By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
The most significant game is an easy conclusion to come to for the third week of the football season.
With only 7 of the 33 District 2 teams making it to 2-0, there is just a single game matching 2-0 teams on the schedule.
North Pocono goes to Hazleton Area for a meeting of ranked teams that are potential contenders in the top divisions of their respective leagues.
Hazleton Area has been ranked first since the preseason in the Gaughan Auto Store Super Six Power Rankings that our partners at NEPAFootball.com compile each week from among Lackawanna Football Conference and Wyoming Valley Conference member teams. North Pocono has worked its way up the rankings to the No. 3 Big School spot behind just Hazleton Area and Dallas.
North Pocono played for the LFC Division 1 title in the final week of the 2021 season and, although Delaware Valley, Scranton Prep and Valley View all received more preseason attention, it is the Trojans who are at 2-0 in games outside the division.
Hazleton Area opened the season as the WVC Division 1 favorite and has done nothing to change anyone’s mind.
While the Trojans have fought through two close games at home, the Cougars have generally dominated in two road games with their only close battle being through much of the first half against Pittston Area in the opener.
Michael Blaine has two straight 100-yard rushing games for North Pocono, Noah West has been an accurate passer in his first two games at quarterback and Ty LaFave has become the top receiver at tight end in addition to already being an all-star linebacker.
Tyler Wolfe is coming off a seven-touchdown game for Hazleton Area – six passing and one running – against Wallenpaupack. He has many receivers with which to work and he’s using the talented combination of wide receivers Connor Shamany and Matthew Cusatis, running backs Matthew Buchman and Ryan Matyas and tight end Zander Coleman.
Qay’von Minor leads a defense that allowed just one score to Pittston Area (the other was on an interception return) and came within 30 seconds of a shutout before Wallenpaupack scored while trailing 45-0.
North Pocono will provide the best test to date, but Hazleton Area has too many weapons to contain all night in its home opener.
This week’s predictions, with home teams in bold italics:
Hazleton Area 26, North Pocono 19
There is another game between ranked teams on the schedule. Ranked Small Schools Old Forge and Western Wayne each have a blowout win and a close loss. Old Forge is a sure thing to play Lackawanna Trail for the District 2 title since they are the district’s only two Class A teams. There are six Class 3A teams, but Western Wayne is shaping up as close to sure to be playing Scranton Prep for that title in November. Results in games like this one will help determine whether they get to play their most important game of the season at home.
Western Wayne 27, Old Forge 14
AIMING FOR 3-0
There is a long way to go in the District 2 Power Ratings races to determine playoff seeds, but Scranton (Class 5A), Dallas (4A), Susquehanna (2A) and Lackawanna Trail (A) have helped themselves by starting 2-0 and taking the early ratings lead. Lakeland has passed the eye test and, although slightly behind Susquehanna in the district ratings, the Chiefs are the No. 1 Small School team in the Super Six. The best guess here is that five out of the seven 2-0 teams make it to 3-0 before the tests get tougher next week.
Scranton 32, West Scranton 12
Dallas 41, Williamsport 20
Dunmore 42, Susquehanna 18
Lakeland 31, Riverside 3
Lackawanna Trail 27, Nanticoke 10
BEST OF THE REST
Not many would have projected Valley View-Honesdale as an interesting Week Three matchup back in the preseason. But after Valley View was minutes away from an 0-2 start and Honesdale went to Wyoming Area to shut out one of the WVC’s 2021 division champions, the outlook is a bit different. Like Wyoming Area, Crestwood, the team that handed Valley View its loss, went from a very impressive opener to a disappointing Week Two game, falling behind by 21 at halftime and staying there in a trip to Dallas. Wyoming Area and Crestwood meet in a game that could put one team back on track and have the other facing some early difficulties.
Valley View 27, Honesdale 22
Crestwood 10, Wyoming Area 6
While most teams wait to play their first divisional games later in the season, Tunkhannock plays a WVC Division 2 game for the third straight week with an opportunity to move above .500. Many teams are searching for their first wins with this ranking as the best chances to get there: Mid Valley, Carbondale, Berwick, Wallenpaupack, Delaware Valley, Pittston Area, Abington Heights, Lake-Lehman and Holy Cross. For Wallenpaupack to break through, it will need to spoil the festivities on a night when an exciting addition to the local football scene is unveiled with Wilkes-Barre Area playing the first game at its new stadium.
Tunkhannock 54, Holy Redeemer 15
Wilkes-Barre Area 22, Wallenpaupack 18
Carbondale 38, Hanover Area 24
Scranton Prep 31, Lake-Lehman 15
Wyoming Valley West 28, Pittston Area 17
Downingtown East 34, Delaware Valley 28
Berwick 32, Abington Heights 20
Mid Valley 37, Holy Cross 15
The early-season learning curve lasted a week longer than what is preferable and, for the second straight week, my picks record was 12-6 (66.7 percent). Rick Notari’s picks at The Rick’s Picks on NEPAFootball.com improved to 14-4 in Week Two, giving him a two-game edge on me in our friendly competition. Rick is 26-10 (72.2 percent) for the season while I am at 24-12 (66.7 percent). The best I can do this week is catch up to The Rick’s Picks because I trail by two and we have just two games picked differently. See where we differ and read what Rick has to say in this week’s predictions at: 2022 The Rick’s Picks – Week 3 | NEPA Football.