The Way I See It this season has not been one of joy and exhilaration as a Kansas City Chief fan. After Sunday's game it was down right difficult to wear my KC attire proudly. The San Diego Chargers scored 19 unanswered points after the Chiefs held a 21-3 third quarter lead to suffer a 22-21 loss. Admittedly two missed field goals by Connor Barth would have given KC a potential win, but a 50 yard attempt sailed wide left in the final seconds to seal the deal.I like Herm Edwards, but I fear the decision he made several weeks ago when he decided to go for a win opposed to a tie will result in his departure following the season, along with this latest Sunday debacle.

Larry Johnson, who rushed for 55 yards on 17 carries for a 3.2 yards per carry average against the Chargers is also probably history as is Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends to play the game. Both are not happy wearing the red and white.

Edwards had three rookies, Mike Cox (fullback), Branden Albert (left tackle) and Brandon Flowers (corner back) penciled in to start the season but none has established themselves as even average players after the organization chose to go the young player route.

Without Patrick Surtain (corner back) and Donnie Edwards (line backer) in the mix on Sunday the Chiefs were suspect particularly through the air where Philip Rivers, the NFL's top passing quarterback had a field day (326 yards).

With games against the Dolphins (9-5) and Bengals (2-11-1) in the future, the Chiefs have a slim chance of escaping the American Conference West's basement, particularly since KC finishes up in Cincinnati.

Brodie Croyle is out of the picture and Edwards has had to suffer through Tyler Thigpen and Quinn Gray at quarterback. While Thigpen has shown some promise, his inconsistency has been troublesome. Not having a strong offensive line is definitely one of the problems for both Thigpen and Johnson, but some questionable coaching decisions are primarily the reason Edwards is on the bubble.

I'm certain Clark Hunt and Carl Peterson is tired of the week after week results and frankly so am I. Perhaps a new head man on the sidelines is in order and as much as I like Edwards, I can live with that.

BASKETBALL

The Solanco junior varsity boys began their season on a high note defeating the Donegal Indians by a 40-22 score. "This was a typical first game," said JV head coach, Chad McDowell. "The players were nervous and emotions were high because it was the first home game." Even though those emotions and nerves were running high, the Mules persevered and fought through those challenges to earn the victory. "One of our goals this year is to play together as a team," said McDowell. "Throughout the preseason scrimmages and practices, I have been emphasizing playing as a team and this was evident Tuesday against Donegal. Each member of the team played within themselves and they all contributed in the win."

The game started out with both teams exchanging baskets early on in the first quarter. About half way through the first quarter, Solanco seized control of the game and jumped out to an 18 - 7 lead by the end of the first quarter. John Fisher and Josh Eberly led the charge in the first quarter. Fisher had seven of his game high 11 points in that quarter and Eberly chipped in five points and controlled the glass in that first quarter.

Donegal got two quick transition baskets at the beginning of the second quarter, to cut the lead to 18-11. After a quick time out to make a defensive adjustment, Donegal did not score another basket in the final 5:30 of the second quarter. The Mules then extended to a halftime lead of 25 - 11.

The second half was play fairly evenly and Solanco went on to earn the victory, 40 - 22.

"This was a good game for these young men to get their feet wet," said McDowell. "This was the first game for these guys playing at this level. They came to the realization quickly, that the game at this level is much quicker and more physical, compared to the junior high level. I am proud of the way everyone played. They all played together and we had a balanced attack. They also learned that there are many aspects of the game that still need to be worked on and that will be our challenge over the next several weeks at practice"

In addition to Fisher and Eberly, the Mules benefited from points scored by Ralph Brown (7), Connor Glackin (5) and Phil Dobinson (3). Tyler Stitz and Donta Harrison chipped in with two and Mike Malloy cashed in for one point.

