Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015 from the Moonlight Scribbler

Well,  boys and girls.  We've come to the end of another year.  I don't know how many people will see this post given that teh Facebook likes to pull an Apple in that they think they know what you want to see more than you do.  Problem is,  that unlike Apple,  Facebook is wrong far more often than they are right.  Although from what I hear about iOS 8.*, Apple's starting to drop the ball a little as well.

It's been a quiet year at The Little House in the Ghetto.  It's still standing,  more or less.  A little more spit and baling wire are needed to keep the bits and pieces nailed together.  Your's Truly has made it through 2014 with the grace of the Lord God above.  Somehow He keeps thinking that my sorry ass is worth keeping around. I'm not exactly sure why.  I think that it's because I make Him laugh.  I don't know,  and as usual,  He ain't talking. 

I hope that this old year leaves you in a good place.  I hope and pray that you were able to fulfill all your hopes and dreams and that your wishes came true.  If you were looking for love,  I hope you found it.  If the one you loved didn't love you anymore,  I hope you found a new one.  And if you're still with the one you love,  I hope you're loving them even more.  If you have new critters,  I hope they are bringing you the joy you deserve.  If your critter crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I hope your goodbye ends up meaning 'see you soon.',  and that your household is filled once again with barks,  meows,  squeaks,  and whatever sound your new critter makes. 

May your families prosper.  May your elders be graced with wisdom and long life.  May your children continue to be the apple of your eye.  If there be strife in your household, may cooler heads prevail and peace be upon you and all those under your roof. 

May the divisions that separate us cease.  May we no longer hate each other because of where we come from,  or the pigment of our skin.  May prejudice and bigotry become dusty worthless relics of our past to be buried in the forgotten sands of time and dredged up no more.  May we continue to strive upward and onward and forward.  May we love each other, cherish each other,  care for each other,  and defend each other. 

And as usual,  may your 2015 be a damn sight better than your 2014. I wish all of my friends,  the one's I've known since I was but a wee snot nosed punk,  the ones I've met just this year.  The one's I served with,  and the ones who I met in college.  And all the ones in between,  the happiest of New Year's.  Be careful celebrating tonight.  It is amateur night,  after all. 

From the Little House in the Ghetto,  located in the peaceful,  pastoral and bucolic neighborhood of Homewood-Brushton,  in the fair city of Picksburgh, Taxsylvania.  I am the Chief Scribe in Residence of the Greatest Blog no one's ever read,  The Moonlight Scribbler.  The one,  the only (Thank God!)  often imitated,  but never duplicated.  Guaranteed not to rust,  bust,  nor collect dust,  Raleigh Pierre Wheaton,  At your service.  See you on the other side,  and Let's Go Stillers!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

A Pearl Harbor regret.

Today being the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor reminds me of one of the great regrets (of many) that I had re: my Navy service. Between the two ships I served on, I visited Pearl Harbor 5 times.
Every time I went there, I had the opportunity to visit the Arizona Memorial. My ships were tied up right across the harbor from the memorial every instance. But like most of the snot nosed punk sailors with money in their pockets and booze and other diversions on their minds, I never gave the idea a second thought.
Now almost 30 years after I got out, I so regret not going over there and paying my respects. For Navy people, the Arizona Memorial is hallowed and sacred space. It is the desire of many sailors to reenlist at the Memorial. Every ship that pulls into Pearl renders honors to the USS Arizona and the men who rest below her decks.
I may never have another chance to right that wrong. If I were the Chief of Naval Operations, I'd make it mandatory that every sailor from E1 to O10 should go to the Arizona at least once in their tour to pay their respects and to be reminded of what it means to wear the uniform. Rest easy, gentlemen. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Power is off... for now.

The one pro team in this town that I gave a shit about has shut down.  The Pittsburgh Power have ceased operations as of today after four years of operations.  This after going 15-4 last season,  a 12 game winning streak,  and making the AFL playoffs for the first time.  I went to the games,  became a part of their fan club,  met and hung out with some of the players.  As I get older,  I find myself less interested in professional sports,  and when I decided to go to the Power games and buy in to what they were selling,  I thought that I might have found a pro sports team that was worth my money, the little that I have. 

