Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

So far this year has been tough on many people.  Depending on one's perspective, many have been devastated due to job loss, environmental catastrophes or the loss of their health or loved one.  I was with hardship crowd this year having lost two close relatives and my health was once again sidetracked.

Thursday November 24th, will mark the 40th anniversary of the Thanksgiving snowstorm of 1971 that dumped close to two feet of snow in the northeast part of Pennsylvania.  I was five years old at the time and we spent Thanksgiving Eve at my paternal grandparents house.  My uncle's family from Texas was there along with my aunts family from Michigan plus all 6 young cousins.  The only thing I really remember is the trip home.  The 1966 Chevy Impala would not climb the hills of the Springfield section of Shamokin.  My sisters and I were the beneficiaries of a night sleigh ride home courtesy on my uncles Larry and Ray on the mount.  Legend is they had a great ride back down the hill.

Looking back it may have been the last time the paternal side would be together again until the funerals of my grandfather in 1973 and grandmother in 1977.    The family kept in contact but visits were rare.

Thanksgiving ten years ago in 2001, would be the last holiday spent with my father. He passed away suddenly on December 12th, 2001.  Less than a year later, I would be diagnosed with cancer at age 35.  One of the things that I am thankful for was the cancer bringing my family somewhat back together.  My cousin Lynn and Ray's daughter Lynn and I became very close after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.  We became each other's support for three years.

Lynn passed away on June 19th of this year at the age of 52 and her father passed away suddenly just a week ago November 15th.  For my cousin that survives, he loses a sister and father within 5 months.  My own health took a turn in October when surgery an infection caused a four day hospital stay and month long rehab.

What does it all mean?

I am thankful I had all these people in my life.  Even though they are now gone, memories are forever.  I had the opportunity to visit Lynn a week before she passed to tell that I love her.  I also got to spend quality time with my Uncle Ray and even got to do some shopping. 

With my own health issues, I got to how much people cared through visits and phone calls.  Four days in a hospital seemed like an eternity. 

Be thankful for the memories and little things in life.  Be thankful for the friends and family around you, the sunrises and the sunsets, the butterflies and breeze. Be thankful for the people around you.  These things are taken for granted everyday, but can be gone oh so quickly in the world we live.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shamokin and Milton Will Battle for the Title

Who would have thought this match up in the district final?  A few weeks ago Milton was 0-5 and going nowhere.  Shamokin was starting to play good defense and their offense was struggling.  The turnaround in an ironic way came in Week 6 when both teams faced each other.  Milton used a great second half to start the beginning of a six-game winning streak.  Shamokin on the other looked in the mirror, didn't fold and continued to plug away.

In Week 12, you have a Shamokin defense forcing turnovers and punishing would be ball carriers.  Milton will also pound the ball.  Who will win in the trenches will win this one.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shamokin Looks to Avenge Last Year's OT Loss at Shikellamy

In what is starting to add some luster to a local rivalry, Shamokin will travel to Shikellamy to face the Braves in a rematch of a 30-13 Indian win two weeks ago. Shamokin started to pick up the pace on their season with a 20-point second quarter against the Shikellamy two weeks ago and rushed for over 300 yards and picked up 20 first downs. 

The Indian defense kept pace the following week giving Mount Carmel all they could handle.  Don't bank on this one yet.  Benny Delgado and Tyler Pratt will have to be dealt with again plus some players have returned from injury. 

This one will be a little tighter.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Long Road Back to Happy Valley

“This is more than just a program, this is more than a football legacy. This is about people and if we can’t protect our kids, we as a society are pathetic. So, that’s where I stand on it." - Matt Millen
For those of you who forgot, Matt Millen was part of the "Salt and Pepper" combination along with Bruce Clark who played defensive tackle for Penn State back in the mid-70's and those were his words earlier this week. 

Whether you were connected to the university or the football team, it was tough week to be a citizen of the Commonwealth.  I have known no other coach at PSU in my lifetime being born in February of 1966.  Joe Paterno came to Penn State in 1950 and in his life transformed the university into a national brand.  He saw Beaver Stadium grow from the stadium in pasture to the 2nd largest in the country.  All came crashing down this week.  In a place where doing what was right was the rule of the land, the Board of  Trustees made a business decision to in effort to save that image.

There are many to feel sorry for in this scandal.  To many of my friends, there faith in humanity has been shaken to the core.  PSU was part of their life where they enjoyed the triumphs and losses with their family for generations.  It has been a place that has molded their characters and careers.  Many met their future spouse as undergrads.  To many, it was opportunity.  To generations across the years, Joe Paterno's firing was like losing a brother, father or grandfather.  It has been that tough. 

There are people at the Second Mile Charity who thought they were working and fighting for something they believed in.   

All week battle lines across the state and country have been drawn in support for or against Joe Paterno. This week is just a small chapter of many in coming years about PSU and football.  Yes, I said years. (See Len Bias and SMU). 

Major college football has become a cesspool with the advent of the BCS and perpetuated by the NCAA.  Do you believe we actually use a computer and vote to see who will play for the national championship? Even though not a fan nor graduate, at the end of the day,  Penn State University and their football program was something I could hang my hat on as a citizen of Pennsylvania and still be proud.

