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Written by: Guy Smith on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
Around District 11 We Go: The Travels of Guy & Pam
Quest: D11 (Week 13)
District 11 had teams playing in all six classifications last weekend, but all six were on Friday. Bummer. The first five classes started inter-district play, while in the 6A big school classification the district championship was still to be decided.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19. FREEDOM PATRIOTS VS. EMMAUS HORNETS, DISTRICT 11 6A CHAMPIONSHIP @ WHITEHALL HIGH SCHOOL. Pam was in DC, allegedly at a convention but posting pictures of a Genesis concert the night before, and I had the choice to go to any of the games. Not surprisingly, I went to the 6A game, as it was the last pure “District 11” game of the season, and because of my ties to Freedom High School.
We were at Emmaus in Week 2 when the Hornets knocked off the Pates, who were not all that impressive that evening. After the 2-2 start, with one score losses to both Emmaus and Parkland, and after the pep talk from former Pate player Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the Pates caught fire and haven’t lost since.
Emmaus was no slouch, as not only had we seen them beat Freedom early in the season at home, we had seen them win their semi-final game the week before at top seeded Parkland. Emmaus outplayed Parkland the entire second half to without question earn their trip to the championship.
Freedom has been in the district final five of the past six years but has won the district title only once before, in 2018, beating the same Emmaus High. Emmaus had yet to strike district gold. Freedom lost the championship game last year in the COVID-crazy season when Nazareth withdrew from the tournament, but then was somehow permitted to un-withdraw.
Whitehall is a great location for me, less than an hour from home. A good crowd was on hand to support each team.
Freedom fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, pushed Emmaus back, then gave up a TD on 4th and 15. Then the Pates scored four straight TDs before giving up one on a long pass near the very end. They say “Defense wins championships,” and that was the case in this game as Emmaus entered the Pates red zone a number of times and came away with no points. Emmaus outgained Freedom, but was multiple scores behind on the scoreboard. The Pates stretched their winning streak to nine in a row.
We got to see the 2A, 3A, and 6A D11 championship games, and could have seen a fourth district title tilt had we not opted for a 6A semi-final game the previous Friday.
Freedom advances to Week 14 for the second time in school history. Unfortunately, they have to play St. Joe’s Prep, the same team that eliminated them in 2018.
THE REST OF THE WEEKEND. With no D11 teams playing on Saturday, I had the option of traveling to see a high school game outside of the area, or a college game. I chose the college game for two reasons. One, I had only been to one college game all season, that being Yale at Lehigh. And two, the NCAA National Championship Playoffs began last weekend, which ups the ante. I would have gone to D2 Kutztown, but they earned a first round bye. My logical choice would have been to go to Muhlenberg, my favorite D3 team from my original hometown of Allentown. But I’d seen Muhlenberg play in the national semi-final game a couple of seasons back, and been to that stadium for the first-ever Executive Education Academy high school home game this season. I decided to try new territory. I picked the Anna Maria Amcats from Massachusetts, visiting the Delaware Valley Aggies. Del Val has a very nice campus and stadium. I love D3 football. Pam’s brother had four season tickets for Penn State and always took us to a game or two each year. Although those were great times, we called that “Corporate Football.” We feel much more at home attending D2 and D3 schools, where they play for the love of the game. How can you beat a National Championship playoff game for $13, five to park and seven for admission (plus no media timeouts)? What did my Friday high school and Saturday college football game have in common? Both sold Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at their refreshment stand. Love Chick-Fil-A.
On Sunday we did something really different, and saw our first-ever NCAA National Championship game in any sport. This was not football, but D2 Field Hockey at Millersville University. It was an all Pennsylvania PSAC final, with the West Chester Golden Rams taking on the top seeded Shippensburg University Red Raiders. West Chester knocked off number two seed Assumption in the semi-final on Friday. The PSAC dominates field hockey in Division 2, with a PSAC school winning the national championship all but four times in the past 40 years. There are only 35 schools in D2 with field hockey, but 70 in D1 and over 170 in D3. Ship scored three in the first quarter and won 3-0. Admission was even less for this one, as general admission was $10, but parking was free. And I got in for just $5 with the over 60 rate. Although this was a National Championship game, it was far from the top field hockey game we had ever seen. We were in the stands for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games bronze medal game when after a 0-0 tie in regulation, Netherlands won the bronze over Great Britain 4-3 on penalty strokes. We were in the stands again when Australia won the gold medal 3-1, the silver going to South Korea.
OTHER DISTRICT 11 SPORTS. Shout out to Emmaus field hockey and Allentown Central Catholic girls soccer for bringing state championships back to District 11. For Emmaus, it was their 14th field hockey state title. The Hornets finished 28-0, giving up only seven goals all season. At one point, they recorded 16 straight shutouts. They won the big school district championship for the 33rd year in a row, and won the league championship 32 of those years. Imagine 79 championships in 33 years in just one sport. I can’t. Meanwhile, at Hershey Park Stadium, the ACC girls won the first soccer state championship in school history, with an incredible come-from-behind victory, scoring their only two goals in the final three minutes of the game to defeat Avonworth 2-1. This came on the heels of their win in the semi-final, where they scored with only 43 seconds to go in regulation to send the game to penalty kicks, where they won by one, 6-5. They end the season 17-3-3, but state champions.