I've met some cool people whom I can call friends.  The atmosphere at the games was fun,  inexpensive, and family friendly.  You could take your kids and not worry about having some drunk cursing at them and throwing up on them.  The players appreciated the fans' support. Every game,  players would high - five the kids and shake hands with the fans.  The fan club had a table at the Blue Line Grille and after each game,  the players would come up and say hi to us.  We hosted a picnic in South Park last summer,  and a dozen or so players came out and hung out with us.  Just last month,  we hosted a meet and greet with Coach Ron James,  who gave us time out of his schedule to talk with us fans about the upcoming season.  Our spirits were sky high,  we thought that 2015 was the Power's year to bring hardware back to Pittsburgh.  But today we found out that the Power have shut down operations.  I guess it's the nature of professional sports,  especially those sports on the fringe and without the money of the Big Four sports of the US.  We got a cold dose of reality today,  that yes,  sports is a business and businesses do fail.  And the fans who pour their time and money into supporting their team get left out in the cold. 

Thanks to the Power Players who gave us so much to cheer about: James Bryant, Arvell Nelson,  Sergio Gilliam,  Prechae Rodriguez,   Jake Killeen,  Shaun Kileinamoku (sp) ,  Julian Rauch,  Tommy Grady and so many others who wore the Black and Gold with pride and class.

Thanks to Coach Ron James for coming to Pittsburgh and turning our team around and turning the Power from a laughingstock to a team that was respected. 

Thanks to the Power Up fan club for giving voice to the fans headed by the awesome Mary Lee Marshman, The Power Brothers,  Dom Errico , and his wife Libbie Errico.  Dee Dan Witherup,  Melvin Moten,  TJ Klisavage, and so many more who I can't remember.  If I've forgotten anyone,  please forgive,  I am old. 

So at least for now,  Will the last person leaving the Power Plant roll up the rug, turn out the lights, bring in the dog, and put out the cat one last time.  POWER UP!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 City Championship Preview

    To give the reader an idea of how long it has been since Allderdice last won a City Championship in football, let the Advocate put a discreet word in your ear.  The Advocate was five years old when the Dragons last hoisted the hardware.  He’s fifty-two now.  The United States had fought in three wars.  The US population in 1967 was 200 million. Today, it’s 318 million.  Israel won the Six Day War.  Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first black Supreme Court Justice.   Green Bay beat Kansas City 35-10 in the Super Bowl.  The cost of a First Class stamp was 5 cents.  Congress created the Public Broadcasting Service.   Top movies included: Bonnie and Clyde; The Graduate; and Cool Hand Luke.   The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.   Dr. Christiaan Barnard and his surgical team perform the first successful human heart transplant.  Deaths in 1967 included: Che Guevara; John Coltrane; and Spencer Tracy.  And the kids who’ll be playing in Saturday’s City Championship game won’t have been born until almost 30 years later.  
    Since 1967, ten different City League schools have won the City Championship in football.  Of that number, five of those schools: Schenley; Peabody; Oliver; South Hills; and South  are no longer open.   

School
Titles won since 1967
South Hills*
1
Carrick
3
Westinghouse
7
Peabody*
4
Perry
16
South*
1
Brashear
9
Schenley*
2
Oliver*
1
University Prep
2
*-School closed.

