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.

Phillies Off-Season 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. 

A lot has been said and written about what went wrong for the Phillies this past year–you don’t commit to adding over $660 million to your payroll and expect your team to finish with the exact same record it did a year ago.

With a new manager, pitching coach, hitting coach all now in place, along with a nice (but somewhat expensive) free agent pick-up in Zach Wheeler, it’s time to take a look at what the Phillies do the rest of the off-season in terms of their on-the-field personnel.

(This is where I could point out some of the ideas I suggested the Phillies do last December, but didn’t do.  Things like, signing Anibal Sanchez.  You know, one of the most dominant pitchers in this year’s NLDS who flirted with a no-hitter in a playoff game? But who’d want someone like that on your roster.)

While some of the upgrades that need to be made are rather mundane to discuss (backup catcher, the fifth outfielder/pinch-running option, et al), I wanted to focus on three major things that MUST happen for the Phillies to become playoff contenders in 2020 (and no, I am not one of those writers who think this team is still several years away from the playoffs…with the money they’ve spent and have available, there is simply no excuse why this team shouldn’t be in the post-season next fall.)

#1: SIGN RENDON 

One of the biggest free agents available needs to be wined-and-dined as much as Bryce Harper (who also has Scott Boras as his agent) was a year ago.  The former National is the obvious main target for the Phillies this year because signing him:

…gives you a player with intensity/sense of urgency–something lacking from many Phillies in 2019

…a perfect complement to Harper in middle of order

…a much-needed improvement both offensively and defensively  (something that many people are pointing out that desperately needs to improve this off season)

The Phillies–despite all their offensive upgrades last “hot stove” season–still was not one of the top performers offensively and you need to add a major bat to their lineup.  No other free agent gives you as much of an upgrade as Anthony Rendon and he is probably the more likely of the two biggest free agents of the winter season to leave his former team (Gerrit Cole being the other).

NOTE TO ALEC BOHM FANS:  No, I didn’t forget the team’s former #1 pick did have an excellent year offensively in Double-A this past summer.  IF (and remember he struggled mightily in 2018) he continues to progress with the bat, he can always be moved to first base, where he may be better suited anyway, since some scouts have not been impressed with this work at the hot corner.

But what about the incumbent first basemen? That bring us to… 

#2: PACKAGE HOSKINS FOR MORE PITCHING–BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE 

First of all, another major area the team must make is in ALL aspects of their pitching, even after adding Wheeler, whom I view currently (given his track record of injuries) as a strong #3 pitcher on a World Series championship team (that is the goal now, isn’t it?).  The Phillies probably cannot afford to add BOTH of the biggest free agents available on the market and the organization been reluctant to make major financial commitments to pitchers.  Therefore, the team must get creative in terms of upgrading its bullpen and starting pitching staff through trades.

Rhys Hoskins remind me a lot of Pat Burrell–a power hitter with great potential and some big at-bats, but one who never fully developed into a proven, 3-4-5 bat in a championship caliber lineup.  Burrell, at his best, hit sixth during the Phillies’ best years–where he could shine in some big moments when he was hot, and his inconsistent slumps wouldn’t be nearly as noticeable by hitting lower in the order.  When “Pat the Bat” hit higher and in more key spots in the order, (before and after the 2018 World Series year) he wasn’t nearly as effective, which is similar to what Hoskins has shown over the last two seasons.

Also, if the Phillies add Rendon (or even Josh Donaldson), Hoskins is probably pushed to the sixth spot in the batting order–you really want to pass up a chance for a major pitching upgrade for a guy who hits sixth in your lineup?

Plus, Hoskins has been trending downward in each of his first two seasons.  Initially in 2018, the excuse was he was forced to play out of position in left field and this affected his hitting.  To that end, they jettisoned an All-Star First Baseman (Carlos Santana) to “help” Hoskins, who returned the favor by hitting WORSE in 2019.

I know Hoskins is a fan favorite with lots of potential, but you don’t get major pitching help without giving up significant talent in return.

Given Hoskins’ ego and declining numbers (and is he one of the nameless players that was bad-mouthing Gabe Kapler at season’s end?), it’s time to cut Hoskins lose while his value is still rather high and avoid suffering a third consecutive year of declining numbers.

And if he rebounds?

Again, you have to give up talent to get talent…and the Phillies MUST add to their pitching staff.

