 winning percentage)
The Many Saints of Nanticoke
While the makers of The Sopranos thought they would do us all a favor and make The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to the most popular show in television history, they instead gave us a movie – SPOILER ALERT – that ranks below Johnny Dangerously in the lexicon of mob movies. If you never watched The Sopranos, the title of this show might as well be The Many Saints of Nanticoke because you’ll know more about what’s going in Concrete City than in the movie.
It’s kind of like what the powers that be did in giving us a high school football schedule that leaves little to be desired. While I appreciate all the hard work that goes into developing such a schedule, it’s time we started looking at strength of teams. Next year starts the beginning of a two-year cycle, so let’s get to work.
I’ll start at home – the Lackawanna Football Conference. We will go with two divisions:
LFC 1: Delaware Valley, Scranton, Abington Heights, Valley View, Prep, North Pocono, Wallenpaupack, Western Wayne, Honesdale, West Scranton
LFC 2: Lakeland, Mid Valley, Dunmore, Riverside, Carbondale, Old Forge, Lackawanna Trail, Holy Cross, Susquehanna, Montrose
Despite two 10-team divisions, everyone won’t play everyone. Starting with the smallest school in the division, that team chooses two teams they don’t want to play. Then they must go out and schedule teams of their size or not one class smaller or larger. Exceptions can be made on strength of opponent. Example 1: Western Wayne doesn’t want to play Delaware Valley or Scranton. They can go out and schedule Lakeland and Dunmore to replace them. Example 2: Holy Cross doesn’t want to play Dunmore and Lakeland. They can go out and schedule Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke with an exemption.
Now, on the road – the Wyoming Valley Conference. We will also go with two divisions:
WVC 1: Hazleton Area, Wilkes-Barre, Wyoming Valley West, Williamsport, Tunkhannock, Berwick, Dallas
WVC 2: Pittston Area, Crestwood, Wyoming Area, Lake-Lehman, Holy Redeemer, Hanover Area, Nanticoke
Again, we have two 7-team divisions, but everyone in each division will play each other for six games, and then go out and schedule four more. The rub here is that if you have won 20 games over four years, you must schedule a like opponent in strength or class. So, let’s use Wyoming Area. Especially since the Warriors are not afraid to play anyone. They can schedule Lakeland, Valley View, Old Forge, or Prep, but cannot schedule Riverside, Honesdale, or West Scranton.
The Rick wants to see good matchups. Sure, those matchups could turn into losses for some teams, or blowouts for others. But the good teams need to be playing better competition during the season if they want to excel in the postseason. The fans also want to see it. No one but parents and family are watching when Old Forge is beating Hanover Area 48-0 at the half. And that is just one of many examples.
The Rick will work on sample schedules for all 34 teams in the coming weeks, but for now, just trust him. Let’s see some matchups to get excited about in 2022.
According to the District 2 website, here is what the playoffs look like if we started today:
1A: Holy Cross (3-3) at Old Forge (5-0).
2A: Susquehanna (1-5) at Trail (4-1); Riverside (2-4) at Dunmore (3-2).
3A: Holy Redeemer (1-5) at Scranton Prep (5-0); Carbondale Area (2-4) at Wyoming Area (5-1);
Lake-Lehman (3-2) at Lakeland (5-1); Western Wayne (3-3) at Mid Valley (5-1).
4A: Honesdale (2-4) at Valley View; Tunkhannock (2-4) at Dallas (3-2);
Pittston Area (2-4) at North Pocono (5-1); Wallenpaupack (2-4) at Berwick (3-3).
5A: PM East (1-4) at Whitehall (3-2); Valley West (3-3) at ES South (4-2).
6A: Scranton (3-3) at Delaware Valley (3-3); Wilkes-Barre Area (3-3) at Hazleton Area (3-3).
Ok. Time for the picks!
THE RICK’S PICKS (75-30)
An added attraction in 2021, throughout the season, we’ll be keeping score in our own friendly rivalry, matching picks with Consigliere Tom Robinson in his weekly feature on our partner website, NEPASportsNation.com. After six weeks, The Rick is getting his doors blown off by Mister Robinson. The tennis shoe-wearing, sweater-donning, friendliest man in the neighborhood put up a sterling 14-3 record last week, increasing his lead to an almost insurmountable five games. The Rick was a fair 13-4 as a few upsets threw him off stride.
Check out The Consigliere’s picks at www.nepasportsnation.com.
Here are The Rick’s picks for Week 7.
May their first child be a masculine child (The Big Boys) 2-4
Williamsport at Delaware Valley
Last week may have just been the crossroads for these teams. Williamsport suffered a tough loss at home to Dallas while Delaware Valley won a tough game on the road at Hazleton. Don’t look now but the Warriors have won three in a row after starting 0-3. The Millionaires have lost two in a row after starting 3-1. If things go the way The Rick expects, then last week was indeed a crossroad for both!
Delaware Valley 21, Williamsport 15
The Luca Brasi (Toughest Pick of The Week) 4-2
Mid Valley at Dunmore
The Rick is torn. Despite the fact they are enduring an un-Dunmore-like season, the Bucks are still one of the LFC Blue Bloods. Is it wise to pick against them? It isn’t. But The Rick has seen both teams first-hand and there is something about that Mid Valley team I like. Big and athletic linemen, an explosive back who can also get you the tough yardage, and a cagey quarterback who can beat you with his arm and legs. It’s not going not be easy for the Spartans, but The Rick thinks it’s their year to get over the hump.
Mid Valley 16, Dunmore 14
Don’t ask me about my business (No Rhyme or Reason) 5-1
Tunkhannock at Wilkes-Barre Area
Tunkhannock is a few plays away from having a better record than they are showing. And while Dennis Green taught us that everyone is who we think they are, The Rick is not sure he knows who either of these teams are. Heck, they might not know themselves! Don’t ask me about my business!
Tunkhannock 23, Wilkes-Barre Area 21
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (No-Brainer Pick of The Week) 6-0
Abington Heights at Crestwood
It some alternate past universe, this contest could prove to be out of this world. This year, both Abington Heights and Crestwood are fighting to stay in the atmosphere. Both the Comets and – the Comets – have an opportunity to finish the season off right with multiple wins. They both have winnable games left on the schedule. That means this one is a big one.
Leave the Comets, take the Comets!
Crestwood 26, Abington Heights 10
Going to the mattresses (A Rivalry-type Game) 7-0
Old Forge at Riverside
This was once the best rivalry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It may very well still be. But like Dickie Moltisanti in the middle of the Newark riots, it’s been very one-sided of late. Old Forge has won 10 of its last 11 games against Riverside. During that span, the Blue Devils have outscored the Vikings by 302 points. Believe me, I want to see a great football game Friday night. There is nothing like the energy, intensity, and atmosphere at an Old Forge-Riverside game. And while The Rick truly believes in throwing the records out the window in this contest, the Blue Devils have been playing in a house with no windows lately.
Old Forge 37, Riverside 13
I ain’t no bandleader (Give Some Respect) 3-3
Holy Redeemer at Hanover Area
Both these clubs are 1-5. The Rick finds it interesting that a few of Holy Redeemers star basketball players are playing football. The Rick likes multiple-sport athletes. On the other hand, Hanover Area only has 25 players on its roster – a roster than in the past has featured big-time college football prospects and quality athletes at every position. But not so this year. Both these teams are in search of respect. A win by the Royals will give them some cred while the Hawks would once have been expected to roll in this game. Eh, why not? The Rick is going out on a limb here.
Holy Redeemer 27, Hanover Area 23
Fredo, You broke my heart (Upset Special) 2-4
Hazleton Area at Scranton
Scranton is on a roll. Winners of two straight, the Knights host Hazleton Area before taking on Delaware Valley next week. The Cougars were on a roll. They had won three straight before losing to Delaware Valley last week. The Rick sees a trend forming here. Or does he? The District 2 6A teams are all 3-3 at this juncture. The race is on for a home playoff game. The heck with the trend! The Knights say, IT WAS YOU FREDO!
Scranton 37, Hazleton Area 35
Time to settle all Family business (38-14)
Berwick over Valley West
Wyoming Area over Lake-Lehman
Valley View over Wallenpaupack
Nanticoke over Montrose
Dallas over Pittston Area
North Pocono over West Scranton
Lakeland over Western Wayne
Trail over Holy Cross
Prep over Honesdale
Carbondale over Susquehanna
It’s the second season of The Rick’s Six. Nothing fancy. Just my opinion of who are the best Big School teams and the best Small School teams. Nothing else. Remember, it’s where you finish at the end – not the beginning or the middle.
Not a lot of movement this week. In the Big-Six, Delaware Valley and Hazleton Area swap places after the Warriors win over the Cougars last week, and Dallas moves in after its victory over Williamsport. The Small-Six remains the same, but this will be a big week with Lakeland at Western Wayne and Mid Valley at Dunmore.
Here is this week’s Pick-Six….
- Valley View (6-0) 1
- Delaware Valley (3-3) 3
- Hazleton Area (3-3) 2
- Berwick (3-3) 4
- North Pocono (5-1) 6
- Dallas (3-2) NR
- *Missed it by that much…. Williamsport (3-3)
- Wyoming Area (5-1) 1
- Scranton Prep (5-0) 2
- Lakeland (5-1) 3
- Old Forge (5-0) 4
- Lackawanna Trail (4-1) 5
- Mid Valley (5-1) 6
*Missed it by that much…. Western Wayne (3-3)