Ballou/HS Football Week 7

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

People in the DMV have probably heard about the controversy surrounding Senior Running Back Jamal Speaks this fall—the player who became homeless and, by rule, was determined ineligible to play football for Ballou High School—until last weekend.

But rising from that dispute were several great stories about the Knights football program—many Head Coach Minoso Rodgers addressed with me on last Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” show (available to watch On-Demand and at rcn.com/atvn/sports-talk .)

Among those highlights include…

  • The outstanding character exhibited by Speaks and his teammates through a trying first month of the season
  • The support of Ballou’s students and the community for speaking out and bringing pressure for him to be reinstated
  • The Knights’ ability to brush off the controversy and win its most recent two games against tough rival opponents

Not to be lost is the outstanding achievements from last year’s squad—one that captured its first Public League, and DCSAA championship in 12 years.  And, one that saw its first-year head coach named the “USA Today” DC Coach of the Year.

I had the pleasure to speak with Coach Rodgers a number of times over the last 10 days and I could truly hear that he cares deeply about his kids.  In our conversations, it was very evident that he was constantly looking to promote his student-athletes and give them the credit for the program’s successes, even above his own efforts.

Hopefully, eligibility issues are now behind the team and sports fans can concentrate on these positives about the Ballou program going forward!

Last weekend was not the most competitive collection of games we’ve ever had on RCN-TV as Parkland, Freedom and Emmaus all reached “mercy rule status” in their victories by either the second quarter or on their first possession of the second half…

It’s time for this week’s edition of our high school football polls for teams in the District XI  region…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Freedom

2)  Emmaus

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)   Northampton

 “Small” School Poll

1)  Bethlehem Catholic 

2)  Saucon Valley

3)  Northwestern

4) Notre Dame

Our poll remains with the same structure that we’ve utilized for many seasons.  We take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV broadcast area.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, DieruffPocono Mountain West, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East.  The five schools receiving the most votes are listed above.

“Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of both Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and Colonial League teams —  Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, NorthwesternWilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  The top four vote-getters are named.

Now, RCN’s Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca and I team with The Morning Call’s Keith Groller to weigh in on four of the biggest District XI high school games coming up this weekend…

“PICK 4”
Emmaus vs. Freedom Easton vs. Bethlehem Catholic Liberty vs. Central Catholic Palmerton vs. Wilson
Gary Laubach Freedom Bethlehem Catholic Liberty Palmerton
Tony Cocca  Freedom Bethlehem Catholic Liberty Palmerton
Keith Groller  Emmaus Bethlehem Catholic Central Catholic Palmerton
Chris Michael  Freedom Bethlehem Catholic Central Catholic Palmerton

Check back next week here at “The Shop” for more high school football notes, polls, video highlights and predictions.