Joe Paterno's time at PSU has ended.  The nation and world will never look upon the program the same way in long time if ever.  We need to get used to that as citizens, graduates and alumni.  The road back to that image will be long.  Hopefully, Joe will live long enough to see some luster restored to his legacy or live with the torment of not doing enough as further developments come to light.  The numbers we should be concerned about are NOT 409-136-3 or 24-12-1.  The numbers that matter right now stand at 9-9.  Nine victims and nine years of a suspected pedophile to have free reign to roam.   The truth will be waiting. We need to find it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Northumberland Count Makes History With Election

For the first time ever, Northumberland County has elected an independent candidate to the Board of Commissioners.  Steve Bridy of Elysburg becomes the first independent candidate to win the office. He will join Vinni Clausi (D) and attorney Rick Shoch (R).  Ousted was Frank Sawicki (D) of Mount Carmel seeking a 3rd term and long time state rep, Merle Phillips who was appointed to fill the term of Kurt Masser who won when Phillips retired from his state house seat.

Phillips was an easy mark collecting a huge pension and saying he would only serve out Masser's term.  Sawicki did not get along well with Clausi.  As Democrats they never ran as a team, possibly costing Clausi a seat on the board 8 years ago. 

Bridy comes from a finance background and once again as the DA's race in Luzerne County, incumbency was a weight to bear. 

Northumberland County is looking for financing for a 5 million dollar OHV Park in the southern end of the county while facing a projected budget deficet.  The solid numbers aren't in yet.

Mark Anonia lost his bid at reelection for the Shamokin Area School District Board.  He was the only incumbent to survive the primary, but ended up losing in the general election. 

The question of the election will it still be anti-incumbent in 2012?????

Monday, November 7, 2011

P$U........Where Have Our Heroes Gone????

In the movie Jaws, Chief Brody gets the mayor to sign a voucher that may bankrupt Amityville in hopes of killing a shark.  Detective John Book knew there was no tomorrow when the Amish boy ID'd another policemen in the murder of a narcotics detective in the movie Witness.  George Bailey stood up to greed of Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life.  However, these are only the movies.  More recently, Luzerne County in northeastern PA had their "Kids for Cash" scandal.  In all of the above cases good people stood up for the higher moral or ignored it.

For the record, I have gone to one PSU game in my life.  The game was the Kickoff Classic at Giant Stadium when PSU played Georgia Tech.  The college game for me has gone by the wayside for me since the advent of the BCS system and the corporatising of the game.  My car now travels as far as Bucknell, Susquehanna or the occasional trip down to the Main Line and Villanova.  That being said, the football program has been a cash making machine for the university and the sports program for over the last 30 years.

A 23-page indictment against former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was released on Friday prompting perjury charges against Athletic Director Tim Curley and  Vice President Gary Schultz.  As hard as the accusations against the former defensive were to read, it became clear what had happened between the lines.  Nothing!!!!  This story should have broke 10 years ago!!! JoePa should have been at the podium saying he is deeply hurt by a long time friend, but protection of children matters here.  Sandusky would have received due process.  The money route was taken be JoePa and Spanier's confirmed by their weak statements to the press.

Greed and trips them up every time.  All of a sudden, Barry Switzer and Jackie Sherill don't look too bad.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Worthy of the Coal Bucket

The annual game for the Coal Bucket had become a "ceremonial" event for Mount Carmel to retain the bucket the last 5 times with an average score of 33 to 7.  This past Friday's game with an 8-1 Mount Carmel game and 3-6 Shamokin team seemed like another ho-hum event at Kemp Memorial Stadium. 

The Indians gave Mount Carmel all they could handle for a 20-7 win for the 16th straight time for the Red Tornadoes.  It also gave Mount Carmel the number one seed in the district tournament.

With no score at the half, Mount Carmel scored 3 times to Shamokin's one.  In the end, it was the seniors and the leader who rose to the top.  Myerick Lamb had 32 carries and earned everyone of his 170+ yards.  But the MVP for the Red Tornadoes had to be Eric Joraskie.  The Indians were held to 7 yards rushing and only 5 first downs.  The big part of it was Joraskie no one wearing purple could block or run away from him.

Shamokin entering district play has to be please with the defensive performance.  Players that stood out on Friday once again were Mike Yucha (how many tackles did he have), Andrew Hasuga and Jarrod Shurock on both side of the ball.

The stat of the weekend was by Dan Burda of the News-Item. The last time Shamokin won the Coal Bucket in 1995.  There were only 1 million users of the Internet in 1995.

Photos above were provided to me courtesy JJN Productions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shamokin vs. Mount Carmel for the Coal Bucket

I was a little surprised this week when Mount Carmel hopped on a bus and headed down to Lourdes Regional to practice on Tuesday.  It was two days and high temperatures past the 7 inches of snow in October.  Looking at one or two home playoff games after this week, I am guessing the practice part of the Silver Bowl wasn't that great and Lourdes was just a little bit better.

When I interview Coach Foor about a half hour later for his weekly radio bite, he was a little surprised.  In maybe on of the best quotes in a while Coach Foor said, "I wish I would have known they were up there (Lourdes), I would have asked them to come down to scrimmage."

Once again, Shamokin will be big underdogs when trying to reclaim the Coal Bucket for the first time since 1995.  They do not have the size or speed that the Red Tornadoes posses on either side of the ball. One of the things the Indians have improved on since Southern is turnover ratio which right now sits at +5.  They were near hitting double digits on the negative side.

Mount Carmel comes into the game on the heels of big come from behind win against Southern Columbia with a two-point conversion with 36 seconds left to win 22-21.  However, in week going into week 10, the Red Tornadoes really haven't settled on personnel and have been inconsistent on offense all year.

The match up of the evening will be if Shamokin will be able to play man coverage on Mount Carmel.  The Indians employ Southern's defense to a tee and blitz aggressively.  If the Indians have a coverage problem it can be a long night.