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Written by: Billy Splain on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021
Another four-game weekend increased our total number of District 11 teams that we have seen play a home game to 29 of 47 schools by the end of Week 7. The breakdown is 20 varsity games and nine JV games. Eleven of the 29 were teams that we had never seen play home games before. After seven weeks, we are still averaging more than four different D11 teams each week, although this was likely the last week we will be able to match that, as the pool to choose from has shrunk from the original 47 to just 18 remaining. Amazingly, those 18 include William Allen, Dieruff, Freedom, and Catasauqua, which are the four that I have seen the most during my life.
26) FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8. MINERSVILLE BATTLIN’ MINERS. First, a slight correction. At the beginning of the season we tallied up the stadiums we had been to in the past and which stadiums we had never visited. I reported that we had been to 28, and not yet to 19. That was incorrect. We counted Minersville among those that we had not been to. As we drove past the field on Friday looking for a parking spot, before we even parked the car, both Pam and I said: “Hey! We’ve been here before!” Indeed we had, for a playoff game that we both had forgotten about when making the initial count.
Minersville is another of the Skook teams that has a variety of food offerings that blows away most of the schools in the Lehigh Valley. There are three completely separate stands run by three different groups, and all offer different hot food items. Pam says to tell the readers the popcorn is excellent.
Pam and I both thought the announcer was the best of any we have heard so far this season. Keep up the top notch work, sir.
Of course we were rooting for the Catasauqua Rough Riders, Pam’s alma mater and our previous hometown for 15 years. Having seen Catty three times already this year, all wins, this would be the first time we had seen them play a team with a winning record and I was not all that confident.
And for good reason. Minersville is an explosive team with an almost all-pass offense. They are extremely fun to watch. With their decisive win, they jumped from 5th (one spot out of a playoff position) to 3rd, moving Catty from 3rd to 4th. I hope we get to see them again as either an away team or in the playoffs.
27) SATURDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 9. JIM THORPE OLYMPIANS. Saturday morning junior varsity games have been good to us, as we got to see Northampton, Saucon Valley, and now Jim Thorpe play early Saturday games. Only Lehighton didn’t work out.
Jim Thorpe was the second school where a JV game was my first ever visit to the stadium, the other being Bangor, which was not new for Pam. I really wanted to do my best to make all of the first visits be for varsity games, but in both cases, they were the only option. A varsity game at both stadiums will carry over to the Hit List for next year.
Of the nine JV games we saw so far, this was only the second to charge admission. Northwestern Lehigh charged $3 plus a handling fee as the ticket had to be purchased online, and Jim Thorpe charged $4. The other seven were free. We have no problem whatsoever with paying to see JV games and are in fact happy to do so; I’m only reporting the overall trend.
They offered an amazing toasted breakfast bagel at the snack bar, with a choice of four or five different bagels, and a choice of four or five different toppings. Not being sure of whether we would have time to eat later in the day and what the options would be at our evening game, I went back later for excellent pork barbeque and pizza.
We were probably lucky that this game wasn’t cancelled, as a lot of the JV games have been, since Jim Thorpe had only 17 players. When one was eliminated in the first half, they were down to just five players on the sidelines. Yet they took it to the visiting Bulldogs from Northern Lehigh and came back from an early deficit for the win.
28) SATURDAY EVENING OCTOBER 9. EXECUTIVE EDUCATION ACADEMY RAPTORS. It’s not often that you get to see a high school play their first home game in school history, so this was one we didn’t want to miss. The fact that it gave us a Saturday night option was a bonus. So after six away games and two home game misfires, the Raptors finally got to play their first home game.
The game was at Muhlenberg College. This was not by any means the first time we had seen a game at this stadium, having seen several college games there including the 2019 NCAA D3 National Semifinal against North Central Illinois. We had also previously seen a high school game as Northampton played their home Thanksgiving Day game there the year that their stadium was under renovations. This was, however, the first time we had ever seen a night game at Scotty Wood.
This was an odd game in a number of respects. The teams did not have access to the locker rooms, there was no admission charge (although there was a donation bucket and Pam and I each tossed in a fin), there was no food or drink for sale whatsoever (good thing we made a Yoccos’s doggie run), no national anthem was played, and there were no bands.
Executive obviously has developed a positive atmosphere among its student body, as they were out in full force supporting the school team. Overall it was a very good crowd, and very enthusiastic. This was a breast cancer awareness “Pink Out” night, and we were privileged to sit in front of and chat with Raptors assistant coach Eric Soto’s older sister, who is a cancer survivor and big Raptor supporter.
Playing as an independent, the team has struggled to find a game weekly, and their schedule has seen a number of alterations, this week included. Originally scheduled to play Huron Heights (near Toronto), Ontario; it couldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that a team from Canada was not going to be travelling to Pennsylvania during the COVID pandemic for a high school football game. But District 4’s Line Mountain Eagles had their Friday home game against Halifax cancelled, and I swear Executive had them booked in less than an hour after the announcement. A tip of the hat to Executive, as the whole scheduling issue is something all the other D11 teams don’t have to deal with as they are all in the EPC or Schuylkill/Colonial League, and play virtually an all league schedule. Yet so far, the Raptors have been able to find a game for each of the seven weeks.
Larry Ford, a former player for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks arena football team, coaches the Raptors. They are a fun team to watch, as they have an exciting passing game with some great athletes at receiver. They have speed, leaping ability, and real good hands. They also have a QB that can get the ball downfield to his receivers.
After a scoreless first half, the Raptors pulled away to beat the winless Eagles. In another oddity, the Raptors entered the weekend ranked 4th in D11 2A, a playoff spot. But even after the win they dropped to 5th and out of a playoff spot, as Minersville leapfrogged over them by beating 5-1 Catty. I’d like to see the Raptors get in, to see what they can do against a team from their own district and classification with a winning record. That would be a good one.
29) MONDAY OCTOBER 11. SOUTHERN LEHIGH SPARTANS. We rounded out the week in Center Valley as Southern Lehigh hosted Saucon Valley. It was a long time since I’d been to a Southern Lehigh home game. In fact, the last time I was here it was for a Saturday afternoon varsity game because at that time they still didn’t have lights. That was more than 25 years ago.
Since the JV games start earlier than the evening varsity games, and since we have been having good luck with the JV games so far, we decided to take a chance on the refreshment stand and if they didn’t have much or weren’t open, we could grab something on the way home. Not only were they open, this was the first JV game where we have seen Chic-Fil-A on the menu. We have previously seen them at several varsity games, Wilson and Mahoney Area come to mind.
It was a decent game, with the home team earning the victory.
Committed to auto racing this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, as of now we have only two high school football games on the schedule, which should put us over the 30-team mark for the season. The Friday game is one of the seven teams remaining that we have never seen at home. Of course that could change.
SEASON SUMMARY (29 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
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)
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.
WOULDA. Week 3—Dieruff. We were all set to go to see Dieruff on Saturday night, but their game was postponed to a day when we already had another game scheduled, and there were no other Saturday night options.
WOULDA. Week 5—Lehighton. Saturday morning/afternoon JV game cancelled but Big Teams calendar not updated and we made the trip. Another game is scheduled for this Saturday, so hoping to wipe out this Woulda then.
WOULDA. Week 6—Lehighton again. For the second straight week, the late morning Saturday JV game at Lehighton was cancelled. This time the online schedule was updated so we didn’t make the trip for nothing. But there was no other different D11 replacement for us, so it becomes another Woulda.
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