It’s Championship Weekend in Hershey and while The Rick will not be devouring Hershey Kisses this weekend, I am going to pick some winners for you.
Before we get to that, let me just congratulate all of the players and coaches in the LFC and WVC that gave us 15 weeks of great and not-so-great high school football. Hey, not everyone could be winners on the field, but no one that committed themselves to the gridiron for the past four months – and some longer – will ever be considered a loser in this column.
Sure, there are some weeks that some of you really don’t like what is said in this column by either The Rick or some members of The Family, but we always find a way to pull you back in. Just like Pacino in Godfather III. We like having fun in this column, and sometime making fun – mostly of each other – is what sets us apart from others.
This is a tongue-in-cheek venue, and sometimes when reading you can’t take us too seriously. The Rick obviously doesn’t take himself that seriously. I mean who else would let a baseball coach pick football games as part of the shtick?
Overall, I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s edition of The Rick. We do our best to provide insightful and enjoyable content for all of our readers. So until next year, let’s make some picks….
By Rick Notari, Blue Devil Football Network
(1041-293 overall, .779 winning percentage)
THE RICK’S PICKS (Overall 186-56, Godfather Games 81-34)
May their first child be a masculine child (15-6 overall, 9-1 regular-season)
PIAA Class 6A Final
Big-boy football at its best! Someone get The Rick a Bob’s Big-Boy Burger! Mmm Mmm Good! So defending champ and big school juggernaut St. Joseph’s Prep takes on Pine-Richland. It seems the best players from all of SEPA and South-Central New Jersey head to SJP to be part of the collection of grid talent on West Girard Avenue in Philadelphia. Some may say the only better recruiter in Pennsylvania is the carnival barker stationed in Centre County. But make no mistakes about it, the Hawks can ball. However, Pine-Richland fans know that while the talent is rich in SEPA, the best quarterback in the state plays for the Rams. Found in Gibsonia, quarterback Phil Jurkovec is headed to Notre Dame next year and was a freshman when St. Joe’s Prep beat P-R for the Class 4A title. The Rams are fully aware they are the underdog playing against a football factory as head coach Eric Kasperowicz – a former Pitt linebacker – alluded to in Monday’s Post-Gazette. The Rick is calling an upset in the big game. Of course! You never go against the Pitt Family!
Pine-Richland 42, St. Joseph’s Prep 40
The Luca Brasi (13-3, 8-2)
PIAA Class 5A Final
Last week or the week before, I renamed this classification the ‘Archbishop Wood Class’. Well, fast forward to now and nothing has changed. Wood is still the team to beat. Located just north of Philly in Warminster, the Vikings are the beast from the east. The best of the west is Gateway. Just east of Pittsburgh in Monroeville, the Gators are the Cinderella story among the big school teams in Hershey this weekend. Coached by former Tunkhannock boss Don Holl, Gateway avenged its only loss of the season against Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL title game at Heinz Field three weeks ago. The Gators are going to need a supreme effort to wear the crown. If you watch this one, look for Gators freshman phenom Derrick Davis, a stud athlete on both sides of the ball.
Archbishop Wood 31, Gateway 21
Don’t ask me about my business (17-3, 9-1)
PIAA Class 4A Final
The best nickname of the weekend goes to Erie Cathedral Prep – The Ramblers. The Rick used to be known as ‘Ramblin’ Rick’, a moniker bestowed upon him by his former colleague Jack Smiles. And as you may have noticed, The Rick continues to ramble still today. They play Imhotep Charter and while most pundits probably think this game is a runaway for the Philly-area Panthers, fans should not sleep on ECP. They are a NWPA power and have performed on the state level in the past.
Erie Cathedral Prep 27, Imhotep Charter 14
Leave the gun; take the cannoli (10-7, 5-5)
PIAA Class 3A Final
This could be the best game of the weekend in Hershey. Middletown has rolled through the state playoffs while Quaker Valley has battled the last two weeks, winning the WPIAL by a score of 2-0 over Aliquippa. The Blue Raiders, from suburban Harrisburg, have their sights set on winning it all in what could amount to be a home game for the District 3 champs. The Quakers, hailing from the Sewickley area, northwest of Pittsburgh, are on the big stage for the first time. But District 7 always represents well in Hershey.
