Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 City League Football Preview Week 1

My fellow Americans...I come to you this evening asking for change. You may think that the other candidates in this upcoming Presidential Election know what we, the people want. They talk about health care, the economy, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the housing crisis. All very important ideas that need to be addressed, but I, Your City League Advocate, the true Man of the People, the Lone Defender of District 8, The Champion of Everyone's Favorite Little High School Football League, knows deep down what America needs

I, Your City League Advocate knows that the one thing that America needs to restore our great nation to prosperity, respect amongst the world community, and a sense of heightened self esteem, is...more high school football. To that end, I, Your City League Advocate have decided to run for the Presidency of These United States under the PSB Pigskin Party. Our party platform is a simple one. More high school football for everyone. If I am elected, I will make Friday Nights throughout football season National Holidays in which all businesses will close and allow their workers to attend the nearest high school football game of their choice. No exceptions. I will require the disbanding of band and cheerleading competitions and put our young men and women back where they belong: playing rocking good music on the field and in the stands of our nation's football stadiums in front of thousands of appreciative fans instead of playing boring, conservative music in stifling competitions before jaded judges with agendas. I will insure that inner city football programs have what they need to compete with their more affluent suburban cousins. I will lobby the TV networks to create a national network of high school football channels so that all who can't get enough high school football in person can get their fix on TV. But for Your City League Advocate to fulfill his dream, he needs your help. Will you give generously to this endeavor? Please send your donations to: Your City League Advocate for President, PO Box 1929, Grand Cayman Islands.

I am Your City League Advocate, and I approve this message.

On to the 2008 City League Preview for the Moonlight Scribbler and the PSB. A few observations of note. For this season, Thursday Night City League games will begin one hour earlier at 6:00pm instead of 7:00pm. This will be a welcome change in that it clears out the after game George traffic that much earlier, as well as insure that there is a little more daylight for games, and after all Thursday night is still a school night. The Friday and Saturday schedules remain unchanged. Only six teams will be playing non conference games this season, and instead of two non-City games, each of those teams will only be playing one game this season. The Advocate is guessing that maybe the bloom is falling of the rose in regards to City League teams playing non-conference games. Given the City's record in these games over the last few years, It's just as well. The coaches are probably thinking that it's not a good idea to take a chance on injuring a important player in a meaningless game, and with the small rosters and lack of depth many City teams have, the idea does have some merit. But The Advocate does think that it is important to play outside of the comfort zone, to play in a hostile environment against teams that are presumably better than you because competition does improve the breed. But the decisions are being made by those well above the Advocate's paygrade.

The 90th campaign of Pittsburgh City League Football will begin this Friday August 29th, 2008 with the Langley Mustangs taking on the Oliver Bears at 3:30pm at the George. Only one team, The Allderdice Dragons will open the season in non-conference play when they travel to Kennywood country to take on the West Mifflin Titans of the WPIAL.


The Dragons lost a lot of the firepower that propelled them to the City League Championship Game last season including the starting quarterback, all three running backs and most of the starters on the offensive and defensive lines. Coming back to anchor the Green Hats will be 6-6, 245 Will Clarke who will play defensive end and also line up on the offense as tight end. Clarke has verbally commited to Pitt and has received recognition at as well as the PG and the Trib. Clarke will be most effective on the defensive line although his height and speed will benefit the 'Dice as a tight end if they have a quarterback that can get him the ball. One does not normally equate Allderdice with great quarterbacks and the Advocate believes that if the Dragons had a quality quarterback last season, the City Title would be sitting at 2409 Shady Ave instead of 590 Crane Ave. But, water under the bridge. Players who attempt to fill the shoes of that great senior class include Junior,DeVante King and senior Patrick Griffith , 6-0,200 toting the pig, while Sophomore Mike Pfleger (6-2, 190) is the projected starter at quarterback.

The Dragons will have some size on the lines in Junior Jon Kennedy (6-5,275), Senior Nate Marino ( 5-11, 270) and senior Glen Terry(5-11,215). It's safe to say that the success of the football program at Allderdice has increased the level of involvement as far as getting kids out to camp. The Advocate's take on the 'Dice as this point is that if the offense can get on track early, somehow use Clarke as an offensive force, and if this QB can throw the ball with any level of proficiency, the Green Hats can make a run for the playoffs, although they're not quite ready to go back to Heinz Field. The early schedule for the 'Dice is a tough one. After the non-conference tilt at West Mifflin, they have the Cinderella Carrick Raiders, an always dangerous Oliver Bear squad, and the defending City Champs Brashear and the possible dark horse, Peabody.