Speaking of pitching…

#3: Supplement Your Pitching Staff with SEVERAL Proven Veterans

One of the biggest head-scratching decisions by the Phillies’ front office last winter was their decision to spend “crazy money” on position players, yet didn’t spend ANY money on pitching (except for injured reliever Dave Robertson, who turned out to be a bust).

Unfortunately, this glaring error was put on display when injuries occurred and most of the younger players the Phillies were counting on failed to live up to expectations.

The Phillies cannot afford to make the same mistake this winter.  They simply cannot put their faith in having a pitching staff consisting mostly of unproven talent.

You still have to add a proven veteran starter to the staff (to join Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin and Jake Arrieta) plus starting depth AND pieces to the bullpen, to be ready for when the inevitable injuries occur.

Worst case scenario?

You have too many tough choices to make in spring training and can’t take  all the pitchers you have on your Opening Day roster.  Pitchers have options for a reason – use them!  And if the young talent develops and progresses well in the minors over a long period of time (another issue this year was young arms being rushed to the Majors), THEN you can bring them up.

Here’s a look at how my plan would work amongst the starters:

The Lineup

McCutcheon       LF

Gregorius            SS

Rendon               3B

Harper                 RF

Realmuto            C

Segura                2B

Kingery                1B (or Harrison or Boehm, which moves Scott to CF)

Haseley               CF *

*(McCutcheon could also move to CF to make room for Jay Bruce)

The Rotation

Nola

Player X (who you’d acquire for Hoskins)

Wheeler

Arrieta

Efflin

Yes, the team would be over the salary cap, but you can’t brag about all the money the team is bringing in to spend on players and then not spend that money on players!

And, Hoskins would be due for a big pay day in a year or two, so you’re “saving” money for next year, while bringing in much needed talent NOW.

Hopefully, the Phillies front office takes these steps this off-season.  I REALLY hope I don’t have the opportunity to say “I told you so” again next winter!

Pick 4: 2019 FINAL STANDINGS

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.

Before we get to our final standings for this year’s “Pick 4” event, let me thank this year’s participants: Gary Laubach, Tony Cocca, John Leone and Keith Groller for participating in this year’s “contest.”

Gary, Tony and Keith have been doing it now with me for several years and to have all these guys on board is what makes this annual event fun for both us and the RCN viewers.  While other media outlets do football predictions each week, our event is a little more special than the rest because we actually have something “at stake” (in many cases, our dignity), which makes it connect more with local sports fans.

Since Keith lost last year’s event (and, by the way, after MONTHS of him whining that last year’s high school football games’ outcomes were rigged just so he could lose the contest, he recently thanked me on a recent show for all the positive publicity it generated for him), I ask him to select this year’s “prize” for whomever lost this fall.

He turned that responsibility over to the Pen Argyl football team who were our guests on a show promoting their 100th game in their rivalry with the Slaters.  After some thought, the players decided that the loser would run a lap around the track.

As the season wore on, I enjoyed my exchanges with our viewers who were following along with our contest here on this blog and on our “SportsTalk” program and podcast, along with some of the questions I would be asked:

“Are you guys really going to run around a track on camera?”

“Is Cocca going to run with a hat if he loses?”

“What size running shoe does Leone take?”

…and many more!

While the results are really insignificant, it makes for an entertaining side story to follow during the season.  John Leone actually complained to me last year that he was missing out on the “fun” and demanded that he be one of this year’s participants…something I was more than happy to accommodate!

So when we reveal the final results on an upcoming show (we are off this Thursday for the holiday), please remember that it was all for amusement purposes only and it wouldn’t have been possible without the stars of our contest–Gary, Tony, John, Keith and our viewers who followed along–and for everyone being a great sport about it (as long as Keith wasn’t in last place).

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday everyone!

Final Polls & Picks

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’s time when only the top teams in the state of Pennsylvania are still in action (plus those that still play traditional Turkey Day games).

It’s also time for our final “Big School” poll (we did the final “Small School” poll in our last entry), AND…

It’s also time for our football experts (and myself) to make our final high school football predictions, and out last chance to avoid doing something incredibly embarrassing to ourselves (or at least, those of us who are not in the best of shape).

So before we unveil our final “Big School Poll” of the 2019 campaign, here’s a look at how we saw things for these team way back in early August–a few weeks before the season began.

