The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 12, 2012

Harold Raker's column on high school football: High school football from A to Z

Daily Item

---- — Did you ever wonder why the letters of the alphabet are in that order? Is it because of that song?

-- Comedian Steven Wright.

Did you ever have writer's block and a column to write?

-- Wannabe comedian Harold Raker

So, here I was kicking around a bunch of nonsensical ideas when I thought, 'why not?' Why should this week be any different?

How about an alphabetical look at the 2012 season so far?

So without further Adieu (Hey, that takes care of the first letter).

B-Berwick Bulldogs. They're back, in part because he is back. He is veteran coach George Curry, who has returned from a brief radio/TV career to walk the sidelines again.

C-Simon Cameron. The former East Juniata and Washington & Jefferson College standout has taken on the challenge of trying to rebuild the Tigers, who are inexplicably forced to compete in Class AAA for the post-season.

D-Jason Dressler. The Mifflinburg coach led the Wildcats to a Heartland Athletic Conference Division I title, and brought most of the team back, then saw them drop like flies to injuries. The Wildcats continue to fight and have won two in a row, and are not dead yet.

E-Entertaining/exciting. The first half of the season gave us media members and fans more than our share of games that were not decided until the final moments.

F-Dan Foor. Like his Mifflinburg counterpart, the Shamokin coach saw injuries damage his team's chances of continuing the success of last season when the young Indians advanced to the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. Don't be surprised if they make another late run.

G-George Goodwin. The Milton coach seems on the verge of molding his alma mater's program into the kind of successful one he left as a member of the staff at Lewisburg under coach Todd Tilford.

H-Dave Hess. The Seals coach helped the bring excitement back to eastern Snyder County after a 1-9 season in 2011. The Seals are atop both the HAC-I and D4 AAA point standings with four games to play.

I-Interference. No, not the penalty, the action by the District 4 committee. Two weeks after four players from Shikellamy and Selinsgrove were ejected (and automatically ineligible for the next game) after a bench-clearing brawl, the committee decided it needed to make another statement, and, based on an Internet video, bounced four Braves' players from the school's homecoming game versus Warrior Run.

J-Eric Joraskie. The Valley's top Division I recruit (an early signee for Northwestern University) has battled injuries in his senior year, but still forces offensive coordinators to work harder to prepare for the Red Tornadoes.

K-Rodney Knock. The former Line Mountain quarterback, after two years on former coach Mike Carson's staff, has, at age 24, kept the Eagles on track for another great season and D4 Class A appearance, even after the loss of their starting quarterback to injury.

L-Linemen. The guys in the trenches (and they are known by lots of other names) toil mostly in anonymity. But, without them, we would not be interviewing the Valley's many talented skill players.

M-Mount Carmel. Ranked No. 3 in the state in Class AA to open the season, despite some key graduation losses, the Red Tornadoes came out firing, only to hit a three-game skid. But coach Carmen DeFrancesco's team showed that it is back with a lopsided win over previously unbeaten Central Columbia and is once again a scary team for the upcoming playoffs.

N-Next man up. With the rash of injuries this season, kudos to the players who have worked hard to be able to step in unexpectedly and do an outstanding job .

O-Offense. For those who don't regularly follow the Tri-Valley League, check out the point totals of the TVC's top four teams. After six games, first-place Williams Valley, under first-year coach Tim Savage, has scored 224 points; runner-up and fellow unbeaten Tri-Valley, led by former Mount Carmel High and Bloomsburg University standout Mike Kogut, has amassed 226; third-place Line Mountain, under the aforementioned first-year coach Knock, has totalled 251; and fourth-place Juniata, under longtime coach Gary Klingensmith has scored 224.

P-Parents. They are often maligned, often for good reason, but hats off to those who put in so much time and effort (and in some cases money) behind the scenes to allow their children to compete.

Q-Quarterbacks. Always in the spotlight, whether for good or bad performances, it takes a special mentality as well as skill to play the high-profile position.

R-Jim Roth. He is often criticized, but only by those who don't know him. The 29th-year Southern coach wins not only because he has great athletes, but because he is always a few steps ahead of the competition, and never stops trying to learn.

S-Students. Because all of the players are, or should be, students first.

T-Todd Tilford. Thinking it might be his final chance to get to coach his young sons, he made a tough decision to leave a successful program to take over his alma mater in the midst of controversy and chaos. The Braves are starting to adapt to the new staff and system, despite injuries and the aforementioned suspensions.

V-Value. That's what you get when you buy a ticket to watch one of the great high school games that are played out every Friday (and some Saturdays) in the Valley.

W-Jeremy Winn. The new Lewisburg, and former Danville, coach, had a tough act to follow at Lewisburg, but his first move, making senior Brandon Smith his fullback in the Delaware wing-T offense, was certainly the right choice.

X-X-rays. A season of injuries to starting players has meant too many athletes were spending time with an X-ray machine instead of Xs and Os.

Y-Taylor Young. He waited for his chance behind last year's first-year starter at quarterback, Brad Fegley, and the senior, and also a first-year starter, has shown Southern fans that he was worth waiting for.

Z-Zebras. These guys take more criticism than anyone except maybe sports writers. Of course they make mistakes, but how would you like 3,000 or more people coming to your job site and watching your every move with a critical (and often prejudiced) eye?

n Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football for The Daily Item. Email comments to