The defending City Champs sent their long time coach Ron Wabby off into the sunset with DaBulls first City Title since 1988. They also lost the Quamane and Jermaine Show, but the cupboard is not totally empty over in Beechview. While last year's Bulls got it done through the air as well as on the ground, this season, they'll be emphasizing good old fashioned City League running the ball. Leading Bulls rusher Bruce Patterson ( 5-9,185) and Tariq Taliaferro will have a big honkin' offensive line to open holes for them. The line is composed of twins John and Dave Wetzel both packing on 275 pounds and 6-7,and 6-3 respectively. Also rounding out the O-line is Tony Burke at 6-2, 250. Junior Henri Chatman will be under center for Brashear. With a line that this, DaBulls are the early favorite to repeat as City League Champs. They won't be as potent as last season's squad that scored a Perryesque 40+points/game, but they will be able to grind down a lot of smaller teams this season with their trapping line play. The early schedule favors The Bulls with what could be a challenging game against the Perry Commodores and very winnable games against Schenley, Allderdice, and Westinghouse. By far the most challenging game on the Herd's schedule will be the season ender on Oct 24th when they travel to Wheeling West By-Gawd Virginia to take on Wheeling Central Catholic.


The Carrick Raiders were the belles of the City League Dance last season when they somehow were able to score a ticket to the big dance and while they ended up on the short end of a beatdown by Brashear, they served notice that at least for this season, these aren't your daddy's Raiders. Carrick returns their leading rusher Ray Seskey who scored 15 TD's last season and has lead the club in rushing the last three years. The Raiders will be returning 7 starters on offense and 6 on defense. One of the anchors of the Tribe's O-line is 6-6, 315lb David Geier who was named to the All-City team last year. Bruce Thornton(6-4,180) will be the main pass catcher this season, and the defense will have senior leadership in Jahi Mott (5-10, 180) as linebacker, and Sam Banks ( 5-10, 225) as lineman and fullback. The Advocate see the Raiders as a team that while they may not make the playoffs, they can derail the efforts of a potential playoff contender. If Seskey stays healthy and another back can step up to lighten the load, Carrick could put a scare into some teams.


The Mustangs went 0-9 last year and scored only 60 points, so the only direction they can go is up. The Ponies have lost 20 straight since 2005, when they flirted with the playoffs before falling short at the end of the season. The upside is that this team is pretty young, and while they will be taking their lumps this season, things could be looking up for the Mustangs. Senior Jesse Bell is the projected signal caller and offensive tackle/defensive end Michael Akers and fullback Tim Thornhill will provide leadership from the senior ranks.


The Oliver Bears lost a ton of players after their 2006-07 season which saw them win their first City Title in 60 years and make a respectable run in the PIAA playoffs. DaBears ended last season losing two of the last three games on the way to a 3-5 record. But Oliver has probably the most experienced quarterback in the City League in senior DeVaughn Copeland (6-1, 180), and he'll have senior Anthony Roberts ( 6-3, 235) anchoring the offensive and defensive lines. Another wide body for The Bruins is Senior lineman Terrell Glenn who stands 6-0 and 300 lbs who is a sacking threat as well as a hole plugger, and the defensive secondary has junior d-back Tyrek Morgan ( 5-9, 170) and sophomore d-back Tyrail Morgan (5-9, 170) who are capable of getting needed picks. Oliver has two easy games in Langley and the House before taking on the Dragons in week 3.


The Highlanders had a disappointing season in '07 finishing 3-5 and well out of the playoff race. But this year's Kiltie squad has the tools to make the playoffs and possibly challenge Brashear. The 'Body is looking to run the rest of the City League off the field this season with what could be the best running back duo in D8. Senior Stewart Townsend (5-5, 150) will be leading the running corp, but the real X-factor for the Highlanders is Senior Pierre Carr(5-10, 180). Some of the track and field types in the area might know that name because in June, Carr was the first City League sprinter to win the PIAA 100 meter/yard dash since 1964. And he brings his blazing speed to Highland Avenue. And considering that Peabody is returning 8 starters on offense and 7 on defense. The Kilties have a real shot at getting back into the dance. Their early schedule is a mixed bag with Carrick leading off, doormat Langley in week 2, A pivotal game against Perry in week 3 and the 'Dice up 4th.


