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Where We Live: Times News Grid Picks

Somehow, some way.

I’m finalizing this draft before I’ll know the results. But I’m heading into the final week of the Times News Grid Picks contest, against my super sharp colleagues, in first place, and finally with a chance to win.

And in all seriousness, what an honor it is for a shot at the first Bob Ford Memorial Grid Picks Cup trophy. Honestly, it’s emotional just typing his name and associating it with a trophy. Our good friend and uber-talented colleague was taken from us way too soon. I can’t believe it’s been this long, and it doesn’t even seem real. I know I can speak for most everyone at the Times News - we miss you every day, Bob.

All seriousness aside, I know he’s talking smack to me right now. Not only for probably choking away the grid picks lead this championship week, but for every crappy or cellphone photo I’ve put into our system over the past year.

Anyway, when it comes to the grid picks, it turns out I’ve been the definition of an “average Joe” since I was thrust into the competition in 2013. In fact, according to our statistician/historian/master scoreboard paginator, Rod Heckman, my finishes are as follows: 6th, 6th, 5th, 8th, 5th, 5th, 5th and 3rd.

That’s pretty bad, considering I was entrenched in high school football a few years ago, when I was one of the four full-time sports reporters for the department. Now, I have to be honest, I probably couldn’t name more than a handful of players on any team in our area. I’ve covered two games in the past two seasons. But over the course of a decade, I couldn’t put a number on it. I’m sure that I’ve covered at least 100 games and have been to another 50 practices.

My only advice to other grid-pickers, handicappers or whatever you call yourselves - Do not overanalyze. What more proof do you need? I am a news reporter now. Guys, please do not lose to a news reporter! TJ Engle was “nip-and-tuck,” as the locals say, at the front of the pack with me for most of the season - and he lives in another state ­- hundreds of miles away!

Not a great showing, this year, gentlemen.

Hopefully, “yours truly” can close out the season with his first ever grid picks victory!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been covering local football, to some capacity, since 2011. I’m old. And one final shout out, my stepfather, Bob Kolnik, is a huge fan of the grid picks. He’s been following them for years. And if you check out the lobby at the Palmerton Area High School, you’ll still find a few varsity pitching records that he owns.

But win or lose this week, I’ll leave you with some of my various favorite and least favorite experiences and stadiums that I’ve personally been to around District 11 for a football game - and I’ve been to most of them.

Favorite stadium as a fan: The “old” Lehighton Football Stadium

Least favorite stadium as a fan: Southern Lehigh (bleachers only on one side)

Least favorite stadium as a reporter: Palisades

Favorite press box: Minersville (immaculate views from windows and space)

Least favorite press box: Pleasant Valley

Best press box food and treats: Tamaqua

Least favorite drive to cover a game: ES North

Most intense fan atmosphere (unbiased, tough one): North Schuylkill

Favorite sports reporter from another paper to mutually cover a game with: Doyle Dietz

Coolest band: Tamaqua