    Brashear last won City hardware in 2008.  University Prep, 2013, Carrick, 1983.
    Last week, these three schools, in addition to Allderdice entered the 2014 City League playoffs.  Carrick was the darkest of the dark horses by virtue of Perry being pulled out of the playoffs by school administrators due to their dust-up with Westinghouse back on October 10.
    Imagine the consternation the Raider coaches felt fresh off their loss to Wheeling Park, when they were told not to put their uniforms away and that they had one more game left, and that they had better put together a game plan to compete against the league leaders who destroyed them 48-7 a few weeks earlier.  You could imagine that having this gift dumped into their laps, they told their charges to play like they had nothing to lose.  And on last Friday night, Carrick did just that.
    Judging by the way the Raiders played in the first half, if they had a better team, they would be facing Brashear in the final instead of the ‘Dice.   By what the Advocate saw,  Allderdice looked  flat, disinterested and took Carrick completely for granted.  The Raiders managed to run for 147 yards against a usually stout Dragon defense, they also passed for 108 yards.  Carrick got on the board early in the first quarter when Hakeim McKenzie scored on a one yard run to put the Raiders up 6-0.  Allderdice scored twice within two minutes midway through the 2nd quarter from a 13 yard pass from James Jackson to Joe Graham and a 2 yard run from Jeremiah Hardrick to put the Dragons up 13-6.  
    In the third quarter, Carrick pulled to within one point, 13-12 when McKenzie ran in a 2 yard touchdown.  ‘Dice extended their lead to 19-12 four minutes later when  Dominic Balsamo pulled in a  9 yard Jackson pass.  It wasn’t until Hardrick snagged an interception and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown that the Advocate was finally able to breathe easy.  Lamone Harris’ 80 yard touchdown reception and Akeem Muhammad’s 7 yard touchdown run put the final nails into Carrick’s coffin.  But the Dragons did not look good in this game.  As in the game against U-Prep, both teams left lots of laundry on the field, combining for 19 penalties and 164 yards.  Allderdice accounted for 13 of those penalties.  

    Brashear came into their playoff matchup against University Prep on a three game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 114-31 during that effort, though it must be acknowledged that they were also beating up on the bottom feeders of the league.  In their first game against U-Prep back in week 2, the Bulls ended up losing to the Panthers 41-34, but they exposed the porous U-Prep defense to the rest of the league.  The Panthers had a robust offense, but they also could be scored upon.  If a team could find a way to exploit that defense while shutting down Ron Brown and the rest of the offense,  success could be theirs.  
    U-Prep started the season with four wins in a row, but Allderdice was able to shut down the vaunted offense in a penalty-filled and sloppy 15-8 grindfest.  The Panthers then traveled to Steubenville and were pasted 49-20 in a non-league road loss, which was not the best way to enter the playoffs.
    Brashear jumped out to a 3-0 lead off a 2 yard field goal from Dom Molinaro.  They then extended that lead to 10-0 when Qu’ran Powe scored off an 87 yard pick-six.   The Panthers scored their only points of the game when Ron Brown connected with Kenny Robinson on an 8 yard pass to bring U-Prep to 10-8,  but that was as close as the Panthers would get as Brashear would score 17 unanswered points to seal the win and a chance to win their tenth City championship.  Brashear pounded the U-Prep defense for 253 total yards including 172 on the ground.  Brown went 17 for 40 in an uncharacteristically poor performance  U-Prep coughed up the ball five times including four interceptions.  Brashear had three fumbles, losing two.
    Like the Allderdice-Carrick game, the zebras got a nice workout tossing flags, both teams combining for 11 penalties and 90 yards.

    Saturday November 1
    1:00pm
    Brashear vs Allderdice.

    The Advocate’s Keys to the Game for Allderdice:
  1. Contain Brashear’s running game.  Allderdice had problems holding back a very motivated Carrick running game, allowing the Raiders to gain 149 yards on the ground.  That was a against a team that had only one win all season, and was thrust into the playoffs on short notice.  Brashear has a much better ground game, the ‘Dice cannot afford to let the Bulls run all over them.
  2. Come into the game motivated and with a mindset to dominate.  Allderdice was flat and disinterested against Carrick.  They take that attitude with Brashear, they will lose.  Brashear will be sky-high after beating University Prep, and like Carrick, will play like they have nothing to lose.   The Dragons have to come out, score early and often and not let the Bulls hang around.
  3. Cut down on the penalties.  The Dragons have a great offense, but that offense cannot score if they are constantly being pushed back by needless penalties.  On defense, penalties are free yards for the Bulls. While Allderdice’s defense is better than U-Prep’s, they still can’t afford to give away yards to Brashear that they didn’t earn. Eventually, those yards can turn into points.

