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Happy 2015!

New Year’s wishes of health, happiness and prosperity. The year 2015, wow it almost seems like a title for a sci-fi movie. I still catch myself thinking it’s 19 something, let alone we are 15 years into the new millennium.

What’s going on in the world today is much different than anyone would have imagined when the fears of computer glitches, the power grid shutting down and all that nay saying that went on back at the turn-of-the-century. Boy, that line makes me sound like a historian from the early 1900s.

Many wanted us to believe there would be no year 2000, that the earth would meet its fate when the clock struck double 12s.

I remember back in vacation Bible school at Messiah Lutheran in Southside. My Nanny Webb – Josephine, my Dad’s mom, would have me go and was proud to take me. One year Lisa Claybaugh announced to the summer class that the world would end in the year 2000. We were young, maybe seven or eight. It scared the Kool-Aid and Chips Ahoy cookies out of me. However, I figured that I would be old enough by then, in my 30s, so at least I got to live a long life. You remember how your mind worked when you were young. Now someone in their 30s is young in my eyes. And no worries Lisa, I recovered from your prediction, I did think about it as the ball dropped in 1999 though. Lisa, hope you and your family are well.

Worry and fear take away positive energy and effort no matter what the topic is. Only God knows what the future will hold. Trust in our Lord and Savior and live your life in the present and prepare for the future.

With all that is going on in our Great Nation today and the events that are occurring around the world it’s easy to become negative, worried, and well, sometimes just downright angry. Do not fall into this trap. Do not allow the work of evil to take away from all the good and joy in our Great Nation. Do not let the wrong mindset to prevent you from doing “good work” and making sure God, family and Country are priority and your first thoughts of where you are going.

You control your own destiny. Too many so called “leaders” want to take that peace from you. They want to enlist you as a worker in their cause or belief.

The ladies in my life, led by Michelle, asked me to avoid politics and current world events during the Christmas season. I have happily done so. I would much sooner write about salmon croquettes, area athletes or all the good our area has to offer.

It angers me, pains me and flat out saddens me when I do the research and write about Ferguson, Obamacare, ISIS or the mess inside The Washington Beltway.
I do so to keep you, the reader, informed of the truth and to honor my father. It was very important to him that the truth was known. He believed media bias was not what the freedom of the press was what our forefathers had in mind.

So happy New Year and no worries, I’ll get back after those who need getting after next week. And thanks to my Wife, my Mom and Carol, Steph, Kristy, and Nickie and all who take the time to help and advise.

Without all of you I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I honestly believe behind every good man is a good woman. I am blessed to have a very large sisterhood behind me. Yes, I know that was not politically correct and often the truth is not.

Year End All-Statement

It wasn’t too many seasons ago when local high school football was at an all-time low. No team recorded a winning season or qualified for Post Season play.

My have fortunes changed.

With Coach Chris Eiswerth’s South Williamsport Mounties reaching the State A Semi Finals; J.C. Keefer’s Montoursville Warriors winning the District 4 AA Title; Jersey Shore going undefeated in the regular season for Head Coach Tom Gravish and Justin VanFleet’s Loyalsock squad having a strong season only to lose to the Warriors in the District Final, area football is alive and well.

Nowhere is this more evident than by the recently selected PIAA All State Gridiron Teams. A team is selected at each of the states four divisions voted on by a panel of Pennsylvania sports writers from around the state.

Leading the way was South’s Dominick Bragalone. “The Diesel” was selected the Class A Player of the Year. A back to back honor for him, he shared the award last season. Never was there an easier selection for this honor after he ran for a state record 4,717 yards, scoring a state record 67 TDs. Dom also ran for a state playoff single-game record 439 yards and six TDs versus Pius X. On defense he was solid; he just flat out liked to hit people.

South placed four others among the State’s elite. Riley Thomas gave the Blue and White that deep threat needed to complement their running game. Riley caught 44 passes for 768 yards and scored. He also provided a great return game for the Southsiders and solid play in the secondary.

All-around standout John Peters was selected as a linebacker. He was the heart and soul of the Mountie defense. He was also the best fullback I watched this season.
Down in the trenches Sam Buck and Cody Nelson earned honors paving the way for Dominick’s state record season. Buck was also a playmaker on the defensive side and had a nose for the ball. Nelson also contributed on the other side of the ball.

