Week 9 picks: My favorite holiday

Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

As a kid, I had a pretty nice life. I was never hungry. We went on vacations. We celebrated every holiday with aunts, uncles, and cousins. We all got to join whatever group we wanted, or play whatever sport we wanted. I went to Catholic schools from first to 12th grade.

I loved all the holidays. The food, family, friends, and football on Thanksgiving. The effort my parents went to to provide us with presents and atmosphere on Christmas. The barbeques and fireworks on July 4th. Searching for baskets of candy on Easter Sunday morning.

In spite of all this, my favorite holiday as a kid by far was Halloween. 


What could possibly be better for a child between the ages of around 4 to 12 than a night out after dark ringing doorbells, followed the next night by dressing up in a costume and getting free candy from most everyone for blocks around, followed on Nov. 1 by a day off from school? So even though the other holidays were great, Halloween was greater. 

Back then, we all wore store bought costumes with plastic masks that have since been determined to be unsafe. Most Halloweens, we had to wear jackets under our costumes, but that didn’t deter us one bit. We ran from house to house collecting a booty of our favorite candies and treats. We skipped the house of the dentist who always handed out toothbrushes and tried to get two candy apples from the choir director by switching masks with friends. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t, as Mr. Gamauche strictly enforced his rule of only one candy apple per trick or treater. I don’t remember it ever raining during trick or treating, and we stayed out until everyone had turned out their porch lights, the sign that they were out of candy. Luckily, we didn’t have cell phones to be called home with. When we got home afterward, we dumped all our candy on the floor for our parents to inspect and take their picks. We were happy to answer the door after our porch light was off to hand out what candy we had left over to high school kids who were out to score some free candy.

It was a great night, and a shame that our trick or treating career was shorter than the lifespan of an Iranian nuclear bomb maker.

When I became a parent, I looked forward to my kids getting to experience the fun I remembered. And they did, even when churches in the always dangerous Moapa Valley decided that it was too dangerous to trick or treat anymore. So they invented trunk or treat which just wasn’t the same as real trick or treating. My wife managed to continue the tradition for our kids by driving our kids to houses in the Valley that felt the same way we did, and our kids were able to enjoy Halloween in sort of the same way we did.

That was the first time I realized the importance of community for some things. How can you have trick or treating if most people are not handing out candy? How can you have music at church if no one sings? How can you play Little League if you’re the only one who signs up to play, or if a lot of the players on your team don’t show up? How can you have clean streets if a lot of people litter? 

We live in communities, and, as members of our communities, I believe we have a duty to contribute. Litter is a problem we all have to face, not just the people who get paid to clean it up. There are no youth sports programs unless there are volunteers to run them. If we don’t vote intelligently, we end up with bad leaders. You may not get into an accident by driving carelessly today, but if a lot of people drive carelessly, the road is a dangerous place for all of us. If everyone believes only losers and suckers join the military, there will be nothing to protect us from the many bad actors out there. Because my children are grown and don’t go to public school anymore does not mean that I can stop supporting schools with my tax dollars.

My daughter lives in Sparks and my wife told me that my daughter’s neighborhood was like our pre-trunk or treat neighborhood in Moapa. My grandkids had a blast on Halloween night doing exactly what I remember doing over 50 years ago. The entire community participated. Thank you. At our house, we didn’t get a single trick or treater.

Like a team, we need each other to live our best lives. Along with the rights we all enjoy, we have responsibilities to each other as well. Halloween is just one of many examples of that.

I understand the value of team, I’m just not doing very well picking the right teams. Maybe my best contribution to the community is to stop making predictions, but I’ll try again this week to pick winners against the spread. Odds are from on Wednesday, Nov 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2 ½) vs Tennessee Titans: We’ll see if Will Levis does as well in Pittsburgh against the Steeler defense as he did against the Falcons in Nashville.

Miami Dolphins (+1 ½) vs Kansas City Chiefs (Frankfort, Germany): It seems like the Dolphins can’t beat any good team, but they got their whole defensive backfield back, and if Kelce is covered, who else can catch the ball?

Baltimore Ravens (-6) vs Seattle Seahawks: I really tried to go with Seattle in this one, but I just don’t see it.

LA Rams (+3) at Green Bay Packers: I admit, I’m mad at the Packers for losing so much when I pick them, so…#!@& ‘em!

Houston Texans (-2 ½) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I think Houston is on the right track and will bounce back after last week.

Las Vegas Raiders (-1 ½) vs NY Giants: I don’t know, I just got a feeling.

Cincinnati Bengals (-2) vs Buffalo Bills: Should be a good one Sunday night, at least better than last week’s thriller Bears/Chargers matchup. We’ve seen the Bengals and the Bills pull this act before.

Last week: 3-2-1

Season: 21-29-2

Robert’s picks

Notre Dame (-3) at Clemson: Dabo Swinney has accomplished what he has at Clemson in large part because of the chip on his shoulder, and he showed he still has that chip when he went off on “Tyler from Spartanburg” on his radio show this week, which went viral. What he doesn’t have is a quarterback like Deshaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence, who are the biggest reasons for most of those 10-win seasons he’s had. Notre Dame is just a better team.

Florida (-4 ½) over Arkansas: Florida’s losses are to Utah, Kentucky and Georgia. Arkansas is a far cry from each of those, especially offensively. The Gators’ defense has been stout against offenses like Arkansas, and the Razorbacks went into their bye last week off six consecutive losses.

Alabama (-3) over LSU: This isn’t the same dominant Alabama team we’ve seen for most of the past 15 years, but they’re still plenty good. Quarterback Jalen Milroe has progressed significantly, and now he gets to face an LSU defense that gave up 45 to Florida St., 31 to Arkansas, 55 to Mississippi and 39 to Missouri. Alabama defense isn’t going to dominate an offense as good as LSU, but it will get more stops than LSU will.

Kentucky (-4 ½) over Mississippi St.: As expected, Kentucky didn’t have enough to pull off a win over Tennessee last week, but this is a far different situation. Mississippi St. has struggled offensively since quarterback Will Rogers got hurt four weeks ago. Even if he comes back here, I expect Kentucky to be able to control the ball with running back Ray Davis and earn a similar kind of win as Tennessee got against them last week.

Oklahoma St. (+6) over Oklahoma: The Cowboys quit rotating quarterbacks and handed the starting job to Alan Bowman during their bye week at the end of September and they’ve won four in a row since then, averaging more than 40 points per game in that stretch, and that includes wins over Kansas St. and Kansas. Oklahoma’s weakness is pass defense, and with Oklahoma leaving for the SEC next season, this will be the last meeting for a while. Oklahoma St. will come out with a kamikaze effort and I expect them to stay within a touchdown, with a chance to win it.

Seahawks (+6) at Ravens: The Seahawks have been a somewhat surprising team and have an excellent cast of skill position players. The Ravens haven’t struggled as a favorite of more than a field goal over the past few years. This game looks like one of the best matchups on this week’s card and should be an excellent game that goes down to the wire.

Raiders (-2) over Giants: I’m going to guess that after the firing of Josh McDaniels this week, the focus for the Raiders will be to feed Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, after an inability to get the ball to Adams has been their biggest undoing on offense this season.

Bengals (-2) over Bills: Something has just looked off about the Bills all season, except for the win over the Dolphins, and if Joe Burrow is as healthy as he looked last week, this is Buffalo’s toughest test of the season.

Last week

College: 3-2

NFL: 2-1


College: 17-20

NFL: 14-9-1



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