    For Brashear:
  1. Keep James Jackson in the pocket.  Jackson is at his best when he’s running around in the backfield, creating chaos in the opposition’s defense.  When he’s not buying time for his receivers to get open, he’s calling his own number and supplementing Allderdice’s already potent running game.  Keeping him in the pocket won’t necessarily eliminate him as a threat-- he has a very good offensive line keeping him clean and equally good receivers--he does have a tendency to try and do too much while scrambling.  Brashear would do well to try and pressure Jackson into throwing picks or incompletions.
  2. Try and shut down Allderdice’s running game.  Jeremiah Hardrick is one of the best backs in the City. He’s fast, shifty, and is an excellent complement to James Jackson, who can also pick up yards on the ground.
  3. Play to the Bull’s strength, i.e. run the ball.  Brashear has the best running game Allderdice has seen all season.  If the Bulls can pound the ball against the Dragon defense and try to slow the game tempo down, they have a chance.  But if they try and make it a track meet, it won’t work.

    The last meeting between these two teams was won by the ‘Dice 36-0.  The Advocate thinks that the result won’t be a blowout.  But he thinks that Allderdice has what it needs to win this game if they come out fired up, motivated and ready to put Brashear away early.  Allderdice

   

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 City League Playoff Preview



League
Overall
Allderdice
5-0
7-1
University Prep
4-1
4-2
Brashear
3-2
4-3
Perry
2-3
2-5
Carrick
1-4
1-7
Westinghouse
0-5
1-6


    It’s playoff season in the Pittsburgh City League, and in the Advocate’s long history of watching his favorite league play football, he has never seen a playoff scenario develop like the one that gets underway this Thursday night.  For the first time in the Advocate’s memory, a team that has only won one game this season will qualify for the playoffs, although not by their performance on the field.  
   As a result of the fight that occurred between Perry and Westinghouse after their game on October 10, the Pittsburgh Public Schools decided to cancel the last game of the season for both teams.  In both cases, those games were meaningless non-league affairs, but Perry had qualified for the final playoff spot.  Three days ago, administrators at Perry took one further step and wisely decided to pull the Commodores football team out of the playoffs.  Which meant that the playoff spot fell to the next team in line, record-wise.  Which happened to be the Carrick Raiders, owners of a 1-4 league record.  
    While the Advocate is pretty sure that the coaches and players at Carrick were pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to extend their season by at least one more game, he is also sure  they understand that standing between them and a shot at a sixth City Championship is a very hungry Allderdice squad that is trying to win their first City title since 1967, that has mowed down their City competition in 2014 by a combined score of 188-23, and that is very anxious to get that 47 year old smelly assed monkey off their backs.  
    Of the three non-league season finishers on the docket last weekend, the most interesting one was the shootout that happened on last Friday night between Allderdice and Linsly Academy out of West-By-Gawd Virginia.  When it was all said and done both teams scored a combined 98 points with Allderdice pulling out a 54-44 victory over the Cadets.  Quarterback James Jackson completed 23 of 42 passes for 318 yards.  He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.  He and his brother Tim Jackson connected for two touchdown passes of 66 and 15 yards.  He also threw touchdowns to Lamone Dixon and Joe Graham for 2 and 17 yards, respectively.  Jeremiah Hardrick also contributed with a 4 yard rush for a touchdown, and Tim Jackson had a 100 yard pick six in the first quarter.  The Advocate didn’t attend this game, although he wishes he did.  The Dragons finish the regular season at 7-1 on a 7 game winning streak.
    University Prep traveled to Stuebenville, OH to take on the Big Red and ended up on the short end of a 49-20 loss.  Ron Brown figured in all the scoring for U-Prep cashing in three different ways.  He caught a 4 yard pass from David Strozier, ran for a 2 yard TD, and threw a 15 yard strike to Kenny Robinson.
    Carrick also took a trip to the Mountaineer State to take on Wheeling Park, and received a 36-17 smackdown for their trouble.  The Raiders got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Joe Kalsek scored on a five yard run, and they tackled the Wheeling quarterback in the end zone for a safety.  Joe Thornton picked up a Wheeling Park fumble and an it back 40 yards for a touchdown to finish the Raider’s scoring.

