COVID-19 keeps rearing its ugly head and with every shake of its noggin there seems to be another high school football game canceled.
This week, COVID-19 concerns at A-C Valley caused the Union/A-C Valley football team to cancel its road game with Bucktail scheduled for tonight (Sept. 9). Originally, the Falcon Knights were supposed to face Bucktail tomorrow night but an official's shortage caused the move to Thursday night. Earlier this week, A-C Valley announced it was holding remote classes on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 due to a number of positive cases in the district. Not long after the announcement of A-C Valley transitioning to remote learning, I received the email announcing the Bucktail game was canceled.
I know the Falcon Knights wanted to play this week to keep the momentum from their 77-0 win last week over Sheffield going but the good news is the players won't have to spend two-and-a-half hours on a bus to play the game.
As of this moment, the Union/A-C Valley at Bucktail game is the only District 9 game to be canceled this week but that can change.
I'll switch gears now and ask rhetorically, how'd you like Week One of the college football season last weekend? The games themselves were somewhat lacking excitement save a few exceptions but it was just a good feeling to wake up late on a Saturday morning, watch a little bit of the pregame shows then sit down for 12 hours or so of collegiate bliss.
My biggest impression of the weekend was Georgia's defense was a lot stronger than what I thought it was going to be. The Bulldogs held defending ACC champion Clemson to three points. The Georgia defense harassed Tigers' quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei all night sacking him seven times.
Clemson's loss coupled with Alabama drubbing Miami (Fla.) gave the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) a black eye for the weekend. Both Clemson and Miami were possible outside contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff at the end of the year but with the losses, neither team is going to have much of a resume to secure a spot in the title game. I don't think Clemson or Miami will have a strong enough schedule to earn a way into the title game. Clemson has a slightly better chance to get there if the Tigers run the table.
Both teams need chaos reminiscent of the 1990 college football season when five different teams spent time at No. 1 in the Associated Press poll which included two stints at No. 1 for Notre Dame (those media pollsters loved the Golden Domers back in the early-1990s). Colorado ended up as the No. 1 team in the AP poll while Georgia Tech was voted No. 1 in the coaches' poll.
Yes kids, back in the dark ages of college football, national champions were chosen by polls and in some years there was no consensus, there were split national champions.
Another crazy year in college football was the 1984 season when Brigham Young was the consensus No. 1 team at the end of the bowl season. Clemson and Miami need 2021 to be more like 1990 or 1984.
Penn State also made a statement by going to Wisconsin and beating the Badgers by a 16-10 score. The Nittany Lions defense was pretty impressive bottling up Wisconsin.
Iowa also made a case for defense as the Hawkeyes throttled visiting Indiana (or Indinia if you go by one of the Hoosiers jerseys). Indiana was that team the collective college football media were all agog about before the season because the Hoosiers had a strong 2020 season. But Iowa showed the media and the Hoosiers last year was last year.
There were also whispers in some circles that maybe Alabama might take a step back this year. Those feelings went out the door around five minutes into the Crimson Tide's drubbing of Miami. I don't think Alabama will get tested until the Southeastern Conference title game when the Crimson Tide would likely play Georgia. Both teams will likely be undefeated when they meet up so it won't matter who wins the SEC title game, both schools will get in to the College Football Playoff.
My prediction for which four teams will be in the College Football Playoff are, 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State 3. Georgia 4. UCLA.
I am picking UCLA as the outlier because the Bruins trounced LSU last week and I think UCLA could come out of the Pac-12 unblemished.
I will revisit my college playoff picks from week to week.
I did a little better with my high school picks last week. I went 9-1 which improves my overall record to 13-6. Hopefully I can make this another over .500 week but I can't promise a thing.
District 9 Small School South
Brockway (1-1 overall, 1-0 District 9 Small School South) at Keystone (2-0, 1-0)
Keystone can open up a commanding lead in the District 9 Small School South race with a win over the Rovers.
The Panthers rallied for a 36-30 win over Port Allegany. Kyle Nellis hauled in an 82-yard touchdown pass from Bret Wingard with 2:12 left on the clock for the winning score.
Brockway got toppled by Smethport 35-19 but the final score makes it seem closer than it really was as the Hubbers led 28-7 early in the fourth quarter.
The Keystone pass defense proved its mettle in the Panthers' opening week win over Redbank Valley. I think Keystone's defense will set the tone again this week.
Keystone 27, Brockway 21
Elk County Catholic (2-0, 1-0) at Redbank Valley (1-1, 0-1)
This is a sneaky important game as undefeated Elk County Catholic travels to face once-beaten Redbank Valley.
The Crusaders are coming off a one-point home win over Coudersport while the Bulldogs put the beat down on visiting Otto-Eldred. It was quite a night last Friday for Redbank Valley as the Bulldogs got some national recognition as a Redbank Valley kickoff return was featured on ESPN's "Top Plays."
I think the Bulldogs keep pace in the Small School South race and I think they do it in convincing fashion.
Redbank Valley 40, Elk County Catholic 7
District 9 Large School
Central Clarion (0-1 overall, 0-0 District 9 Large School) at Karns City (2-0, 1-0)
Central Clarion has been waiting for what seems like forever to open the conference slate. The Wildcats had their first two conference games suspended due to COVID-19 issues at the schools Central Clarion was scheduled to play. I haven't heard of any issues coming out of the Karns City district so fingers crossed.
I think the Wildcats would have been better suited for this game if they had a couple of games under their collective belts. It feels like Central Clarion is restarting the season and having it come against a Karns City team that has outscored its first two opponents by a 77-25 margin is not good.
Karns City 37, Central Clarion 20
Punxsutawney (0-1, 0-1) at Brookville (2-0, 2-0)
Brookville is quietly 2-0 and I see the Raiders keeping the momentum going for a little while longer.
Brookville 29, Punxsutawney 13
Bradford (0-2, 0-2) at Kane (1-1, 1-1)
Bradford is improved over last year but I don't think the Owls are improved enough to challenge Kane.
Kane 34, Bradford 14
DuBois (0-2, 0-1) at St. Marys (1-1, 1-1)
St. Marys struggled to put away Bradford last week as the Owls kept hanging around for three-and-a-half quarters. DuBois has had trouble scoring points in the early going as the Beavers have just 14 points over two games. It's going to be close, but I have to pick the Flying Dutchmen.
St. Marys 28, DuBois 21
Moniteau (0-1, 0-1) at Ridgway (2-0, 2-0)
Ridgway has been dominant in the early going as the Elkers have outscored their first two opponents 69-13. I don't see Ridgway slowing down any time soon.
Ridgway 45, Moniteau 14
Cameron County (2-0 overall, 1-0 District 9 Small School North) at Otto-Eldred (0-2, 0-1)
Cameron County might be the surprise of District 9 as the Red Raiders are 2-0. I think Cameron County keeps the mojo going this week against an Otto-Eldred team which has been bludgeoned by a combined 93-6 in its first two games.
Cameron County 30, Otto-Eldred 6
Port Allegany (1-1, 1-0) at Smethport (2-0, 1-0)
Smethport quarterback Noah Lent basically carried the Hubbers to a win over visiting Brockway and I can see the senior signal-caller behaving the same against Smethport's long-time rival.
Smethport 35, Port Allegany 15
Sheffield (0-2, 0-1) at Coudersport (0-2, 0-1)
Coudersport is coming off back-to-back heartbreaking one-point losses. After seeing Sheffield in person last week, I can't envision a scenario where the Wolverines come close to keeping the Falcons' heartbreak going three weeks in a row.
Coudersport 65, Sheffield 0.