“Big” Schools Poll–PRESEASON

1)  Freedom

2) Parkland

3) Nazareth

4) Easton

5) Emmaus 

Other schools receiving votes: Northampton 

For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll and consist of  ParklandLibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton,  Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

Now, here’s our final results… 

“Big” Schools Poll–FINAL

1)   Nazareth

2)  Parkland

3)  Freedom

4)   Easton

5)   Northampton  

Just like with the smaller schools last week when we correctly identified ALL five of the top teams before the season got underway–we had six teams teams being mentioned in our pre-season picks and all five schools in our final poll selected back in early August.  In getting votes at both the beginning and end of our poll correct, I have to once again congratulate our “pollsters” (as I seem to do every year!) for doing a tremendous job with their pre-season opinions and choices on who would be the top schools in 2019! 

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

The “PICK 4” St. Joe’s Prep vs.
Nazareth
Southern Lehigh vs.
Archbishop Wood
Lehigh vs. Lafayette Lehigh vs. Lafayette TIEBREAKER (total points scored)
Gary Laubach  St. Joe’s Prep Archbishop Wood Lafayette 33
Tony Cocca  St. Joe’s Prep Archbishop Wood Lafayette n/a
Keith Groller  St. Joe’s Prep Archbishop Wood Lafayette 30
John Leone  St. Joe’s Prep Archbishop Wood Lafayette 27
Chris Michael St. Joe’s Prep Archbishop Wood Lehigh 31

 

 Tune into this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” for more on these games, and insights on the Patriot League’s football championship this weekend, the new NCAA basketball campaign and more!

HS Football: Week 13

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. 

For our smaller schools, it’s been an earlier than normal exit for most teams in our Lehigh Valley viewing area. 

Only one local team qualified for the 3A playoffs this year (Notre Dame) and the Crusaders made a rare early exit (they did have injuries and ineligible player which hurt their chances). 

In 4A, we are left with just one local team as Bethlehem Catholic and Wilson lost to Pottsville in consecutive weekends and left the Hawks’ rival, Central Catholic, as the lone Valley team in that classification–playing for a championship this weekend against the Crimson Tide. 

So before we unveil our final “Small School Poll” of the 2019 campaign, here’s a look at how we saw things way back in early August–a few weeks before the season began. 


“Small” Schools Poll–PRESEASON

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)   Northwestern

3)   Central Catholic

4)   Notre Dame 

Other schools receiving votes: Saucon Valley 

A reminder: “small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

Now, here’s a look at how things shook-out here at the end of the season: 

“Small” Schools Poll–FINAL

1)   Central Catholic

2)   Northwestern

3)  Bethlehem Catholic

4)  Notre Dame  

Other schools receiving votes:   Saucon Valley 

WIth Central’s thrilling 17-point come-from-behind victory last Saturday over Northwestern, it gave the Vikings the top spot under first-year Head Coach Tim McGorry (you can hear our podcast with him and his coaches from before the season elsewhere here on this website). 

Bethlehem Catholic faded during the season’s second half after being ranked in the top spot (both in our poll and according to the District XI “power point” system) throughout much of the season. 

With all five teams getting votes at both the beginning and end of our poll, I have to congratulate our “pollsters” again this fall for doing a tremendous job with their pre-season predictions on who would be the top schools in 2019! 

*****

Now, we still have a couple teams in the mix among our “big” schools…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Nazareth

2)  Parkland

3)  Freedom

4)  Easton

5)  Northampton

For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of  ParklandLibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

Next week, we’ll look at our FINAL poll for these schools and unveil how we did in predicting the top teams in this category as well! 

******* 

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

The “PICK 4” Parkland vs.Nazareth Central Catholic vs.Pottsville Solehi vs. Oil City Colgate vs. Lafayette
Gary Laubach  Parkland  Pottsville Solehi  Lafayette
Tony Cocca  Parkland  Pottsville Solehi Lafayette
Keith Groller  Parkland  Central Catholic Solehi  Colgate
John Leone  Parkland  Pottsville Solehi Lafayette
Chris Michael Parkland  Central Catholic Solehi Lafayette

 

The “PICK 4” Parkland vs.
Nazareth
Central Cathoic vs.
Pottsville
Southern Lehigh vs.
Oil City
Lafayette vs.
Colgate
Gary Laubach  Parkland Pottsville Southern Lehigh Lafayette
Tony Cocca  Parkland Pottsville Southern Lehigh Lafayette
Keith Groller  Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Colgate
John Leone  Parkland Pottsville Southern Lehigh Lafayette
Chris Michael Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Lafayette

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall. Also, be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well!

