What is High School Football Looking Like in Scranton, PA?

The Lackawanna Football Conference is only a few weeks away and with that in mind,  it’s time to start thinking about who will come to compete this season. The Lackawanna Football Conference consists of four different divisions, each being home to five different teams. In total, there are 20 teams in the Lackawanna Football Conference and many of them have a lot to prove this upcoming season. Unlike last season, this season will be limited to five games for most teams. On top of the numerous potentially great teams, a lot of players have a lot to prove.

Division 1 Evaluation:

Division 1 in the Lackawanna Football Conference is home to the Delaware Valley Warriors, the North Pocono Trojans, the Scranton Knights,  and the Wallenpaupack  Buckhorns.  To start things off,  the Delaware Valley Warriors are considered the heavy favorites coming into the season. The Warriors began the season with an easy win when Valley View forfeited the season opener. Taking the place of Valley View will be in state power, LaSalle College. The Warriors are coming off of an 11-2 season led by coach Keith Olsommer.  Unlike most teams,  the Warriors are only slated to play three games. The Warriors will start their season in week 2 by taking on the Wallenpaupack Buckhorns at Wallenpaupack Stadium. The following week, the Warriors will play the Scranton Knights at Scranton Memorial Stadium. To conclude the season,  the Warriors will take on North Pocono in their home stadium and LaSalle College in LaSalles home stadium. Coming in with the second-highest odds behind the Delaware Valley Warriors are the Scranton Nights. The Scranton nights are coming off of a 6-5 season and will look to take hold of the division this season. The Knight’s schedule consists of five games. In the first 3 weeks, the Knights will play in their home stadium against North Pocono, West Scranton, and Delaware Valley. Scranton will then finish their season with two road games against Hanover area and Wallenpaupack. The team that is predicted to come in third in the division is the North Pocono Trojans. The Trojans are coming off of a 5-6 season and they have a five-game schedule that will begin on October 2nd and conclude on October 30th. The Trojans hope to improve upon their 2019 season under head coach Greg Dolhon. The Trojans have 3 home games on their schedule against Riverside, Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne. The two away games for the Trojans are against Delaware Valley and Scranton. Overall, the Trojans may have the toughest schedule in the division which could potentially harm their chances of winning the division. The fourth-place projected team in the division is the Wallenpaupack Buckhorns. The Buckhorns have lots of room for improvement after winning only 3 of 10 games in the 2019 season. Wallenpaupack also has 3 home games which will be against Dunmore, Delaware valley, and Scranton. Their two away games come in weeks 3 and 4 vs North Pocono and Honesdale. All in all, Division 1 in the Lackawanna football conference is looking like it will be a very entertaining division with the potential of many surprising teams.

Division 1 Record Predictions:

  1. Delaware Valley Warriors: 3-0
  2. North Pocono Trojans: 3-2
  3. Scranton Nights: 3-2
  4. Wallenpaupack Buckhorns: 1-4

Key players on each team:

Delaware Valley Warriors- Jason Henderson (LB), CJ Ross (QB), Cooper Kidd (TE)

North Pocono Trojans- Ryan Dolphin (WR), Kollin Leschinsky (DB), Zack Benzie (QB)

Scranton Nights- Devin Chollette (RB), Antonio Hairston (DB), Calvin Khamvongsa (QB)

Wallenpaupack Buckhorns- Mike Simon (CB), Jacob Bronstein (WR), Chris Quigley (QB)

Division 2 Evaluation:

