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The SportsTalk Shop: FINAL 2121 FB POLL

November 29, 2021 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

Full disclosure time!

With the high school football playoff season winding down, it’s time to take a look back to our preseason predictions from early August and see how our SportsTalk pollsters did this year.

Most years we can brag a little (although we really don’t do much of that) or, if we were completely off base, we are fully prepared to offer up a mea culpa to our readers and viewers.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools within the RCN broadcast area.  This season was the first year in which Colonial teams cross-scheduled and played teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll reflected teams in the Lehigh Valley while many local teams did not play a majority of teams within the Lehigh Valley area. 

So below we have both our preseason and our final high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (PRESEASON)

1) Freedom
2) Parkland
3) Emmaus
4) Nazareth
5) Bethlehem Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Allentown Central Catholic, Northampton, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, and Nazareth.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (FINAL)

1) Freedom
2) Emmaus
3) Parkland
4) Nazareth
5) Central Catholic

Our posters were correct in naming Freedom as our preseason number one team as they captured District XI 6A title for the first time since 2018. Emmaus, Parkland and Nazareth were also in our top four, both before this season back in August and in our final tabulation.

Central Catholic Head Coach Tim McGorry was on our “SportsTalk” program recently and freely stated that his younger players developed much quicker than he had anticipated. SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller also admitted vastly underestimating the Vikings in his preseason prognostications on our last episode, citing that he ranked them eight out of 10 teams back in August.

Regarding Bethlehem Catholic as our preseason “number five,” the Golden Hawks ended up going through a transition under their new coaching staff. It was clear late in the season when I talked to Head Coach Kyle Haas that his emphasis with the program was more on changing the culture, instilling more discipline and building for the future than on winning games this year.

COLONIAL TOP 5 (PRESEASON)

1) Notre Dame-GP
2) Northwestern
3) Palisades
4) Saucon Valley
5) Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh, Palmerton and Palisades

COLONIAL TOP 5 (FINAL)

1) Northwestern
2) Northern Lehigh
3) Notre Dame-GP
4) Palmerton
5) Southern Lehigh

It’s clear this wasn’t our most accurate poll we’ve ever done, but it’s due to many good reasons and we are quite happy to be proven wrong in a few circumstances.

One of the area’s nicest head coaches, Northern Lehigh’s Joe Tout, has had an incredible season after his program really struggled the last few years with injuries and low participation numbers.

Tout was quite vocal when the schedule came out.  He complained his school, one of the smallest in the area, had a disadvantage in playing much larger schools and much better football teams – on paper – than other schools his size.

Joe’s team lost to three teams this fall (including our “number one” team, Northwestern), but remains the last school “alive” from our viewing area in the state playoffs. RCN TV is looking forward to bringing you live coverage of his team’s game against PIAA powerhouse Southern Columbia this Friday night!

Palmerton was another team that had struggled to keep their program going in recent years but became another feel-good story by becoming one of the top teams in the Colonial League this fall.

The resurgence of these two teams was reflected in their appearance in our poll, complete with the Bulldogs defeating the Blue Bombers for the 2A championship.

Notre Dame suffered an incredible rash of injuries and, in one of the biggest surprises of the year, failed to even reach the 3A championship this year.

Palisades also had a disappointing season.  Fresh off a district championship in 2020, the Pirates struggled mightily this fall and saw their head coach resign at season’s end.

Of course, these polls are for amusement purposes only and we hope you enjoyed following along all season. Keep checking back to “The Shop” and to our “SportsTalk” show on RCN TV as we get you ready for the winter sports season, rapidly approaching!

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.

GARY’S TRIBUTE SHOW

November 24, 2021 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

We interrupt the announcement of our final “SportsTalk” high school football poll of the fall season for this breaking news….

Actually, it’s not exactly a “breaking” flash, but it was really big news!

RCN TV’s long-time sports director and the current voice of the Lafayette Leopards, Gary Laubach, decided to cut back on many of his duties with RCN TV. This includes his roles coordinating and broadcasting the high school sports and other events that he would either host or announce throughout the year.

His “semi-retirement” officially kicked in a few weeks ago, and with that, we saluted him on a tremendous tenure guiding the Twin County and RCN TV Sports broadcasting teams and wished him all the best in embarking on the next chapter of his great career.

