Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

HS Football 2019: Pre-Season Predictions

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

Last week, we started to get you ready for the start of high school football with some “storylines to watch” for the 2019 campaign.

This week, we have our pre-season high school football poll (as voted by select media members, coaches & administrators within the RCN-TV viewing area) and the return of the “Pick 4” predictions for games that will be played this weekend in the season’s opening weekend of contests.

Now the unveiling of our preseason high school football poll for District XI teams…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Freedom

2)  Parkland

3)  Easton

4)  Nazareth

5)  Emmaus

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Northwestern

3)  Central Catholic

4)  Notre Dame

Our poll remains with the standard, tried-and-true format that we have utilized for many seasons.  We will take the 400-male enrollment number as the cutoff for schools within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint.  All of the schools above that number qualify as “big schools” in our poll. These schools consist of Parkland, Liberty, Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Dieruff, Freedom, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Northampton, Nazareth, Whitehall, Southern Lehigh, East Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.

“Small schools” (below 400-male enrollment) consist of Bangor, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.  Each pollster will identify their top five teams among the “big schools” and the top four squads for the “smaller” group—the top school gets five (or four for the small schools) points, the second team gets four points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in the poll.

Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list!

*******

Now, here are our RCN football experts weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend…

The “PICK 4” Northwestern @ Notre Dame
*on RCN-TV
East Stroudsburg South @ Whitehall Central Catholic @ Stroudsburg Pleasant Valley @ Liberty
Keith Groller Northwestern Whitehall Central Catholic Liberty
Tony Cocca  Notre Dame Whitehall Central Catholic Liberty
Chris Michael  Northwestern Whitehall Central Catholic Liberty
John Leone  Notre Dame East Stroudsburg South Stroudsburg Liberty

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” and on “RCN SportsTalk” to see which of our football experts correctly predicts the most high school games this fall.

HS Football: Things To Watch

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

The RCN Sports staff members are busy preparing for another great season of high school football.

With “double sessions” in full swing, it’s time to take a look at some of the great storylines to follow for teams and schools within the RCN-TV viewing area.

NEW COACHES:

  • There were seven coaching changes in the Lehigh Valley alone this off-season.  We’ve already featured most of them on our “SportsTalk” show (and are trying to schedule dates for those we have not as of yet had on), but I think all of the school districts with new hires have reason for optimism.
  • Whitehall, Bangor and Central Catholic all have up-and-coming programs.  New head coaches typically need a few years to fully implement their system–both on the field and off–and the fact that all three of these teams have quite a bit of talent that will return beyond next year bodes well for the overall health of the programs.
  • All three may not challenge for league honors in 2019, but keep an eye on the players who develop over the course of the fall to see which players might have “break out seasons”, which should help these schools be playoff contenders by 2020.

WILSON (DC) FOOTBALL:

  • Our friends at “DKN Sports” in the Washington DC area recently produced a feature on the Wilson high school football program and their successes in recent seasons (a portion of their story will be featured on an upcoming edition of “RCN SportsTalk” to hear more about them.)
  • While there will be a number of competitive teams in the DMV on the gridiron once again this fall, Wilson has a ton of talent returning for this year’s squad and should be posting some impressive wins in 2019.

PEN ARGYL/BANGOR’S “100th”:

  • These two long-time rivals will be meeting for the 100th time this fall.  While the Bangor/Green Knights game sometimes gets overlooked by other key rivalry match-ups (Easton/P’burg, Northampton/Catasauqua and other traditional “Thanksgiving Day” games), expect this event to be much bigger than any previous meeting between these two schools.
  • Both programs took some lumps last year but both head coaches have told me that their kids have been working hard and vow big improvements for the new season.
  • We’ll be talking more about the 100th meeting between Bangor and Pen Argyl on one of our three “SportsTalk at the Allentown Fair” shows coming up in two weeks.  Keep checking back to the RCN-TV website for more details on these special programs that will be shot “on location.”

Next week, we’ll commence with our usual high school football polls and game predictions contest, which include RCN announcers, local media and coaches and administrators that will continue through the scholastic football season.

