MMQB: With Summer Over, Season Drawing Closer

August 6, 2018

How fast does the high school football season sneak up on you? Well, for all intents and purposes, it officially starts today. Yes, today starts the heat acclimatization period. You know — the time of year when only football players are afforded the opportunity to adjust to the heat. Nevermind the soccer players, cross country runners or field hockey teams. No, it is only the football teams that have a chance. Regardless, for football players the summer is over. The time has come to seriously get ready for the start of the 2018 season. And as one conference coach always says, the regular season always shows what you did in the offseason. I guess it is time we are going to find out. With that said, welcome back. The MMQB is here, just like it was back in late November, to guide you through what everyone hopes will be an exciting Wyoming Valley Conference season. When we last left off, Valley West spent a Saturday afternoon playing against Archbishop Wood in the Class 5A state playoffs. This is it With the decision by the Wilkes-Barre Area school board to consolidate the sports programs at Meyers, GAR and Coughlin beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, this will be the last season for the three schools playing individually. When you look at the size of the rosters between the three schools, only Meyers seems to be able to sustain a sizeable amount on the varsity level. Coughlin is typically around 30 players or so, and GAR will enter camp with around 28. The decision to combine the athletic programs was long overdue. To make the change in the middle of a two-year cycle seemed risky. But, it didn’t take long to put together a 2019 high school football schedule. Once the season is over for all three teams, the school board can look forward to interviewing coaching candidates and moving forward. And on a positive note, the decision means there will be no longer a need to play Saturday night football at the stadium. Holy Redeemer can work around the consolidated schools and schedule its home games on Friday night. So, in the end, it works out for everyone. Welcome back After missing his junior season because of a knee injury suffered in the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Williamsport running back Trey Potts is back and ready to go. So much so that, earlier this year, the running back gave a verbal commitment to attend the University of Minnesota. Potts is one of the most electrifying players in the conference, and it is good to see him back on the field. It is also good for the conference to have a quality player such as Potts back in action. That is, unless you are a defensive coordinator who now has to figure out how to stop Potts running the ball and quarterback Joe Fagnano throwing it. Welcome aboard Sammy Solomon transferred from Valley West to Wyoming Area during the offseason. Solomon, a defensive lineman, will also see time at fullback for the Warriors. Or, at least that is the plan. Solomon, a junor, will take the field for Wyoming Area with scholarship offers from Temple, Virginia, Boston College and Rutgers. Time to talk The Wyoming Valley Conference will hold its annual Media Day on Thursday afternoon at 1 at Valley West. The event was previously held on Sunday, but switched to a weekday this year. It is always a fun event and gives the opportunity for the coaches in the conference to get together and talk some football prior to the start of the season. And you have to give Williamsport head coach Charles Crews Jr. some credit. He annually makes the trip along with some of his players regardless of when the event is held. Moving on up After winning the Class 3A Eastern Conference championship last year, Nanticoke Area, based on enrollment figures, will now be playing as a 4A school for the next two years. It will certainly be a challenge for the Trojans, as this will be the highest classification the program has ever played at. Sliding on down And when one goes up, another goes down. Before moving to six classifications, Wyoming Area was always one of those programs that hovered around being a Class 3A and 2A program. Now with six classifications, the Warriors get the chance to move from Class 4A to 3A for the next two seasons. New digs When the Northwest Rangers take the field this year, the team’s first three games of the season will be on the road. Not an ideal spot for a team that has struggled out of the gate in the last three seasons. But, there is good reason for it. The Rangers are getting themselves a brand new stadium. Gone will be the grass surface, home bleachers, old press box and lights. They will be replaced by an artificial playing surface, new bleachers on the home side of the field, new lights and a renovated press box. The only thing not being replaced, according to head coach Lon Hazlet, will be the bleachers on the visiting side of the field. There will also be a new track around the field installed. Something to build on In case you missed it, the annual Unico Game was played in June. It was a bold move, as the organizers of the game were looking to find a way to increase attendance at a game that had been played at the end of the high school season in November. The move, something the coaches in the conference were advocating, seemed to work. Attendance was up and the game was more competitive. It is certainly a step in the right direction. One thing I wish I saw With 7-on-7 passing scrimmages becoming all the rage over the summer, there are some intriguing matchups between programs that don’t play each another during the regular season. There is a passing league held at Wyoming Seminary in the month of June, and schools set up their own as the summer moves along. The one that I really wish I had the opportunity to see was between Coughlin and Lake-Lehman. The two teams combined to throw the ball 179 times in a combined 24 games during the regular season last year.

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