By Tom Robinson
Though it might have been difficult to detect on a Friday night in Dallas this fall, Jack Farrell makes it clear that his first love in sports is basketball.
So, after the Mountaineers played for a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association football championship on the night of Dec. 6, Farrell was on the basketball court the afternoon of Dec. 8 starting his winter sports season.
Farrell and his teammates put up an admirable fight before losing to Boys Latin, a Philadelphia school and state Class 6A tournament team from last season, in the opener.
With just a little more time to adjust, Dallas went 3-0 in the first full week of the season with Farrell leading the team in scoring twice and finishing in double figures in each game. The 6-foot-4 senior forward scored 20 points while contributing on defense and the boards in Saturday’s 64-58 victory over defending Wyoming Valley Conference overall champion Wyoming Seminary.
For his efforts, Farrell is the latest PNC Bank District 2 Boys Basketball Player of the Week.
Saturdays were for basketball in the fall for Farrell. On the football team’s day off each week, he made sure to get into a gym to work on his shot.
“I tried to keep my touch and not lose my shot in the fall,” Farrell said.
Playing both sports at a high level required a juggling act at times for Farrell, who spent the last two springs and summers playing AAU basketball for JB Hoops in Scranton while also preparing in the weight room with his Dallas football teammates.
“Football, you have to be 100 percent dedicated in coach (Rich) Mannello’s program,” said Farrell, an all-star defensive lineman and one of the WVC’s top tight ends. “It was hard.”
Make no mistake.
Farrell would never trade the chance to be prominent part of a football team that was 15-0 until it got to Hershey where it lost the Class 4A state final.
“I knew the first basketball game was Dec. 8 and I also knew the state championship was Dec. 6,” Farrell said. “It was a tough task to handle, especially with me wanting to play basketball in college.
“But, I’m sure nobody on this earth would complain about playing in a state championship game. I was having a great time. It was a time of my life that I’ll never forget.
“I always knew that as long as I kept my touch and didn’t lose my shot, the rest would come back for me.”
It has. And, in a hurry.
Farrell also has already had some memorable moments on the basketball court and along with two of his football teammates – Luke DelGaudio and Dylan Schuster – is trying to create more in combination with a talented young backcourt.
In football, Farrell made his first varsity start on defense in one game of his freshman season. He was a starting tight end for three full seasons and became a full-time, two-way starter as a senior.
Coming up behind a talented 2018 senior class that turned around the Dallas program under coach Mark Belenski, Farrell had to wait his turn on the basketball court. He remained in the school’s freshman program in ninth grade and did not start seeing important minutes off the bench until late in his sophomore year.
By the time the Mountaineers were making their first state playoff appearance since 2008 and winning a state playoff game for the first time since 1991, Farrell, surrounded by seniors, was a key contributor off the bench.
“It was a nice introduction to high school basketball in northeast PA,” Farrell said. “Those guys taught me so much about the game that I’ll never be able to give back.”
Farrell took what he learned from his older teammates and expanded his game. At the suggestion of classmate and future University of Pennsylvania women’s player Lauren Charlton, Farrell took a ride to Scranton to try out for JB Hoops.
Farrell shined in his tryout.
“I went and made it and played for JB Hoops for the next two years,” said Farrell, who has attracted recruiting interest from multiple National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. “I loved the program and loved coaching (John) Bucci.
“It really stressed the little things and the little things are so important.”
Farrell got himself ready to lead the Mountaineers as a junior. He became the leading scorer on a team that shook off the heavy graduation losses to go 14-11 and come within one win of returning to the state tournament.
“It’s the way high school sports work,” Farrell said. “When it’s your time, you have to step up and do it.”
One of two returning first-team WVC Division 1 all-stars, according to NEPABasketball.com, Farrell entered the season as one of the district’s top players.
With little time to prepare on the court, Farrell quickly began living up to that status. He helped the Mountaineers defeat North Pocono, 62-61, and Delaware Valley, 57-43, before knocking off Wyoming Seminary.
Farrell led the team with 15 points in the Delaware Valley game.
Against Wyoming Seminary, he had nine points and drew two charges on center Ethan Meuser in the fourth quarter when Dallas overcame a four-point deficit by outscoring the Blue Knights, 20-10.
“We’re friends. It was great getting to guard him,” Farrell said. “It’s a really tall, athletic kid, but I thought if I could position myself right, I might be able to draw a couple charges.”
Jack is the son of Mark and Donna Farrell of Dallas.