Your City League Advocate woke up this morning, looked at his cuckoo clock and said to himself 'Are we approaching the halfway point to the season already?, Damn the time flies when you get a year older!'
For most of the teams in the City League, the end of this week's games will mark the halfway point of the 2010 season and the playoff race will begin in earnest this week.
There have been a couple of pleasant surprises in Everyone's Favorite Little Football League this season. The emergence of the Allderdice Dragons atop the leaderboard is one, but The Advocate really wants to focus on the great job that the Langley Mustangs are doing so far this season. They are an amazing 3-1 on the season and have not lost a City League game yet. Their win against Schenley on Saturday was a close and penalty filled game, but they were able to come back from an 18-13 deficit with a 30 yd touchdown pass from Jaquan Green to Austin Turner. This was the kind of win that energizes a team and builds confidence. The kind of win that a team trying to earn respect needs.
The victory came despite Langley being held to only 24 yards net rushing. This Mustang squad has some players on it that have made an impact during the season. Joey Bell is providing valuable senior leadership. Jaquan Green is a capable quarterback. The Mustangs have played stingy defense thus far. In three of their first four games, they've shut out their opponent once and limited the other two to six points each. Now it can be said that their early season schedule has benefitted the Mustangs. Thus far they've only played one playoff contender and that was last week against Schenley.
This week, Langley takes on the Perry Commodores who are sharing the City League top spot with Allderdice at 3-0. Now it's highly unlikely that the Mustangs will be able to steal a game from the One Stars who are looking more and more like the old Perry teams from earlier in the decade, but after Perry, Langley can regain its momentum and make a strong case for the playoffs with three very winnable games against Oliver, Westinghouse and Carrick before closing out against Allderdice and Brashear. But just imagine what would happen if somehow the Mustangs were to upset Perry. That would rank as one of the greatest upsets in City League history. The Advocate is very happy to see fresh blood in the playoff hunt and will be rooting for the Mustangs to finish out the season strong and go into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, The Advocate's other favorite team, the Allderdice Dragons improved their record to 3-0 in the City League with a 27-16 victory over the Peabody Highlanders. Patrick Ferguson rushed for 170 yards on 14 carries, and Mike Pfleger and Jaylen Wilkins scored on short TD runs. Ferguson is becoming the City League leading rusher with 536 yds after 4 games. The Dragons play the Westinghouse Bulldogs on Friday Oct 1 at 7:30pm. A win here will keep the Dragons on pace with Perry at the top of the standings. The Advocate thinks that the Dragons better not fall into the trap of looking past the Bulldogs and thinking about playing Perry on October 8th. However unlikely, the 'Dawgs could bite the Dragons if they aren't careful.
The Brashear Bulls climbed back into the playoff race with a 41-6 clubbing over Westinghouse, and they are in fourth place all by themselves in the City League. They take on the Carrick Raiders, who ventured into Ohio to take on the Howland Tigers and came back with a 48-0 defeat for their trouble.
At the bottom of the league, The Advocate has to be surprised to see the Oliver Bears sharing a dungeon cell with Peabody and Westinghouse. Last season, Da Bears went to double overtime before losing to Schenley in the City Championship, this season the Bears have only scored 6 points in four games and their chances of making the playoffs are all but gone. The Advocate knew that the Bears lost a lot during the off-season, but he is floored at how badly this season has gone for Oliver. Last week, they were dismantled by their North Side neighbor, Perry 35-0.
Speaking of the Commodores, they have that early to mid '00 swagger back. After losing to North Hills 28-7, Perry has ripped off three straight wins and has held City League opponents to a mere six points. Greg McGhee is the premier passer in the City League this season, coming into week 4 throwing for 476 yards and six touchdowns. He tacked on another 225 yards of passing and two more touchdown passes in the win against Oliver. And behind every great quarterback there is a great receiver, or in Perry's case, two in Devin Ghafoor and Eric Frye. Perry has always been one of the best passing teams in the run-happy City League and this season is no exception. The Commodores are the favorite to win their first City Title since 2005.
Thursday September 30, 6pm
Langley vs Perry
When was the last time that a Langley-Perry matchup held any significance in the City League? The Advocate has to figure it was back when he was still in diapers. Of course they played with leather helmets back then. But this is the first major test of the season for the Mustangs, and to be sure they will give the Commodores their best shot. If the Wild Horses can somehow pull out the win, what a boost it would give a program that is usually the City League doormat. Perry is red hot right now and they are firing on all cylinders, but the One Stars better not look past Langley towards the game against Allderdice, the 'Stangs could trip them up, but The Advocate thinks that Perry is too smart to lulled into the trap game scenario. Perry by 10.
Friday September 30 3:30pm
Peabody vs Oliver.
Believe it or not if one of these teams could get hot right now, they could make the playoffs. But Oliver has been a complete train wreck scoring only six points in their four games played thus far. Peabody has been marginally better. Look for the Kilties to break into the win column and start their playoff drive. Peabody by 14.
Allderdice vs Westinghouse
Like Perry, the Dragons cannot afford to look past the 'House on their way to October 8th. There is no reason why the Green Hats should lose this game unless it is because they take their eyes off the obstacles in front of them. Another great opportunity for the 'Dice to gain some needed momentum before what could be the biggest game of the season for them as well as the City League in general.
Allderdice by 14.
Saturday October 2 12pm
Carrick vs Schenley
Carrick is still in contention for the fourth spot in the playoffs despite being held scoreless in their three losses. But their lone City win was a 42-0 shutout of Westinghouse, so for the Tribe it's either feast or famine. They will be going against a Schenley Spartan team that has come out of the gate flat losing to Langley and Brashear while beating up on Oliver. This game is could actually be mildly entertaining and The Advocate could go either way on this one. But in the PSB City pick 'em he went with Schenley. Schenley by 6.
Finally a tip of the chapeau to the Wilkinsburg Tigers who with a 26-21 win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, finally entered the WPIAL record books with their 500th win in school history. Only 18 other schools can claim that distinction. The Tigers were stuck on 499 for almost two years and have only won 4 games in the last four years. The problems of the Wilkinsburg program are many and have been discussed ad nauseum. But It's good to see a ray of sunshine fall on the Wallace Ave school. The Advocate has always had a soft spot in his heart for the Tigers and hopes that one day that program can be resurrected to its former glory.