Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve 2012

This was the last Post I posted to my Facebook account, hence the FB references, but the same sentiments remain for those throbbing masses that read this blog. So substitute 'Moonlight Scribbler' for 'Facebook.'

"This will probably be my last post for 2012 on teh Facebook.  It's been a fairly ho-hum year.  Some good, some bad, and a lot of the other.  But at least I fulfilled one of my goals and that was to stand at the end of the year with most of my senses more or less intact, and my mind still somewhat functional.  Anything more was and is gravy.  I keep my expectations low these days.  Therefore, what I wish for next year is pretty much the same as last year. To be able to still be here in another 365 days, hale, somewhat hearty, and able to look back on the past year having learned something that I can use for the next year.  To all my friends on teh Facebook, thanks for the laughs, counsel, the high weirdness, and letting me experience some of your lives thru this medium. I pray God's blessings on all of yinz.  Hug your spouses, kids, and critters and hope and pray (if you're inclined to that sort of thing) that sanity, and peace will be the rule instead of the exception in our society. Be careful out there tonite, NYE is amateur night.  And I offer my traditional New Year's Wish for all of my Facebook family.  Health, happiness, healing where needed, and may your 2013 be a damn sight better than 2014.  See yinz on the other side.  Pierre."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Whatever...

     As is my habit of seeing merit in both sides of an argument and being committed to neither, in most things,  I don't really have a problem with the annual kerfuffle re: Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas.  I'm a Christian, although I suck at it.  But I don't have the right to say that the Birth of Jesus has precedence over a holiday celebrated by non-Christians.
     To me, it's not how you celebrate a holiday in public, but how you respect it in your heart and in your family.  I'm not a pagan, but I respect their right to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  I'm not Jewish, but if my Jewish friends asked me come to a Hanukkah observance, who am I to decline? I'm not British, but they have a right to celebrate Boxing Day. I'm black, but I don't observe Kwanzaa (although I probably should), and for those that do, more power to them.  Wikipedia, the source of all unassailable truth, mentions 27 different holidays, major and minor, that occur during December.
     And all of them are celebrated by someone in this world, or even in this country.  Who's to say that their holidays are or are not more important to them than Christmas is to me.  We in America love to throw God out there.  Which one?  There's a lot of them out there.  There are as many incarnations and representations of God as there are people who believe in him, her, it, whatever.
     To me at least, and I'm not very smart, but it's all about mutual respect of each other's beliefs and traditions.  We're too damn busy shoving our beliefs down the throats who differ from us, to truly understand and listen to what those beliefs really are telling us.
     I'm a live and let live kinda guy.  You do your thing, and respect my right to do mine, and I'll do the same for yinz.  So whether you wish me 'Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Pancha Ganapati, Happy Hanukkah' or any other holiday that happens around this time of year,  I wish you the same.  I don't offend easily.
     For me, Christmas is not something I celebrate by decorating the house and putting up a tree.  I live alone, and have no close surviving relatives, so why bother.  I celebrate it in my heart and in my mind. And I think we'd all be a little better off if we just practiced a little mutual tolerance.  Then again, what the hell do I know?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fan Boycotts?...Feh!!!

     I love reading the stories in the local fishwrap about the NHL lockout and and the fan's comments about calling for boycotts and showing the players and owners their 'power' by not going to games in protest of how the lockout has affected local businesses and so on.
     And I feel for those businesses, and the Penguins should do something for them as a token of appreciation for what their games do for local businesses, but fan boycotts?  I laugh my butt off about that.
     All the fans want is their hockey.  Give them NHL hockey and they'll be back in a heartbeat, all will be forgiven, and talk of fan boycotts and shows of support will be just  That's what the players and owners are counting on, and most likely they will be proved right.
     Show me one fan boycott that worked, or that ever got off the ground.  The NHL killed their season in '04-05, and the fans came back.  In '94-'95, the NHL cancelled almost half the games due to a lockout, the fans came back. The '92 strike cancelled 30 games, the fans came back. And if and when this current lockout ends, guess what, the fans will come back.  Recurring theme here, boys and girls.  It's like an abusive relationship.  Pro sports league go on strike or have lockouts, and the fans, who always get it in the end, always come back.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

     Well, the curtain has come down on probably the most divisive and bitter Presidential election in this country's history. Although I use the word 'probably' because there's no guarantee that future elections won't eclipse this one in terms of ferocity and bitterness.
     And while I'm glad that my candidate won, I, for one, am not the kind of person who will gloat and rub it into the faces of those who supported the other guy.  One, because it's not in my nature to do so, and Two, other than making me feel good for a few moments, it serves no useful purpose.
     I have no idea about what the next four years will be like while President Obama continues to work on trying to get this country back on the right track.  But I know that he can't do it all.  The Constitution, among other things won't let him, and, whatever happens on his watch will be attributed to him whether he had a direct hand in it or not.  Everyone needs to have a single point of blame, however unfair that is, and the Leader of the Free World happens to be it for this country, and a good chunk of the rest of the planet.

    Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, as it were.

    But what I want to expound upon is an appeal to my fellow Americans to stop the divisive and bitter partisan bullshit that has crippled this country.  We need to start working together to address this country's problems.  No one side has all the answers, and many of the answers need the input of all sides.  I do believe that people who espouse such polar opposite agendas as the Greens and the Tea Party can put their mutual distrust of each other's agendas aside, and concentrate on the common issues that affect the people of this country. I mean, when a tornado is bearing down on your community and threatening to wipe it off the map, that's not the time to be debating the existence of climate change, and refusing to help those who don't agree with you.  Only an idiot would engage in such behavior, but sadly, it seems that there are those in this country that would do so.
    It seems these days that it's not enough to win over your opponent, we have to rub our opponents face in their defeat. Why is it that families and friendships are destroyed because we can't agree to disagree?
    I listen to the 'This American Life' podcast, and highly recommend it, by the way, and the issue that came out before the election was called 'Red State, Blue State.'

   The onus of the podcast is that we as a nation are so divided that we even let our divisions affect our relations with our families and friends.  People are ending long lived friendships and disowning beloved family
members simply because they don't agree with each other and don't choose to agree to disagree.  This is madness.  Who in their right mind would let blood and friendship suffer because of loyalty to party and philosophy?  This is the sign of an immature person and an immature nation.
    One of the great things about living in Pittsburgh is that on the first Saturday in October, we have an event called the 'Head of the Ohio.'  It's a series of competitive rowing races that is quite popular and has gained some national attention.  Have yinz ever seen how a rowing crew operates?  Depending on the event, there are up to eight men or women in a very narrow and light boat who have to work together perfectly in order to get the boat through the water as fast possible. Their oars have to hit the water at the exact same time, drive through the water with equal force, and recover and repeat the evolution consistently hundreds of times during the length of the race.
    That crew can have a liberal, a conservative, a Green, a Socialist, a Tea Party member, two moderates, and an anarchist on it, and they may get into titanic political arguments, but for the singular purpose of getting that boat from Washington's Landing 3.5 miles down the Allegheny River to the Point faster than the other teams they are racing, that crew has to put their differences aside and depend on each other to achieve the ultimate goal.  For that moment, they do not care about how best to fix the economy or whether our foreign policy is alienating us in the eyes of our allies and enemies.  They are focused on that common goal.  They don't care who gets the glory as long as they all can share in it.

    The people who are digging out of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy are of all different races, creeds, orientations and otherwise,  but when that storm hit, all that went out of the window, and they were reduced to one common identity.  Humans in general, and Americans in particular.  And Americans love to pride themselves on helping out their own. The storm doesn't give two shits that you're a Green, or a Tea Party conservative, it'll blow your house over just as quickly as it would someone who's the exact opposite of you. And facing that, if you see your neighbor is in need, are you going to vet their worthiness for help based on your political or philosophical ideology?  If you do, I wouldn't want to live next to you.
    It's about teamwork.  That is how it should be for all of us.  I don't give a damn who gets the credit as long as we all can put our differences aside and tackle the problem together.  Why does it have to require that humans face the possibility of sudden and violent death and the loss of our 'stuff', before they get their heads out of their collective asses, and get over themselves and their petty differences?
    While we're listening to and agreeing with the pundits that tell us what we want to hear and demonize those whose only crime is that they aren't a True Believer, our country is slowing devolving into tribes where we segregate ourselves into our own little ghettos, gated and otherwise, and are happy to surround ourselves with those who think as we do.  That's not the America that I took an oath to protect and serve.  I'm not saying that people shouldn't have their own opinions about how to deal with the problems that the US faces. That's to deny human nature.
    When I saw 'United we stand, Divided we fall', I'm not saying that we all have to march in lockstep.  What I'm saying is that we have to pursue those things that unite us.  The desire to live as you want as long as you're not harming others.  To be able to provide for yourself and your family.  To pass on positive values to your children. To respectfully disagree with those who share different ideologies than you.  Those are things that we all have in common.  We have different ideas about how to achieve them, and it's not easy.  But nothing worth having ever is. But it can be done.