Mike Church leads the Elizabethtown College men's basketball team (5-4) in scoring average (15 points), rebounds (64) and blocked shots (16). He is four-for-seven from three-point range; has connected on 37-of-47 from the foul line and is second on the team in steals with 15. He has started in all nine games. Freshman, Brian Allport, also a Solanco alumnus, has appeared in eight games and is averaging 2.4 points per game. He is two-for-five beyond the arc and has drained three-of-four foul shots. In addition he has pulled down nine rebounds and recorded seven steals.

Freshman CeCe Buzzard is averaging 6.6 points per game for the Alvernia College Lady Crusaders (4-4). The Solanco alumnus has started in two of the eight games averaging 17.6-minutes on the court. She has pulled in 35 rebounds, drained 15-of-17 free throws, blocked four shots and recorded 10 steals.

For the first time in 10 years, coach Chad McDowell defeated Hempfield in a girls or boy's basketball game. Friday night's boy's junior varsity basketball game found the Mules send the Black Knights back to Landisville with a 47-42 loss.

"This was an all around awesome game full of many emotions," wrote McDowell in a recent e-mail. "There were highs and there were lows, but when the dust settled, we came away with a hard fought victory. I am very proud of my team. This group of guys played hard and they played together and they all contributed in this win."

Through the first quarter, both teams exchanged baskets and after a pretty even quarter, Solanco held a slim 11 - 10 lead. In the second quarter, the Mules began to take control of the game. "We were able to hold Hempfield to one shot on almost every possession," said McDowell. "By hitting the defensive boards, we were able to get out in transition and get easy baskets. At halftime we had extended our lead to 26-17.

In the third quarter, Solanco continued to rebound very well and continued to push the tempo of the game. Eventually they were able to extend their lead to 39-19 with about two minutes to play in the quarter. At that point Hempfield went on an offensive run, and eventually cut the Mules' 20 point lead down to one (43-42) with about 1:30 to play in the game. "During that run, we committed several costly turnovers and Hempfield converted those turnovers into points," said the first year boy's JV head coach. "However, when the game was on the line in the final few minutes, John Fisher and Phil Dobinson stepped up big and hit four consecutive free throws to secure the win. Throughout the preseason we have talked about how important it is to finish games and how important it is to convert our foul shots, and Friday night we did just that, shooting 10-for-11 for the game from the stripe (for the season we are shooting 86-percent from the free throw line).

McDowell said this was a big win for the Mule program, especially early on in the season. However, he is aware his team needs to keep the win in perspective with three big games coming up (Cedar Crest, McCaskey and Oxford). "We still have a lot of work to do at practice to get ready for these three games," said McDowell. "I know these young men will be up for the challenge".

Fisher led the scoring parade with 13 points with Ralph Brown also hitting double digits with 12. Josh Eberly pumped in eight, Mike Malloy seven, Jimmy Rogan four, Dobinson two and Dan Kutz one.

BEAR HARVEST UPDATE

According to a recent PGC press release, commonwealth hunters dispatched 3,436 black bear during the 2008 season, the second highest harvest on record. This figure includes the 419 taken during the extended season in certain parts of the state and 68 arrowed during the two-day archery season.

In 2005, 4,164 bruins were harvested to set the commonwealth record.

Monroe County produced the largest bear harvested when Morgan C. Neifert from Tobyhanna downed a 716-pound (estimated live weight) bruin at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 25. Neifert's trophy was one of 54 harvested in Monroe County this season.

The top three producing counties were Potter (294), Lycoming (251) and Tioga (236), the latter county home to Solanco alumnus, Rob Minnich, a Wildlife Conservation Officer who resides with his family near Mansfield, Pa.

The Southeast region produced a total of 62 bear with Schuylkill County leading the way with 36, up 22 from last season when hunters only tagged 14. Neighboring Lebanon County failed to yield a single bruin, but Lehigh County produced two and Berks County one.

Final totals will be released by the PGC early in 2009.

SOFTBALL

This excerpt was taken from a 1980 July edition of the Sun Ledger written by Paul Ankrum. At the time Middle Octorara and Chestnut Level possessed an identical 13-3 record to lead the nine team league.

