From the sidelines Week 13
As a start to this week’s column, let’s all salute and wish a speedy recovery to a long time fan of high school football in PA, my Dad, Michael Spegar, Sr. Dad suffered a stroke in early October and is battling back in rehabilitation and therapy in Lackawanna County medical care. Dad always enjoys Friday night and Saturday afternoon high school football action. He has listened intensely on his trusted radio this fall and still stays close to the action. Let’s all hope and root for an exciting finish to this already exciting 2008 season and that Dad will make a speedy and healthy recovery, especially with the Holiday Season fast approaching. I dedicate the season and the remaining columns of “From The Sidelines” to my Dad!!!
On Friday night’s action, the A competition drew a great State playoff contest between the No. 2 State ranked RIVERSIDE VIKINGS and the perennial District 4 powerhouse SOUTHERN COLUMBIA TIGERS. In the much anticipated and expected match-up, both teams “showed up” with hard hitting and running action to please a packed house in Peckville. RIVERSIDE prevailed 25-7 in a thrilling battle worthy of these two A Titans. Remember 1997 when the VIKINGS upset the TIGERS in Wilkes-Barre to stop the TIGERS consecutive run to A State Championship Game appearances. SOUTHERN COLUMBIA has been a staple in the A State Title Game. With the exception of 1997 and 2007, the TIGERS were the Eastern Representative in State Competition in 1994-96 and 1998-2006. An incredible accomplishment to say the least. The proud program of SOUTHERN COLUMBIA, led by Head Coach Jim Roth, who needs just 3 more wins to join the elite 300 career coaching wins milestone, has consistently led the TIGERS to the very top of competition in PA Football year after year. RIVERSIDE is truly deserving of their lofty No. 2 ranking in the State courtesy of Friday’s impressive win over SOUTHERN. The VIKINGS were led once again by star tailback, Joe Klebon, who registered all 4 TD runs en route to the win. Klebon scored in every quarter on respective runs of 7, 1, 45 and 2 yards. It was perhaps the 45 yard scoring burst in the 3rd quarter which defines Klebon the most as the gritty, hard nosed, determined running back he is by running straight into the arms of several defenders, but managing to remain up and driving forward and breaking free and rolling along to the eventual TD which put the VIKINGS back up by 2 scores and deflating any comeback momentum seized by the TIGERS at the time. RIVERSIDE also received standout play by numerous members of this talented and determined team. Play after play, numerous VIKINGS stepped up to the task and challenge and made the most of their opportunities, including an exceptional defensive stand midway through the 2nd quarter which stopped a TIGER threat deep in VIKING territory. This stand kept the TIGERS off the scoreboard and provided RIVERSIDE with the opportunity to punch in yet another score with just 2 minutes remaining in the first half. That has been the story for RIVERSIDE all season long: Making the most of opportunities and always seeming to convert those opportunities into winning ways. Remember well Week No. 2 at RIVERSIDE in a key battle with WEST SCRANTON. It was RIVERSIDE’S defense which shut down WEST’S chance to convert a 4th and 1 with under 2 minutes remaining in the game and WEST leading by 7. RIVERSIDE went on to march down the field with key plays and ultimately scoring both the TD and a nifty 2 point conversion to seal the exciting and impressive 22-21 victory. The VIKINGS have clearly built on this statement game and have made several impressive statements since that Week 2 victory over WEST SCRANTON, including Week 10 over AA DUNMORE and Week 13 over SOUTHERN COLUMBIA. This coming week RIVERSIDE will return again to Peckville with a Week 14 match-up with District 11 juggernaut, SCHUYLKILL HAVEN. This game will feature the obvious talents of RIVERSIDE’S Joe Klebon and SCHUYLKILL HAVEN’S superman, Zach Barket, who has amassed 3,806 yards this season alone in 13 undefeated games. Barket needs just 41 yards to establish the State single season rushing mark held by Parkland’s Austin Scott. This should be a great one on Friday in Peckville at 7 pm.
In the District 2 AA Title Game, defending Eastern Champion and State Runnerup, DUNMORE, handled WILKES-BARRE GAR 48-13. The Bucks, eager to return to Hershey for another shot at the AA State Title, were led again by RB, Mike Perry and QB, Miller Holmes. Despite stumbling at RIVERSIDE in Week 10, the BUCKS are poised with many returning starters. Experience and talent are prevalent at DUNMORE and it all starts with Head Coach, Jack Henzes, who is a member of the 300 Career Coaching Win Club. DUNMORE jumped out to a 13-0 first quarter lead and jumped out to a 34-7 halftime lead as well. Next week the talented BUCKS will face WEST CATHOLIC in the Philadelphia area.
A salute to the WPIAL winners from this past weekend. Hats off to FSN TV for the outstanding coverage of these great games from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The winners were CLAIRTON (A); ALIQUIPPA (AA); THOMAS JEFFERSON (AAA) and BETHEL PARK (AAAA).
Good Luck to all teams in Week No. 14 and See You On The Sidelines!!!
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