Division 2 of the Lackawanna Football Conference consists of the Honesdale Hornets, the Scranton Prep Cavaliers, the Valley View Cougars, the West Scranton Invaders, and the Western Wayne Wildcats. This division can be considered one of the best divisions in the Lackawanna Football Conference as it has three teams with 9 or more wins in the 2019 season. The team that came in first in the division in 2019 was the Valley View Cougars and they are also favored to win the division this season. The Cougars had an 11-2 record last season, led by Coach George Howantiz. The Cougars have actually already begun their season with a forfeited loss vs Delaware Valley. Despite that they are set to play four more games. Two of these games are at home and two of them are on the road. The Cougars will start off the season by playing Honesdale and West Scranton both in their home stadium. The Cougars will then go on the road to play Western Wayne and Scranton Prep to finish the season. The second-place spot in the division is up for grabs as there are two teams who tied in their records last season that will both be looking to claim that spot. Both the Scranton Prep Cavaliers  and the Western Wayne Wildcats  finished with a 9-3 record last season. This season, the two teams will be competing very closely for that second-place spot  with the possibility of competing for the first place spot. To separate the two teams we will first discuss the Western Wayne Wildcats.  The Wildcats are lucky enough to have a full five-game schedule this season and in that schedule, they only play two home games. The Wildcats’ home games are against West Scranton and Western Wayne. The remainder of the Wildcats schedule consists of road games and not easy ones. The Wildcats will have to battle against Scranton Prep, Honesdale, and North Pocono. The Scranton Prep Cavaliers will have a very close battle with the Wildcats for second place, but their schedule being easier may allow them to control that position. Not only do the Cavaliers have an easier schedule overall, but they play three games at home instead of two. In the Cavaliers three home games, they play Western Wayne, West Scranton, and Valley View. The Cavaliers also have two road games which will be against Mid-Valley and Honesdale. The two teams that have not been discussed thus far are the West Scranton Invaders and the Honesdale Hornets. The Honesdale Hornets came in fourth place in the division last season with a 2-8 record. After having a tough 2019 season, the Hornets will look to rebound this year with three home games in a short, five-game season. At home, the Hornets will play Scranton Prep, Western Wayne,  and Wallenpaupack. The Hornet’s away games will feature Valley View and West Scranton. The final team in the division is the West Scranton Invaders. The Invaders boasted a division-worst 1-9 record last season, putting them in the last place spot. The Invaders have a pretty tough schedule in this upcoming season and it will be difficult for them to improve on last season’s record. The Invaders have two road games where they will play Western Wayne and Valley view. Besides their 2 road games, the majority of their games are at home as they will play Scranton, Scranton Prep, and Honesdale. In conclusion, this division will be a competition between the top three teams, while the fourth and fifth place teams battle to stay out of the last place spot.

Division 2 Record Predictions:

  1. Western Wayne Wildcats: 4-1
  2. Valley View Cougars: 4-1
  3. Scranton Prep Cavaliers: 3-2
  4. West Scranton Invaders:1-4
  5. Honesdale Hornets: 0-5

Key players on each team:

Valley View Cougars- Adam Howanitz (QB), TJ Noto (FB), Dante Randle (TE)

Western Wayne Wildcats- Zane Janiszewski (RB), Thomas Chernasky (TE), RJ Burns (LB)

Scranton Prep Cavaliers- Paddy Grady (QB), Max Mulligan (WR),  Dominic Argenta (RB)

West Scranton Invaders- Cayden Merrifield (QB), Bryan Lucke (RB), Antonio Evanosky (FS)

Honesdale Hornets- Peter West (QB), Kole Fries (DB), Sam Deron (TE)

Division 3 Evaluation:

Division 3 of the Lackawanna Football Conference consists of the Carbondale Area Chargers, the Dunmore Bucks, the Lakeland Chiefs, the Mid Valley Spartans, and the Riverside Vikings. Most of the teams in this division have around average expectations based solely on their records from last season. The only team with a winning record in the division last season was the Dunmore Bucks, who finished the season with an 8-5 record. Because of the Bucks being the only team that had a winning record,  they are the only team expected to win the division this season. The closest win total to the Bucks in 2019 came from the Lakeland Chiefs and the Riverside Vikings who each had five wins.  Once again,  the Dunmore Bucks are expected to come in first place this season, but it won’t be an easy path to get there.  The Bucks only play two home games throughout the short 5 game season, which is a significant factor in  what their record will turn out to be.  The Bucks home games are against Lackawanna Trail and Riverside, while their three road games are versus Wallenpaupack, Mid Valley, and Lakeland. The second and third-place spots in the division will be determined similar to division 2. The Lakeland Chiefs and the Riverside Vikings have the same odds to come in second place, meaning that they will fight it out hard and it will likely come down to the last game of the season to figure out who will come in second and who will come in third. The Riverside Vikings have the advantage of playing twice as many games as Lakeland. Lakeland will only play four games, but Riverside will play 8. This means that Riverside will have many more opportunities to figure out their best lineup and have enough time to catch fire. Since Lakeland only has four games on their schedule, it will be much more difficult for them to claim the second place position. Two of Lakeland’s games are at home and those games are against Mid-Valley and Dunmore. Their two road games are against Susquehanna and  Riverside. Lastly, the Mid Valley Spartans are predicted to be the fourth-place team, but it is too early to rule them out of the second and third place competition. The Spartans are coming off of a 4-7 season and will be fortunate enough to play the majority of their games at home this year. The Spartans will play Montrose, Scranton Prep,  and Dunmore in their home stadium. On the road the Spartans will take on Lakeland and Riverside. In conclusion, the layout of this division is similar to that of division 2. 

Division 3 Record Predictions:

  1. Dunmore Bucks: 5-0
  2. Lakeland Chiefs: 3-1
  3. Riverside Vikings: 5-3
  4. Mid Valley Spartans: 2-3

Key Players on each team: 

Dunmore Bucks: Christian Buckley (CB), Dylan Aquino (RB), David Reilly (SS)

Lakeland Chiefs: Dominic Spataro (QB), Lacotta Dippre (LB), CJ Dippre (TE)

Riverside Vikings: Johnny Gilchrist (QB), Gavin Thomas (LB), Anthony Norris (DL)

Mid Valley Spartans: Shamus Lesher (DB), Kyle Stevens (QB), Ryan O’Boyle (RB)

Division 4 Evaluation: 

The final division of the Lackawanna Football Conference is division 4, which is home to the Holy Cross Crusaders,  the Lackawanna Trail Lions, the Montrose Meteors, the Old Forge Blue Devils, and the Susquehanna Sabers. This division is a pretty balanced division, as it has two teams that were well above a winning record last season and two teams that were well below. To start things off, the Lackawanna Trail Lions are the favorites to win the division this year. The Lions are coming off of a 10-4 record and will like to be undefeated in this short five-game season under head coach, Steve Jervis. The Lions have home-field advantage on their side for the majority of the games. There are three home games against Holy Cross, Montrose, and Susquehanna. Their remaining two games are on the road where they will take on Dunmore and Old Forge. The team that will be following behind the Lions is the Old Forge Blue Devils  who had a miraculous 8-2  record last season.  The Blue Devils are certainly in contention for first place in the division but their strength of schedule is what has them coming in at 2nd. The Blue Devils will play home games every other week, meaning that the majority of their games will take place at Old Forge Veterans Memorial stadium. Their home games will be against Riverside, Susquehanna, and Lackawanna Trail, while their away games will be against Holy Cross and Montrose. Next up are the Holy Cross Crusaders who are making a return to the field after cancelling their 2019 season due to low numbers. The Crusaders are projected to come in third in the division. The Crusaders will be led through their five-game season by head coach, Dave Gatto. The Crusaders season will consist of only two home games where they will face Old Forge and Montrose. In their three road games,  Holy Cross will play Lackawanna Trail, Holy Redeemer, and Susquehanna. The final two teams are the Susquehanna Sabers and the  Montrose Meteors.  The Susquehanna Sabers are predicted to get 4th in the division this year  and that’s the only spot that I really see them contending for. The Sabers have a five-game schedule with only two games at home which will be held against Holy Cross and Lakeland. Their remaining three games will be on the road against Montrose, Old Forge, and Lackawanna Trail. The final team in the division is the Montrose Meteors and they will be looking to recover from a winless 2019 season. The meteors are coming into this season hoping to improve significantly under coach, Kerry Patton.  Montrose will play only two games at home like most of the other teams in their division. These two games will be against Susquehanna and Old Forge. Their other three games will be away against Lackawanna Trail, Holy Cross, and Mid Valley. In conclusion, division 4 will have two main competitors who will be battling closely with one another for the division title. 

Division 4 Record Predictions:

  1. Lackawanna Trail Lions: 4-1
  2. Old Forge Blue Devils: 4-1
  3. Holy Cross Crusaders: 3-2
  4. Susquehanna Sabers: 1-4
  5. Montrose Meteors: 0-5

Key Players on Each Team:

Lackawanna Trail Lions: Ray Melnikoff (MLB), Hunter Patterson (LB), Braden Savage (QB)

Old Forge Blue Devils: Dante Lucarelli (QB), Keegan Barbetti (WR), Zack Weaver (TE)

Holy Cross Crusaders: Ayir Asante (WR), Connor Degenhardt (QB), Jacob Dobbs (LB)

Susquehanna Sabers: CJ Cohead (CB), Bilal Weidler (FS), Javon White (QB)

Montrose Meteors: Riley Baker (TE), Gus Brown (QB), Gabriel Lawton (OL)

570 Sports Top 5 Teams To Beat:

After evaluating all 20 teams across the Lackawanna Football Conference, 570 Sports had narrowed down their top tier teams to 5 different schools.

  1. Dunmore Bucks: Division 3 (5-0)
  1. Valley View Cougars: Division 2 (4-0)
  1. Lackawanna Trail Lions: Division 4 (4-1)
  1. Delaware Valley Warriors: Division 1 (3-0)
  1. Western Wayne Wildcats: Division 2 (4-1)

570 Sports Top 10 Players To Watch Out For:

  1. Johnny Gilchrist: Division 3 – Riverside Vikings
  • Johnny Gilchrist is the starting quarterback for the Riverside Vikings. He wears #5 and is ranked 307 in Pennsylvania. Gilchrist has 39 Touchdowns in only one season with the Vikings and he has almost 3000 passing yards. In his second season with the Vikings, Gilchrist will look to improve upon his 2019 stats and really make a name for himself.
  1. Zane Janiszewski: Division 2 – Western Wayne Wildcats
  • Zane Janiszewski is an all-around offensive threat for the Western Wayne Wildcats. Janiszewski has an astounding 39 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Wildcats which were all on varsity. Janiszewski is ranked 216 in Pennsylvania and is a large threat this upcoming season.
  1. Christian Buckley: Division 3 – Dunmore Bucks
  • Christian Buckley is the quick cornerback and starting running back for the Dunmore Bucks. Buckley is entering his senior season with the Bucks and will look to make a big impact in the shorter than usual season.
  1. CJ Dippre: Division 3 – Lakeland Chiefs
  • CJ Dippre is the star tight end for the Lakeland chiefs and he has a very bright future. Dippre is currently a senior and has already committed to play football for the Maryland Terrapins. Dippre is the 44th ranked tight end in the nation and will look to boost the Chiefs to a division title this season.
  1. Paddy Grady: Division 2 – Scranton Prep Cavaliers
  • Paddy Grady is the QB/CB for the Scranton Prep Cavaliers and he is a very impactful player. Grady has one of the strongest arms in the league which can explain his rank of 62 in Pennsylvania. Grady is coming into his senior season wearing #10 so keep an eye out for him on both sides of the field.
  1. Dante Lucarelli: Division 4 – Old Forge Blue Devils
  • Dante Lucarelli is a senior quarterback for the Old Forge Blue devils. Lucarelli will come into his senior year wearing #8 and he is ready to get to work. In his free time, Dante has said that he watches and practices drills he can do to improve his game. With that said, watch out for Dante Lucarelli this season.
  1. Adam Howanitz: Division 2 – Valley View Cougars
  • Adam Howanitz is a player for the Valley View Cougars who will likely get much more playing time as he enters his sophomore season. In his freshman season, Howanitz got different chances all over the field as he played QB at some points and running back at others. All in all, pay attention to Adam Howanitz this season as he will have an increase in playing which could ultimately lead to him having a larger impact.
  1. Thomas Chernasky: Division 2 – Western Wayne Wildcats
  • Thomas Chernasky is a tight end for the Western Wayne Wildcats. Chernesky is coming into his Junior season and will likely make a significant impact on the Wildcat’s final record. Between Chernasky’s speed and physicality, he will be a dominant threat with the ball in his hands.
  1. Cayden Merrifield: Division 2 – West Scranton Invaders
  • Cayden Merrifield is the starting QB/DB for the West Scranton Invaders. Merrifield has had a significant impact on the Invaders over the past few seasons and will likely do the same this season. Cayden recently broke his arm but everyone is hoping for a quick recovery so he can throw dimes once again. Keep an eye out for Cayden Merrifield this season and wish him a quick recovery!
  1. Ray Melnikoff: Division 4 – Lackawanna Trail Lions
  • Ray Melnikoff is an MLB/FB for the Lackawanna Trail Lions and he is a potential star. Melnikoff is entering his senior season and he is ranked 283rd in the state of Pennsylvania. In his three years with the Lions, Melnikoff has over 3000 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. Melnikoff will be wearing #44 this season as he will look to finish strong in his last season with the Lions.

      Honorable Mentions:

  • Chris Conserette: Valley View
  • London Montgomery: Scranton Prep
  • Ryan Dolphin: North Pocono
  • Kollin Leschinsky: North Pocono

570 Sports “LET THEM PLAY” Campaign: 

Before the season began,  the 570 sports show put-together a campaign to get the kids back on the field. The campaign was called “LET THEM PLAY” and it motivated over 50 kids in the area to play this season. 570 Sports put up billboards all over the Lackawanna County area, posted with tons of football players  and they were pushing the county to let the kids play as well as motivating more kids to get back out there. The campaign worked very well and many more kids began to play. That could have been a factor considering that the season has officially begun successfully.  Overall, the 570 Sports show had a huge impact on pushing for this football season to happen and making sure that there were enough players for it to go on.

Best of Wishes To Cayden Merrifield:

Cayden Merrifield is the star quarterback for the West Scranton Invaders. Merrifield has put up outstanding numbers over his last few seasons with the Invaders and has been a very impactful player on and off the field. Unfortunately,  Cayden was recently involved in a car accident causing him to break his arm. As we all know, Cayden is an extremely hard-working and strong player, who will be back on the field in no time. Our job as the community of Lackawanna is to come together and support Cayden in what will be a quick recovery. Best of wishes to Cayden Merrifield and we all will be excited to see him throw dots once again.

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