Penn State High-Powered Offense Evokes Memories of 1994, Builds New Excitement

Trace McSorely and Saquon Barkley (Getty Images) CHICAGO — The best way to quantify the excitement around the Penn State football program heading into the 2017 season also is the simplest. James Franklin doesn’t want to get in trouble, but the fourth-year coach can measure the side effects of last year’s 11-3 this season — which earned his team a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth — like this: “The best example is we’ve broken every record in season ticket sales this season,” Franklin said at Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be shocked by an average of 104,000 for the season.” MORE: Harbaugh expects more from Michigan Happy Valley is here again, and Penn State is on the short list of top playoff contenders. The Nittany Lions have two Heisman Trophy contenders in running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley. Tight end Mike Gesicki stayed in school and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will be looking to improve after averaging 37.6 points per game in 2016. Franklin hears the stories about the legendary Penn State teams all the time, and the easiest A-to-B comparison is 1994. The quartet of quarterback Kerry Collins, running back Ki-Jana Carter, wide receiver Bobby Engram and tight end Kyle Brady helped Penn State win the Rose Bowl while averaging 47 points per game. Gesicki remembers Carter speaking to the team before the Rose Bowl against USC. He was grateful for the opportunity to listen to him speak. But this is a different Penn State team, in a different time — the right time in the four-team playoff era. The 1994 team finished No. 2 in the AP Poll behind Nebraska. This year’s team, which was stiffed out of the playoff last year, seemingly would get that opportunity to make the playoff if they deliver on expectations. That made bypassing the NFL Draft easy for Gesicki, who made that decision before the Rose Bowl. “I didn’t want that game to impact my decision, even if I had 10 catches for 200 yards and three (touchdowns) that wasn’t going to influence my decision,” Gesicki said. “I knew with the talent we had coming back what we were capable of achieving.” Gesicki alternates between calling his teammates by their first name and numbers to emphasize how good those star players are. He power cleans 380 pounds, but “26 is up there with 405.” Gesicki …

Happy Valley Wants Parks, so It’s Leaving the Parks District (Column)

In Happy Valley, city leaders have determined that if you want your parks done right, you build them yourself. The city is planning to de-annex from the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District by the end of the year, in part because while the city has more than doubled in population – and contributed $27 million to the district – it’s gotten no new neighborhood parks in 11 years. The North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District represents more than 120,000 residents in the cities of Milwaukie, Happy Valley and surrounding unincorporated areas. It’s a service district of the county, governed by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. North Clackamas Parks & Rec operates an aquatic center and a senior center and manages local parks and sports leagues. Property owners within the district pay 53 cents per $1,000 of assessed value toward those services. When Happy Valley joined the parks district in 2006, the city had about 9,200 residents. Since then, it’s become one of the fastest growing cities in Oregon, with a population closer to 20,000. All that new construction has generated millions of dollars in what’s called system development charges – one-time fees assessed on developers to make sure infrastructure for things like water, sewer, roads and parks can support added growth. More people need more parks, right? For each new single family home constructed in the city, developers pay $6,075 toward parks alone. Over 11 years, Happy Valley builders have paid a total of $17.5 million in system development charges for parks, but the district has built only one new facility in the city. The 35-acre complex of Hood View Park, which opened in 2009, features all-weather turf ball fields used by youth and adult sports leagues. It’s a top-notch ballpark, but city leaders still expected more. Some $8 million in unspent system development charges were carried over into this year’s parks district budget. “That park is a beautiful park,” Mayor Lori DeRemer said. “But it’s not a community park, and it’s certainly no community center, and we all know what community centers cost. We’re no nearer to that goal than we were 12 years ago.” This alone was enough for city leaders to consider leaving the district – but the final straw came earlier this year, when the parks district announced plans to sell Hood View Park to the school district for use at a new high …