Please remember, his work with RCN TV and his broadcasting partnership with us will continue for many more years to come. Gary continues to handle the play-by-play duties for the Leopards football and men’s and women’s basketball games, along with emceeing other Lafayette College events that may occur throughout the year.

So the question then became, how to sum up the part of his career that has, to date, totaled almost 50 years as a broadcaster, plus more years as a local student-athlete and teacher in the Lehigh Valley.

We attempted to do that recently with a tribute show to him on “RCN TV SportsTalk.” The program went by very quickly, asking Gary about all of his many experiences, his thoughts on how local sports have changed since the mid-1970s and other comments on the broadcasting industry in general.

If you missed the show, which also included my own thoughts on Gary’s career and all that he has meant to the community, we invite you to check out the program for yourself through RCN’s video on demand.

Also, we present to you the last half-inning that Gary broadcast of a “non-Lafayette” event, which included his official signoff as RCN’s sports director.

VIDEO: “RCN Sports: Gary’s Last Inning Announcing”

Fortunately, it’s certainly not the last we will hear from Gary. We look forward to his announcing Lafayette football and basketball games, along with his continuing presence within the RCN family for many more decades to come.

One more thing to be thankful for.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Cary Grant’s Later Years

July 15, 2021 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In celebration of the birthday anniversary of Cary Grant we continue last week’s examination of the legendary actor’s career.

Following his own personal dissatisfaction with The Philadelphia Story, Grant appeared in the first of four movies under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock in 1941’s Suspicion.  Like the former flick, Grant did not get along well with his co-star Joan Fontaine and would never work with her again.  Hitchcock was also critical of Grant, citing it was a mistake to cast him in the role.  Ironically enough, Hitchcock would later criticize James Stewart with the same offense 17 years later and referred to Stewart as “no Cary Grant.”

That same year, Grant received his first Oscar nomination for Penny Serenade.

According to Turner Classic Movies, Grant also benefited largely from the film industry’s production code for the 1944 dark comedy Arsenic And Old LaceThe movie was based largely on the stage play but the film code would not allow for certain scenes to be shown.  In its place, Director Frank Capra would substitute loosely scripted exchanges where Grant would just have to go “over the top” and playup a made-shift scene instead.  

The biggest example of this is at the film’s climax.  The film code (in the 1940s) would never allows for murderers to get away without punishment in a comedic film, so the scene in which the “old ladies” are given poisonous wine to the police was replaced with Grant kissing his finance, running around the house exuberantly and running out into the street yelling “Charge!” (a humorous reference to a recurring joke throughout the film).

According to the Graham McCann autobiography Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Grant would later say “Arsenic” was the worst performance of his career and he hated the dark subject matter (his character’s family was all insane).  This might be because his real life mother was also institutionalized early in Grant’s childhood.  His father also left him on his own as a teenager when he found a higher paying job in another city.

Two of Grant’s most memorable roles occurred in 1946’s Notorious (co-starring Ingrid Bergman and directed by Hitchcock) and 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife (with Loretta Young and David Niven).  The following year Grant was named the fourth highest box office draw in the world, but his failure in films like Monkey Business and Dream Wife led to the idea that his days as a leading man were over. Cary then left the film industry and didn’t work at all for several years.

His fortunes changed in 1955 when Alfred Hitchcock complained about Stewart’s performance (for the first of two times) in the rebooting of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Grant would star in two Hitchcock-directed film classics, playing his usual suave, leading man persona, in To Catch A Thief and North by Northwest.

Ian Fleming then approached Cary Grant about playing James Bond in 007’s film debut, Dr. No, ironically after Grant’s former co-star, David Niven turned down the role. But Fleming had to withdraw his offer when Grant said he would only portray the super spy in one film and would not commit to a lengthy film series.

After starring in Charade and Father Goose, he had become increasingly disillusioned with cinema in the 1960s, rarely finding a script which he approved of. He remarked: “I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life” and dedicated his time to his daughter and grandchildren.  According to Gary Morecambe and Martin Sterling’s book, Cary Grant: In Name Only, they would go on to say that Grant knew after he had made Charade that the “Golden Age” of Hollywood was over.

