The Rick, Week 14 – 2019
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1405-382 overall, .787 winning percentage)
Bye, bye, bye….
It came to The Rick’s attention this week that some teams out west – particularly WPIAL teams Clairton and Central Valley are on bye this week. In the East, Central Dauphin has a bye. It’s the middle of the state playoffs – Week 14 – and three of the best teams in their respective classifications get a week off before playing in the PIAA semis.
Seriously! Where is that kid from WNEP to do an interview?
I mean C’mon Man! How unfair is this? Leave it to the PIAA to screw up something as easy as a 16-team bracket. Look I get it. The WPIAL thinks they are the NFL and the PIAA is the XFL. Sometimes I wonder if Vince McMahon is actually running the PIAA, but that’s a different column. Anyway, the WPIAL likes to stage championship games at Heinz Field, and that kind of dictates a schedule. But that shouldn’t mean two powerhouse teams should get a bye this late in the season. Of course, the third team is from District 3. And with the PIAA located in District 3, they usually just do what they want.
Once Week 12 ends, there should be 16 teams alive in each bracket. That could be done two ways, 1. Allow districts to play championship games in Week 13 like they do now, or 2. Force districts to have championships complete by the start of Week 13. Yes, that means we would like have 12 teams to fill 16 spots, but in that case, use the power rating to fill out the bracket. Only teams that reached their district final would be eligible to be selected as a wild card.
Teams like Canton, Old Forge, Sto-Rox and Williams Valley could still be alive in Class 1A. They do it in basketball to fill out a 32-team bracket. Why not do it in football? The big shots will give you excuses about travel but that is nonsense. In 1999, the Old Forge basketball team traveled 3 ½ hours to Dallastown for a first round PIAA game. Football teams could do the same.
In Option 1, some districts would have to allow for byes in their first round. Or maybe not start a bracket until Week 12. Like in District 7 Class 1A. The eight teams could have been given Week 11 off and then start the playoffs in Week 12 so there championship game would be this week and serve as a PIAA quarterfinal. The bye in districts isn’t significant like it is during the PIAA tournament.
Figure it out PIAA. The fans are surely paying more than enough to attend these games. Use some of that money to come up with an even bracket without quarterfinal byes.
Let’s make the picks!
THE RICK’S PICKS
(161-42 Overall, 113-89 ABPI)
Don’t ask me about my business (Class 4A) 13-5 Overall, 6-12 ABPI
Dallas v. Imhotep Charter (+6)
This may come to a little bit of a surprise to those outside the Back Mountain and the WVC, but Dallas has won a state championship in football before. Can the Mountaineers do it again? They sure do have the talent. A balanced offense coupled with a great defense is usually the recipe needed in the post-season to advance, and Dallas has both. The trouble is, the opponent this week is state power Imhotep Charter. The Panthers have run roughshod over District 2 opponents Valley View and North Pocono the past three seasons and it wouldn’t surprise The Rick if it happened again this weekend. But Imhotep may not be the power this year that they have been in the past. The Panthers started the season 0-3 and are just 8-4 overall. The losses came to LaSalle College, DeMatha (MD), Philly’s Northeast High, and Bergan Catholic of New Jersey. Now that’s not exactly the LFC Division IV slate. Those are pretty formidable high school football programs right there. Still, I am going to test the MaxPreps.com rankings – the official stat keepers of the PIAA. Max Preps has Imhotep ranked 42nd in the state. They have Dallas ranked 24th. The Rick is supporting Columbia Blue this week!
Dallas 24, Imhotep 20
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Class 3A) 14-1 Overall, 9-6 ABPI
Wyoming Area v. Montoursville (-2 ½)
Wyoming Area has been dominating all season. Outside of Dallas, the Green-and-Gold Warriors have been the most impressive team in the WVC and no doubt a Top 5 team in District 2. On Saturday afternoon they will travel to Williamsport to take on Montoursville in what will surely be like a home game for the Blue-and-Gold Warriors. Besides sharing a nickname, both teams also have dynamic quarterbacks, solid running attacks and stout defenses. Hunter Shearer runs the offense and has thrown for more than 1,300 yards and 18 TDs on the season. The senior, three-year starter spreads the ball around. Five different receivers have double-digit receptions, led by senior Jaxson Dalena who has 26 for 468 yards and six TDs. On the ground, sophomore Rocco Pulizzi has 1,111 yards and 18 TDs. Senior Logan Ott has 642 yards, but has cashed in 15 times for touchdowns. Oh, the teams also have one other thing in common. Both have singular losses on the season coming to the same foe – Southern Columbia. Wyoming Area lost to the Tigers in Week 8, 42-0, and Montoursville lost to the Tigers in Week 9, 35-0. This is where The Rick uses math to make his pick.
Montoursville 27, Wyoming Area 20
I ain’t no bandleader (Class 1A) 9-4, Overall, 5-8 ABPI
Lackawanna Trail (-13) v. Muncy
The way the Steelers look at the Browns like they’re nothing but a little brother, that’s how The Rick looks at District 4 Class 1A football. Every once in a while the little brother may need to use a helmet as a weapon to beat big brother, but typically big brother wins. Well there will be no helmet weaponry in Williamsport on Friday night. Lackawanna Trail marches on the road to Hershey as they travel to D4 to take on their small-school champ, the Muncy Indians. Led by the combination of freshman brothers, Branson and Ross Eyer, the Indians (9-4) are much like the Lions in that they defeated an opponent, Canton, in the D4 final that beat them during the regular season. So they are getting better as the season progresses. QB Brandon Eyer has thrown for over 1,000 yards but for only eight touchdowns. He has also run for almost 400 with five scores. Brother Ross, his top target, has 20 catches for 583 yards and nine touchdowns. Junior RB Ethan Gush has rushed for 1,026 yards and 18 TDs, and fellow junior Paul Pepper has 568 yards on the ground. The numbers won’t matter in this game. The Rick likes the Lions experience in this one.
Lackawanna Trail 35, Muncy 13
May their first child is a masculine child (Class 6A) 12-2 Overall, 6-8 ABPI
ALL FAVORS REFUSED – Delaware Valley (11-2) is the D2 Class 6A champ.
The Luca Brasi (Class 5A) 9-3 Overall, 5-7 ABPI
SLEEPS WITH THE FISHES – Wyoming Valley West (3-8) is the D2 Class 5A champ.
Going to the mattresses (Class 2A) 11-3 Overall, 8-6 ABPI
THE TOLL BOOTH IS CLOSED – Dunmore (8-5) is the D2 Class 2A champ.
Time to settle all family business (109-24 Overall, 83-50 ABPI)
Class 6A St. Joseph’s Prep over Nazareth Area (+21)
Class 6A Central Catholic over State College (+6)
Class 5A Gateway (-11) over Peters Township
Class 5A Archbishop Wood (-5 ½) over Southern Lehigh
Class 4A Thomas Jefferson over Erie Cathedral Prep (+8 ½)
Class 4A Pottsville (-3) over Jersey Shore
Class 3A Wyomissing (+9) over Tamaqua
Class 3A Sharon over BEA (+15)
Class 2A Southern Columbia (-41) over Upper Dauphin
Class 2A Washington (+5) over Avonworth
Class 1A Bishop Guilfoyle over Juniata Valley (+15 ½)
Class 1A Farrell (-18) over Coudersport