The Rick, Week 8 – 2019
By Rick Notari, BDFN
(1332-363 overall, .786 winning percentage)
It was celebration time just a few days ago for The Rick. A big win for the Blue Devils over Trail on Friday, my 30th class reunion and a Pitt comeback win on Saturday, and a trip to our nation’s capital to see the Dodgers win on Sunday.
I guess that’s when The Rick got greedy. I decided to stay in DC for Game 4 and a possible celebration with the boys in blue. Instead, Dem Bums lost to the ex-Expos in Game 4 and then did the inexplicable in Game 5 – losing at home in an elimination game. It was like a recurring bad dream. I felt like I was watching Garrison DiMaggio call 0-2 changeups to the No. 9 hitter in a two-out seventh inning.
What does this all have to do with District 2 High School Football? Well, nothing. But writing is therapeutic for me and The Rick needs to vent.
However, it still is Ricktober as I am blessed to prognosticate on some great games this weekend, and will celebrate on Friday night with my fellow Blue Devils and arch-rival Vikings on another edition of the best rivalry in the Commonwealth. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at what the District 2 playoffs would look like if they started today.
Class 6A: Williamsport at Delaware Valley and Scranton at Wilkes-Barre
Class 5A: Wallenpaupack at Southern Lehigh and Pocono Mt. East at East Stroudsburg South
Class 4A: Abington Heights at Valley View, Pittston Area at Dallas, North Pocono at Berwick and Tunkhannock at Crestwood
Class 3A: Hanover Area at Scranton Prep and Lakeland at Lake-Lehman (Western Wayne and Wyoming Area would earn first round byes.)
Class 2A: Carbondale Area at Dunmore and Mid Valley at Riverside
Class 1A: Northwest at Old Forge
Let’s make the weekly picks!
THE RICK’S PICKS
(97-25 Overall, 74-48 ABPI)
May their first child is a masculine child (Class 6A) 6-1 Overall, 4-3 ABPI
Scranton (-14) at Hazleton Area
Scranton High hits the road Friday night for an important matchup with Hazleton Area. How important is it? Well The Rick is glad you asked. The game is important on many accounts for the Knights. First off, they close with Valley View and Delaware Valley, so this may be their last chance at a victory before the playoffs start. Secondly, a victory could provide them with the margin they will need to grab the No. 2 seed in the D2 6A bracket with a chance to host a semifinal game. Lastly, a victory proves they can be a good team. The Knights are coming off of a rivalry win, facing a struggling opponent on the road. This may well be the definition of a trap game. Good teams don’t fall into traps.
Scranton 27, Hazleton Area 12
The Luca Brasi (Class 5A) 6-1 Overall, 5-2 ABPI
Abington Heights (-7 ½) at Wyoming Valley West
Once upon a time these two teams battled each other for championships. This weekend, Abington Heights and Valley West will be battling for an elusive victory. Both the Comets and Spartans are 1-5 on the season. Abington Heights’ five losses have come against opponents who are a combined 32-10. Valley West’s lone victory came against Scranton in Week 1. From there, the Spartans’ opponents are 27-15 combined. This game is a toss-up in The Rick’s mind, so I’ll go with the Born Power Index.
Abington Heights 20, Valley West 12
Don’t ask me about my business (Class 4A) 4-3 Overall, 3-4 ABPI
Dallas at Valley View (-3 ½)
It is not the season finale, but it is the penultimate episode of the season for Valley View. This is where the action climaxes before all the loose ends are wrapped up in the final week or two weeks. Think Game of Thrones. The Cougars have been put through the wringer the past two weeks with big wins against Berwick and Western Wayne and now must face its ultimate test in Dallas. The Mountaineers are having themselves a great season as well. The best team in the WVC to this point this season, Dallas begins its three-game exam on Friday night. (Berwick and Old Shoe Rival Lake-Lehman waits in the final two weeks.) This game is going to tell us a lot about the post-season. Valley View won both games in the regular-season last year against its top two contenders from the WVC. If they do it again, it will be more of the same in the post-season. Yes Dallas is better than it was last year, and maybe the Cougars aren’t as strong as 2018, but Valley View is still explosive. And anytime you can score on a moment’s notice, you have the advantage. The Rick was wrong last week. Let’s not make it a trend.