Monday, November 05, 2012

2012 City Championship Review

     The Perry Commodores hoisted their 17th City Championship title last Saturday at the George beating University Prep 9-6 in overtime. The One Stars owe their championship to an unlikely source.
     Cornelio Coates had only been the Perry kicker for one week. He normally plays wide receiver. His coaches noticed that he had played soccer since he was five years old, and asked him to be the kicker.
     This was his second year playing football, and get this, he doesn't attend Perry Traditional Academy. He attends CAPA High School Downtown and is taking courses in percussion instruments. Of course, CAPA has no football team, so their students can play for any City high school that has one. He chose Perry. It was Coates 27 yard field goal in overtime that lifted the Commodores to their second City title in three years, and ninth since 1997.
      Now, as the Advocate once said, the fact that Perry won the game on a field goal is highly unusual. According to PG high school editor Mike White's article on the game, Field goals are rare in the City League. Only 4 have been attempted this season by all six City schools. Perry hadn't made a field goal since 2009, and only has completed 10 in the last 12 seasons. The Advocate can attest to this because in all the years he's been watching City League football, he has only seen a handful of field goals attempted and even fewer made.
      Perry and U-Prep remained scoreless until the third quarter. Perry's Robert Willie broke the ice with a 9 yd scamper into the end zone to put the Commodores up 6-0. U-Prep got on the board at the 7:54 mark of the fourth quarter with a 4 yd touchdown run by Ryan Daniels. The Wildcats attempted a trick play off the extra point when the kicker took a direct snap and attempted to throw it for the two-point conversion, but the pass was intercepted. Perry was helped by 14 U-Prep penalties. The Wildcats were penalized for a whopping 136 yds. Both teams amassed 20 penalties before the day was done.
      Perry's defense held the U-Prep running attack to minus 8 yards, and despite U-Prep's all-everything quarterback Akil Young going 12 for 32 for 191 of passing yds, he threw three picks.
      In the overtime period, U-Prep got the ball first and went three- and-out. Perry took over and Coates kicked the field goal on 4th and goal to win the game.
      Both Perry and U-Prep will represent the City League in the PIAA tournament. Perry has a bye this weekend and will play Erie McDowell in the AAAA playoffs on November 16th. U-Prep will enter the AAA playoffs and play Somerset this weekend on the 9th. The winner of that game to play the winner of the Punxsutawny-Clearfield game.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 City League Playoff Preview

     The tickets have been mailed out. The tuxes have been rented, and the party dresses are arriving as the Advocate pens this Preview. The City League playoff matchups have been set.

     In the 'Someone Has To Go Winless' game, Westinghouse, the smallest school in the City shuts out its much bigger opponent, the Carrick Raiders 18-0 to finish the season 1-4 in the league and 1-7 overall. Carrick falls to an o-fer the season.

     Allderdice's Cornelius Ray provided the only scoring for the Dragons picking up a 36 yd punt return for a touchdown, but the Allderdice offense was completely shut down as Brashear rattled off 21 unanswered points via runs by Russell Page and Diondre Harris, and a 56 yd pick-six by Jamal Smith to pick up the 21-7 win, and the third seed in the playoffs. The Bulls will take on a University Prep team that laid their beloved teammate Ne'Ondre Harbour to rest earlier this week. This after the Panthers lost to Perry in a tight, emotionally charged game 12-6. The One Stars jumped out to a 12-0 lead off 69 and 8yd runs by Ahmed Turner. And U-Prep was able to pick up a score in the 2nd quarter when QB Akil Young threw a 24 yd pass to Marcus Johnson for a touchdown, but neither team scored in the second half.
     With the win, Perry takes the regular season City League title and will face a fading Allderdice squad that has lost three of its last four games, and lost all its games against playoff contenders in the Friday night semifinal. Perry is on a three game winning streak and while the Commodores don't have the most prolific offense, that honor goes to U-Prep, they do have the stingiest defense in the league giving up only 26 points against City League opponents.