 

High School Football: Week 12

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’ve advanced to the second round of the high school football playoffs and, for Class 3A & 5A teams, we’ll see champions be crowned for the District XI playoffs.

“Playoff week two” also means that our weekly football polls will be coming to an end.  So as we head into the 12th week of the football season overall, here’s a look at where our pigskin experts (a mix of local coaches, administrators and RCN and other media members) stack up the teams in our coverage area:

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Nazareth

2)  Freedom

3)  Parkland

3)  Easton

4)  Northampton

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Northwestern

2)  Central Catholic

3)  Bethlehem Catholic

4)  Saucon Valley 

Our poll remains with the standard format that we have utilized for many seasons.  For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of:  ParklandLibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

 “Small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua. 

 Here are the “rules” for our voters: 

Each pollster identifies 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 (or three) points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in both of the polls.   

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

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

The “PICK 4” Parkland vs.
Freedom
Central Cathoic vs.
Northwestern
Southern Lehigh vs.
E. Stroudsburg South
Lafayette vs.
Holy Cross
Gary Laubach  Freedom Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Lafayette
Tony Cocca  Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Holy Cross
Keith Groller  Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Holy Cross
John Leone  Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Holy Cross
Chris Michael Parkland Central Catholic Southern Lehigh Holy Cross

 

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall. Also, be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well!

Pick 4 Update

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.

High school football playoffs are now underway (yes, the playoffs DO start before Halloween again this year) and we’ll have the most comprehensive previews and predictions on all of this weekend’s opening round District XI playoff games on Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program.  We’ll have some big-time names in terms of high school football head coaches in Eastern Pennsylvania to give their insights and opinions on ALL of this weekend’s playoff games…tune in to this week’s show to find out who’s breaking down this weekend’s matchups!

As we begin a playoff run I just wanted to keep everyone updated on the latest “Pick 4” contest standings–where your favorite RCN personalities select who they think will win the weekend’s most competitive games…

1-tie)  Tony Cocca     28-8

1-tie)  Chris Michael     28-8

3)  Keith Groller      27-9

4)  Gary Laubach     25-11

5)  John Leone     24-23

John Leone (who many people know is a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan) has channelled his inner Johnny Manziel by rapidly plummeting in the standings–after sharing the leader position just a few short weeks ago, he’s hit rock bottom by falling into last place.

What will the final results be? Will “Speedy” Leone get out of the basement?  And who will be our “grand loser” for this year’s event? Remember, whoever finishes with the worst record has to run a lap around a local high school track…on camera!

Stay tuned for the exciting finish over the next few weeks.

Now, here’s this week’s “Pick 4” predictions … 

The “PICK 4” Saucon Valley vs.
Central Catholic
Easton vs.
Northampton
Emmaus vs.
Freedom
Fordham vs.
Lafayette
Gary Laubach  Central Catholic Northampton Freedom Lafayette
Tony Cocca  Central Catholic Northampton Freedom Lafayette
Keith Groller  Central Catholic Easton Freedom Fordham
John Leone  Central Catholic Easton Freedom Lafayette
Chris Michael Central Catholic Easton Freedom Fordham


Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well!

Now, for this week’s high school football polls for District XI teams…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)  Nazareth

2)  Freedom

3)  Parkland

4)  Northampton

5)  Emmaus

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Northwestern

2)  Central Catholic

3)  Bethlehem Catholic

4)  Notre Dame

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

 

HS Football 2019: Week 10

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’s an extra-busy week “sports-wise” for us at the RCN Studio as the high school football playoffs are almost upon us, and the other fall sports’ post-season are already underway as we bring the playoff coverage home to you on RCN-TV.

Our “SportsTalk” cameras were on hand for last weekend’s girls volleyball championship between Parkland and Bethlehem Catholic and we’ll have highlights and post-match reactions on this Thursday’s program.  While the Lehigh Valley has usually featured some of the top volleyball programs in the state, this year was a particularly competitive season with many top individual and teams’ performances and the “favored” teams not always getting the better of the underdog in matches this autumn.

The Lafayette football team also has an important stretch of games coming up.   Despite their 0-7 record, the Leopards have Patriot League contests coming up against Bucknell and Fordham (both games can be seen on RCN).  If they can string together a couple victories the next two weeks, it would give them a chance at the conference title. We’ll have interviews with Head Coach John Garrett and his players on this Thursday’s show as well.