Middletown 33, Quaker Valley 31
Going to the mattresses (13-4, 8-2)
PIAA Class 2A Final
The Rick watched Southern Columbia dismantle Dunmore last week. Sure the Bucks led 13-7, but was there any doubt that the Tigers would get on a roll sooner or later? There was just too much talent on the SCA side of the gridiron – and that’s saying a lot because Dunmore dismantled 13 teams during the first 13 weeks of the season with its superior talent. The Rick thinks Southern could give some of our local colleges a game! The Tigers play Wilmington this week, a winner over Wash High last week. The Greyhounds are closer to Youngstown, OH then they are to Pittsburgh or Erie and beat Class 3A western finalist Sharon earlier in the season. This game is going to be a lot closer than most fans will think. Yes, Southern has won seven state titles. But they’ve lost eight finals.
Southern Columbia 31, Wilmington 24
I ain’t no bandleader (14-5, 8-2)
PIAA Class 1A Final
District 6 champ Homer-Center has upset three-time defending state champ Bishop Guilfoyle and District 3 champ Steel-High in the past two weeks. The Rick is starting to think those games may not have been upsets after all. Jeannette is back on the state championship scene for the first-time since all-world QB Terrelle Pryor led the Jayhawks to Chocolate Central. The Wildcats are just south of IUP while Jeannette is about 30 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh. The schools are closer to each other than either is to Hershey. The game should be played at Heinz Field on Thursday afternoon! Instead they come east. And that is just fine with The Rick. I’m just glad to see two public schools playing for the small-school crown.
Homer-Center 17, Jeannette 14
THE FAMILY PICKS
The last Family gathering of the year has only one unanimous agreement on the PIAA state title games and that is Southern Columbia over Wilmington.
In the other matchups, The Family is split on Homer-Center and Jeannette in Class 1A with The Rick, The Paw, Downtown and The Skip taking HC; and Pine- Richland and St Joseph's Prep in Class 6A with The Deacon, The Paw, The Machine and The Pick taking St. Joe's. The majority likes Middletown over Quaker Valley in Class 3A (The Consigliere, The Pick and The Skip like the Quakers); Erie Cathedral Prep over Imhotep Charter in Class 4A (The Deacon and The Machine are on the Panthers); and Archbishop Wood over Gateway (The Skip is all over the Gators).
See you next year!
Tom “Consigliere” Robinson (117-30 Family picks, 126-34 overall, 40-12 Consigliere)
Promises undying friendship for a small favor….
When the state finals are over, expect Dunmore and Wyoming Valley West to be able to say they kept going until they ran into the state champions – Southern Columbia and Archbishop Wood. Look for Jeannette, Quaker Valley, Eric Cathedral Prep and Pine-Richland to make it a bit of a tougher weekend for other eastern teams.
“The Skip” (120-27 Family, 15-8 Skipper)
Skippin’ ain’t easy….
The Skip's gotta go out on a limb and take some underdogs in order to win this thing.
Homer-Center over Jeannette, 27-23
Southern Columbia over Wilmington, 48-20
Quaker Valley over Middletown, 21-14
Erie Cathedral Prep over Imhotep Charter, 21-20
Gateway over Archbishop Wood, 14-13
Pine-Richland over St. Joe's Prep, 14-13
It's been fun. See you in 2018.
The Skip (Roskos29@aol.com)
“Downtown” Craig Brown (123-24 Family, 39-6 Downtown)
He’ll see you again on this side, or the other….
Bob “The Deacon” Beviglia (121-26 Family, 42-7 Deacon)
His methods aren’t scientific, but they work….
Joe “The Picker” Pichiarello (119-28 Family, 12-0 Picker)
Always tells the truth, even when he lies….
Scott “The Paw” Mackinder (118-29)
Splashes the pot whenever he wants….
Rick “The Rick” Notari (118-29)
Never argues over a parking space….
Dean “The Machine” Corwin (116-31 Family, 2-0 Machine)
Holds court on the street when he’s jammed up….
The opinions of The Rick do not necessarily reflect those of NEPAfootball.com nor do the opinions of other contributors who regularly appear in this forum. Those same contributors’ opinions also do not necessarily reflect those of The Rick.