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The SportsTalk Shop: HS Football Playoffs Recap

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It was another interesting high school football playoff season, with plenty of drama, surprises and exciting finishes.  Today, we take a look at the bigger schools in the Lehigh Valley and their playoff runs in the district and state tournaments (more comments and opinions of this year’s high school football season, as well as Penn State football talk, on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” show—live at 6pm).

Class 4A
Among the most anticipated match-ups of the District XI players was the rematch of Freedom and Whitehall.  Both teams had outstanding 2014 campaigns and their contest during the regular season ended in overtime with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory by the Patriots.  The playoff match-up was also very competitive, with Freedom continuing its amazing turnaround season with a win over the Zephyrs.

The Patriots, as we have discussed in earlier posts this fall, were one of the most remarkable stories in Pennsylvania this season, bouncing back from a 2-8 season last year to advancing into the quarterfinals of the District 2/4/11 sub-regionals before losing to Easton.

The Rovers were another great story this year.  While the pre-season prognosticators had Easton picked anywhere from second to fifth (and don’t think for a moment that the players and coaches were not aware of those ‘lower’ expectations), one of PA’s most successful programs ran through a very tough Eastern Pennsylvania Conference without a blemish, and continued to look solid in its quarterfinal game against Pleasant Valley (the Bears were making their second consecutive district playoff appearance).

After losing to Whitehall midway through the regular season, Parkland dropped off the radar—well, as much as they can due to their decades-long success—and opened the sub-regional playoffs as the seventh-seeded team having to travel outside the Lehigh Valley to advance in the playoffs.

While the Trojans didn’t appear as dominant offensively as they might have in previous years, they were solid enough and teamed with a smothering defense to topple Easton in overtime and earn their third consecutive District XI championship.

Parkland became just the third school since 1993 to “three-peat” as consecutive District XI football champ in ANY of the area’s classifications.  With quarterback DeVante Cross and many more talented players coming back in 2015, look for the red-and-silver again to be right in, or above, the elite teams when next season comes around.

Bethlehem Catholic was once again the favorite heading into this year’s District XI 3A tourney, and certainly was on a mission to prove that it was the best team in the classification this year.  They had plenty of motivation:   a tighter-than-expected win in last year’s district playoffs, a quicker-than-expected exit in the state playoffs in 2013, a disappointing loss to Stroudsburg destroying their hopes of a perfect season this fall and, oh, yeah, the initial report that they were going to be excluded from the new league.

Despite any potential distractions, the players went out and clearly took care of business in both the opening round of the districts and the PIAA playoffs.

Two of the most exciting games I got a chance to call on RCN TV all year were the two games played between Saucon Valley and Southern Lehigh.  In the first matchup, the Panthers jumped out to a huge lead and then hung on to beat the Spartans.  In their second contest, with the right to move on to the District 3A title game up for grabs, the roles were reversed, with the Spartans taking a big lead early.  However, that didn’t stop Saucon Valley from making for an exciting finish.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Saucon Valley as the 2015 favorite in the Colonial League.  However, they weren’t very happy, as were quite a few area football fans, by the end of their 3A championship game against Becahi.

There were some interesting comments about the ending of the game, and some of the late-game actions and post-game comments did not sit well with each other’s fan base.  It would certainly be interesting to see a rematch between these two programs next year…but, well, let’s just enjoy the holiday season for now and some other sports action before we start going there!

Don’t forget, you can relive all of these teams’ biggest playoff games by watching them again, for free, on RCN On Demand.  These games will be available to watch for two months following their initial airdates, and you can purchase DVD copies of the games as well by contacting us at RCN.  And don’t forget to join us on next week’s “SportsTalk” show as we’ll feature some of the state championship teams on our Thursday program.