Perry is not used to being left off the invite list at the big dance. In past years, they were the best dressed, their dance card was always full and they commanded the dance floor. But winning only 2 of their first 7 games in 2007 including being destroyed 84-6 by Erie Cathedral Prep and Cumberland Valley respectively put the Commodores in the unfamiliar position of being on the outside looking in. Sure they came on winning two of their last three games to entertain the possibility of making the playoffs, but they needed a lot of help, and losing to Schenley in the last game of the season effectively kicked the One Stars to the curb. But the Advocate has heard that things over on the North Side are picking up. The Commodores are using their failure to motivate them to get back to where they belong. Senior Jyuan Woods (5-9,180) looks to be the go-to guy toting the ball, and he'll be sharing those duties with junior RB Richard Lowry(5-9,200) Perry will have some beef up front in junior guard Matt Drayton ( 6-4, 270) and senior tackle Rakim Swinton( 6-3, 260). Now, what has made past Perry squads so great?? You guessed it, the QB. The Advocate doesn't know what Perry has in the QB position, and his sources aren't talking, but he would not be surprised if Coach Bill Gallagher probably has one stashed away somewhere.


First the Spartans lose long time coach Jim Trent, then they lose their building. The Greeks will have a most unusual and challenging football season ahead of them. The logistics alone of how all this is gonna work is enough to make the Advocate glad that he shaves his head because if he didn't it would all fall out trying to figure out how all this pans out. Here we go...The Schenley student body was split up into three different schools. The freshmen are split up between the former Milliones Middle School on the Hill, now known as University Prep, and the Frick School in Oakland. The rest of the student body is at the former Reizenstein Middle School in East Liberty.
The practice field and the locker rooms for football are located at University Prep, so the players are bused from Frick and Reizenstein to University Prep for practice. For now, the team keeps the Schenley name, colors, and mascot. If all goes the way the board says it will, eventually, Schenleystein will be phased out as classes graduate and University Prep will take its place...or something like that.

But aaaaanyway, let's deal with the football. The Spartans do have some depth this season. Eric Carter (5-8, 175) is the projected QB and he'll have help from senior running back/d-back Jerome Pollard(5-9,186); offensive tackle/ defensive end Emmanuel Bell (6-6, 245), tackle Ricky Hyatt (6-4, 290) and RB/DB Jerome Matthews(5-7, 165). The loss of Deandre Kane and the rest of that great senior class that also propelled the basketball team to a state title will hurt the Spartans. They will most likely be one of those teams that should make the playoffs but will need some help.


The 'House has had three head coaches in three years and nothing seems to have worked over on N.Murtland Ave. The latest head coach Monte Robinson has stepped in from the offensive coordinator position to stop the bleeding. The Big Bad Bulldogs only won one game last season, and didn't come within 14 points of any of their opponents. Seniors running back/ d-back Antoine Mathis (5-6, 185) will be counted on to be the number 1 ball carrier, and on the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker/ tight end David Palmer (6-6,215) will be expected to contribute.

The City League Pick 'Em will be resurrected after a one year hiatus. Picks must be in by one hours before the first game of the weekend. In this case by 2pm Friday August 29th. The Advocate is experimenting with a new point system for the contest. 4 points for every correct pick, 0 points for an incorrect one. However if a pick is submitted after the deadline and is correct it will only be worth 2 points. If a contestant misses a week, then the Advocate will make proxy picks for them based on the consensus of the rest of the field and every correct pick in that proxy will be worth 2 points. So it pays to make your picks on time and try not to miss a week. The tiebreaker will be closest number of total points scored a randomly selected WPIAL game of the Advocate's choosing.

Friday August 29th

3:30pm Langley vs Oliver
Bears in a rout. Oliver by 20

7:30pm Schenleystein vs Westinghouse
The only way the Spartans lose this one is if the buses coming from the three schools all get snarled in traffic in Oakland. Schenleystein by 14

7:30pm Allderdice at West Mifflin
This is the third time that these two teams have met and the 'Dice has been outscored 75-20 thus far. Give Coach Schmidt credit for scheduling a quality opponent. But hopefully he doesn't lose a critical part of what offense this team will be able to generate in a game that means nothing.
West Mifflin by 21

Saturday August 30th

12:00pm Brashear vs Perry
The Advocate's Game of the Week. Easily the best of the opening weekend tilts. A good chance to see how the new-look Brashear running game looks against their traditional Heinz Field rivals.
Brashear by 10

3:30pm Carrick vs Peabody
Look for the Kilties to make a statement of the bat that they have the best running game in the City . Peabody by 10

Tie Breaker

North Hills At Mt. Lebo 34 points

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