SUPER BOWL: Local coaches look for a good game
Millions of eyes will be trained on nearby televisions Sunday for Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
As expected, three area football coaches contacted will be in front of a screen and all are anticipating an interesting matchup.
If for no other reason, the collision of the NFL's top offense - the Denver Broncos - with the league's best defense - the Seattle Seahawks - is piquing the interest of Mount Carmel's Carmen DeFrancesco, Shamokin's Yaacov Yisrael and Southern Columbia's Jim Roth.
"The matchup is great. It's really the perfect storm there," DeFrancesco said, not alluding to the weather, which is expected to be a balmy 40 degrees at the 6:35 p.m. kickoff, a marked improvement from the worst-case scenarios involved with an outdoor game in the northeast.
The Broncos' record-setting offense is led by Peyton Manning, the consummate professional, while the Seahawks' defense is stingy and tough.
Denver's offense averaged 457.3 yards per game this season and scored an average of 37.2 points per game. Contrast that to Seattle's D, which allowed just 273.6 yards and just slightly more than two touchdowns per game.
"It's interesting and not too many years do you get to see the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense face each other," Roth said.
To a man, the coaches like the way Manning conducts himself.
"I'm a Peyton Manning fan," DeFrancesco said. "I love his professionalism and he's a great role model. The way he conducts himself on and off the field, our kids should emulate him."
Roth, a Colts fan, is sticking with the one-time Indianapolis quarterback.
"I'm a Colts fan and because of that I'm pulling for Peyton Manning to get another ring," he said. "They want to gauge quarterbacks
by how many Super Bowls they've won and he could end all that talk."
Added Yisrael: "I like Manning and his leadership and experience," and then he said what all three also agreed on. "But I also like Seattle's scrappiness. I'm torn. I'd like to see a good game."
DeFrancesco and Roth picked Denver as the outright winner, even offering scoring predictions.
DeFrancesco had Manning getting a second ring with a 27-20 win, while Roth thought the game would be slightly closer with a 24-20 win for the Broncos. Yisrael still isn't sure who has the advantage.
None of the coaches could see their way clear of counting Seattle out. Mainly because of that defense, which is one game away from proving the adage that defense wins championships.
"My heart wants Denver to win, but I think Seattle might be the better team," DeFrancesco said.
"Seattle being there shows you can still win with running and defense," Roth said.
As expected, everyone will be paying the most attention when Denver has the ball - to see the adjustments both teams make.
"It'll be interesting to see if someone can put fear in Manning," Yisrael said. "Seattle's best shot is to pressure him."
The play of Seattle's secondary against the Denver quartet of receiving threats will dictate the kind of pressure the Seahawks' line can get on Manning, who has only been sacked 18 times all season - which is a partial testament to how much Manning studies the opposing defense's looks.
"He studies so much," DeFrancesco said. "You have to get him off his spot. I'm impressed with Seattle's back end and if they can lock up on Denver's receivers it'll give the rush more time to create pressure. That's really the keys - Denver's receivers and Seattle's secondary."
There's also been considerable talk about whether the Seahawks should deviate from the coverages they've been playing all season in the hopes of confusing Manning.
"The analysts say the Seahawks are going to have to change their looks, but they're so good they may just stick with it," Roth said. "I think it's interesting they don't flip (all-pro cornerback Richard) Sherman to the other side."
Roth knows what it's like to overdo the gameplanning or trying to add a new wrinkle in the final week.
"That's been an issue for us," he said. "We've had the discussion, do we change because we think we need to and then that opens it up to second-guess yourself. At the high school level, last-minute changes can affect their confidence."
In other area football news, Yisrael likes the turnout he's been seeing at the offseason conditioning workouts.
"I think the program is growing," Yisrael said. "I feel like the kids are making the decision and we're bonding. They're doing a great job. I hope we can keep this momentum with baseball and track starting."
About three-quarters of the Indians' football team participates in a spring sport, which Yisrael understands helps build well-rounded athletes because he was a three-sport star in high school. He's going to try to accommodate the different schedules for kids to still get weight-room work in.
The offseason workouts at Mount Carmel have gotten a little bullish this year. Actually, the Red Tornadoes just invested in some bull ropes for a change of pace to the training regimen.
And at Southern Columbia, all-state offensive lineman Josh Tripp has verbally agreed to play at Bloomsburg University.
"He was impressed with their offensive line tradition and they run the ball," Roth said. "Coming from a run-based offense, that means a lot to him."