An abbreviated City League Preview this week as according to tradition, once the season reaches the halfway point, The Advocate's attention shifts to those teams who are legitimate playoff contenders.
As this is week six of a ten week season, which even according to math as it is taught in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, is over fifty percent, The Advocate will focus on the top four teams as well as any team in fifth or even sixth place that has a shot at getting into the playoffs. The next week or two will start the serious playoff jockeying as the all-important head-to-head tiebreakers start rearing their ugly heads.
The biggest game of week 5 featured the undefeated Perry Commodores taking on the surprise team in the league, the once beaten Langley Mustangs. Perry came into the game on a three game winning streak only giving up 6 points in that span. Langley had won of two of their last three games including their week one non conference game. This game was to be the first significant test for the One Stars this season, as they have pretty much steamrolled their City League competition thus far.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Langley Mustangs as they were pounded 28-6. Jaquan Green opened the scoring for the Mustangs with an 18 yd pass to Stephon Faye, but the Commodores scored 28 unanswered points to take the victory with Greg McGhee running for two scores and passing for one. Langley coughed up the ball 4 times while Perry's Chinelo Oparanozie rushed 10 times for 118 yds. The Mustangs get to turn things back around with a Friday afternoon showdown against the winless Westinghouse Bulldogs. This is the beginning of a three game swing through the lower half of the City League until they face Allderdice in week 9. If Langley is able to get through that part of their schedule at least 2-1, the playoffs are looking good for the Wild Horses.
The Commodores go on to 4-0 and will face the other overachievers in the City this season, the undefeated Allderdice Dragons. (Yes, the Advocate still can't get his head wrapped around the words undefeated and Allderdice Dragons in the same sentence, at least when talking about football. Tennis, cross country, swimming, soccer? Yes, but football??)
But the reality is that The Green Hats are atop the City League at 4-0. The 'Dice kept pace with the Commodores by pummeling the Westinghouse Bulldogs 26-6. The Advocate witnessed this spectacle first-hand and was impressed by some facets of the 2010 Dragons. Their league-leading stud running back Patrick Ferguson rushed for a little over 100 yards, and he's built like the proverbial fireplug. He doesn't possess the speed to turn the corner outside, but he's very good between the tackles. But the real hero of the Dragons in this game was quarterback Mike Pfleger. He connected to receiver Dominic Gardner on three touchdown passes of 42,37, and 20 yds, and ran one in from one yard out.
He was picked once but looked okay in the pocket completing 8 of 17 passes, the o-line gave him pretty good protection. As the Advocate said before, while these numbers look absolutely average, remember, Allderdice has NEVER had a good passing game.
Pfleger and his offense will have to be on their toes because they will have their hands full with Perry's defense. And the 'Dice's secondary did look suspect on a number of long passes by the Bulldogs. So look for Greg McGhee to be feasting on that aspect of the 'Dice's defense. And this season, Allderdice has no kicking game to speak off. They didn't make any of their extra points or field goal attempts.
Brashear was off this week and will be expecting to pull themselves back into the playoff chase with a win over the Carrick Raiders on Thursday night.
And Schenley prevailed over those same Raiders last Saturday to pull even at 2-2. They will play the winless Peabody Highlanders in a noontime Saturday tilt.
This week, The Oliver Bears will taking the road trip down to beautiful Wheeling, West By-Gawd Virginia to take on a familiar foe to those of us in the City League, the Wheeling Central Catholic Maroon Crusaders.
October 7 6pm
Brashear vs Carrick
Brashear will have some rust that needs to be shaken off, and what better way to do so than to take on your fellow South Side rival? Barring a miracle streak of phenomenal good luck, the Raiders are pretty much out of the running with Brashear, Langley and Allderdice amongst their remaining opponents, but they can play spoiler. But the Advocate isn't seeing it. Brashear by 10
October 8 3:30pm
Westinghouse vs Langley
This will be an interesting test for the Mustangs. Can they come back from a painful loss to regroup against a team that should certainly beat? Westinghouse had their shots against the 'Dice, but penalties and lack of discipline did them in. Langley has a great chance over the next three weeks to cement a playoff berth, and it all starts here. Langley by 7.
October 8 7:30pm
Allderdice vs Perry
How the Advocate really wants to see his Dragons win this game. The last time the 'Dice beat Perry in 2007, they went on to go to the City Championship. It was the first win over the Commodores in 25 years. Perry is riding high, and maybe straddling the line between confident and cocky. They have the best quarterback/wide receiver combo in the league. Their defense is very good but not tested since Week 1 . They aren't as dominating as the great Perry teams from 2000-05, but they're aren't far off. The Dragons, however have the better running game. They have a quarterback who isn't afraid to throw the ball, but he'll have to be very careful against that One Stars secondary. Special teams is an adventure for the Dragons this season. They have given up a few long kickoff and punt returns. It wouldn't kill the Dragons playoff hopes if they lose, the remaining portion of their schedule is very much in their favor, but it would be a major confidence builder as well as a big boost to the overall structure of the football program. Perry by 10
October 9 12:00pm
An opportunity for the Spartans to creep back into the playoff picture against a team that has all but picked it in. Schenley by 14.
October 9 7pm
Oliver at Wheeling Central
If this were last season's Oliver Bears that took Schenley to double overtime in the City Championship, I'd give them a chance. But these Bears are toothless and the Crusaders should have no problems.
Wheeling by 14.