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Written by: Guy Smith on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021
Around District 11 We Go: The Travels of Guy & Pam
Quest: D11 (Epilogue)
On Week 1 of the season, Pam and I set out to see as many District 11 schools play a varsity or JV home game, plus any additional playing at postseason neutral sites. We ended up seeing 41 of the 47 schools in the district. However, we’re changing the rules of the game for next season, and four of the 41 will be back on the HitList. More on that later. First, a few additional observations.
TOP FIVE GAMES OF THE YEAR.
GAME OF THE YEAR. PENN TRAFFORD VS. IMHOTEP CHARTER FOR 5A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HERSHEY PARK. We never thought any game would top the Easton win on Thanksgiving morning in front of a packed house at Lafayette. But this game was one for the ages. Imhotep trailed by one for a large portion of the game, but took a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Penn Trafford, with huge community support, never gave up, scoring a TD and PAT late to send the game into overtime. With first ups, Penn Trafford was held to a FG setting up the mighty Imhotep to only need ten yards in four plays to snap their three straight championship-game losing streak. Instead of ten forward, they went backwards and the improbable underdog comeback victory was complete.
DISTRICT 11 TEAMS IN STATE RANKINGS.
6A Freedom Patriots—4th
2A Northern Lehigh Bulldogs–4th
3A North Schuylkill Spartans—7th
4A Northwestern Lehigh Tigers—8th
4A Allentown Central Catholic Vikings—10th
1A Tri-Valley Bulldogs—HM
1A Williams Valley Vikings—HM
DISTRICT 11 TEAM OF THE YEAR. Going to call this a tie between the 2A Northern Lehigh Bulldogs and the 6A Freedom Patriots. Both teams won district championships and 11 games. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs by teams that made it to the state final. Both teams finished the season ranked fourth in the state by PA Football News. Northern Lehigh had one more loss, but they were the only team from D11 still playing in Week 15. Freedom was eliminated by just three points, while Northern Lehigh gave up 42 straight and were Mercy Ruled by the eventual state champs. Hard to separate the accomplishments of both teams, so in our minds they are co-teams of the year.
OUR THREE WORST WEATHER GAMES
DAYS OF THE WEEK SWEEP. This was the first season I ever saw a game on all seven days of the week. In addition to the Monday JV games, we saw Tamaqua and Notre Dame play varsity games on Monday. Saw a pair of JV games on back-to-back Tuesdays: East Stroudsburg South due to Labor Day being on Monday, and Bangor due to a COVID postponement. The lone Wednesday game we saw was the Schuylkill County Senior All Star Game at Schuylkill Haven the evening before Thanksgiving. What was so cool about that one was that we didn’t even know about the game until 12 hours before kickoff. We saw a couple Thursday varsity games, including Northern Lehigh, Blue Mountain, Stroudsburg, Bangor, and the two state finals. Of course there were a lot of choices on Friday and Saturday. This was also the first year I ever went to high school football on all 16 Friday nights during the season. Finally, Shenandoah Valley rescheduled a Friday game to Sunday, our only game on that day this season.
GUY IS GOING FOR 60. As of now, I’ve been to 59 games this fall (38 D11 varsity, 12 D11 JV, 6 state championship games, 3 college). That still pales in comparison to 71 races and plethora of soccer and baseball this summer, but it is by far the most football games in any one season for me. As I probably will never see that many in one year again, it seemed like going for an even 60 should be a no brainer. Having been to the Pinstripe Bowl, I suggested the Fenway Bowl for a new experience, as we had previously only been to Fenway Park for Red Sox baseball. Unfortunately, Pam gave the thumbs down on that one. So we settled for the Military Bowl, where we had been twice before, once at RFK Stadium in DC, once at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. That should give me 60 games for the year. Interesting side note: Of the four college football games, one was DIII (NCAA National Playoffs at Delaware Valley), on was DII (NCAA National Playoffs at Kutztown), one was D1AA-FCS (Yale @ Lehigh), and the Military Bowl will be D1A—FBS (East Carolina vs. Boston College). For Pam it will be game 55, as she had to miss five games for various work related reasons. It’s great to be retired.
PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR. We are tweaking our plan for next year to include every visiting any possible District 11 school/field permutation between this season and next, plus a few related extras. Right now the “Hitlist” is 20, but that will change based on a couple unknowns. Below are the current targets.
If we have even half as much fun going to high school football next season as we did this season, it’s going to be another fun-filled fantastic fall. Pam and I appreciate everyone that has read our blog this season, and of course Billy Splain who offered us the chance to write it for PA Football News after I contacted him to ask if any schools still had fan attendance restrictions and told him of our plan to see how many different D11 schools we could see play at home in one season. Only 35 weeks until kickoff.
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