Twenty-three years later, just hours before he was scheduled to appear on stage talking about his life, he suffered a stroke.  Despite medical personnel on the site, Grant refused any treatment and died a few hours later.  He was 82.

Grant is regarded as one of the greatest Hollywood actors ever. To this day, he frequently is positioned in the top two or three spots in various film critics and media outlets “all-time” greatest actors’ listings.

Be sure to check out some of Cary Grant’s legendary performances in Charade, His Girl Friday, and other classic films on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

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.

Behind the Mic: America’s Guest (The Saga Continues)

July 13, 2021 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment
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.

In my previous blog, I spoke of having played seven of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  The caveat of doing that was that I had not paid to play any of them.  Due to RCN, Lafayette, and a couple of “Joes”, I had managed to be a guest at all seven.

You can find the courses listed on this site: Golf Magazine’s 20 Best PA Golf Courses and the ones I played on my previous blog.

I bring this up, because on July 2, I was supposed to play my 8th – the Philadelphia Cricket Club, which is #4 on the list.  Once again, this was as a guest.  I was prepared to put another checkmark on my bucket list.  That morning (7:31 AM) I received this e-mail – “There are no carts out today due to the week’s heavy rains.  Any issues or concerns?”

For me, there were both “issues” and “concerns”.  I had no idea if this would be a difficult walk and, at 75, the last thing I wanted to do was hold up my three playing partners, all of whom were much younger and had lower handicaps.  I did not wish to spoil their enjoyment.  As disappointed as I was, I told them to play without me and enjoy the day.

At 8:49 AM, this email arrived: “Good news- Joe bailed us out with a tee time at Saucon/Old Course at 12:30 today.  Let’s meet around noon and hit a few balls.”  This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  I have played it before, but it is a golfing treasure.  Any opportunity to play it is certainly special.  This past Friday was no exception.  The course was in magnificent condition; the golf was good; and the camaraderie and the friendly insults were flying.  It was what a day of golf should be.

More importantly, I continue to be amazed by friendships that offer benefits far beyond my ability to reciprocate.  The best I could do here was to give my hosts Saucon Valley Senior Open golf hats as a token of my appreciation.  Naturally, however, they gifted, not a sleeve of golf balls, but a BOX of golf balls (of course, they were Titleists).  As you can see, it’s hard to balance their generosity.

The final line of the last email said, “I will circulate some alternate Cricket dates and we can reschedule that visit, too.”

In conclusion, I WILL get to play the Philadelphia Cricket Club (#4 on the list of Pennsylvania’s best courses) this summer.

I think you would agree that the early disappointment caused by the “no carts” rule at the Cricket Club was more than overcome by what transpired the rest of that Friday and what is certain to be another memorable round of golf in the future.  I am not sure why I am so fortunate and I am not sure how I will ever repay their generosity, but the list of things I am thankful for is constantly growing – friendships being near the very top of the list.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

  1. Did you watch golf’s The Match – Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson vs. Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau? On the second hole, Mickelson made the comment, “We’re not in a rush”.  And they were not.  The round was not good television – little drama, with few great shots by the pros, and much, much too long.  Thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers.  His shots, especially his putts, made for some enjoyment.
  2. It was announced this week that there will be no fans at the Olympics in Tokyo. Does this mean that those who have the rights to broadcast the events are disheartened or secretly smiling?  Now the only way for anyone and everyone to get their Olympic “fix” is by watching the events on television.  And, ironically, it is because of television that the Olympics will go on.  75% of the IOC’s income for the Olympics comes from television rights estimated to be worth $3 to $4 billion.
  3. It has been a long time since I set aside the time to watch the MLB All-Star game and an even longer time set aside for the Home Run Derby. But this Monday and Tuesday, I want to watch because of the LA Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.  He is a two-position All-Star (pitcher and DH) and the modern day Babe Ruth.  He will be in the HR Derby and he will also pitch in the game.  He is worth watching.
  4. Speaking of All-Star games, 50 years ago, the All-Star game featured 22 Hall of Famers – Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Roberto Clemente, who would sadly be there for the final time. The managers, the Orioles‘ Earl Weaver and the Reds‘ Sparky Anderson, are also in the Hall of Fame. This was the greatest collection of baseball talent on one field ever.