"Chestnut Level put together a string of nine straight victories featuring good sound play and superior pitching by Jim Herr.

In those nine games, Herr gave up only 26 hits and 11 runs, walking only 15 and striking out 82.

Last week's wins over Calvary and Octorara both came in dramatic seventh inning finishes.

Calvary had a 1-1 tie with two out in the top of the seventh and Harold Ferrar had retired 13 in a row before walking Jack Stoner and Gary Eberly to set the stage for Doug Phillips' single. Jim Mast homered in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Level margin to 3-2 before Herr struck out Milt Hershey to end the game.

Larry Phillips homered to open the game for Chestnut Level in their win over Octorara to gain a tie for first place. Here again a tight pitcher's duel developed with Dave Phipps and Herr. Octorara scored first in the third inning on a Phipps single and two Chestnut Level errors. Level gained a tie in the sixth when Doug Eichelberger singled and later scored on a wild pitch. The game then ended quickly in the bottom of the seventh when Eberly walked for Chestnut Level and scored the winning run on a double by Rick Lefever. The teams had just four hits apiece in an exciting and well-played game. Calvary lost two other one run games suffering from the loss of pitcher Ferrar, who suffered a serious head injury when struck by a pitched ball in a game at Strasburg.

Dale Bollinger singled in the seventh inning to produce Mechanic Grove's winning run off the Calvary pitching of Jim Mast.

Terry Longenecker pitched for Calvary, Denny Hess for Little Britain in a high scoring Britain win.

Two other well-played games of last week saw Fairview and Jim Welk shut out Wesley and Bill Jackson.

In the final game Barney Reinhart led Wesley to a 2-0 win over Mount Nebo and John Sellers in a tight well-played game."

BOWL PREDICTIONS

Saturday, Dec. 20, EAGLEBANK BOWL, Navy over Wake Forest

Saturday, Dec. 20, NEW MEXICO BOWL, Fresno State over Colorado State

Saturday, Dec. 20, ST. PETERSBURG BOWL, South Florida over Memphis

Saturday, Dec. 20, LAS VEGAS BOWL, BYU over Arizona Sunday, Dec. 21, NEW ORLEANS BOWL, Southern Mississippi over Troy

Tuesday, Dec. 23, POINTSETTIA BOWL, TCU over Boise State Wednesday, Dec. 24, HAWAII BOWL, Notre Dame over Hawaii

FOOTBALL

Mike Vild, a die-hard Ohio State and Cleveland Browns fan, who resides in Colerain Township and attends the same church as Kathleen and I, invited me to attend the Philadelphia Eagles/Cleveland Browns game with him this past Monday night. During the game I turned to Mike and said that Jason Avant is having a great game. He replied that he thought he was a Michigan alumnus after I added that I had never heard of him until Monday night's game. As you can imagine Michigan players are not necessarily favorites among Buckeye and Nittany Lion fans. Mike was correct, however. Avant, a 6-0, 212-pound wide receiver, was a fourth round draft pick (109 overall) of the Eagles out of the University of Michigan in 2006 and the Chicago native is having a great career. According to the Eagles website, Avant has converted 17 of 21 career third down catches to first downs, 10-of-12 this season. He ended his Monday night of pass catching with over 100-yards for the first time in his career. While the Browns have two more wins than the Kansas City Chiefs, the team for whom I cheer, Mike was not a happy camper on the drive home. He was hoping for a more competitive game and an upset would have been an even greater early Christmas present. Like me he'll have to wait for next year.

GOLF

The Solanco golf team is selling 2009 Panoramic Golf Calendars as a fundraiser. Cost is $10 with $5 going directly to the team. They can be purchased from Kayla Arrell, Zac Bechtold, Luke Emling, Shane Glackin, Stephen Lantz, Josh Long, Amber Rohrer, Brett Wisse, Gus Yarnall, or contact coach Greg Minnich at 786-7659. They would make a great Christmas Gift for the golfer on your list.

Have a great week.

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