The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Harold Raker

August 31, 2012

Harold Raker's First and Ten: Fall has arrived

SUNBURY — I don’t know about you, but to me fall is the greatest time of the year.

Sure, I know, it does not officially arrive until Sept. 22. But what is not to like as the days grow shorter? Well, OK — maybe that.

As a sports fan, you have the opening of football season on all levels, the baseball pennant races (unless, like me, you are a fan of the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies), the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and — need I mention — football.

This is another year in which the high school season opens in August, by one day, and the weather might be a bit unfootball-like. But get out and enjoy a game and try to remember that before the season is over, you will certainly be shivering while sitting in cold bleachers.

A new high school football season, like most politicians’ speeches, generally spawns more questions than answers. But unlike those speeches, we need only wait a few months, or less, for answers.

So, here are some of the questions to which many of you, I suspect, will seek answers before the snow flies:

n Will Line Mountain continue its decades of success with a 24-year-old head coach, Rodney Knock, replacing one of the best ever in Mike Carson?

n Will Jeremy Winn be able to continue (or build on) the recent success of Todd Tilford at Lewisburg, riding all-state caliber athlete Brandon Smith on both sides of the ball? And will Smith also drive the bus and sell tickets?

n Will Tilford make his Wing-T offense and odd-front defense work at Shikellamy, which won a District 4 Class AAA title two years ago using coach Sam Stroh’s veer option?

n Will a Mount Carmel team that comes off a District 4 Class AA championship, but lost all of its starting running backs to graduation, live up to its preseason hype and keep hometown boy Carmen DeFrancesco in the good graces of this football-crazy community?

n Will Southern Columbia’s Jim Roth do it again, plugging in tons of new faces on both sides of the ball and do what the Tigers have done for the past 30-plus years: win, win, and win some more?

n Will Mifflinburg, a relative newcomer to the realm of Valley success stories (at least in recent years), handle the pressure of being expected to win again?

n Will Milton and Shamokin be able to build on the momentum gained by their winning ways in the second half of the season, after rebounding from going a combined 1-9 in the first half?

If you are looking here for the answers, I’m sorry, but someone walked away with my crystal ball. That means I will have to make my weekly predictions on my own.

Stay tuned.

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