Valley View 26, Dallas 21
Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Class 3A) 6-1 Overall, 5-2 ABPI
Southern Columbia (-44) at Wyoming Area
If ever The Rick wanted to be wrong it would be for this game. I know a lot of the Wyoming Area fans think I am way off base or possibly outright against them. That is far from the case. I applaud the players and staff for wanting to take on a challenge instead of taking an easy win. I wish other successful programs would do the same knowing the outcome may not be a successful one. However, in no way was this matchup schedule in the correct way and in no way do the Warriors have a chance. We aren’t just talking about Southern Columbia the juggernaut. We are taking about a Southern Columbia team that has at least four big-time, Division 1 players; a defense that didn’t give up a point until two weeks ago (and I am sure that was the third-string defense); an offense that rolled to 69 first-half points two weeks ago against previously unbeaten South Williamsport; and a team that has no problem taking on all-comers. The Tigers traveled to South Carolina to start the season and dismantled one of their defending state champions that had multiple D1 players. There is no doubt there will be a great atmosphere at The Jake on Friday night. The Rick hopes everyone enjoys the moment.
Southern Columbia 56, Wyoming Area 10
Going to the mattresses (Class 2A) 5-2 Overall, 6-1 ABPI
Lake-Lehman at Mid Valley (+18 ½)
A lot like some of the aforementioned games, Lake-Lehman is kind of somewhere in between. The Black Knights gave it their all last week in its game with Wyoming Area and kind of sent a message that they should be expected to be contended with come playoff time. Yet this week, they travel to Mid Valley where the Spartans themselves are trying to find out who they really are. Mid Valley suffered an excruciating loss last week to Riverside and they need to rebound quickly if they are going to find themselves in good position to play for gold in the post-season. So the Black Knights need to be mindful that their opponent will be in no mood to give another game away. The Rick thinks this matchup will be more interesting than most observers think.
Lake-Lehman 21, Mid Valley 15
I ain’t no bandleader (Class 1A) 5-2, Overall, 2-5 ABPI
Old Forge at Riverside (+23 ½)
It is the 74th renewal of THE BEST RIVALRY IN THE COMMONWEALTH tomorrow night at Taylor Veterans Memorial Stadium. Yes, I wrote that in caps! Call it what you want: the Backyard Bawl; a Civil War; a Border War; the Coal Clash; the Sibley Siege; the War off of Storrs; or the Battle for the Triboro. No matter the name, it’s a throw the records out the window game. However there will be no surprises in this game. Riverside will try and throw the ball 40 times while Old Forge will look to ground it out 60 times or more. A contrast in styles on offense it will be. But keep one thing in mind, the Blue Devils defense has been stout, holding teams to a LFC-leading 239 total yards passing in six games while the Vikings have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards in the conference at almost 200 yards per game. Riverside does lead the LFC in passing yardage by almost a whopping 700 yards, but the Vikings are 19th in rushing with just 389 yards in seven games. That’s a lot of stats to digest. But let me leave you with one more. The Blue Devils have won 8 of the last 9.
Old Forge 38, Riverside 20
Time to settle all family business (65-15 Overall, 46-31 ABPI)
Delaware Valley (-49) over Williamsport
Wilkes-Barre Area (-13) over Wallenpaupack
North Pocono over Tunkhannock (+13)
Honesdale over Montrose (+35)
Western Wayne (-20 ½) over West Scranton
Scranton Prep over Pittston Area (+24 ½)
Lakeland (-24 ½) over Nanticoke
Trail over Hanover Area (+25)
Dunmore (-31) over Susquehanna
Berwick (-23) over Crestwood
Shikellamy over Holy Redeemer (+37 ½)
Northwest (-17) over Wyalusing
The Ricktor Rankings
Big School Ricktor (6A, 5A, 4A)
1. Delaware Valley (6-1) 8.25 1
2. Dallas (7-0) 8.00 2
3. Valley View (7-0) 7.96 3
4. Berwick (6-1) 7.90 4
5. Scranton (5-2) 7.52 6
6. Crestwood (5-2) 7.50 5
7. Wilkes-Barre (4-3) 7.42 8
8. Williamsport (3-4) 7.32 7
9. Wallenpaupack (4-3) 6.45 9
10. North Pocono (3-4) 6.07 NR
Small School Ricktor (3A, 2A, 1A)
1. Western Wayne (6-1) 5.97 1
2. Wyoming Area (7-0) 5.77 2
3. Scranton Prep (5-2) 5.70 3
4. Lake-Lehman (4-3) 4.30 4
5. Lakeland (4-3) 4.22 5
6. Old Forge (5-1) 3.58 7
7. Dunmore (4-3) 3.50 6
8. Lackawanna Trail (4-3) 3.47 8
9. Riverside (4-3) 3.22 9
10. Hanover (3-4) 3.30 10