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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders- What’s up with the new nickname?

I’ll have to admit,  at first I was not a big fan of the new name choose by the Yankees organization.  I understand the Railriders pay acclaim to the prominent Lackwanna railroad industry back when Athracite coal was king in Northeastern Pennsylvania.   I feel like this protrayal has been played out in NEPA and residents (especially younger ones) are becoming uninterested with the sports names that relate to mining and our railroad system.  It pays tribute to those that have served our area.

Examples: The Steamers, Miners, etc

However, I feel like these nicknames are not relatable to the younger generation.  For example, The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre shamrocks, name of the former lacrosse team that never came to be, was a a great team name that I believe young adults and children can accept.  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is heavily populated with Irish Americans and most who are not Irish recognize Parade Day has a significant day of the year in Scranton.

Even with that said the name is starting to grow on me.  Best of luck to the new team and hopefully the new ballpark will be a successful venture.

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Penn State Spring Football, what we should watch!

Penn State Spring Football, what we should watch!

As the end of March has come upon us, the beginning of spring football practice couldn’t come soon enough.

Although Spring ball gives us an early preview of a long season,  this is what we should take away from this as fans.

Enthusiasm– How will the players respond to Coach O’Brien’s high energy?

I believe players are looking for a new motivation.  The changes that have already been made will be a catalyst for excitement leading Penn State into their first practice 1.) Offensive philosophy 2.) Revamp of the strength and conditioning program. and 3.) The new opportunity for veterans to make a first impression.

Eric Shrive OT, West Scranton player and former Army All-American will have a renewed opportunity to prove himself this spring along many others.

Leadership– Who will see set up and take charge this year, as players?

Mike Mauti, LB- He will be the unsung leader of the defense, as he returns from last season’s injury.  It is already clear that he is well-respect by his fellow teams, being selected as the player to represent this year’s team at Joe Paterno’s memorial.  He is player that leads both vocally and by example, which makes him a complete leader.  There is no question the team will rally around his energy.

Matt McGloin, QB- He is a fifth year Senior that players respond to when he is in the game.  In the 2010 season, you could notice a distinct difference when Matt was in the game compared to Robert Bolden.  Not only did the passing game get going, but he also helped Evan Royster and Silas Redd open up the running game. If he had more time as the lone QB last year, I believe he would had showed more of the same from his sophomore year.   Their was a certain edge Penn State played with when McGloin was in their leading the offense.  He makes players more comfortable and confident, if you don’t believe me just ask any of his form West Scranton Invader teammates about “The Drive” against Crestwood HS in 2007 district 2 title game.

Gerald Hodges, LB-  Another very animated player on the defensive side of the football that provided some motivation at times during the season last year.  He had a breakout year last season and I believe he will be that 3rd leader that will be much needed during this season.

Other possible leaders:

Stephen Morris CB, Silas Redd RB, Justin Brown WR

Repetitions– Who will get the majority of 1st team reps at each position?

Again this is the beginning of a long season, therefore this is only a starting point of what the coaches are already seeing from their players.  The development of who is starting to get more first team reps and who is losing them will give us an indication of the direction of the depth chart.   There are a lot of spots that player will need to prove themselves with 4 OL position up for grabs, the lose of Drew Asterino and NIck Sukay in the secondary, and the basically every wideout position open besides Justin Brown at the #1.   The quarterback position is always one of interest, you will probably see equal share of reps between the McGloin, Bolden and Jones.  However, I feel that McGloin will quickly emerge as the starter and receive the majority of first team reps, while Bolden and Jones battle for #2.

I’m also interested in how PSU will use Bill Belton,  last season’s wildcat QB threat and WR.  He has been moved to running back, however I think he is going to be used in multiple formations all over the place, similar to Danny Woodhead of the Patriots.  He is athletic and could create match up problems.

Devon Smith could also be used more in the slot to create coverage match ups with Linebackers.  He was often utilized vertically the last two season, but I believe he also fits that Patriot slot prototype.  He is small, but he has elite speed that PSU should use to exploit defenses this year.  Look for him to get more reps at this position.

The road to a successful 2012 campaign starts today!  Stay tuned for more sports story that spark the Electric City.