    Thursday October 23
    7:00pm
    #2 University Prep vs #3 Brashear
    The Panthers aren’t used to looking up at an opponent in the standings.  They’ve won two City League championships and have appeared in the final all three years of their short existence, and have been the hunters instead of the hunted.  They come into tonight’s game losers of two straight.  While the Panthers have a robust offense, their defense does give up a lot of points. Ron Brown is a versatile weapon that U-Prep has built its entire offense around.  Brashear has weapons that can make the game interesting in Ty Powe and Khalil Sanders,  and they scored 34 points against that U-Prep defense in their previous meeting.  But that was back in week two.  The Advocate sees the Prep getting off the schneid tonight against the Bulls to punch their ticket into their fourth straight City League final on November 1st.  University Prep.

    Friday October 24
    7:00pm
    #1 Allderdice vs #4 Carrick

    The Advocate is a firm believer in the old saying, “Never say never.”  He knows that anything can happen in the world of sports.  As improbable as it may be, Carrick has a puncher’s chance of upsetting the Dragons.   An interception or fumble at the wrong time, an important playmaker coming up injured, or an underdog playing with reckless abandon because they know that they have nothing to lose.  Allderdice can contribute to their own demise by looking past Carrick to either Brashear or U-Prep in the final.  These kids know that they have a very good chance of making school history, to be the team that breaks the longest championship drought in City League history.   To be sure, Carrick will take full advantage of the gift that fell into their laps.  They will bring the noise against the Dragons.  Coach Haslett will have to impress upon his boys the importance of respecting this opponent, but also to put the Raiders away decisively.  The ‘Dice has a balanced attack, and a strong defense.  In their previous meeting, Allderdice spotted the Raiders the opening touchdown, and then scored 48 unanswered points to win.  The Advocate expects the Raiders to put up a valiant fight reminiscent of a team that’s thinking “Why not us?”  But Allderdice is just too strong for Carrick to contain.  Allderdice
    


    

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2014 City League Preview Week 8




League
Overall
*Allderdice
5-0
6-1
*University Prep
4-1
4-1
*Brashear
3-2
4-3
*Perry
2-3
2-5
Carrick
1-4
1-6
Westinghouse
0-5
1-6


    The final week of regular season play begins tonight, but the playoff matchups have already been set.  The tiebreaker for the three team dogpile that the Advocate so painstakingly described thankfully did not come down to the dreaded coin flip at Ritter’s at midnight.  
    All that there is left to do is to finish out the regular season with a final round of non-league action against familiar foes from West-By-Gawd-Virginia and Ohio, hopefully doing so without getting anybody valuable hurt, and prepare for the post-season fun.  
   Brashear opened last week’s play by punching their ticket to the party.  The Bulls crushed Carrick 46-13.  Quarterback Therran Coleman accounted for 267 yards of Brashear’s total offense rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for a pair.  Coleman ran 11 times for 183 yards and TD’s of 51 and 65 yards, and he connected on a 42 yard  touchdown pass to Qu’ran Powe, as well as a 42 yard score to Khalil Sanders.  The Bulls will face University Prep in the first playoff semifinal next week.
    The feature matchup between the two top dogs in the City wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.  The Advocate hadn’t seen that much yellow on the field since the last Stiller pep rally he attended.  Both teams accounted for a whopping 23 penalties for 185 yards.  Numerous drives were stalled because of the accumulation of penalties,  The Advocate saw the ‘Dice defense get drawn offsides at least 4 times during the game.  Allderdice and U-Prep had averaged 31 and 32 points per game, respectively.  However, neither team could get a point on the board during the first half.  
    Neither quarterback threw the ball well in terms of completion percentage.  Ron Brown had a better game than James Jackson through the air completing 18 of 30 passes for 200 yards and 1 pick.  Jackson went 7 of 15 for 127 yards, 87 of which went to his brother Timothy. He also threw a pick.
    Where James Jackson and the rest of the Dragon offense did find success was carving up U-Prep’s porous run defense.  Jackson ran for 88 of Allderdice’s 148 yards on the ground.   
    The Dragons finally got on the board at 3:22 of the third quarter when Jackson called his own number running up the middle for a 1 yard score.   U-Prep responded at 9:21 of the fourth quarter when Ron Brown connected on a 9 yard touchdown pass to Desean Bonneau and successsfully made a two point conversion to pull ahead 8-7.  With six minutes left in the game and down by one, Allderdice found themselves pinned deep in their territory on their own two yard line.  James Jackson then executed an almost perfect 11 play, 98 yard drive, marching the Dragons down the field like he was channeling Tom Brady, or an early Big Ben.  
    The offensive line was opening up wide holes for Jackson and his running back Jeremiah Hardrick to run through.  In some cases, it looked like Jackson would literally walk through the U-Prep defense for positive yardage.  When he wasn’t calling his own number, he was faking handoffs, double reverses, inside handoffs, sweeps to the outside that left U-Prep completely confused.  The Wildcats had no solution for what Coach Jerry Haslett called his “NASCAR” package.  
    But U-Prep had one last chance to pull out the win getting down to the Allderdice 10, but they were penalized for a false-start and pushed back to the 34 yard line by consecutive sacks.  A final pass into the end zone as time expired was deflected, and the Dragons snapped a five game losing streak against U-Prep going back to 2011.   The Dragons will face the #4 seed Perry Commodores in the second playoff semifinal, but first, they will host the Cadets of Linsly Academy from West Virginia on this Friday night.
    Speaking of the One Stars, they claimed the final playoff spot by squeaking past Westinghouse 22-20, although the Advocate learned that there was quite a donnybrook after the final play. Apparently, a Westinghouse player struck a Perry player as time expired, and both benches emptied.  For about a minute and a half, both teams engaged in a large scrum in the middle of the field.  Coaches from both teams rushed in to break up the fight assisted by school security and one coach and two security officers were injured, both were treated and released.  Three Westinghouse players are facing disciplinary action, and the Advocate read in the Post-Gazette as he was preparing this piece that the Pittsburgh Public Schools have decided to cancel the final games this week for Perry and Westinghouse due to both teams leaving the sidelines to participate in the fight.  Perry was supposed to play a non-league game against Brashear and Westinghouse was supposed to travel to West Virginia to play Wheeling Central Catholic on Saturday afternoon.


