The first week of high school football in the City League is in the books and as expected, the City fell a little short. The City League went 2-7 against an assortment of WPIAL teams of varying levels and classes and a team from Lancaster. The closest game of the bunch was settled by 8 points. No losing team scored more than 8 points. The City was outscored 235-42, and the two City teams who were able to pull out wins, were the two least likely teams to succeed in games against the WPIAL, Langley and Westinghouse.
Some of the teams faced were expected to leave the City on the short end. North Hills and Seton La Salle are perennial WPIAL playoff contenders. Shady Side Academy went to the WPIAL playoffs last season, and Central Valley, the new merger between Center and Monaca high schools, was made up of two teams that also made the WPIAL playoffs. But two games that the City lost and lost big have Your City League Advocate scratching his head.
The Knoch Knights went 3-7 last year and were projected as being a contender in their conference for this season, yet they destroyed one of the top teams in the City League, Brashear by an eye watering 56-7. Is Brashear really that bad, or was this just the usual first game between two teams that had never played each other and didn't now what to expect? The Advocate will leave that question to the teeming masses to answer.
But, to the Advocate, the most disturbing result was Schenley, the defending City League Champion losing big to Summit Academy. Summit Academy, for those who are not familiar with the school is a reform school in Butler County that takes delinquent boys that have been sentenced there by a judge as an alternative to serving their time at a juvenile detention facility.
From a football point of view, the nature of the school is such that because the students don't spend more than a year there, the coaching staff has to literally create a new football team from scratch every year, and many of the players have never played high school football, and in some case, never played any level of organized football.
As a result, the Knights are usually at the bottom of their conference, although they have come close to making the playoffs the last two years. But still, you'd think that a program like Schenley would be able to handle such a squad as Summit, right. Well apparently not. Because the Spartans lost 34-8.
Now one reason could be that because Schenley is closing at the end of the school year, and only has 12th graders it can call their own, and they have to make up the rest of the team with players from the IB school at Reizenstein as well as the University Prep school in the Hill. Maybe some of their better players have decided to transfer to other schools. This may be a portent for what's to come down the road. Who knows.
But The Advocate has to tip his chapeau to the two City League teams who defended District 8's honor when the big boys couldn't, and props are to be given to the Langley Mustangs and Westinghouse Bulldogs who won their games over Carlynton and Bentworth by 8-0 and 12-0 respectively. The Advocate believes that the coaches of those schools were smart in scheduling teams that they could actually have a legitimate shot of defeating. For programs mired at the bottom of the league year-in and year-out like the 'House and Langley, every win is important, and these victories could just maybe provide the spark to bring new life into these long suffering teams.
Now that last week's games have been consigned to the pages of history, Your City League Advocate looks forward to this weeks matchups. For all but one team, the City League season opens in earnest, while Westinghouse has to play their second non-league contest against Linsly School from West-By-Gawd Virginia.
No Thursday Night City games this week due to the 'House going on the road, so the the first game for your perusal will be the Allderdice Dragons going against the Oliver Bears at 3:30 on Friday the 10th. Last season, Oliver flattened the 'Dice 26-0 on their way to an appearance in the City Championship. DaBears are picked by the Advocate to make the playoffs yet again, but he doesn't think they quite have the horses...er,uh bears (?) to hoist the hardware. The Dragons, however, want to get back to the form that got them to the City final in 2007. The Green Hats participated in the Riverview passing league during the offseason, and they hope that the extra work will pay off this season, because those who have watched Allderdice football in the past know that passing for the Dragons, is an adventure at best and a disaster at the worst. Despite the renewed effort to improve the passing game, the Advocate still does not think that the Dragons are ready to beat the Bears. Oliver by 10
The nightcap for Friday is the first significant matchup between potential playoff contenders this season when the Schenley Spartans and the Brashear Bulls face off at 7:30pm. Last year, the Spartans were destroyed by the Bulls 36-6 in the regular season, but got their payback by knocking the Herd out of the playoffs. Both teams were crushed by their WPIAL opponents last week, and are looking to get the foul taste out of their mouths. So this game will determine who will recover more completely from their embarrassment. The Advocate thinks that Brashear will take the measure of the Greeks. Brashear by 10
Saturday Sept 11 has the Peabody Highlanders going up against the Langley Mustangs. The Highlanders took the four hour trip to Lancaster McCaskey and were treated to Lancaster County hospitality in the form of a 47-0 welcoming beatdown.
Now because of the Board of Education's plans for reforming the city's high schools, this means that Peabody will also be joining Schenley as one of the City League's “fallen flags” at the end of the school year, and many of their better players may have decided to transfer to other schools.
According to a report the Advocate read from a Lancaster newspaper about last week's game, Peabody only brought 17 players up to the McCaskey game, so there is a possibility that the dismantling of the football program has already begun. This is the first league game of the season, so it is too early to tell as to how this season will shake out for the Kilties, but from the way it looks to the Advocate thus far, it could be a long and painful season for a once proud football program.
Langley has the chance to open the season 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the league. Something that hasn't happened since the days of raccoon coats, 23-skidoo, and leather helmets. The Advocate figures that the Ponies better be making hay (or eating hay, as horses are wont to do) while the sun is shining on them. They will be playing the second of their non-league games against Homer-Center next week and then come back to face Schenley after that. And something tells the Advocate, who unlike his politics, is usually pretty conservative when it comes to picking high school games, that maybe this could the time for him to stick his neck out and pick Langley to win this game. Langley by 3.
3:30 on Saturday the 11th brings the Carrick Raiders and the Perry Commodores together for a little tete a tete, but I don't think that tea and crumpets will be on the menu. More like knuckle sandwiches.
Both teams were slapped around by top level WPIAL playoff contenders in the first week. But the Advocate thinks that Perry will end up taking its frustrations out on the Raiders. Perry by 14.
At 7:30 on the Friday the 10th, The Westinghouse Bulldogs will be taking the 64 mile trip down to Wheeling, West-By-Gawd-Virginia to face the Cadets of Linsly School. From what the Advocate has heard, Linsly is pretty deep in terms of returning players. Not a lot of size but but pretty strong on the lines. An interesting tidbit, Former Steeler and NFL Hall of Famer, Mel Blount's son, Akil plays for the Cadets. This won't be the first time that Linsly will be facing City League competition. The Cadets will head up to the George to take on Allderdice on October 23. It looks like the Bulldogs will have their hands full with this team. And the Advocate will venture to say that the Cadets will have the better of this contest. Linsly by 7.
Be sure to check out next week's preview when the Advocate gives his exclusive coverage to that annual exercise in hedonism, gluttony, bad manners and utterly unwholesome behavior, Your City League Advocate's 13th annual Birthday Bacchanal and Clambake. Provided that he survives it, of course.