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The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football Playoff Preview

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The RCN TV crew is gearing up for another exciting high school football post-season. We’ll be busy with the top games on Friday and Saturdays for the next several weeks. Before the fun gets underway, here’s a peek at the teams in our coverage area and a look at what lies ahead over the next few weeks in the different classifications. (We’ll have much more on the playoffs over the next several weeks on our “RCN SportsTalk” show as well).

Class 4A
Easton enters the District XI playoffs as the number one team (10-0) with multiple impressive wins during the regular season. Here are some thoughts from the Rovers themselves on their season to date and experiences this year.

The Rovers have done a great job of keeping their focus week in and week out. Fans and media observers look ahead to the potentially grueling three-games-in-eight day stretch that they have to fight through as a major deterrent to a deep state playoff run. However, a large number of people, both inside and outside of the Easton borders, have raved about this year’s squad. Many have dubbed it the best Easton team in over a decade, which is truly an amazing compliment given their tradition and the great players who have played there. Here’s some of their highlights the last time we saw them in action on RCN TV.

First, Easton has to advance through some tough competition within the district. Easton opens with Pleasant Valley (9:30pm; RCN-TV) this Friday and the Bears have to shake off a disappointing loss to Stroudsburg last week. Easton defeated Pleasant Valley earlier this year—the winner of this game faces the winner of the Whitehall/Freedom match-up (7 pm live, Friday; RCN-TV), which will be a major topic of conversation on our Thursday “RCN SportsTalk” show.

I think Parkland is once again in an interesting position. They lost two regular season games and fell to the #7 seed entering the playoffs. They’re matched up with a Delaware Valley program that has become a consistent opponent for the Trojans over the last few post-seasons. On paper, Parkland has all the weapons on offense, defense and special teams to go far in the playoffs. I still believe DeVante Cross can be one of the most talented quarterback in the state, and they have a stable of quality offensive players led by Jarel Elder. Omar Haddad has been and will be a huge key for them on defense. I would not be surprised if they once again face Easton in the District XI 4A Championship in a few weeks.

Class 3A
Becahi comes into the playoffs winning their last two regular season games, but they still have a bad feeling following their loss to Stroudsburg.

Remembering that loss, and correcting the mistakes they made in that game, might actually help the Hawks over the long haul. I think the frustration of that game, and some of the issues they had to overcome in last year’s 3A championship, might help them focus this playoff season in making sure they take care of business early in games, and keeping the pressure on teams when/if they get an early lead. They’ll start off against Lehighton (7 pm live, Saturday, RCN-TV), a team led by junior running back Wyatt Clements (over 2,000 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns) and junior quarterback Tyler Cann (over 1,100 passing yards). “SportsTalk” co-host Joe Craig already told me he thinks Lehighton will be a tough matchup for the Hawks, but I’d expect Becahi to once again be playing in this year’s 3A final.

The other 3A playoff game might just be the most competitive game all weekend, featuring a rematch of a great game during the regular season between Saucon Valley and Southern Lehigh (9:30 pm Saturday, RCN-TV). The Spartans have really been playing solid football all year long and showcase multiple impressive players on both offense and defense. Here’s a look at some of them in action.

Saucon Valley, meanwhile, defeated Southern Lehigh earlier this year. I’ve been impressed by several of the Panthers this year, including running back Evan Culver, who’s averaging over 10 yards per carry. Early indications are that Saucon Valley could be the team to beat in 2015, but honestly, I’ d have a hard time trying to predict a winner in this year’s matchup between these two rival schools.

Class 2A & A
While I haven’t had a chance to see the teams that are in the 2A playoffs this fall, I have continued to hear many positives about Northwestern. They definitely have the horses to make a run at the 2A District title, and quite possibly more. Harry Hall, Frank Dangello, Cam Richardson, you could go on just talking about all the horses they have on this year’s team. Palisades is once again having a great season, with a terrific coaching staff and one of the top District XI backs in Christian Gretzinger, who went over 3,000 yards rushing the previous week. However, I’d have to think the Tigers are definitely the favorite in this weekend’s matchup, along with whoever they would face next week in the title game.

Also, Pius is having another solid season. They don’t feature the multiple playmakers at the level they were playing at a few years ago when they made a major run in the state playoffs, but Phil Stambaugh once again has some quality kids led by Tre Jordan. The junior quarterback has already thrown for over 3,500 yards passing and is closing in on 50 touchdowns for his career. Much like Northwestern, look for the Royals to be the solid team to beat in the District XI A playoffs.

Of course, we’ll have many more thoughts on the teams and players in the postseason, and we’ll also have comments on the local teams in the “Eastern Conference” playoffs, as well as predictions from our panelists on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” from 6-7 pm, which is also available On-Demand. You can email your comments and questions to us at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and we’ll respond live on the air to your emails on our next show.