Another big event coming up…the historic 100th meeting between the Bangor and Pen Argyl football program that will be taking place on Saturday.  It’s an event that has literally been decades in the making and one the entire Slate Belt area has been looking forward to, with much more on the line than a “W.”

For more on this game, check out our “SportsTalk” podcast for interviews with Head Coaches Paul Reduzzi, John Smith and players from both teams as they discuss this rivalry over the years and preview Saturday’s big event.

Last but not least, we’ll get a live report from Washington on the Nationals and Astros in the World Series.  Team980-AM Radio’s Nationals’ beat reporter Luke Monaldo will be on our program to recap the first two games of the and give us a preview of Friday’s Game 3, plus talk about the status of a few players the Phillies (and several other teams) might covent should they reach the free agent market after the Series concludes.

Now, for this week’s high school football poll for District XI teams…

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Nazareth

2)  Freedom

3)  Parkland

4)  Northampton

5)  Easton

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Northwestern

3)  Central Catholic

4)  Saucon Valley     Notre Dame 

Also receiving multiple votes: Notre Dame 

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

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

The “PICK 4” Nazareth
Easton
Northampton
Whitehall
Allen
Dieruff
Pen Argyl
Bangor 
Gary Laubach  Nazareth Northampton Allen Pen Argyl
Tony Cocca  Nazareth Northampton Allen Bangor 
Keith Groller  Nazareth Northampton Allen Pen Argyl
John Leone  Nazareth Northampton Allen Pen Argyl
Chris Michael Nazareth Northampton Allen Bangor 

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

Also, be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well!  Last week, Parkland fans edged out Easton in our voting by a close margin…unfortunately for Rovers fans, the Trojans prediction turned out to be correct with a 27-9 win last Friday.  Best of luck picking this weekend’s match-ups!

HS Football 2019: Week 9

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. 

I’ve had the pleasure of calling some very enjoyable high school football games through the first 2 months of the regular season.  (No, that’s not a self-serving comment as I have nothing to do with, nor can take any credit for, the selection of teams and games broadcast on RCN.)  I’ve also had some great conversations in the hours and the days leading up to the games with both coaches and players and there have been some fascinating off-the-field stories from different schools.

However, things are now getting serious as we had down the home stretch of the regular season and then…the playoffs.

So to get you caught up on the RCN broadcasted games over the last month, here are the highlights of our high school games this fall:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCN customers can watch these games, in its entirety, for free, through Video-on-Demand. 

Our website readers nailed their predictions last week…in what turned out to be two blowout contests (Freedom scored on every possession and averaged 12 yards per play, while Northampton held a 41-7 lead at the end of the first quarter), our voters correctly selected both Freedom and Northampton to win last weekend’s games.  Check out this week’s voting section and give YOUR take on who you think will win this weekend’s RCN game between Parkland and Easton. 

PROGRAMMING NOTE: 

SportsTalk” is off this week due to RCN’s holiday parade coverage — our usual high school football polls and our “experts game predictions” contest returns next week.   

Also, keep checking back to our website for more highlights from games broadcast on RCN-TV throughout the fall season!

 

HS Football 2019: Week 8

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..

This week we start to take our first hard looks at the playoff situations for both local leagues and the District XI playoff picture.

For both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (South Division) and the Colonial League, any team that has more than one loss right now finds itself in a tough situation to try to make a run at capturing a crown.

For some (but not all) of the district classifications, however, with the expanded playoff format, there are quite a few teams that have struggled this year, yet still have a very good chance at seeing some post-season action.

On this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” on RCN-TV, Sports Director Gary Laubach will join us as we take a look back at the recent weeks-worth of games and look ahead to a full slate of games this weekend, plus delve into the potential playoff implications these contest may have.

As you have been seeing on our program, we’ve been featuring a number of new coaches and up-and-coming student-athletes like Ramie Moussa, Damien Garcia, and others, in both the Colonial League and the EPC all year long.  That trend continues this week as we provide a game recap of last Saturday’s battle of Colonial football teams (one of them was in our pre-season poll to keep an eye on this fall), which ended in dramatic fashion. We also have game highlights and interviews as two of the top girls soccer teams in the league (Salisbury, currently 3rd in the Colonial League, and Southern Lehigh, currently first) squared off against each other.