Thursday October 25
University Prep vs Brashear
     The Advocate has to believe that U-Prep was still in mourning over their loss of a prominent member of their team, and that had to affect their performance against Perry last Friday night. It would be easy for the Advocate or any other so-called pundit to say that it was the coaches' responsibility to get the team past that terrible circumstance and to put their warrior face and mourn over your fallen comrade later, and all that. But these are high school kids, not professionals. As the Advocate said in his preview, anything could affect their play, especially the untimely death of a teammate. And the loss to Perry didn't affect their eligibility for the playoffs. In fact, one could say that last week's game was a dress rehearsal for the Championship game next Saturday. But now that the Panthers have laid their teammate to rest, and have dedicated the rest of the season to him, however long it lasts, they can best honor Mr. Harbour by taking care of business tonight against the Bulls, and getting back to the title game. The Panthers beat Brashear 40-12 in Week 4, and the Advocate doesn't see the Bulls winning this game either. U-Prep

Friday October 26
Allderdice vs Perry
     This was supposed to be the 'Dice's year. They had a big bruising running back, they had plenty of seniors coming back from a team that lost to U-Prep in the City Championship game last year. But their lack of a passing game was a contributing factor to their disappointing season. Perry only beat Allderdice 12-0 in the regular season back in week Three, and there may be a slight chance that the Dragons can make a second straight appearance in the championship. After all, they held an undefeated Brashear squad to a mere safety in a 6-2 win in the semifinals last year. But Perry is on a roll. They haven't been in the championship game since 2010, they consider it their birthright. The Advocate makes it a U-Prep vs Perry match up for the hardware next Saturday. Perry

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 8

     The final week of the regular season begins on Thursday night under a dark cloud. Days before the biggest game of the year for the University Prep Wildcats, one of their best players, junior offensive and defensive tackle, Ne'Ondre Harbour was shot and killed in Garfield on last Sunday night. He was standing on the porch of a house on North Aiken Ave with a group of people, just minding his business when a man walked up to the house and started firing.
     The emphasis of this last statement is that Mr. Harbour was just minding his business. He was not doing anything that warranted being shot. He was an innocent bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was described as a good kid who was all about school and playing football. He wasn't running the streets, or selling drugs or 'cutting up' as the term was used back in the Advocate's day. He was a victim of a shooting that savagely took away his future, and devastated a family, a community, and a football team. The Advocate prays for the soul of Mr. Harbour as well as for his family, friends, and the University Prep community.
     The Advocate is not one who gets into politics very often, and while he supports the Second Amendment, giving law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms, he also believes that there are just too damn many guns out on the streets and in the wrong hands. Something has to be done about the senseless gun violence that is robbing our youth of their innocence and their lives. A kid with a bright future like Mr. Harbour should be allowed to see that future without fear of it being snatched away by a coward's bullet.
     But what about Mr. Harbour's teammates? They will be going into their final game of the regular season against Perry on Friday night without one of their standout players, and locker room leader. How will they respond to this tragedy? As of today, the Advocate has heard nothing about the game being postponed. This game will decide the regular season title as well as the number one seed for the playoffs.
     U-Prep shut out winless Westinghouse 45-0 to keep their league record a perfect 4-0. Myles Caitlin led the Wildcats with three touchdown and Akil Young passed for 150 yds.
     Their undefeated opponent on Friday night, Perry also won their week 7 game beating Brashear 24-6. Curtis Edmonds recovered a fumble return and ran 18 yds for touchdowns and Ahmad Turner and Robert Willie added scores of their own on the ground to seal the win for the Commodores.
Allderdice rode to victory over Carrick 32-14 on the back of Patrick Ferguson who rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. They will end the regular season against Brashear on Friday afternoon. The winner of this game will clinch third place and will play the loser of the Perry vs U-Prep game in a semifinal game either next Thursday or Friday night.

