Saturday, November 01, 2008

2008 City League Playoff Preview

The last couple seasons in Everyone's Favorite Little High School Football League have seen some unusual instances in which teams that normally don't figure in the annual playoff chase have made significant progress in that area and in one case ended up hoisting the hardware.  Case in point.  In 2006, the Oliver Bears who had not won a City Championship since the end of World War II,  ended up being winning that same title and being the first City League team other than Perry to win a PIAA playoff game in their classification.  In 2007 Allderdice and Carrick, two programs that one would not associate with dominance in the City League made the playoffs and both programs took advantage of a rare absence of Perry from the post season drama.  While the Raiders appearance in the playoffs was a brief one, the 'Dice ended up on the big stage at Heinz Field and took the Brashear Bulls to the limit before succumbing 14-13 in an all too rare occurrence: a City Championship game that was actually close and entertaining for all four quarters.  And of course the winners of that game, the Brashear Bulls finally got the monkey off their backs last year by winning their first City Title in football since 1988.

This 2008 season has also had its Cinderella moment.  In a late season push aided by a fairly easy end schedule and a slip-up by another playoff contender,  The Langley Mustangs have found themselves in what is for them, a most unusual situation.  For the first time in 20 years, the Mustangs have found themselves in the City League playoffs.  The Ponies won three of their last four games also beating the other team tied for the last playoff spot, Carrick in what was the most important game of the season for Langley.  All they needed coming into the final weekend of the regular season was for Carrick to lose to Schenley, and they would live to play another week.  Well, the football gods heard the Mustangs plea and answered in their favor.  Carrick lost to Schenley 41-12, and though Langley lost to Perry 28-22, the Mustangs advance to the playoffs due to their beating Carrick 29-14 in week 8.

Now all of these fresh new faces making their way into the City playoffs brings a smile to Your City League Advocate's face because this shows that some sort of parity is making its way into District 8.  For the longest time, people have complained that Perry was using their magnet school status to poach the best players from all over the City to play for the Commodores.  Now that no longer seems to be the case. Perry while still very much a threat, is not as dominant as in previous years.  Also, the influx of new coaches into the league has brought some fresh ideas into City playbooks.  Since 2000, all but one school in the City has turned over their coaching ranks.  These new coaches are starting to attract kids into coming out for football.  The Advocate has seen more passing in the league, teams are playing more complicated offenses.  A lot of the same old City League is going the way of the Edsel, and that can only be a good thing down the road as the League seeks to close the gap between itself and the rest of the state.

Brashear ended the regular season by losing their only game of the season 29-14 to Wheeling Central Catholic giving the Maroon Kinghts a 3-0 sweep of the City League.  They will go on to play the 4-4 Langley Mustangs in the second semifinal at the George.

Perry and Schenley ended their seasons with wins against Langley and Carrick, respectively and will face each other in the first semifinal tonight.

Last weekend continued to give everyone in the pick 'em fits.  The Advocate was only kept from a perfect 5-0 by Peabody's win over Oliver, which was only correctly picked by Falcons_01, but he as well as coach99, and THSFan got burned when they predicted Brashear over Wheeling CC.  The Advocate was the only one who got that right.

Week 9

CLA and Falcons_01  4-1  16pts
coach99 and THSFan   3-2  12pts

CLA    34-9    136 pts
Falcons_01    33-10   132pts
THSfan  32-11  128pts
coach99  29-14    116pts

Thursday October 30   7pm
Perry vs Schenley.  This game should be very entertaining.  A nice crowd is expected.  Perry beat the Spartans 30-16 in week 2, but as they say, the Spartans have come a long way.  Both teams have done well against City competition, Perry winning 6 league games in a row and Schenley winning 5.  Both teams can put up big numbers Schenley  27ppg - Perry 24ppg. The Advocate thinks that both teams will light up the scoreboard tonight, but he's banking on Perry to get to the championship game.
Perry by 7

Friday October 31 7pm
Brashear vs. Langley.  The Mustangs should have no problem getting up for this game.  This night erases 20 years of frustration for Langley, and the Advocate thinks that we have not heard the last of these Mustangs.  Brashear is coming off a meaningless loss.   The Advocate thinks that this loss should not affect Brashear's ability to win this game.  As much as the Advocate would love to see Langley pull off the upset of a lifetime, it won't happen. Brashear by 14.

Both of these "week 10" games are optional picks, but if the pick 'em field wants to submit picks, they will count in the standings.

Peabody at South Allegheny    SA by 10
Oliver at Belle Vernon    BV by 14

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