MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Playoff Races Are Heating Up
With just three weeks left in the regular season, the race for playoff berths are starting to heat up. At the same time, teams are positioning themselves to acquire the best possible seed for the upcoming district playoffs.
As far as the Wyoming Valley Conference is concerned, there is plenty of work to be done and time is running out. In the latest standings based on the newly established power-rating system, just four teams — if you include Williamsport — are in position to host a first round playoff game.
Joining the Class 6A Millionaires in contention to host are Wyoming Area in Class 3A, and Berwick and Dallas in Class 4A.
Despite snapping a three-game losing streak on Friday night, Valley West went from the No. 2 seed in Class 5A to the No. 4 seed. The 5A race is going to be one to keep an eye on. District 2 is not guaranteed a spot in the subregional playoffs. Both Valley West and Wallenpaupack can qualify, one of them could qualify, and quite possibly neither could make it. But that seems unlikely.
Currently, Wallenpaupack is the No. 3 seed and already holds a victory over Valley West. If both Valley West and Wallenpaupack get in, they will play one another in Week 11 regardless of where they are seeded to determine the true district champ.
Only Williamsport, which competes in football in the WVC, is a top seed as of this week. The rest of the No. 1 seeds all come from the Lackawanna Football Conference.
With 207 passing yards Friday night against Pittston Area, Williamsport quarterback Joe Fagnano went over 4,000 yards passing for his career.
Fagnano now has 4,013 career yards throwing the ball. What might be the most impressive part of Fagnano’s career is that in 499 pass attempts, he has only been intercepted six times.
Fagnano became the 15th area passer to go over 4,000 yards for his career. The other active player to go over 4,000 yards is Hazleton Area quarterback Sparky Wolk. Currently, Wolk is fifth all-time with 5,580 yards. Wolk has an opportunity to move into fourth place, needing just 182 yards to catch former Valley West quarterback Marc Zlotek.
Down to the wire
Week 7 brought the WVC some much needed entertaining games. After a few weeks of lopsided victories, three WVC games produced thrillers.
Hanover Area blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Northwest at the buzzer as the Hawks won their third game of the year. Berwick fell behind 14-0 at halftime to Hazleton Area only to score four consecutive touchdowns and win, 28-21.
Williamsport scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7.6 seconds left on a Marcus Simmons 11-yard touchdown reception to defeat Pittston Area, 36-33. It was a game where Pittston Area discovered its running game, rushing for a season-best 222 yards. The Millionaires trailed 19-14 after three quarters, and scored 22 points in the fourth. Included in the point total was a 71-yard fumble return for a score by Brock Moyer.
Inside the box
An interesting note that may have gone unnoticed unless you scanned the boxcores on Saturday morning. Both Berwick and Coughlin did not complete a pass in their games on Friday night.
Berwick’s quarterbacks went 0 for 5 with one interception against Hazleton Area, while Coughlin was 0 for 6 with two interceptions.
Both teams did manage to rush for over 200 yards in their respective games. Berwick ran for 234 yards in its win; Coughlin rushed for 204 yards in a loss to Valley West.
Humming right along
Since deciding to open up the offense a bit more, Hanover Area has won two consecutive games with victories over Holy Redeemer and Northwest.
Rather than simply lining up and trying to pound the ball, head coach Mike McCree elected to spread things out a bit more. And quarterback Aaron Hummer is certainly taking advantage of the new system.
In Hanover Area’s last two games, Hummer has thrown for 329 yards and five touchdowns. He had his best passing game of the season in the win over Northwest when he threw for 184 yards. In his last three games, Hummer has thrown for 478 yards. Through the first four games, Hummer threw for 169 yards.
Though he recently de-committed from Army West Point after committing in the spring, Hanover Area offensive lineman Justin Kopko does have a few options on the table.
With an offer from Bucknell in his back pocket, Kopko was offered preferred walk-on status at Boston College. Earlier this year the Eagles were ranked in the top 25.
All sold out
In case you missed it or were planning to wait, tickets for the final game between GAR and Meyers are sold out. Both schools sold out their original allotment the first day tickets went on sale to the public. Remember, no passes will be accepted at the gate. That goes for conference passes, gold passes as well as scouting passes. So if you don’t have a ticket, odds on getting into the game are not very promising.