Also on this week’s show, we will have a feature on one of the prominent high school programs in the Washington DC area–the Woodrow Wilson football team, as produced by our friends from DKN Sports at the Office of Community Television.

*****

Time for a look at our high school football “big” and “small schools” polls (as voted by select media members, coaches & administrators within the RCN-TV viewing area) and our “Pick 4” game predictions for games that will be played this weekend.               

“Big” Schools Poll

1)   Nazareth

2)  Freedom

3)  Easton

4)  Parkland

5)  Northampton

“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Central Catholic

3)  Northwestern

4-tie)  Saucon Valley/Notre Dame  

 Other schools receiving votes: Northern Lehigh 

Our poll remains with the standard format that we have utilized for many seasons.  For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of:  Parkland, LibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

 “Small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua. 

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

 *******

 Now, here are our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the most competitive high school games this weekend…

The “PICK 4” Easton @
Bethlehem Catholic
Liberty @
Central Catholic
Salisbury @
Bangor
Saucon Valley @
Northwestern
Gary Laubach  Easton Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
Tony Cocca  Easton Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
Keith Groller  Becahi Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern
John Leone  Easton Liberty Salisbury Northwestern
Chris Michael Becahi Central Catholic Salisbury Northwestern

You have the chance to vote right here on our website on who you think will win the Easton/Becahi game, plus other Eastern Pennsylvania Conference games we’ll have on RCN this weekend: Allen vs. Northampton and Emmaus vs. Freedom.

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

 

 

HS Football 2019: Week 7

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 times when wins, losses and other statistical information takes a back seat and our “SportsTalk” program addresses more than who are the top teams, who’s playing well and what are the most important games to watch this weekend.

On this Thursday’s program, we have such a case.

Easton Middle School Head Football Coach Jeff Zimmerman recently found out that he is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.  The issue occurred with no warning whatsoever, and, in his current condition, his kidneys are functioning below 20% efficiently, which could cause a tragic outcome.

Jeff, his wife Ali, Easton Head Football Coach Jeff Braido and select members of the Rovers team will be in our studio this week to talk about his struggles and make a pitch for a donor to come through during this critical time…these actions may literally save his life.

We invite you to tune in to hear more about Jeff and Ali’s plight and ask that everyone spreads the word so that we can have a happy conclusion to this saga.  If you know of anyone who might be able to help, reach out to the Easton School District or contact me at our RCN studio (610-443-2841 or chris.michael@rcn.net ) and I will get you in contact with Coach Zimmerman.              

Now, for this week’s high school football poll for District XI teams… 

“Big” Schools Poll

1) Easton

2) Nazareth

3)  Freedom

4)  Parkland

5)  Emmaus

Other schools receiving multiple votes: Southern Lehigh

 “Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)   Central Catholic

3)   Saucon Valley

4)   Northwestern

Other schools receiving multiple votes: Salisbury, Notre Dame 

For the largest school districts within the District XI/RCN-TV footprint, they qualify as the “big schools” in our pigskin poll. These schools consist of Parkland, LibertyAllen, Easton, Emmaus, Liberty, Dieruff, Freedom, StroudsburgPleasant ValleyNorthampton, Nazareth, WhitehallSouthern LehighEast Stroudsburg-South, and Pocono Mountain East & West.  

“Small schools” for our poll consist of schools from BangorSaucon Valley, Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, WilsonPalisadesPalmertonSalisbury, Notre Dame, Pen ArgylNorthern Lehigh and Catasauqua. 

Here are the “rules” for our voters:

Each pollster identifies 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 (or three) points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in both of the polls.

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

Now, here are our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the most competitive high school games this weekend… 

The “PICK 4” Freedom @ Easton
*on RCN-TV
Northampton@
Stroudsburg
Northern Lehigh@ 
Salisbury
Northwestern@
Southern Lehigh
Gary Laubach Freedom Northampton Northern Lehigh Southern Lehigh
Tony Cocca  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
Keith Groller  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
John Leone  Easton Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh
Chris Michael  Freedom Northampton Salisbury Southern Lehigh


Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

Congratulations to you, our RCN-TV website readers! All voters correctly predicted both Parkland and Penn would be victorious in their games broadcast on RCN last week.  Be sure to try to keep the streak alive by checking out the “fan voting” section and make your pick for this Friday’s high school action.