    The Advocate will now lay aside his character, and speak in his real voice.  Now I’ve been watching City League athletics in general and football in particular off and on since the late 70s.  I don’t purport to be an expert in the City League, I can’t quote chapter and verse which player is playing where, or who won what title when, off the top of his head. I’m just a born and raised City League guy who just wants to put out the word about a group of kids that doesn’t always get the press or coverage it deserves, or when it does get that coverage, it’s because of something negative or violent.  
    I love the City League and wants to see the success stories get the coverage and attention that the bad stuff gets.  I have watched a lot of City football games, and while I have seen more than my share of trash talking and pushing and shoving, I had never seen a fight this bad.  I wasn’t at this game in question, but I saw the video of the fight, and from that video, taken from a cell phone by the way, it didn’t seem much more than a big scrum, but of course that video can’t capture all that happened in vivid detail. It was probably a lot worse in person than the video showed.
    But I also saw that video when it was posted on Facebook, and the comments that were left frankly turned my stomach, which is no mean feat.  
 Comments calling the players:  “The filth of the City.”, “Future welfare recipients.”, “Animals.”, “Thugs.”, and some comments that I won’t post here because of their sheer nastiness.  And invariably those comments came from white folks talking about two teams of mostly black players.  
    I’m used to seeing trolls slip in their snide and overtly bigoted comments on Facebook whenever one of the media outlets posts a story there concerning problems at a predominantly minority school or neighborhood.  And maybe I should just chalk it up to people on the Internet in general and Facebook in particular doing hit and run comments with computer bravado, not having the balls to say that same thing to a person face to face.  
   But it still saddens me to see comments of this nature made about kids.  Sixteen, Seventeen year old kids!  Caught up in the moment of competition.  Yeah, the Westinghouse kid should not have hit the Perry kid after the play was over.  Yeah, the teams should not have rushed the field.  Yeah, fans should not have come out on to the field. Yeah, they should have been more ‘disciplined.’
   And I support the school district’s decision to cancel the final game of the season for Westinghouse and Perry and disciplining the players that started the melee.  But that doesn’t make it right to call a bunch of kids they know nothing about such vile things as: “The Filth of the City”; and “Animals and Thugs.”  The trolls don’t know these kids.  They don’t know what these kids are doing when they aren’t playing football.  
   Could they be up to no good? Maybe.  But the kids who are really up to no good aren’t playing football.  They’re hanging out on the streets, skipping school and being knuckleheads.  Maybe the players on Perry and Westignhouse’s teams aren’t the kind of kids you’d want your son or daughter to hang out with on first impression.  Maybe they talk a little too loud, use language that’s a little too coarse, maybe they wear their clothes a little too baggy.  Maybe they listen to music that offends your sensibilities.  
    But until you meet these kids and find out why they are how they are maybe you should reserve your judgement.  Some of these kids are forced to grow up a lot faster than they wanted to.  Some of these kids have seen horrific violence committed against their friends and loved ones.  Get a bunch of them together and ask them how many have seen or know someone who’s been shot or killed, and I bet you’ll see most every hand raised. How many of these kids come home every day to a home-cooked meal, how many of them are being raised by a single parent who’s busting his or her ass to try and put food on the table?  How many of them have parents who are nothing more than sperm donors and baby factories, forcing them to survive on their own?  How many of them, despite all that is going against them, get up every day and go to crappy schools, and try to learn by overcoming outdated books, obsolete computers, if there are computers in their classrooms, indifferent or overmatched teachers, and peers who don’t give a shit?  

