Friday, November 29, 2013

The Battle for the Coal Bucket, Memories of Thanksgiving Long Ago.

With the arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday centered on a turkey feast and the Black Friday frenzy, it was 40 years ago that Shamokin and Mount Carmel last played for the Coal Bucket on Thanksgiving Day.

The News-Item takes a look back and thanks to the Mount Carmel television station, very high quality video still exists of that game. 

One thing that really stands out in the video footage is the size of the crowd and how engaged they were at the game.

Thanks to the News-Item and WKMC at Mount Carmel, take a look back:


Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

Our parents generation holds the above date firmly in their memories.  Where were they when they found out the terrible news coming from Dallas?  I was born until 1966, so I wasn't a gleam in my parents eye at the time.  My parents were newlyweds having been married two months earlier.

For the current generation, it is hard to be told horrific news and having no Internet or social media to view or search for information.  There was just radio and limited television.

Over the past 47 years of my life, I heard some brief accounts of what happened locally.  I cannot rewrite history or jump into all the theories surrounding the assassination. For those who those who were school age at the time, the common thread seems to be confusion. That Friday being the Friday before Thanksgiving and long before gearing up for shopping became commonplace, most area schools dismissed early.  Most were not told of what happened until they met their parents at home.

The other common thing they came home was to see a parent or grandparent crying.  In 1963, many citizens were sons and daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves.  They left a world behind to find hope and peace.  In one violent act, their world changed forever. For some strange reason, some people thrive on the negative, but most live off of hope.  Somehow, born or not, we all lost a little of hope that day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Southern Columbia - Old Forge Preview 2013

During Southern Columbia's five consecutive PIAA championships from 2002-06, District 2 did not present much of a challenge to the Tigers playing in the last 11 out 12 finals.  The only exception was the 1997 loss to Riverside. Since the parade of championships ended in 2006 and Southern's district streak snapped in 2007, the Tigers were eliminated in 2008, 2010, 2012 by a District 2 team.

Good news for the Tigers that we are in a "odd numbered" year. However, District 2 sends a strong representative in Old Forge who avenged an earlier season loss to Dunmore and handled the Bucks in a 27-7 win last Friday night in Dunmore.

The Tigers recently played Old Forge in 2011, beating the Blue Devils by 11 in a 45-34 win.  It wasn't easy.  The 2013 version of the Blue Devils features a strong running game led by first year senior starter Brandon Yescavage who has rushed for over 2000 yards, carries over a 9/carry average and has scored 38 touchdowns. Most people can't recall a first year senior starters who has rushed over 2000 yards in recent memory.

For the Tigers,  it was good to face a strong rushing and power game the week before with Dominick Bragalone and South Williamsport.  A key to watch on Friday will be the Blue Devils coming off a big win on the road against Dunmore and long bus ride suffering a letdown against Southern.  Many thought Old Forge would not be playing in Week 13.  On Friday, there will be a locker full of Blue Devils waiting to take the field at Kemp Memorial. They are there for a reason.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sometimes Lost with Southern Columbia

For over the past 20 seasons, Southern Columbia's seasons have been measured in Chocolate and Gold more than wins and losses.  The Tigers are often measured if their season ends at Hersheypark Stadium and they are getting on the bus with PIAA gold around their necks.

Lost in all of these comparisons is the importance of the regular season.  Over the past threes seasons, Southern Columbia is 29-1 in the regular season with two consecutive undefeated regular seasons.  The Tigers have won 21 in a row in the regular season with the last lost coming in Week 9 of the 2011 season with a 22-21 loss to Mount Carmel. 

This measure of excellence means that in the districts playoffs, the Tigers never have to hit the road.  For the fans out there, who can remember the last time Southern had to hit the road for a district playoff game?????

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Southern vs. South Williamsport District Final Preview 2013

Southern hosts South Williamsport in the District IV A championship game this Saturday at 7 pm.  The Tigers follow the same script this week as they did last week.  They play a team that they dominated earlier in the season.  The difference with this week's game is the style of the opponent.  The Mounties like to keep the ball on the ground with junior Dominick Bragalone.