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

By Chris Michael Leave a Comment
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.

We continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

Classic Video Showplace: RCN Christmas Takeover 2020

December 22, 2020 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

It’s almost time for RCN TV’s annual Christmas Takeover, full of special holiday programming, classic shows and movies airing non-stop Christmas Eve through 9:00am on December 26.

In anticipation of this special event, we asked the RCN TV crew what show or movie they are most excited to see for this year’s “Takeover.”

Rick Geho: For me it is the Christmas Lights and the Steckel School “Holiday in Song” programs.

Patti Ditzel: Mine is “The Ditzel Sisters’ Christmas Special!”

Chris Popik: “Christmas Lights with Bill White 2020” since it is locally produced by RCN TV and features various homes every year.  Also, it will look different this year due to Covid-19 protocols requiring us to interview the homeowners via Zoom.

Jack Ebner: For both my wife and I, our favorite has to be the local production of “The Nutcracker.”

Paul Lewis: The new and older Christmas Lights shows, the Moravian Putz, and the Bacon “Yule Log.”

Chris Michael: My whole family always enjoys watching the “Christmas Shopping: 1955” edition of “The Jack Benny Show” as well as the very underrated movie, “The Christmas Wish.”

Merari Kingsley: The “Nuestro Valle” Christmas choral program.

Chris Zaia: All of the “Christmas Lights” episodes.  It is really exciting to see the changes to our TV production from year one until now.

Jim Frick: “The BASD Christmas Special” and the Seibert Church Christmas Cantata: “The Wonders of Christmas.”

 

What will be YOUR favorite? You and your loved ones have the opportunity to make your own holiday traditions by seeing favorite programs’ holiday adventures or enjoying shows and movies that you may have never seen before!

Be sure to catch this year’s RCN TV Christmas Takeover beginning Thursday morning, December 24!

To view the complete rundown of holiday and classic programming on RCN TV, check out the schedule and weekly listings here on our website.

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.

 

Behind the Mic: Merry Christmas!

By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

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.

 

and

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 141-80-1 – 64%)

  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Arizona
  •  Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • LA Chargers
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • Buffalo

The Sports Talk Shop: Chris’s “ALL-UNDERRATED” Football Edition (Part 1)

January 14, 2019 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

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.

Last year, I did a blog entry here at “The Shop” reflecting back on the past basketball season that was well-received and seemed to generate some very positive comments.

The idea for that blog was not to single out the best players, teams and individual plays, but to spotlight student-athletes and coaches who did something great but perhaps didn’t get the attention he or she deserved.

As with the “All-Underrated Team” I did last spring, it’s completely arbitrary and was based solely on the games that I witnessed in person—either as a broadcaster or as a spectator. It did NOT include any games or videos I watched through RCN On-Demand, HUDL or any videos I saw on social media.

With that in mind, I wanted to single out some individuals who fit that same criteria during this past District XI high school football season.

The awards go to…

MOST UNDERRATED KICKER

Whitehall’s Alex Khouri.

The Zephyrs had a rare poor season and was one of the few Lehigh Valley teams that did not qualify for the playoffs this year.  However, Khouri was one of the most consistent extra point kickers in the area and had a strong leg on kickoffs in the few times we got an opportunity to see Whitehall this past season.

MOST UNDERRATED DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN A GAME

Southern Lehigh Linebacker LB Asher Smith. In a game I witnessed as a fan, the junior really stood out in a much-needed win over Palmerton after the Spartans were upset against Saucon Valley to open the season. Smith had a team-high nine solo tackles (10 total), five pass breakups and one pick-six….he also played well, was all over the place the previous week in keeping his team in the close game in the Panthers loss and also ended up with several returned kickoffs as one of the “up men.”

MOST UNDERRATED DEFENSIVE PLAYER/SEASON

Bethlehem Catholic’s Tavion Banks and Paul Carreras

Banks was one of the preseason “running backs to watch” in both local papers, however, he impressed me even more with his defense this past fall.  Banks is one of the top cover men in league—I kept reading in the high school football capsules each week that Becahi’s secondary was a weakness and that teams will look to exploit the Hawks’ ability to give up big plays.  However, the Hawks’ passing yardage was right in line with their opponents (153 yards per game vs. 158 at the end of the regular season).  I thought Banks did a great job keying on other teams’ top receivers and Becahi had just as many big players (if not more) than many other LV teams.