    It’s easy to post drive-by comments from your smug suburban homes where everything is perfect and fights on the football field are seemingly few and far between.  It’s easy to stick your chest out and trumpet proudly that you home school your kids or send them to private schools, so they don’t have to mix with the “Filth of the City.”  That’s easy to do.  What about seeing a story like this, and instead of popping off about these kids being animals and thugs and taking a moment to learn about some of these kids.  They have hopes and dreams just like the kids from Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny do.  They want to get out of the ghetto, a lot of them want to go to college, a lot of them join the service, like I did, because they just couldn’t see another way out.  Don’t pass judgement on people until you know all the facts.  I know, I’m just tilting at windmills, trolls will always want to spread their muck on the Internet.  But those comments really got to me.

Because the City League is playing a non conference schedule this week, the Advocate will not be doing a preview of this week's games. U-Prep will be traveling to play Steubenville, OH Allderdice will be hosting Linsly Academy Carrick will be traveling to play Wheeling Park (WV) Brashear is open Perry and Westinghouse had their games cancelled due to their altercation last Friday night.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

2014 City League Preview Week 7



League
Overall
University Prep
4-0
4-0
Allderdice
4-0
5-1
Brashear
2-2
3-3
Carrick
1-3
1-5
Perry
1-3
1-5
Westinghouse
0-4
1-5
 

    The final week of league play in the Pittsburgh City League starts this Thursday night with a few loose strings to tie up.  University Prep and Allderdice have sewn up the top two playoff spots with unblemished league records going into their big tilt Friday afternoon.  Brashear has a one game edge over Carrick and Perry for the third seed, and the Commodores and Raiders have important games this week to settle the final spot.  

   The playoff scenario is such, at least the Advocate hopes he’s reading this correctly:

1. Allderdice and U-Prep play Friday afternoon, winner gets #1 seed in the playoffs.
2. Brashear and Carrick play Thursday night. If Brashear wins, they snag the #3 spot. If Carrick wins, both teams are tied at 2-3, and to throw an left-handed monkey wrench into the works, if Perry beats Westinghouse on Friday night, then we’ll have a good ol’ fashioned three team dogpile for the fourth and final spot.  
   City League tiebreaker rules for a three team pileup call for the head to head results between all the teams in the dogpile.  In this case:  Carrick would be 1-1 (loss to Perry, win against Brashear), Perry would be 1-1 (win against Carrick, loss to Brashear) and  Brashear would be 1-1  (beat Perry and lost to Carrick).  The next phase of the tiebreaker would be head to head wins against the 1st place team, 2nd place, etc. All three teams in the dogpile lost to both U-Prep and Allderdice, and beat Westinghouse.  So, the final part of this kerfuffle, should it get this far, is the always exciting coin flip.  The Advocate does not know how the City does a coin flip tiebreaker.  Do they get all three coaches together at midnight at Ritter’s over in Bloomfield, flip a coin, kick the odd man out, and then the two survivors flip for the third and fourth spots?  The Advocate hasn’t a clue, because he’s never seen a tiebreaker go this far.  

