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Steinmetz captures Grid Picks championship

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    Times News sportswriter Andy Steinmetz (left) accepts the 2019 Grid Picks championship trophy from fellow TN writer Rich Strack. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published November 22. 2019 12:43PM

For the next full year, he will sit in the king’s throne on the top of the mountain. Andy Steinmetz is the 2019 Times News Grid Picks Cup champion.

With a Week 13 record of 13-2, and an incredible 55-5 mark for the last four weeks, Steinmetz held off the charge of Brad Hurley and Rod Heckman to win the Cup.

Last Friday, both Hurley and Heckman climbed to within a game of the lead when Tamaqua defeated Pope John II. Heckman then tied Steinmetz with Lackawana Trail’s win over Williams Valley, but fell back by two again with his incorrect picks of Dunmore and Parkland.

Hurley fell off the pace by four games by the end of Friday night. Heckman still was in striking range just two games behind, but Saturday’s results proved to be his downfall. Steinmetz clinched the victory with his picks of Pottsville over Allentown Central Catholic, and Southern Lehigh over of Oil City. The final results had Steinmetz winning by four games over Heckman and five over Hurley.

“He has a system that works,” said Sports Editor Emmett McCall. “He dominated during the playoffs.”

“I’d like to thank (former Times News sports writers) Kate Huvane, Lou Rusnock, Justin Pelletier, and Shawn McFarland for inspiring my victory,” said Steinmetz. “And no thanks to Ed Hedes and Jason Boris,” he added with a smirk.

“Winning the title — and having bragging rights for a year — means a lot to me,” said Steinmetz,

This is Steinmetz’s first title since joining the Times News sports staff 19 years ago. He finished third the last two years. His 161 wins is best in recent memory, and now he gets to place the Cup upon his mantle until the end of next year’s high school football season when he will relinquish the golden trophy to his successor, unless he should complete a repeat.

The bridesmaid

and a colossal fade

Hot Rod Heckman has now finished in second place for the past three years. He lost by two games to Bad Brad Hurley last season, and by just one to Bob” Photo” Ford in 2017. Heckman last sipped the champagne five years ago, and again has to settle for second best. Hot Rod will look to be the pigskin bride and not the bridesmaid come 2020.

Yours Truly has completed his big boulder drop from the sky. Once in the lead and sitting comfy in the king’s throne, I began to choke near the end of the regular season, and the proverbial nails were banged into my coffin during the playoffs.

I was that longshot thoroughbred that sprinted to the lead, but somewhere near the final turn, I ran out of gas. Next year, I hope to run with the pack and make my move down the stretch.

Ford finished a respectable fourth, but still 10 games back. Justin “The Voice” Carlucci showed early signs of contending, but in his own words, “couldn’t seem to get the big week when it was needed at crunch time.”

It’s been a down year for Pat “The Mat” Matsinko, who is a usual contender. He never truly challenged, and now can return to his expertise of covering high school wrestling. Lucky for the rest of us, we don’t compete for a Grapplers’ Picks Cup because if we did, Matsinko would be a huge favorite.

Bossman McCall kept his head above water with a few good weeks at the end. His reputation as a football aficionado is running thin, so he’d better do his homework next season to restore the lofty status that comes along with his title.

What can we say about Chuck “What happened to His Luck” Hixson and Sam “The Hangman” Matta. Bad starts led to bad finishes, although Hixson flashed some winning early. Matta just never got it going and slipped farther into the dark recesses of the Pundit Pit. Come back strong next year, Sam, so you can throw away your oxygen mask.

Go Blue Raiders!

The year 2019 has been another exciting season of local high school football.

Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Jim Thorpe, and Tamaqua all put together winning seasons.

Meanwhile, Lehighton, Panther Valley, Palmerton and Pleasant Valley will all try to build on this season and put together winning campaigns in 2020.

Marian had to cancel its last two games, but legendary coach Stan Dakosty is set to return to run the Colts’ program next season and hopefully restore the glory to the storied program he’s built.

District 11 champ Tamaqua keeps on winning, and will now face undefeated Wyommising in the PIAA state quarterfinals. Coach Sam Bonner’s team seems to be peaking at just the right time with quarterback Brayden Knoblauch and running back Nate Boyle lighting up the scoreboard. Run it out Raiders and bring the state title home to Tamaqua.

From Yours Truly, thanks for reading. See you on the sideline next year!

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