Carreras deserves extra mention because he was not only a standout linebacker all year long, but he was impressive offense (and both a running and a blocking back) and even excelled in the thankless role of a punter (averaging over 37 yards per punt during the regular season—one of the top marks in the area) and filled in kicker when Penn State-bound Anthony DeSilva went down with an injury (and did an admirable job in that role, too.)  All he did on defense was lead his team in tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks (77, 22 and 8, respectively, using his final regular season numbers).  Not too bad anchoring a defense that—for the third straight year—many people called the best “Front 6” in the entire Lehigh Valley.

MOST UNDERRATED IMPACT (IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME)
 
Parkland Running Back Isiah Rico.  Before last season started, I heard great things about Rico’s potential as a quality back in the Lehigh Valley.  When senior starter Joseph Guida went down with a major injury, the sophomore Rico had to step into the spotlight in what may have been the team’s biggest regular season game against Bethlehem Catholic—only to sustain several serious injuries himself in that contest.

But what impressed me the most about Rico’s season was not the numbers he posted during his brief varsity experience this fall, but rather the conversation I had with him the week after suffering the injury.  When I talked with him the before the Liberty game, he was very positive about the team’s ability to overcome losing its two top running backs (at a time when there was still much indecision about the Trojans’ quarterbacks as well).  He also was in great spirits and refused to say anything negative about the situation surrounding the injury (on a controversial hit) and really gave some great responses in what could have been a very tough situation for him.

I am sure he will go on to post great numbers in his junior and senior seasons, but I instantly became a fan of Rico going forward based on the maturity he displayed in an off-the-field conversation.
 
MOST UNDERRATED UPSET

The then-winless Zephyrs. They defeated a Central Catholic team that had won two of its first three games, including an impressive victory over a Nazareth team that was also feeling good about themselves following terrific performances the first few weeks of the season. Whitehall not only pulled the upset but did it by scoring 75 points (and several Vikings fans admitted they probably could have scored more than night if they wanted to).

Both Central Catholic and Nazareth proved to be playoff teams again this year, which further showed what a big win it was for the Zephs.  (Did I mention that I was the only Lehigh Valley football media member who had predicted that Whitehall would win that game in advance?  I won’t mention I also predicted their other upset win over another playoff team in Northampton.)

MOST UNDERRATED COMEBACK STORY

The Northern Lehigh football team. Not only did Head Coach Joe Tout and his coaching staff turned around last year’s dismal season by posting five wins, but would have easily qualified for the playoffs had the powers-that-be not reduced the 3A classification qualifiers from eight to four teams.

A playoff appearance for the always hard-working Bulldogs would have been the perfect cherry to top the dramatic turnaround, but this year’s team certainly laid the groundwork for what will probably be an even more impressive football squad for the 2019 campaign.

MOST UNDERRATED FAN BASE

Palisades. One of District XI’s smallest schools features one of the most passionate and classy fans—from students, players, parents and coaches.

We talked at length about how well this group handled the controversial situation involving the previous year’s state playoff game loss to Conwell Egan.  This year, the team was in the hunt for another Colonial League championship—yet had the dubious distinction of being in the 3A classification (which switched from eight playoff qualifying spots to just four) and faced a nearly impossible road to a potential post-season berth once the team picked up its first loss.

This group remained loyal when the team was struggling to get enough players on the field to play a few years back and have handled being one of the league’s elite teams the past few years with respect towards other schools.  It was very enjoyable to travel outside our coverage area to Kintnersville again this year to see the stadium (how can you go wrong with a pirates ship on the field?), to experience the warm hospitality I experienced and receive the nice comments they passed along to me regarding reading my blog.

More “awards” coming, next week….

Behind the Mic: A Much Different Weekend

By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

If you recall, last weekend in the NFL, all of the underdogs won.  That’s right.  The teams that were favored to win did not.  And the thought by many was that the Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, and the Eagles all had a legitimate shot to do the same thing this weekend.  Perish the thought!

