Picking Raiders, Indians in rivalry games
By ED HEDES
It seems like just yesterday that I was watching Northern Lehigh's spectacular run in the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
Feeling like I just woke up from viewing that remarkable run, the 2011 Pennsylvania High School football season begins tonight and there are seven games on tap involving local teams.
Jim Thorpe travels to Tamaqua and Marian hosts Lehighton in two contests featuring four local teams. Northern Lehigh, Palmerton and Northwestern begin Colonial League action, Panther Valley visits Mahanoy Area and Pleasant Valley gets to take on Lehigh Valley Conference for Nazareth.
It's time for our pigskin prognosticators to take a crack at figuring out who will win and I vow to try and start a little better than I did last year. It was no fun looking up at quite a bit of my co-horts all season.
So we're all ready to go, crystal ball is dusted off and it tells us things will go like this:
JIM THORPE AT TAMAQUA - Olympians have the task of playing what you might say is on the road all year. A lot of young players on this year's team. The Blue Raiders return some nice big linemen that Sam Bonner hopes to open up some holes for his offense. Raiders also want to start the season better than last year...Tamaqua, 21-14.
LEHIGHTON AT MARIAN - Pre-season reports tell us that the Indians and Colts could be two of the best teams in the area this season. There will be a lot of eyes on this one up at Men of Marian Stadium ... Lehighton, 14-13.
PANTHER VALLEY AT MAHANOY AREA - Panthers are looking to start anew and erase last year's one win season. Lon Hazlet's boys draw a tough opener in the Golden Bears ... Mahanoy Area, 21-0.
PLEASANT VALLEY AT NAZARETH - The Blue Eagles have made it into the top rung of the LVC. The Bears have made some noise in the MVC, but need some game experience with a sophomore QB ... Nazareth, 28-7.
NORTHERN LEHIGH AT SOUTHERN LEHIGH - Spartans have a QB that is being recruited by Division 1 schools. Bulldogs have to fill a lot of holes, but still know how to win. Can't go against them until the lose ... Northern Lehigh, 27-21.
PALISADES AT NORTHWESTERN - Tigers could have two 1,000 yard rushers this season. Pirates ship has started to sink since Brian Gilbert left ... Northwestern, 28-0.
PALMERTON AT NOTRE DAME - The Chris Walkowiak Era begins against the Crusaders that have three decent running backs and they looked pretty good in pre-season scrimmages. Bombers line and defense are keys to a win here ... Palmerton, 13-0.
CATASAUQUA AT WILSON - Something tells me the Roughies are going to give the Warriors all they can handle. Wilson just hardly ever loses at home though ... Wilson, 21-20.
NORTH SCHUYLKILL AT SHENANDOAH VALLEY - Spartans are supposed to be team to beat in the Anthracite Football League again. Blue Devils are supposed to be one of the better teams also. A rivalry game early ... North Schuylkill, 28-7.
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN AT TRI-VALLEY - Hurricanes and Bulldogs square off in an early season battle and this one needed a coin flip to decide .... Schuylkill Haven, 21-18.
EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH AT FREEDOM - Cavaliers could be the team to beat again in the MVC this year, but the Patriots are one of the better LVC teams ... Freedom, 14-7.
NORTHAMPTON AT STROUDSBURG - Can't believe a Mountaineer game without the classy Fred Ross on the sidelines. That gives the Konkrete Kids and advantage ... Northampton, 21-14.
BLUE MOUNTAIN AT WHITEHALL - Eagles take a trip out of Schuylkill County to take on a Zephyrs team that isn't suppose to be that bad ... Whitehall, 13-6.
BETHLEHEM CATHOLIC AT POCONO MOUNTAIN WEST - Golden Hawks are just a much more superior team than the Panthers ... Becahi, 28-7.
DOWNINGTOWN EAST AT ALLENTOWN CENTRAL CATHOLIC - Might be a good early test for the Vikings, but they have all eyes set on a trip to Hershey again ... Central Catholic, 24-12.