Revenge. Payback. Getting even.
All of the above. Some of the above.
No matter how it's viewed, three Wyoming Valley Conference teams – Dallas, GAR and Wyoming Area – get the opportunity to make amends for a regular-season misstep in the District 2 football playoffs.
For Dallas (7-3), it's the chance to right a loss to Berwick (9-1) as it heads to Crispin Field for a 1 p.m. Class 3A game Saturday. GAR (7-3) and Wyoming Area (8-2) are in action at 7 p.m. today in the Class 2A tournament.
GAR heads to Lakeland (7-3), which defeated the Grenadiers in the season opener. Wyoming Area hosts Lake-Lehman (6-4), which used an improbable comeback to bump off the Warriors in week three.
History says those regular-season losers have a chance to be postseason winners.
In the last three years, the district playoffs featured 16 rematches of teams that played during the regular-season. The regular-season losers won seven times.
Of the nine rematches where the regular-season winner also won the district playoff game, the margin of victory shrunk dramatically four times. Only once did one of the nine victors increase its margin of victory by at least seven points. That came in 2009 when Dunmore defeated Mid Valley by 21 in the regular season and 28 in the D2-2A playoffs.
The regular-season winners haven't swept the district rematches since 2007 when they won all five games.
Dallas has the biggest hill to climb. Berwick handed Dallas its third consecutive loss of the season with a 50-14 pounding of the Mountaineers. Standout quarterback Ryan Zapoticky was sacked 16 times in the first three games, but since then the offensive line has provided much better protection and he has been able to florish.
We're a better team, we're a different team in some respects, said Dallas coach Bob Zaruta, whose Mountaineers have won seven in a row, tied with Wyoming Area for the longest winning streak in the WVC. And I'm sure they consider themselves a better team, too. They've improved. They're on a six- or seven-game win streak themselves right now.
Berwick has won six in a row. Dawg coach George Curry commented two weeks ago that the Berwick team that was manhandled 33-15 in week four isn't the same team he is coaching right now.
GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. feels the same way. His Grenadiers entered their season opener with Lakeland with only on veteran skill player back – senior receiver/running back Lucas Benton. A series of mistakes and turnovers led to a 34-7 loss to Lakeland.
We watched that game (Tuesday), Wiedlich Jr. said. There is such a big difference. Our secondary has matured so much since week one. We shot ourselves in the foot so many times. Turning the ball over, we had the ball three times in the red zone and come up empty. Turnovers and penalties, things of that sort.
Our team is more mature, more seasoned where we don't make those types of mental errors and have those mental lapses.
The growing pains continued the next week with a 29-0 loss to Dunmore. But after rallying from a 14-0 halftime deficit to defeat Carbondale 20-19 in week three, the Grenadiers have been on a roll for the most part. The only gaffe came in week seven in a 48-15 loss to Wyoming Area.
Wyoming Area's situation is a little different than that of Dallas or GAR. The Warriors led Lehman 14-0 going into the fourth quarter and 14-7 with 1:49 remaining. But Lehman turned a Wyoming Area fumble with 1:09 left into a touchdown pass with 24 seconds remaining. The ensuing two-point conversion resulted in a 15-14 Lehman victory.
While Wyoming Area felt it let victory slip away, coach Randy Spencer is cognizant that tempering emotions will be necessary to a point. Sound and smart football will go a longer way to victory than unbridled revenge.
It's a first-round playoff game, the fifth-year Wyoming Area coach said. It's about executing and focusing and taking care of our assignments, being aware of where we need to be lined up. Then at the snap, playing hard and fast.
That's where the focus is.
(All games 7 p.m.)
District 2 Class 2A
Lake-Lehman at Wyoming Area
GAR at Lakeland
Eastern Conference Class 4A
Emmaus at Wyoming Valley West
Eastern Conference Class 3A
Scranton Prep at Crestwood
Muhlenberg at Coughlin
Eastern Conference Class 2A
Meyers at North Schuylkill
Eastern Conference Class A
Northwest at Muncy
District 2 Class 3A
Dallas at Berwick, 1 p.m.