Blue Mountain League Baseball Wrap-Up

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

It was another fun season of watching and announcing Blue Mountain League games on RCN-TV once again this year.

The level of play seems to get better every year and there’s no shortage of young talent in the league, as evident in many of our “Game of the Week” broadcasts during this recently completed regular season.

I believe the speed of the game has picked up a few notches in recent years, with lots of excellent high school talent making the quick transition to the league.  Teams are also bringing in talent from not just the Lehigh Valley, but from the Poconos, Berks County and New Jersey .

In case you missed any of the games, RCN customers can watch all of this summer’s games for free through RCN On-Demand (games are available for up to 60 days after their initial air date).

Here are video highlights of all of this summer’s RCN-TV games:

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve already starting preparations for our coverage for the fall high school football season.  Check back to “The Shop” next week for our first peak at what to expect this year!

Also, tune in to “SportsTalk” next Thursday  at 7pm on RCN-TV for the first of several fall sports preview shows, beginning with stories featuring the defending champions from the sports of girls tennis and boys and girls golf.  More sports to come in subsequent weeks.

 

The SportsTalk Shop: A Great Hire

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

There are many times when I am asked to comment on a school’s hiring of a new head coach—especially for football.

In nearly every situation, my initial response is to say that on the surface it seems like a good hire, but also point out that since I’m not involved in the interview process and usually don’t know every person who applied for the position (unless you believe the rumors that accompany most major coaching vacancies), we won’t know for sure until some time has passed.

At worst, if there’s someone who I’m not sure about or someone who I might have questions with, I opine that we wait at least three to four years and preach patience while waiting to see if the decision was a good one.

In the case of Central Catholic’s hiring of a new head football coach, I don’t have to wait…it was not a good hire.

It was a GREAT hire.

Tim McGorry is a 1999 alum of Allentown Central Catholic. He earned a B.A. in Organizational Management from Ashford University with a concentration in education. McGorry has an extensive football coaching background beginning in 2004 as the ACCHS Assistant Football Coach. Throughout his career, he has worked as an Offensive Coordinator at schools such as Parkville HS, Moravian College, Parkland HS, ACCHS and Wide Receivers Coach at Lehigh University. In addition, he has been a guest speaker at various youth athletic camps and events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

McGorry’s experience includes coordinating off-season strength and training programs as well as overseeing aspects of player development, practice prep and game strategies. At the college level, he organized team travel, alumni events, community outreach programs and coordinated recruiting efforts.

Under his leadership, McGorry was an integral part in various programs’ achievements:

  • ACCHS: DXI 3A Championship in 2009, 2010 & 2011; PIAA 3A State Championship, coached Parade All-American 2011, and finished #14 in the country (2010) and #38 in Total Offense (2011).
  • Parkland: DXI 4A Championship; State Quarterfinalist and ranked #7 in the state for total offense.
  • Moravian College: Second best record in school history; Centennial-MAC Bowl appearance; broke 26 school offensive records; and increased all major offensive categories from the previous four years.
  • Lehigh University: 2017 Patriot League Champions; 2017 and 2018 First Team All Patriot League Wide Receivers, #6 Total Offense in the country (2017)

Furthermore, McGorry has always been a very likeable, personable and knowledgeable coach over the years every time I have had the pleasure to speak with him about football, his career and the programs of which he was currently working.

I honestly can’t think of someone who would be better suited or more equipped to take over this program.

But you don’t have to believe me, you can find out for yourself on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program—our final one of the summer broadcasting from the Buffalo Wild Wings in Whitehall. The show starts at 7:00pm.

McGorry will be our guest, along with members of his new coaching staff and his players.

Come on out to support Vikings football, meet the new coaches and hear their thoughts on the new high school football season, with the start of official practices just a couple weeks away.

Be sure to get additional details on this event here on our website and to find out how a portion of you food bill at this event could help a local charity.

Blue Mountain League Mid-Season Report

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.


We hope you are enjoying RCN-TV’s Blue Mountain League baseball coverage this summer!

There’s always some interesting storylines as the BML season unfolds and this year is no exception.

