One Final Look Back At The 2018 High School Football Season
With Dallas being eliminated from the postseason on Sunday night by Valley View in the Class 4A district championship game, there are no more teams left playing in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
It is kind of strange, as this will be the first Thanksgiving in 21 years where I have not had to sit down at the computer and write a feature or preview story for a game being played on Friday or Saturday.
With that in mind, it’s time to close the book on the high school football season and start looking forward to the winter sports season.
Here is one final look at some of the more interesting things that happened during the course of the 2018 season.
As the manager of the Meyers football team, Michael Brown was a constant presence on the Meyers sideline. Whether it was a simple offseason conditioning workout in the sweltering heat during the summer, or simply offering his encouragement to the players on game night, Brown was there.
In a Week 4 game against Montrose, Brown finally was able to fulfill a lifelong dream. He suited up for the Mohawks and actually had the chance to appear in a game.
And he certainly made an impact.
With Meyers comfortablty ahead, Brown took the field late in the fourth quarter and heard his number called. He didn’t disappoint. Brown took a handoff and went 61 yards for a touchdown.
It was a great moment for not only Brown but the entire Meyers community, not just the football team.
In one of the crazier games of the season, Williamsport used a two-point conversion run by quarterback Joe Fagnano with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter as the Millionaires came back to beat Hazleton Area, 64-63 in Week 4.
The teams combined for 1,123 yards and 127 points, more points in one game than three teams scored in the conference all year.
Game of the Year
It was billed as one of the biggest games on the WVC regular season schedule when Dallas visited Crispin Field in Week 9. Dallas was 8-0 at the time, while Berwick was 7-1.
The teams held up their end of the bargain. In one of the hardest-hitting games of the season from start to finish, Dallas posted a 13-10 victory thanks to a Ryan Fisher 26-yard field goal with 3:54 left. It was Fisher’s second field goal of the night. He kicked a 24-yard field goal with 59 seconds left in the second quarter to tie the game 3-3 at the half. The sequel was better Berwick and Dallas met for a second time this year, only this time it was in the district semifinals at Dallas. Dallas was playing its third-string quarterback after the first two on the depth chart were lost for the season because of injury. The weather was a factor with blustery conditions impacting the passing game. But there was Fisher again with the game resting on his foot. After battling to a scoreless tie in regulation, Fisher was called on to kick a 24-yard field goal with the Dallas season on the line. Fisher adjusted to the conditions and slid the kick through the uprights, giving the Mountaineers the 3-0 victory in overtime. In case you missed it After taking over as the starting quarterback during his freshman season, Hazleton Area’s Sparky Wolk will leave as one of the all-time best passers in the history of the WVC. Wolk ended his career with the Cougars throwing for 6,403 yards, a number that ranks him third. He finished behind Tunkhannock grad Ryan Crispell and former Berwick great Ron Powlus, who is the top passer to come out of the WVC with 7,342 yards. Williamsport’s Joe Fagnano, who had his season cut short due to injury, also cracked the list. Fagnano threw for 4,063 yards, good enough for 15th on the list. Next man up This proved to be one of the worst seasons in the conference as far as injuries are concerned. Teams throughout the WVC were forced to play without several key players for a period of long stretches, or in some instances lost players for the entire season at the time the injury happened. The list is pretty distinguished when you consider Fagnano, Trey Potts and Marcus Simmons from Williamsport; Damon Horton and David Smith from Hazleton Area; Michael Starbuck and RJ Wren from Dallas, as well as Valley West’s Carson Canavan. Wyoming Area’s Corey Mruk was forced to miss the district semifinals because of injury. Mruk was one of several Warriors to go down this year. That was just a few. Every team out there battled injuries to one extent or another. It just seemed the conference was really hit hard this year as opposed to seasons past. Two and through Dallas and Hazleton Area were the only teams from the WVC to have an opportunity to play for a district title this year. Dallas lost to Valley View in the 4A championship game, while Hazleton Area lost to Delaware Valley in the Class 6A game. The balance of power has shifted to the Lackawanna Football Conference, with the LFC winning 32 district titles and the WVC 10 since 2010. In 2016 and 2018, the LFC swept all six classes. The best season the WVC had during that span was 2013, when it won three of the four classifications. This year alone, the WVC had an overall record of 13-31 against the LFC. Only Meyers had a winning record, going 3-2 against teams it played in the LFC. Hazleton Area was next, finishing with a 2-2 record. What’s next Over the next couple of weeks or maybe even longer, programs in the conference will be looking to hire new coaches. Of course, everyone is waiting to see who the first head coach of the consolidated Wilkes-Barre Area program will be. Crestwood is also looking for a head coach. Here’s to hoping the school boards will give the hires an opportunity as well as the time it takes to develop a program, not just look at the wins and losses after two seasons and decide it’s time to go in a different direction. Weekend warriors A lot was said about the consolidation of the athletic programs within the Wilkes-Barre public schools. It was not an easy year for the three schools with all the questions surrounding the merger. But what was really cool to see was all the former greats return for the final game of their respective high schools. The amount of talent that walked into Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium during Week 10 was astounding. When you look back at the weekend, it truly is amazing the amount of talent that has played in the area and the history surrounding all three programs. A weekend like that may never be seen again in the conference. Moving forward While it is too late to do anything about it now since next fall will be the second year of a two-year cycle and the schedule is already set, it might be time for the schools in the Wyoming Valley Conference to start focusing on the local rivalries as opposed to some of the teams they have been playing. It’s no secret that attendance is down across the board for high school football games. That was evident during the first two rounds of the district playoffs, but it wouldn’t hurt to spruce up the regular season. Rather than teams traveling to Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack, Delaware Valley, Mid Valley, Carbondale and Susquehanna, it would be neat to see the teams from the WVC play one another on a more consistent basis. It might help increase attendance, but more importantly interest. As the playoffs were expanded to allow more teams in that actually deserved to be there, the intrigue is lost when you have rematches in the postseason. There is nothing wrong with teams from the Wyoming Valley Conference playing one another in the regular season, then squaring off with the Lackawanna Football Conference once the playoffs roll around. If you look at all the other sports in the conference, the schools all play one another. The only exception to the rule is football. It is something that should be seriously considered without putting a rubber stamp on a schedule because that has been the way its been done for the last five or 10 years. Localizing high school football could create some much-needed interest back in the WVC, and has the potential to increase some revenue for the home team. If Central Columbia can host Southern Columbia and South Williamsport in back-to-back weeks and bring in close to $12,000, there is something to be said for that. So long for now With Dallas having its season come to an end, there will be no more football to write about with the exception of when Wilkes-Barre Area and Crestwood hire their coaches.
That means the Monday Morning Quarterback has come to an end for another season. I would just like to take the time to thank everyone who followed from the first day of heat week to the final postseason game. It is really cool to see so many people still passionate about high school football. I would also like to thank those who offered suggestions, ideas and brought up some interesting questions.
Don’t worry, next season will be here before we know it.