    When Allderdice and Perry last played back in week 2, the Dragons squeaked by the Commodores on the strength of making their extra points, while the Commodores missed theirs.  Last week, the Dragons continued on their dominant ways by crushing the One Stars 41-0.  Allderdice excelled in all facets of the game, especially in converting 3 Perry turnovers into touchdowns.  Timothy Jackson scored on a punt return of 75 yards,  Lamone Dixon turned a fumble into a 39 yard scoring play, and Dominic Balsamo scored on a 25 yard pick-six.  Quarterback James Jackson called his own number twice scoring from 1 and 15 yards, and Jeremiah Hardrick scored on a 6 yard run.  The Dragons racked up 239 total yards of offense to Perry’s 112.   Allderdice has mercy ruled its last four opponents in a row.
   University Prep continued its perfect season beating Carrick 42-12.  Ron Brown passed for 370 yards and five touchdowns including two TD passes each to Desean Bonneau and Kenny Robinson.  Brown has thrown for 1,084 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.  Not as productive as the incredible season he had last year when he threw for over 3,000 yards and 40 TD’s, but still the class of the City League this season.
    Brashear eliminated the Westinghouse Bulldogs from playoff consideration winning their matchup 40-6.  Khalil Saunders ran for 119 yards on 16 carries, and scored two touchdowns on runs of 7 and 30 yards.  Therran Coleman scored twice on runs of 8 and 6 yards. Romello Jones picked up a Bulldog fumble and ran 50 yards for a score and  Ty Powe scored off a 53 yard run.  Westinghouse’s lone score came off a 50 yard pass from D’Asonte White to Robert Williams.  The ‘House was held to 76 yards of offense and committed 4 turnovers.


Thursday  October 9
7:00pm
Carrick vs Brashear

    Brashear needs to win to stay out of the dogpile mentioned above.  Carrick needs to win to keep its playoff hopes alive.  Carrick has some players that, in time, could make the Raiders a potential playoff threat, but not this year.  Brashear has the weapons to win this game and grab a spot in the playoffs.  Brashear.

Friday October 10
3:30pm
University Prep vs Allderdice

    This is the marquee matchup in the City League this season, and for those who may be looking for a tasty appetizer, an amuse bouche as it were,  before going to their favorite Friday night football feast, the Advocate recommends this savory little number.  Both teams have dominated the City League this season.  The last time the Advocate saw an Allderdice team this strong was when a certain running back named Curtis Martin provided the bulk of the Dragon offense.   Allderdice has a versatile offense that can score off the run and the pass, fueled by the Jackson twins.  U-Prep has the best quarterback in the league in Ron Brown, and his receivers have picked up the slack left from last year’s graduation losses.  While Prep doesn't have the stud running backs the ‘Dice has, Brown has no problem calling his own number.  The Dragon defense has not been tested since week 1,  the Wildcat’s defense is a little more suspect, and they haven’t seen an offense as potent as Allderdice’s this season.   Since its inception in 2011, U-Prep has beaten the ‘Dice five straight times.  This game is too close to call.  It could come down to the final play, or one team will blow out the other.  Expect footballs to fly all over the George, as both quarterbacks love to air it out. It’s also very possible that both teams may meet again with hardware on the line, so both coaches may keep a little something something in the bag for that fateful meeting on November 1st.  But the Advocate thinks that this is the ‘Dice’s year.  So he’s going all in.  Allderdice.

Friday October 10
7:00pm
Perry vs Westinghouse

    Perry is playing for its playoff life tomorrow night. Despite the disappointing season, the Commodores cling to a scant opportunity of getting into the post-season, but it will be as a part of a big fat dogpile that might come down to the flip of a coin, and that’s only if Carrick can give the One Stars a little bit of help and beat Brashear.  Perry should be able to beat the ‘House, but depending on forces beyond their control, that may not be enough.   Perry.