Here’s a few of the highlights:

  • This clearly isn’t your father’s BML

When I would attend games as a kid, teams were comprised of the same players on the same teams in the same positions, year after year, and sometimes, decade after decade, with very few contributors under the age of 22.  It was very rare if you ever saw more than one or two position players NOT in the same spot, day after day, week after week. Now, the league is seeing an abundance of recent high school grads and college-aged players not just playing, but making impacts and, in some cases, being the cores of various franchises.  Furthermore, most teams feature a steady rotation of different starters each game, and it’s a rarity to see the same people from each team playing in the same spots on a daily basis.

  • There were plenty of surprising starts and “streaky teams” for the first 5-6 weeks of the season.

Consider…

…the Royals, a perennial power, went their first eight games without a win (they did have two ties).

…the Orioles, another tremendous program, won just one of their first six games.

…the Bulls won eight of their first 10.

…the Creekers won just one of their first five games and two of first seven, BUT scored 20 runs EACH in both of those wins.

…the Dodgers were one game over .500 through the first few weeks of the season (one of their better starts in years) before losing five of their next six games.  They also have continued some rather curious streaks of pummeling teams ahead of them in the standings, while losing to the ones behind them, but have a decent shot at reaching their first post-season berth in several seasons.

  • The Giants and the Bulls look awfully good – again – this year.

The two teams that battled the full-five games in last year’s championship series may be on a collision course once again for this season’s playoffs. Both Northampton and Limeport have well-balanced teams, with several strong starting pitchers and a lineup that looks very hard to beat.

  • Don’t overlook the “Steel”

As we approach the final weeks of the regular season, Bethlehem has currently won five in a row, allowing just two runs (one earned) in three games this past weekend against some very good teams.  They’re not only one of the deepest teams (they sometimes have over 20 players active for a game) but they’re playing well in all facets of the game as they look to make their first playoff appearance in the five-year history of this franchise.

Don’t forget to catch our Blue Mountain League “Game of the Week” telecasts on Tuesday evenings on RCN-TV.  RCN video customers can see all of this season’s BML broadcasts for free and any time through RCN On-Demand for up to 60 days from the games initial airdates!

Last but not least, thanks to our awesome and very generous RCN marketing team, we will be playing our trivia game and once again giving away a nice prize this week on our “RCN SportsTalk” program to one winner who correctly answers the question.

Tune in to RCN-TV this Thursday at 7pm to learn more.

Viewing “Stranger Things”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

Hopefully, by looking at the title, you’ve already realized that I am not going to be talking about “SportsTalk” this week.

Instead, for this Independence holiday, I wanted to share some thoughts on one of the most popular television series (some refer to it as an extended movie) that is available for RCN internet customers through Netflix (for details on how to view it, go to www.rcn.com/netflix to learn more.)

The series is called “Stranger Things.”  With two seasons already in the books, the entire third season launched on July 4th.

When it comes to drama, I consider myself a pretty tough critic and am hard-pressed to highly recommend television series to video viewers.  But after binge watching this show (several times, I must admit), I think it would be a great idea for you to check it once it becomes available this week.

This program is not your normal, everyday-type of mystery. It deals with supernatural forces, has an alternate dimension and features a few gory scenes from time to time.  It’s also inundated with 1980s pop songs, trends and “far out” references, both with a nod of respect and an air of sarcasm mixed in for some lighter moments.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!

Before proceeding, here’s a brief rundown on the story and where we are approaching the beginning of season three (I won’t give too much away, just a few “basics” about the premise in case you’re planning on jumping right in on the series without viewing the first two seasons.)

  • The main storyline is set in the early-to-mid 1980s and has focused on four pre-teens (which has spawned several “friends” joining the group over the series’ run) as they advance to their adolescent years while uncovering an alternate dimension (the “upside-down”) in the otherwise sleepy town of Hawkins.
  • Winona Rider stars as the mom of one of the boys (Will) who was “abducted” into this parallel world in season one (and then inhabited by a monster in season two).
  • David Harbour (from “Hellboy” fame) co-stars as the town’s skeptical police chief (“Jim Hopper”) who also has been in the “upside down” while helping to rescue Will in season one.  In season two, he has adopted a young girl (“Eleven”) who has special telekinesis powers, which she has used on several occasions to save her friends’ lives from the “other-world” creatures.
  • Season two ends with the kids attending their first “Snow Ball” dance with several members of the kids’ group partnering up in an apparently normal school setting, only to have the camera pull back to reveal much more sinister happenings, which paves the way for the new season.