Loyalsock’s Kyle Datres became a three-time All-State football selection. This season it was at the quarterback position. The past two he was recognized for his efforts in the Lancer secondary.

Bird threw for 1,425 yards and 18 scores and rushed for 1,741 yards and 27 TDs. An unbelievable way to end one of the best careers in Pennsylvania signal caller history. His final totals were 4,212 yards through the air and 3,871 yards on the ground, combined total – 104 touchdowns. That ain’t bird feed but it’s onto Chapel Hill with a baseball mitt for Kyle.

Fellow Lancer Dan Harrison also was selected. The big fella came up big and anchored down the trenches for Coach VanFleet. Harrison was there every game in a season when Sock seemed to lose a lineman every week and had to reshuffle the lineup. Dan is only a junior and his hard work and constant effort have made him an All Stater. Dan is a gentle soul with a great smile until he puts on that helmet.

Across the creek J.C.’s District champs had two players selected. Keith Batkowski, whose season would have been front page news if it wasn’t for Dominick’s weekly efforts. The running back amassed 2,334 yards and scored 26 touchdowns on the ground. Keith also added 19 catches for 189 yards and 270 return yards. An amazing season in the long history of Warrior tailbacks. Batkowski had almost 2,700 total yards. Although not the biggest fellow, he never seemed to get hit hard and was always ready for the next carry.

The Blue and Gold other All Stater, Logan McKeag. McKeag was the leader of a very good Warrior defense. He is a playmaker who can cover the field side to side. This resulted in 130 tackles. He was involved in six defensive takeaways and recorded 100 tackles for the second straight year. Most of all McKeag liked to hit things and put that fear factor back in the Warrior “D”.

Last but not least is a trio of the Bulldogs. Brody Smith is first up. The defensive back helped lead one of the best defenses our area has seen in a long time. Brody held down the corner and had eight picks. Most notable, the overtime interception against Montoursville for a walk off Win. I have watched Brody grow and develop over the years and he is truly one of our area’s best athletes. He also helped the Black and Orange offense as an outstanding receiver and was a threat as a kick returner. Brody had 15 interceptions in his Bulldog career. I believe that to be a school record. Finishing up things for the Dawgs and a defense that allowed only a touchdown per game are Bryce Charles and Dom Loffredo. This pair of D-linemen controlled the trenches and created havoc for opposing offenses.

Charles was dominate against the run game between the tackles. Plugging up the middle and recording over thirty tackles for losses.

Loffredo was his partner in nastiness, taking care of things on the edge and recording a Bulldog record 15 sacks.

What a great local season under the Friday night lights. This doesn’t just happen without a tremendous amount of planning, hard work and love of their players by our area football coaches. Great job to all and thank you for doing so much for so little. Average pay of an assistant football coach, if they take pay, is probably about $.50 an hour.

Obviously we have a tremendous amount of talent, currently in our neck of Penn’s Woods. Our area athletes are putting in hard work and extra time to turn this potential into results and are to be recognized for it.
 A tip of the cap to the Sun Gazette sports team, led by Ben Brigandi. They are first class and do an outstanding job of covering and supporting area athletes. This has never been more evident than by the number of All State selection area players are receiving in all sports. In a day of online sports team and player promotion. Whether it’s Huddle or Max Prep or some scouting service. Post season honors are still won like the Heisman Trophy. First, the athlete has got to perform and put up the numbers. Next it begins at the grassroots level with the player’s school and local sports writers. The Sun Gazette does this and does it at an All State level promoting those deserving honors.

Chris Masse is one of the best sports writers that can be found anywhere. He deserves not only All State but All American recognition. Doc Masse combines his love of sports with his love of local players and our communities.

He is truly a special person. His passion and dedication turns into must read articles, team rankings, postseason awards and just flat out fun reading.
He tweets, talks and knows our area’s sons and daughters.

Most importantly he cares more about them as young people and then as athletes. You will never find a negative word no matter what happens during a ball game. He covers everyone and often features the player that’s just working hard and doing their job. Not just giving ink to the 20 point scorer or 1,000 yard rusher. The blue-collar player.

God Bless and thank you Doc. Don’t get carpal tunnel from covering all those holiday tournaments pal.

Jim Webb

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