Thursday October 18
Carrick vs Westinghouse
     The one consolation of this game is that one of these teams will not end the season winless, of course that also means that one of these teams will end the season winless. This game could go either way. But because the Advocate lives in Homewood, he has to go with the Bulldogs. Westinghouse

Friday October 19
Allderdice vs Brashear
     The 'Dice has had a disappointing 2012 season. Picked by the pundits as well as Your City League Advocate as the favorites to grab their first City League title since 1967, the Dragons had the running game, but couldn't get their passing game going in the games that counted. This is their last chance to determine their own fate for the upcoming playoffs. Last year, Allderdice played an undefeated Brashear Bulls squad in the semifinals and eked out a 6-2 win to go up against U-Prep for the hardware. As QB Bishop Gethers and RB Patrick Ferguson are part of a 21 member senior class that will graduate in June, this may be the 'Dice's last chance to be a playoff contender for at least a year. If they win, they'll seal up third place, which will provide only a slightly easier path to the championship. Brashear has only 10 seniors leaving, and a bunch of sophomores coming back, so they will be a much better team next year. The Advocate thinks that the Dragons have just enough to pull out this win.

University Prep vs Perry
     If this were just another final week of the regular season, with a regular season title and top seed on the line, U-Prep wouldn't need any motivation to come out strong against Perry. U-Prep has the No.1 offense and defense in the City League outscoring their opponents by an average of 39-15. They have a golden opportunity to win a second straight City League title. But this isn't just another final week.
     The events of last Sunday night will definitely weigh heavily on these young men's minds. These are high school kids, just about anything can affect their play, from breaking up with their girlfriend, to passing or flunking a crucial exam. But the tragic shooting death of a teammate, especially one who was as instrumental to the teams' success as a Ne'Ondre Harbour adds a different level of emotions to the mix. The coaches have to keep these kids focused on the task at hand, which is facing a very tough Perry squad, but they can't come across as heartless and cold to their players feelings about their loss.
     The Advocate would think that Mr. Harbour would want his teammates to play as they have all season, with their eyes firmly planted on the goal. And one must remember, these are City League kids. They've seen and experienced things that their suburban cousins could never comprehend. Many of them come from broken homes, tragic family situations and have encountered violence that forces them to grow up a lot faster than they want to. They are survivors. But the question is how will they survive. Will they end up on the streets facing a dead end future, or will they go on to higher education, and work towards becoming a success for future generations to emulate? That is the job of the adults in their lives. The coaches, teachers, counselors and parents.
     The Advocate believes that U-Prep, even without this tragedy befalling them is the better team. And he also believes that they will honor the wishes of their teammate, and play in his honor and prevail.
University Prep

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 7

     Well, campers. We have reached the penultimate week of the regular season in the City League...
     (Wait, Mr. Advocate. Pen-all-tea-mint? What does that word mean?)
     If you keep your shorts on for a minute, Junior, I'll tell you. Now before I was interrupted, We have reached the penultimate week of the regular season, and the playoff situation is starting to become more solid.
     Now, Bunkie, turn off that Justin Bieber crap you have plugged into your ears, and listen up. I'm only going to say this once. And after I'm done, go and find yourself some real music. That auto-tuned canned crap will rot your brain.
     Penultimate is one of those words that educated people like Your City League Advocate use to describe the next to last of something. In the sentence that I just stated, the penultimate week of the season is the next to last week of the season. Got that?
    Now that you're armed with at least one new word this week, you can go down to your local watering hole and impress the locals with the limitless expanse of your vocabulary, win a bunch of bar bets against the other losers you hang around with, and maybe impress that dishwater blond drinking Southern Comfort at the end of the bar with the hoop earrings big enough for a poodle to jump through, the Nicki Minaj baby tee and tramp stamp enough that she may actually give you the time of day.
     Never let it be said that Your City League Advocate is not a charitable sort. He has provided you with a nugget of wisdom that you didn't have before, and now your life as been enriched by a factor of at least ten-thousand because of the Advocate's act of generosity. You're welcome. Now go away.
    (Yes, Mr. Advocate. Thank you for your act of kindness, you are so good to us poor imbeciles, who sit at your feet catching the precious drops of knowledge that dribble forth from your mouth.)
    Whatever. Now back to what I was saying. The four teams going into the playoffs are all but set, the only thing to determine will be who's playing who in two weeks.

The Standings
University Prep 3-0
Perry 3-0
Brashear 2-1
Allderdice 1-2
Carrick 0-3
Westinghouse 0-3

     The Allderdice Dragons jumped out to a 15-0 lead against University Prep off a 51 yd blocked punt return by Marquis Martin and an 11yd run by Patrick Ferguson. Sadly, that was all the points the 'Dice could score as the Panthers/Wildcats responded by running off 35 unanswered points to crush the Dragons 35-15. U-Prep QB Akil Young passed for 266 yards and blistered the Allderdice secondary with three touchdown passes. