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A few weeks ago, after another deadline-beating hectic Friday night of high school football, a few of us walked down the street from the Times Leader to a local watering hole. There we witnessed a women pump $7 into a machine, pull the handle and watch a pack of cigarettes slide out. Seven bucks! That’s more than enough for two adults to get into most high school football games So here’s a suggestion. Lay off the smokes, pick up a couple tickets and enjoy a football game.

Berwick (5-2)

at Coughlin (4-3)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Berwick 12-0 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: Which line wants it more

Huddle Up: Nothing fancy here.

Sure, there might be a little trickery, but for most of the game this will be a between-the-tackles fight for every yard.

The winner hasn’t scored more than two TDs in the last five meetings, all won by Berwick including a pair of 12-0 victories in 2008.

The winner also gets the upper hand for a District 2 Class 3A playoff berth, but the advantage might be temporary considering the remaining opponents for both.

The game could come down to turnovers. Berwick drops the ball fall too much on offense while Coughlin rarely does.

GAR (5-2) at Nanticoke (1-6)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: GAR 35-6 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: GAR’s running game, which is averaging 316.5 yards over the last four games

Huddle Up: GAR looked a tad lethargic in defeating Nanticoke last year. Perhaps because it was Saturday afternoon. Perhaps because the Grenadiers had just come off routs of Wyoming Area and Hanover Area.

There’s no doubt GAR wins, but how victory is accomplished will be important. The Grenadiers need a sharp performance because next week’s opponent – Lake-Lehman – can cause problems with its offense. Going through the motions to a win won’t suffice.

Nanticoke is improved for the most part, but still not ready to bang heads with the upper crust of the WVC. A moral victory – i.e. not being blown out quickly – could help out the young Trojans’ confidence.

Hazleton Area (5-2)

at Crestwood (3-4)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Hazleton Area 36-0 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: Hazleton Area FB Matt Manfredi, who has run the ball well the past two games

Huddle Up: Game time is 7 p.m. Not 8:15 or 8:30 or whenever the second half begins.

That’s a message to Crestwood, which has played well in the second half against Williamsport and Dallas. The first halves of those games have doomed the Comets.

The optimist says Crestwood is a couple quarters away from a very strong performance. The pessimist will argue the Comets are also two quarters away from a disaster.

This is a bit of a trap game for Hazleton Area. The Cougars knocked off rival Wyoming Valley West last Saturday and have District 11 power East Stroudsburg South and rival Berwick waiting for their crack.

The season could sour quickly for Hazleton Area if it manages somehow to let this game get away. Can’t see that happening.

Pittston Area (2-5)

at Hanover Area (3-4)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Pittston Area 28-25 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: Offense, but you might have to look real hard to find some

Huddle Up: The score in Saturday’s paper might look like the game was a titanic defensive encounter. More likely than not, it will actually be a struggle between two offenses that can’t find any rhythm.

Hanover Area was shut out for the second time in three weeks last Friday. Even more frightening was the 24 yards of offense mustered against GAR in the 27-0 loss. The Hawks have just one offensive touchdown during their four-game losing streak. They had 15 yards of offense against GAR.

Pittston Area has been only slightly better during its four-game losing streak. The Patriots have been shut out on consecutive Mondays 47-0 and 33-0 and have totaled 94 yards of offense in those games.

Strangely, both teams have a few guys capable of making big plays, but nobody on either squad has stepped to the plate.

One touchdown could win the game, two almost certainly will. Of course, with the way the WVC season has gone it wouldn’t be a surprise if the teams reenact an arena football game.

Tunkhannock (1-6)

at Wyoming Area (2-5)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Wyoming Area 25-19 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: How Wyoming Area defends Tunkhannock’s Wing-T offense

Huddle Up: The Wait ’Til Next Year Bowl.

Both teams will have a good deal of their contributors back in 2010. But until then, they both must show they’re not just playing out the season.

Tunkhannock trailed unbeaten Towanda by six at the half last Friday before falling 35-15. It was the third time the Tigers had a shot at a quality team only to falter down the stretch.

Wyoming Area had its best defensive outing since its opener in a 15-7 loss to Coughlin. The offense, though, is in a lull that has lasted throughout October.

Tunkhannock will finish the year with its 11th consecutive losing season. Wyoming Area is all but assured of finishing with a losing record for a second consecutive year.

The Warriors haven’t won at home since last year, so they might have to give their Victory Bell an extra hard tug to knock off the rust.

Wyoming Valley West (4-3)

at Williamsport (5-2)

7 p.m. today

Last meeting: WVW 49-14 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: WVW’s QB situation

Huddle Up: The Body Bowl.

Williamsport had victory slip through its fingers last Saturday; Valley West had it bounce off its skull.

Williamsport was motoring along against highly touted Central Dauphin until a disastrous fourth quarter led to a 45-35 loss. The scene – at least from afar – looked too much like those shaky performances reminiscent of the Millionaires throughout the decade.

Valley West’s 14-7 loss to Hazleton Area came down to a deflection off the noggin of a Spartan defender and into the hands of a Cougar receiver for a TD in the final minute.

Anatomically speaking, the biggest concern is the left ankle of WVW QB Connor Haggerty. He injured it early last Saturday, and the Spartans had to resort to an offensive comb-over that covered one bald spot but exposed another.

Essentially for Valley West, the playoffs begin tonight … and could end about 9:30 or so.

Pocono Mountain East (3-4)

at Dallas (7-0)

2 p.m. Saturday

Last meeting: Dallas 21-6 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: East QB Evan Fardella, a freshman with plenty of potential

Huddle Up: Dallas had another Friday night scare last week, nearly blowing a 21-point halftime lead against Crestwood.

The Mountaineers, though, did what they have all season and didn’t panic. Instead, they found ways to keep the Comets at arm’s length for a 34-27 victory.

East lost 21-0 to East Stroudsburg South – arguably the Poconos best team and one that crushed Lackawanna Conference foes Delaware Valley and Scranton among others. So, East’s effort wasn’t to shabby all things considered. The Cardinals will also have a size advantage up front.

If the game were Friday night in Swiftwater, maybe a reasonable argument could be made for an East upset. But a long road trip and a Saturday afternoon game takes the Cardinals too much out of their element.

Hill School (4-1) at Wyoming Seminary (4-1)

2 p.m. Saturday

Last meeting: Seminary 35-6 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: Hill School RB Dante Astheimer, who has 10 rushing TDs

Huddle Up: Prep football rarely postpones a game, but that’s what happened to Seminary last Saturday. The Blue Knights never made their trip to Valley Forge Military and now face a two-week layoff against a better-than-expected opponent.

The (Benny) Hill School closed out 2008 with a pair of wins to finish 5-4 after consecutive 2-7 finishes in 2006 and 2007. Its only loss thus far has been 21-14 to unbeaten Chestnut Hill Academy, the only game where the defense allowed more than two touchdowns.

Meyers (3-4)

at Lake-Lehman (4-3)

7 p.m. Saturday

Last meeting: Lehman 28-0 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: Meyers’ passing game, which is a little better than expected

Huddle Up: Despite the slight disparity in records, Meyers is all but assured of a playoff return and Lehman is clinging to faint hopes. That’s because life in Class A in District 2 is much different than survival in Class 2A.

Sure it’s a Saturday night and it will be cold in Lehman Township, where summer last about three days. But this game could be the most entertaining of the weekend and perhaps the season.

Both teams have players who have the knack of making explosive plays, so the scoreboard operator could be one tired person. Look for plenty of big plays, plenty of scoring and a see-saw battle that ends with Lehman on top.

Northwest (4-3)

at Holy Redeemer (1-6)

7 p.m. Saturday

Last meeting: Northwest 33-25 in 2008

Keep An Eye On: The weather, Northwest’s downfall

Huddle Up: Last Friday proved it – it’s time to build a dome stadium at Northwest. Three home games in the rain, three losses.

The Rangers lost to GAR and Juniata in poor weather, but those were a case of the better team winning. The 14-12 loss to Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech last Friday caught the Weather Channel’s attention. After all, Tech didn’t even need an offensive TD and was beaten up by Nanticoke a few weeks back.

Oh well, at least Northwest won’t have to worry about Tech and the rest of the All-American Conference bullies next year. It’s off to the WVC in 2010 where smoother sailing awaits.

The silver lining in this black cloud is that Northwest has come back with vengeance after losses with 40-0 and 53-0 victories. So, the Rangers should be able to rebound from one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Redeemer had a shot at knocking off Meyers, but as usual something went wrong including the final score 20-17.

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