The Rick, Week 11 – 2019
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1374-373 overall, .787 winning percentage)
Nothing lasts forever…
They say that nothing lasts forever. Well, maybe in District 2 it does where 26 of the possible 34 teams playing football have made it to Week 11.
Six three-win teams, and a fourth with four wins, will all play tomorrow night in the District 2 playoffs. With respect to those players and coaches, football teams that cannot finish .500 or above do not belong playing in the post-season. Five of the 10 games involving those teams will be rematches of games from the regular season.
It will be interesting to see if some of these teams can put up a better fight in the post-season than they did in the regular-season. The Rick will be surprised if that happens. I actually want the post-season to become a reward again. It’s time to take only .500 teams or better unless a bracket needs to be filled. Then you can take the highest rated team with a losing record.
If taking fewer teams means awarding a bye to the top-seeded teams, then that’s fine. Let’s make the playoffs great again!
OK, it’s time for The Rick to toot his own horn. When this year’s column debuted, The Rick picked Dallas, Wyoming Area, Delaware Valley, Dunmore and Old Forge to win their respective divisions. And they did. My only mistake was picking Hazleton Area to win WVC 1. At the midway point, I renewed my picks with the previous teams plus Wilkes-Barre Area replacing Hazleton Area. Another winner – with some help at least.
So let’s set up the District 2 champs. At the beginning of the year, The Rick picked Old Forge, Dunmore, Wyoming Area, Valley View, Valley West and Delaware Valley. At the midway point, I changed Wyoming Area to Western Wayne in Class 3A and Valley West to Wallenpaupack in Class 5A. I was right and then wrong in Class 5A.
We’ll see in a few weeks how the preseason and half-season predictions hold up, but The Rick is going to change some picks now that a full season has been complete. I am going to stick with Old Forge, Dunmore and Delaware Valley in their respective classes. In Class 4A, I am going to jump on the Dallas bandwagon; and in Class 3A, I am going with the four-time defending champion Prep Cavaliers in an upset.
Let’s make the weekly picks!
THE RICK’S PICKS
(139-35 Overall, 100-74 ABPI)
May their first child is a masculine child (Class 6A) 9-1 Overall, 5-5 ABPI
#4 Williamsport at #1 Delaware Valley (-49); #3 Scranton (-4) at #2 Wilkes-Barre Area
The District 2 Class 6A bracket looks like a wash if you compare the regular-season games. Top-seeded Delaware Valley is the class of this tournament and should cruise to the title game in its semi-final matchup against a disappointing Williamsport squad who in its defense, has been slowed by injuries. The other semi-final matchup should prove to be a doozy. Scranton returns to the Diamond City to take on WBA who beat the Knights early in the season for it’s first-ever victory. Scranton is a little bit of a different team since then, and reeled off six straight wins after losing to the Wolfpack. This game should provide lots of splash plays and some highly energetic play inside the lines. The Rick is going to take the upset as it is awful hard to beat a team twice in one season when you are comparably even.
Delaware Valley 50, Williamsport 0
Scranton 34, Wilkes-Barre Area 27
The Luca Brasi (Class 5A) 7-3 Overall, 5-5 ABPI
#4 Valley West (+34) at #1 Southern Lehigh; #3 Pocono Mountain East (+15) at #2 E. Stroudsburg South
Wyoming Valley West snuck into the District 2/11 Subregional on the last weekend as it beat Williamsport while Wallenpaupack was losing to Abington Heights. The Spartans were outside looking in for a majority of the season, but it only counts where you are at the end. Last year, the Buckhorns rolled through this bracket, but this is 2019 and it seems the District 11 teams are slightly better than District 2 champ Valley West. The Rick is going to stick with the Pocono punishers.
Southern Lehigh 34, Valley West 21
ES South 33, PM East 22
Don’t ask me about my business (Class 4A) 7-4 Overall, 4-7 ABPI
#8 Abington Heights at #1 Dallas (-43); #5 North Pocono (-2) at #4 Crestwood
#7 Pittston Area at #2 Valley View (-33); #6 Tunkhannock at #3 Berwick (-37)
This is the bracket that most of NEPA has been waiting 10 weeks for. For those in the Back Mountain, they have been waiting almost 365 days. Defending champ Valley View was the favorite in the preseason and at the midway mark. But Dallas had something to say about that in Week 8 and has not looked back. The Mountaineers did no wrong in their trip to John Henzes Memorial Stadium in Peckville and for their efforts, they now get to host up to three games in order to win the District 2 Class 4A title.
That is still three weeks away, but fans are licking their chops for a Berwick v. Valley View rematch and then a second date for either of those teams with Dallas in Week 13. The Rick expects chalk in three of these four games, but look for LFC Division 1 North Pocono to pull the slight upset at Crestwood this week.
Dallas 44, Abington Heights 0
North Pocono 26, Crestwood 21
Valley View 40, Pittston Area 6
Berwick 44, Tunkhannock 6
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Class 3A) 9-1 Overall, 6-4 ABPI
#6 Hanover (59 ½) at #3 Western Wayne; #5 Lakeland at #4 Lake-Lehman (-11 ½)
The bracket got shook up last week when Scranton Prep won at Western Wayne to bump the Wildcats from the first-round bye into a quarterfinal matchup with Hanover Area. The second-seeded Cavaliers earned a bye along with top-seeded Wyoming Area. So Western Wayne will need to lick its wounds and bounce back this week if they want another shot at Prep. That shouldn’t be too hard. The other quarterfinal matchup in D2 Class 3A is a rematch from Week 2 when Lakeland returns to The Black Hole to take on Lake-Lehman. At the time, fans thought the Black Knights victory over the Chiefs was an upset as they had been crushed by Western Wayne in Week 1. But as the season progressed, fans saw the Lake-Lehman was for real. The Rick expects another dose of reality to set in in the Back Mountain on Friday night.
