Gulasy: Some bold predictions for Franklin Regional, Norwin, Penn-Trafford
“I despise guessing games.”
— Uncle Scar, “The Lion King” (1994)
Disney's least-favorite uncle says the above quote fairly early in “The Lion King,” in response to an innocent “Guess what?” from his nephew Simba. And while I feel little empathy for the brother-murdering, nephew-blaming, throne-seizing Scar for much of the movie, I certainly understand his frustration with “guessing games.”
In sportswriting, there seems to be an attraction to making predictions that I've never understood. Whether it's college bowl projections or NFL preview magazines, every prognosticator or wannabe prognosticator feels compelled to share his or her thoughts on any number of subjects.
Of course, I've done it before myself, so I can't really blame people for doing it — but like most other predictions, what I see in my crystal ball fails to happen more often than not. Writing in my high school newspaper sports column in October 2004, I said the Red Sox would win a World Series “when pigs fly.” Since then, the Sox have won three, and I haven't heard any reports of flying bacon. That's just one example.
At the same time, I don't usually let failure stop me from trying something again. And with a new year nearly upon us, it seems like the right time to get back on the horse.
The following are some bold predictions for Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford sports teams in 2014. Maybe because they're bold predictions, I won't feel as bad if they fail to happen.
Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford will combine for 15 conference/division/section titles.
I figured I'd start it off with a bang. The three schools combined for 11 section championships in 2013, with Franklin Regional and Norwin each winning four and Penn-Trafford claiming three. In 2014, I'm betting those schools can grab four more.
It won't be easy, given that the three schools compete against each other for several of those titles. But they certainly have some teams good enough to achieve this goal.
All three schools will make the playoffs in football.
Penn-Trafford has made the WPIAL playoffs for 11 consecutive seasons, and Franklin Regional extended its own postseason streak to 10 seasons in 2013. The Warriors and Panthers both return some key players next season and look to contend for the playoffs again.
That leaves Norwin. The Knights last advanced to the playoffs in 2010 and won a total of four games from 2011-13. But the team is returning many of its top skill players from 2013 and will also benefit from a conference that lost Gateway to Class AAA earlier this month.
The three schools will also all make the playoffs in at least three other sports.
Seems reasonable, right? But in 2013, the only sports that had playoff qualifiers from all three schools were baseball and girls basketball. Two of the three schools made the playoffs in boys tennis, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball. I'm thinking a school can make a jump in at least one of those sports.
Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford alumni will combine to win at least three NCAA athletic championships.
This may be cheating a little bit, as Franklin Regional graduates Nico Megaludis (wrestling, Penn State) and Samantha Pickens (diving, Arizona) are among the best competitors in the country. Pickens won a diving championship last spring, while Megaludis was part of the NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team and also was an individual runner-up at the NCAA Championships. If those two can replicate those performances in 2014, they might be able to achieve this prediction all by themselves.
Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford will combine to win at least two WPIAL team championships, and at least one state title.
The only team to qualify under this category in 2013 was the Penn-Trafford girls golf team, which won its second straight WPIAL championship. The Warriors will look to extend that to three in 2014, and they are also aiming for a state title after two straight runner-up finishes.
Should the Warriors come up short in either venture, there are plenty of other local teams that can step up and win a WPIAL and/or state championship in 2014 — too many, in fact, to list here.
Last but not least, one more prediction:
It's going to be a fun 2014.
This one's not even a bold prediction, but it needs to be said. I know I'm looking forward to covering it.