Publicity for the new season (set on and around, appropriately enough, July 4th) has included everything from character action figures, to a book focusing on Chief Hopper’s backstory, to a “new” release of 1980s songs (on vinyl, no less) that captures many of the hits used in the series.

There is even a “fake” commercial posted on YouTube for Hawkins’ new, “state of the art” Starcourt Mall that will be opening in time for season three (1980s teenagers at a mall–what a shocker!!!)

There’s plenty of rumors out there as to what might happen for the new series (are the Russians really involved in this?), but I don’t want to spoil any of the additional elements of the show for you.

Would I consider “Stranger Things” the greatest mystery event of all time…or even the very best show on TV over the last decade?

No.

But I would certainly recommend this series for anyone who likes horror, clever writing, atypical mysteries with appropriate twists-and-turns and some tongue-in-cheek laughs about an era gone by (word was the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, were incredibly intimidated by Rider when they approached her about the role because they grew up watching and admiring her iconic roles in 1980s films).

Be sure to check out “Stranger Things” and other streaming programs by using your RCN interview and visiting: www.rcn.com/netflix

Summer Hoops 2019

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

While summer officially got underway just last Friday, the “summer” hoops season has actually been going on for weeks.

It’s been fun heading out to local venues and playgrounds to see some great girls and boys basketball, and we’ll have more videos, news and commentaries coming up again on an upcoming edition of “SportsTalk.”

In the meantime, here are some pictures from recent action on local basketball courts.

picture11 picture12 picture13 picture9 picture8 picture10 picture7 picture6 picture5 picture4 picture1 picture2 picture3

 Special thanks to my son, Connor, for accompanying me to several of these locations and for providing most of these pictures.

(I did take pictures myself, but my son felt his pictures were clearer and more in-focus, so most of mine ended up on the cutting room floor:).

 

 

Spring 2019: Final Thoughts

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

As we officially welcome in the summer season – and start covering some of its corresponding sports teams and events – I wanted to take one final look back at a few outstanding accomplishments by the student-athletes and teams in the RCN viewing area this spring.

They should probably re-brand the local league titles as the “Parkland/Easton” tournament as both of these teams seems to always square off against each other for girls lacrosse championship games.  The Trojans did it again this year, capturing league and district titles – their fourth in a row and five championships in the last six years.  It’s an amazing run for a sport that wasn’t sanctioned by the PIAA just a little over a decade ago.

Parkland has also been dominating the local softball season once again this year.  The Trojans got to a state championship game last year and looked as strong—or better—than any team in the Lehigh Valley this spring.  They also won the EPC and posted a shutout in their District XI championship game (their second in a row and fifth in the last six years.)

Talitha Diggs, who was on our “SportsTalk” program several years ago with her mother, Olympic medal-winner Joetta Clark-Diggs, made history this spring by shattering a 33-year old record at the PIAA track championship, winning two gold medals.  A rising senior, Talitha will have another year of high school competition to add to her hardware before graduating from Saucon Valley High School in 2020.

Notre Dame-Green Pond’s baseball team also had a great run this year—capturing both Colonial League and District 3A titles this spring.  If you’ve been reading this blog regularly you’ll know I predicted early in the season great things for Notre Dame.  I also thought Crusader pitcher Steven Luke was going to be one of the most impressive pitchers in the Valley this season and he certainly did not disappoint.  The Crusaders have quite a bit of talent returning, so Head Coach Mike Bedics’ team should once again be one of the favorites in 2020.

Speaking of baseball, we are getting ready for our 2nd “SportsTalk” on location at Buffalo Wild Wings on Grape Street in Whitehall.  Our special guests will be members of the Blue Mountain Baseball League.

League President Bob Varju will be on hand, along with other league representatives, and coaches and players from several teams in the RCN viewing area.