Western Wayne 63, Hanover Area 14
Lake-Lehman 28, Lakeland 13
Going to the mattresses (Class 2A) 8-2 Overall, 7-3 ABPI
#4 Susquehanna at #1 Dunmore (-25 ½); #3 Mid Valley (+11) at #2 Riverside
In Class 2A, two rematches are on the slate with Susquehanna travelling to top-seeded Dunmore and Mid Valley headed to Taylor to take on Riverside. The Bucks should have no trouble getting back to the title game, but the other semifinal is up for grabs. The Vikings beat the Spartans on a last-second field goal at PNC Field in the annual RailRiders Bowl earlier in the season, scoring 10 points in the final 60 seconds. The Rick expects another close game in a battle of opposite styles. The high-flying Riverside offense will need to get off the ground if it expects to advance to the title game. Look for the weather to play a factor in this one. Could the helicopters be on their way back to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Taylor on Friday? Heavy rains will give the Mid Valley ground game an advantage – an advantage The Rick thinks they take advantage of this time.
Dunmore 35, Susquehanna 6
Mid Valley 20, Riverside 17
I ain’t no bandleader (Class 1A) 7-3, Overall, 3-7 ABPI
#2 Lackawanna Trail (+3) at #1 Old Forge
For the fourth time in the past five seasons, Lackawanna Trail and Old Forge will meet for the District 2 Class 1A title. The Blue Devils have won two of those meetings with the Lions winning last year and using the victory as a springboard all the way to an appearance in the state title game in Hershey. Old Forge beat Trail at home earlier this year 26-7, sparked by a second quarter interception return for a touchdown. The Lions know they will have to play better to turn the tables in another visit to Old Forge – and they have said as much, excited to have another chance at the Blue Devils much like last year when they lost in the regular-season before winning in the title game. Old Forge has become less explosive on offense during the last month but the defense continues to impress. Senior defensive lineman Jonathan Nicholoff and senior linebacker Kevin Pepsin lead the Big Blue Wrecking Crew in allowing only 66 points in nine games this season. The Lions will need to wear that defense down with fullback Ray Melnikoff if they want a chance to win. Keep the offense on the field will be the goal for Trail – especially with what will be a muddy field. Much like last year, Old Forge is going to have to be successful in the pass game to win this one. The Rick hopes a little November rain doesn’t send the Blue Devils home early.
Old Forge 22, Lackawanna Trail 20
Time to settle all family business (92-21 Overall, 67-43 ABPI)
D1 Class 1A Final: Jenkintown (-8) over Morrisville
EC A/AA Final: Northwest (-14) over Montgomery
Class 6A #1 St. Joseph’s Prep over Father Judge (+53)
Class 5A #1 Penn-Trafford (-34) over Fox Chapel
Class 4A #1 Thomas Jefferson (-35) over Montour
Class 3A #1 Central Valley (-44) over Mount Pleasant
Class 2A #1 Southern Columbia over Towanda (+90)
Class 1A #1 Clairton over Our Lady of Sacred Heart (+16)
The Ricktor Rankings
So The Ricktor Rankings took a beating this year, but they weren’t as bad as The Rick thought after comparing the preseason predicted rankings to the finished product. There will be a revamped Ricktor Rankings next year. The Rick promises.
Looking at the finished product, The Ricktor Rating System nailed 10 of the 34 spots with Delaware Valley (1), Wallenpaupack (13), Pittston Area (15), Old Forge (24), Lackawanna Trail (25), Dunmore (26), Riverside (27), Carbondale (32), Holy Redeemer (33) and Montrose (34) landing in the spots predicted. The Ricktor Ratings also had Berwick, Valley West, North Pocono, Wyoming Area, Honesdale, Lake-Lehman, Nanticoke, Northwest, Mid Valley and Hanover Area all within one spot of their predicted rating spot.
The biggest misses for The Ricktor Ratings were Wilkes-Barre Area who finished 13 spots ahead of the preseason and Hazleton Area who was 12 spots below the summer rating.
Big School Ricktor (6A, 5A, 4A)
1. Delaware Valley (9-1) 10.00 1
2. Dallas (10-0) 9.25 2
3. Berwick (8-2) 9.02 5
4. Wilkes-Barre (6-4) 8.62 3
5. Valley View (9-1) 8.47 4
6. Scranton (6-4) 8.25 6
7. Crestwood (6-4) 8.22 7
8. Williamsport (3-7) 7.25 8
9. Valley West (3-7) 7.17 10
10. North Pocono (5-5) 6.95 9
Small School Ricktor (3A, 2A, 1A)
1. Scranton Prep (8-2) 6.82 3
2. Western Wayne (8-2) 6.67 1
3. Wyoming Area (9-1) 6.05 2
4. Lake-Lehman (7-3) 5.00 4
5. Lakeland (5-5) 4.72 5
6. Old Forge (8-1) 4.50 6
7. Lackawanna Trail (6-3) 4.27 7
8. Dunmore (6-4) 3.90 9
9. Riverside (5-5) 3.80 8
10. Northwest (5-4) 3.72 10