The Colts were never in the game with the Chiefs (31-13).  Dallas needed a late score to make the game look closer than it was against the Rams (30-22).  The Chargers were anemic against the Patriots (41-28).  The Eagles, on the other hand, came within an unfinished drive of beating the Saints, but they, too, did not prevail (20-14).

So, the divisional round games were basically a bunch of “yawners”.  But, that should not be the case this coming weekend.  Each match-up is extremely intriguing.

According to the lines on the games – 3 points for the Chiefs and 3.5 points for the Patriots – the only difference between the four appears to be the home field advantage.  The other interesting thing about the match-ups is each game involves high-scoring offenses.  Again the over/under line is 57 for the Rams and the Saints and 57.5 for the Patriots and the Chiefs.  The 114.5 combined number is the largest in 30 years.

Obviously, the Vegas odds makers don’t just take offense into consideration when they arrive at over/under numbers.  They also must look at the defenses.  The Chiefs’ defense is the worst of the bunch and the rest of the group have average defenses, at best.

The other huge asset for each of these four teams and, it may be the best predictor of a great Sunday of football, are the four coaches.  What announcer has not mentioned the Andy Reid tree in the last month?  Sean Payton has maintained excellence throughout his career and then (duh) – there’s Bill Belichick.  That leaves Sean McVay of the Rams, who is, by far, the most innovative mind of the young coaches.  This is an elite group, for sure.

Speaking of elite – there’s the quarterbacks – Brady, Brees, Mahomes, and Goff – two future Hall of Famers and the best young talent around.

Sunday promises to be a great day of NFL football!!

P.S.  Check Gary’s Guesses to see which teams make it to the Super Bowl at the end of the blog.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING)

 

  1. As much as Eagles’ fans want to keep Nick Foles around (and why wouldn’t they?), it will not happen. Carson Wentz is their future and the Eagles cannot possibly carry the $20.5 million price tag attached to Foles.
  1. There are cries to fire Jason Garrett of the Cowboys. He certainly is one of the most apathetic appearing coaches on an NFL sideline.  He does not seem to be the type to light a fire under his team, BUT, in the last three years, only the Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs have won more games.  And all the noise about firing him comes from the outside, not from within the locker room. So, wait and see.
  1. If either the Patriots or the Saints win the Super Bowl, will Tom Brady or Drew Brees call it quits? Both have contracts that run through 2019.  They are so competitive that this is a tough call.  Look for them both to return.
  1. Alshon Jeffery dropped three passes all season, but every Eagles fan will remember the last one. And that is a shame. Alshon Jeffery is a great receiver and certainly was one of the main reasons the Eagles overachieved this year.  It is more appropriate to feel badly for Jeffery than to condemn him.
  1. RCN-TV has been the home of a number of upsets this basketball season – Easton over Beca, Liberty over Emmaus to name a few. This week, it’s Easton at Northampton on Tuesday night, Navy men at Lafayette on Wednesday, Easton at Parkland wrestling on Thursday, and Allen at Emmaus on Friday followed by Wilson at Bangor.

 
Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 3-1)  (Overall: 165-82-2  67% )
 
NFL PLAYOFFS
 
NEW ENGLAND
RAMS

The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football: Week 6 Preview

September 25, 2018 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

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.

 

While Emmaus has been a perennial title holder for girls’ field hockey in Eastern Pennsylvania, the Easton squad finds itself undefeated through the first month of their scholastic schedule.   We preview this Friday’s big Eastern Pennsylvania Conference showdown between the Rovers and the Green Hornets on “RCN SportsTalk.”

You can see highlights and more field hockey interviews by watching “SportsTalk” this Thursday at 7pm live on RCN-TV or through RCN On-Demand.

Turning our attention to the high school gridiron, we had three football games last weekend on RCN…

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) Palisades
4) Northwestern

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, Dieruff, Pocono Mountain West, Freedom, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Northampton, Nazareth, Whitehall, Southern Lehigh, East 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, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  The top four vote-getters are named.

The “PICK 4” Northampton vs. E. S’burg South Palisades vs. Notre Dame *on RCN-TV Dieruff vs. S’burg North Nazareth vs. Parkland
Gary Laubach Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland
Tony Cocca
 
Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland
Keith Groller
 
Northampton Notre Dame Dieruff Parkland
Chris Michael
 
Northampton Palisades Dieruff Parkland

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

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