THIS WEEK. This coming week we plan on our 41st and final different District 11 team for the year with our first-ever trip to see Phillipsburg High School cross the bridge from NJ to PA to take on the Easton Red Rovers at Lafayette College Fisher Field. Both of the two remaining D11 playoff teams are in action at the same time on Friday, so we made the choice to head back to Whitehall High School and support the 2A Northern Lehigh Bulldogs as they take on the West Catholic Burrs of Philadelphia. The Bulldogs have a decent shot in this one, while the boys from Bethlehem Township face one of the state’s football factories. I know Northern Lehigh will bring their A-Game, their fans, their cheerleaders, and their band, all of which are great. But I sure wish they could also bring their fresh cut fry truck.
Saturday is still up in the air, but we will probably again opt for the NCAA National Playoffs over a high school game from out of the area.
TALLY AFTER WEEK 13:
–40 Different schools for Home Games (29 Varsity Home, 1 Varsity Post-Season Neutral, 10 JV)
–1 School Still in Play for Neutral Field Game (Easton)
–6 Schools Finished for Season, Eliminated From This Year’s Quest (Palisades, Pocono Mountain East, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Tri-Valley, William Allen). Note: We did see three of the six play as away teams.
–2 Missed opportunities, both in Week 1 before we really got serious about The Quest.
–Out of 47 District 11 teams with football.
SEASON SUMMARY (40 DIFFERENT D11 SCHOOLS/TEAMS)
1a) Friday—Salisbury Township Falcons (3A). Note: First half—game suspended due to lightning
2) Saturday (Noon)–Allentown Central Catholic Vikings (4A). Note: Conclusion of final three quarters of game suspended by lightning
–) Saturday (Noon)—Dieruff Huskies (6A). On their home field but the away team)
3) Saturday (Afternoon)—Wilson Area Warriors (4A)
1b) Saturday (Evening)—Salisbury Township Falcons (3A). Note: Returned for second half of game suspended by lightning
4) Monday—Northwestern Lehigh Tigers JV (4A)
5) Thursday—Northern Lehigh Bulldogs (2A)
6) Friday—Emmaus Hornets (6A)
7) Saturday (Morning)—Northampton Area Konkrete Kids JV (6A)
8) Saturday (Afternoon)—Pen Argyl Green Knights. (2A)
9) Saturday (Evening)—Pleasant Valley Bears (6A)
10) Tuesday—East Stroudsburg South Cavaliers JV (5A).
11) Friday—Nativity BVM Green Wave (1A)
12) Saturday—Saucon Valley Panthers JV (4A)
13) Sunday—Shenandoah Valley Blue Devils (2A)
14) Monday—Tamaqua Blue Raiders (3A). Note: Game suspended at halftime but called complete
15) Tuesday—Bangor Slaters JV (4A)
16) Friday—Panther Valley Panthers (2A)
17) Saturday (Afternoon)—Bethlehem Catholic Golden Hawks (4A)
18) Saturday (Evening)—Pine Grove Cardinals (3A)
19) Monday—Stroudsburg Mountaineers JV (6A)
20) Friday—Mahanoy Area Golden Bears (A)
21) Monday—Notre Dame-Green Pond Crusaders (3A)
22) Thursday—Blue Mountain Eagles (4A)
23) Friday—Pocono Mountain West Panthers (5A)
24) Saturday—Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (6A)
25) Monday—Nazareth Blue Eagles JV (6A)
26) Friday—Minersville Battlin Miners (2A)
27) Saturday (Morning)—Jim Thorpe Olympians JV (3A)
28) Saturday (Evening)—Executive Education Raptors (2A)
29) Monday—Southern Lehigh Spartans JV (5A)
30) Friday—Marian Catholic Colts (1A)
31) Monday—Whitehall Zephyrs JV (5A)
32) Friday—Catasauqua Rough Riders (2A)
–) Saturday—Freedom Patriots (6A) (on home field but away team)
33) Monday—Lehighton Indians (4A)
34) Friday—East Stroudsburg North Timberwolves (4A)
35) Saturday (Afternoon)—Dieruff Huskies (6A)
–) Saturday (Evening)—Notre Dame Green Pond Crusaders (3A)
36) Monday—Freedom Patriots JV (6A)
37) Friday—Williams Valley Vikings (1A Semi-Final)
38) Saturday—Palmerton Blue Bombers (2A Semi-Final)
39) Friday—Parkland Trojans (6A Semi-Final)
–) Saturday (Afternoon)—Palmerton vs. Northern Lehigh (2A Championship)
40) Saturday (Evening)—North Schulykill Spartans (3A Championship)
–) Friday—Freedom vs. Emmaus (6A Championship)
COULDAS & WOULDAS
COULDA. Week 1—Tri Valley. A Friday team that played Saturday evening due to rain. We returned to Salisbury to see the second half of the Catty game instead.
COULDA. Week 1—Marian Catholic. Played Sunday due to rain, but we had already committed to the sprint car races at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway. Update: Went to see Marian in Week 8. However, we are still down a potential team for the season as by picking Marian we bypassed other teams we had not seen.
WOULDA. Week 5—Lehighton. Saturday morning/afternoon JV game cancelled but Big Teams calendar not updated and we made the trip. There was no other D11 replacement for us as the Jim Thorpe game was cancelled due to COVID. Update: Saw Lehighton in Week 9. However, we are still down one potential team for the season as by picking Lehighton we bypassed other teams we had not seen.
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