The show will be on Thursday, June 27, from 7-8pm, and will be part of an event to raise money for a local charity.  You can find the flyer for this event right here on the RCN-TV website. Just print out that flyer and be sure to bring it with you so that the waiters/waitresses will be sure to dedicate 10% of your food bill to a great local cause.

And…we have a “make up” show at Buffalo Wild Wings THIS Thursday, June 20, as our first “on location show” with the Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball team was postponed due to bad weather.  Head Coach Jose Medina and his team will join us for this week’s program, which also starts at 7pm.

2019 Spring Sports All-Stars

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

One of the really fun blog entries I write periodically is the one in which we publish the local “all-star” lists that come at the end of each high school sports season.

I say this for a few reasons…

  • It’s great to highlight truly special athletic performers
  • It’s a chance to spotlight athletes who play sports but may not always get much recognition
  • It’s a chance to see familiar names who show up in different sports throughout the year
  • In the case of scholar-athlete awards, a chance to recognize “student-athletes” for taking care of what school is truly meant for—getting a quality education

As usual, I also want to thank the local athletic directors and administrators of the respective leagues and sports for once again sending these lists to me each season, so that these athletes can get added recognition for their accomplishments.

So without any further delay, here’s the composite list of the “All-Star” categories that I received for squads in the RCN-Lehigh Valley viewing area…

Here are the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences’ scholar-athletes All-Stars.

Baseball – Joshua LaRock – Allentown Central Catholic

Boys Lacrosse – Christian Combi – Easton

Girls Lacrosse – Anne Walsh – Easton

Softball – Courtney Grundauser – Easton

Boys Basketball – Adam Klinger – Parkland

Girls Basketball – Jenna Rogers – Northampton

Cheerleading – Julia Santos – Allentown Central Catholic

Boys Swimming – Matthew Gertner – Emmaus

Girls Swimming – Abigail Heilenman – Emmaus

Wrestling – Micheal Kistler – Northampton

Rifle – Sydney Jones – Emmaus

Boys Tennis – Kevin Ge – Emmaus

Boys Track and Field – Joseph Ozgar – Easton

Girls Track and Field – Abigail Heilenman – Emmaus

Boys Volleyball – Seth Fine – Parkland

Next, here are the EPC Girls and Boys Lacrosse All-Stars.

2018-19 EPC All-Star Voting Results – GIRLS FINAL

2018-19 EPC All-Star Voting Results – BOYS FINAL
The girls softball All-Star listing for the EPC.

EPC All Stars Official Media Copy

The All-Conference tennis All-Stars:

2018-19 Boys Girls Tennis All Conference

Here’s the link for the boys and girls Colonial League track-and-field championship records set:

http://www.colonialleague.org/files/2019/03/CLChampionshipMeetRecords19FAT.pdf

… the link for the Colonial League / EPC final results

http://www.colonialleague.org/files/2019/05/CL-EPC-TF-Results-050819.pdf

… and the track-and-field All-Stars:

19EPCTFAllStars

If there are any additional honors or student-athletes who should be singled out for outstanding achievements during this past spring sports season, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at chris.michael@rcn.net so we can recognize them here at “The Shop” and/or on our weekly “RCN SportsTalk” program!

 

 

Baseball Video Recaps

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

There was some great local high school baseball playoff action on RCN-TV once again this spring.

In case you missed all the action, here are video highlights from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs and the District XI Championships for Classes 5A and 6A.

Don’t forget …. RCN customers can still relive all of the baseball playoff excitement by watching all these title games—for free—through RCN On-Demand.  These games will be available to watch up for up to 60 days after their initial broadcasts dates.

Coming up over the next two weeks here at “The Shop,” we’ll take a look at some of the top student-athlete performances and top teams from this past spring sports season.

Also, if local athletic directors, coaches, administrators or statisticians would be so kind as to send the different “all-stars” lists to my attention, we’d love the opportunity to highlight the top players in the area here on this blog and/or on our weekly “SportsTalk” program!

Please email those lists to me at chris.michael@rcn.net and thanks, in advance, for your assistance!