Bragalone has shattered Lycoming County records for yardage and touchdowns.  He needs 60 yards for 3000 yards and has 44 touchdown going into Saturday's game.  Unlike last season's senior dominated team,  South Williamsport had to rebuild this year's squad.

Unlike what you see in college and pro ranks, high schools stick to pretty much the vehicle that brought them to dance.  Will we see some different things from South.  The Mounties success will hinge upon moving the football and keeping Southern out of the endzone.  Poor punting on special teams was their demise in Week 4. 

Bloomsburg who lost to Southern in Week 7 by a 50-13 count, were only down 21-14 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd.  The game ended 49-14 with the Tigers scoring one less point and the Panthers scoring one more. 

It will be critical of South Williamsport to find success in the running game and keep the Southern offense off the field.  Mistakes made on special teams in Week 4 have to be cleaned up.  If the Mounties can do these two basic things plus a whole lot more, they may have a shot in the 4th quarter.  If the game is still a contest in the 4th quarter, the Mounties will still have to worry about the lack of depth when compared to Southern.

Saturday will be interesting to say the least.  South Williamsport will be second team in as many weeks to see if they close the gap of an earlier loss.  The Mounties are 20-3 over the last two season with all three losses to the Tigers.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Southern vs. Bloomsburg Playoff Preview 2013

Southern Columbia will begin it's quest for it's 7th state championship in school history when the Tigers host a rematch with the Bloomsburg Panthers this Friday night. One of the first things you have to ask yourself if your Bloomsburg is how you put 45 points on the board against Southern.  Southern's lowest output of the season was 44 points.

On paper, the Tiger's offense jumps out at you with the right combination of running and passing.  Looking a little deeper, it is the defense that will be transportation to a possible trip to Chocolatetown on December 13th.  It was the defense that couldn't stop Dunmore in 2012 at Valley View.  It was the first time in nearly 20 years that the Tiger defense had the ball run down their collective throats.

In the first game, Bloomsburg quarterback Ricky Klingerman was knocked from the game.  It basically rendered the Panther offense grounded and limited to what they could do.  Does Bloomsburg have enough on the roster to keep them off balance and give them a run?  It is hard to say.

The march to Hershey begins on Friday.  Out in front, the Tiger defense will be leading the way. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Today marks Election Day in Pennsylvania and most parts of the country.  Unfortunately, less than 20% of registered voters will exercise their right to cast a ballot.


It makes me sad as a citizen to see this happen and it only seems to get worse by the year.  Although, this is not a presidential election or for members of Congress, there are many contested school board, municipal and county elections.


Long ago, our forefathers gave us the First Amendment of free speech.  We the people have a say!


Women have only had this right less than 100 years.


Always remember, whether you agree or don't agree with the current condition, you have a right to be a citizen.  Think of all those soldiers, protesters, movers and shakers who made this possible in your lives.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Turning Back Time

This past Saturday in the United States, most areas of the country returned their clocks back to standard time.  Translation? We all had an extra hour of sleep.  There was some banter on social media regarding how people hate the early sundown that will now be part of our lives for the next few months.  I posed the question on social media.  "If you had a chance, where would you reset your clock in your life?"

I had over 20 people comment about the question.  I really wasn't surprised by the answers themselves but the overall theme to them.  Most responded and from what I could tell, they wanted to go back to their early adulthood to the period when the were graduating high school and making their way in the world. They hinted around that part of life called the "do over". Others responded to the period just before a loved had passed.  Surprisingly, only one person responded that they had great memories in the past but they want to move forward in time.

I guess we as human beings try to connect to a time and place in our lives to people and things that we love.  What we fail to realize is that life is changing daily minute by minute and second by second.  Only do we realize after the years go by how much things have changed in our lives or stayed the same.

Regardless of whether we want to go back in time to find that place of comfort, we should all try to find some balance and live life to the fullest. Even though we don't realize it, the seconds are ticking.