When it comes to the Wyoming Valley Conference football schedules for 2014 and 2015, perhaps the Sgt. Schultz approach is the best one to take.
The character on the 1960s comedy “Hogan’s Heroes” would often utter the lines, “I hear nothing, I know nothing.” Because what has been said and past on as fact about the schedule is, well, really nothing.
So we went right to the guy-in-the-know — Wyoming Valley West athletic director Sandy Mackay. Mackay serves as the WVC varsity football commissioner and assigns officiating crews to games every weekend. He helped sort out some of the stuff floating about the past two weeks.
• Teams changing classes: As of now, it looks like Wyoming Area will be going from Class 2A to 3A and Northwest from A to 2A, based on preliminary enrollment numbers given to the PIAA. Schools had from Oct. 1-15 to submit enrollment numbers, which are based on freshmen, sophomore and junior class sizes for the 2014-15 school year.
The PIAA then processes those numbers for all sports and returns them to the schools to check for any clerical errors. The schools pretty much know their classifications in all sports before the PIAA makes them official. The PIAA is expected to release sports classifications for the next two seasons on Nov. 18.
• Tunkhannock leaving the WVC: Mackay has heard this one as well and said it’s not happening.
According to a couple sources, Tunkhannock wanted to join the Lackawanna Conference in football only. The school’s reasoning is the Lackawanna Conference would provided a more competitive schedule. Tunkhannock hasn’t finished with a winning record since 1998, the longest streak in the WVC.
The Lackawanna Football Conference’s three-division structure isn’t based strictly on enrollment. That allows a rebuilding program like Class 3A Montrose to play in a division of mostly Class A teams. The deal-breaker, though, was the Lackawanna Conference wanted all of Tunkhannock’s sports teams to join.
• MVC effect: The Mountain Valley Conference recently announced six of its nine teams will be joining the Lehigh Valley Conference in 2014. Lehighton is also departing for another league.
Those six teams — all Class 4A — often filled the non-conference game gaps in the WVC schedule. But now that they will be part of an 18-team LVC, they won’t need the WVC for non-conference games. Allentown Allen and Allentown Dieruff are the only schools still in the MVC, but they play in the MVC in football only. Neither provides the competition of those six teams.
Mackay said that other schools within the region have committed to fill the voids. He didn’t want to name any of them until the WVC schedule is finalized.
“As of (Tuesday), we think we have them all filled,” Mackay said.
• Lackawanna concerns: The WVC and LFC teams played 30 games against each other each of the past two seasons. The scuttlebutt has the 20-team LFC breaking into two 10-team divisions. Each team would then play nine divisional games and one crossover, meaning bye-bye WVC.
Not going to happen. Mackay spoke Monday with Dunmore athletic director Mark Rinaldi, who has a similar role with the LFC, and there will be games between the two conferences.
• The final schedule: Once the official enrollment figures are received, the WVC will finalize its schedules for the next two years. Mackay expects it to be released between Dec. 15 and Jan. 1.
Seven weeks are pretty much etched out, Mackay said. Week 3 is falling into place well. There are some issues with Weeks 8 and 9, but Mackay didn’t seem overly concerned about smoothing those things out as well.
“We’ve been able to fill every week tentatively except Weeks 3, 8 and 9,” Mackay said. “We have Week 3 being worked on as we speak. Eight is at a standstill right now because of the (District 4) Heartland Conference. And (Week) 9 is just a matter of two schools being able to hook up.
“Once we get those 3, 8 and 9 filled we have all weeks with an even number. Then we jockey things around because some of those weeks where they had a league game they now have a non-league game so we have to move things here and there.”
• Wyoming Seminary: The Kingston prep school brought back football this year after dropping it for two seasons. The Blue Knights have been playing an exhibition schedule mainly against the junior varsity teams of District 2 high schools.
The schedule created some speculation that Seminary would join the WVC in football. However, the program won’t and will continue its tradition of utilizing post-graduate football players.
Here’s how things are playing out entering Week 9. Teams need five victories to make the Eastern Conference. If there aren’t enough .500 or better teams to fill out the playoff field, a team with a sub-.500 record will get the spot.
Class 4A: Wyoming Valley West (7-1, 910 state pts.) has clinched a spot in the District 2/4-11 Class 4A playoffs, so the Spartans won’t be back to defend their Eastern Conference title. That’s good because the district playoffs are the real goal.
Scranton (6-2, 670) or Delaware Valley (4-4, 430) will be the other berth out of D2/4. The odd-team-out will likely land in the Eastern Conference tourney.
Class 3A: Berwick (8-0, 1,120) has clinched a D2-3A playoff berth. Four teams are battling for the three other spots — Scranton Prep (8-0, 1,090), Abington Heights (7-1, 920), Coughlin (7-1, 900) and Crestwood (7-1, 880). The team that doesn’t make the district playoffs is assured a spot in the Eastern Conference.
Class 2A: Hanover Area (4-4, 530) is the only District 2 team currently in position for an Eastern Conference berth. However, the Hawkeyes could still land a D2-2A berth, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Nanticoke (3-5, 380) and Wyoming Area (3-5, 380) are also in contention for that spot out of the E.C. Northern Division.
Class A: As mentioned last week, no District 2 team will qualify for the Eastern Conference.
WAS IT AN UPSET?
Holy Redeemer’s 27-14 victory over Hanover Area on Saturday night was a surprise. But it wasn’t a huge upset like some people viewed it.
Redeemer entered the game at 1-6, but lost 28-24 to Northwest (6-2) in its opener. The Royals also battled GAR and Wyoming Area well into the fourth quarters before falling. If coach Pat Reece had about 10 more players to work with, the Royals might have pulled out a couple of those games.
Toss in four Hanover Area turnovers and it’s easy to see how Redeemer prevailed. Although the final record won’t show it, this is probably the best Redeemer football team in the program’s seven-year history.
Ah, shades of Knute Rockne at Crestwood. The Comets use the single-wing offense, which is fun to watch them execute. Seeing quarterback Jay Popson bark out the signals and the snap go to running back Frank Aigeldinger brings back memories of The Four Horsemen.
Crestwood coach Greg Myers said the team still hasn’t unveiled all it could do out of the formation.
“The kids have executed it well,” Myers said, “but we’re just scratching the surface. We’re really running two series; there are eight series in the offense. As the season goes along, if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, we’re ready to put the third one in. Hopefully, that will give teams something else to prepare for.”
Wyoming Valley West occasionally takes quarterback Mike Baur and moves him to wide receiver. The Spartans then let backup quarterback Brady Davison run the play. It’s a good plan for two reasons. First, it gives defenses a different look. Secondly, Baur will be graduating and Davison will be back next year. So he’ll enter 2014 with some varsity snaps under his belt.
“We’re at the point right now we’re getting a lot of underclassmen reps on Friday nights,” Valley West coach Pat Keating said. “That’s big because you always get nervous the first few weeks of the season with guys on how they are going to react under the lights. Right now, we have a lot of kids getting varsity time and playing well.”
Davision has completed 12-of-17 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. And Baur hasn’t just been a decoy. He has five receptions for 49 yards and a score.
The WVC coaches met Wednesday night to select the players for the 63rd annual UNICO All-Star Classic. The rosters will be released at the conclusion of the WVC regular season.
This year’s game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 30, at Lake-Lehman High School.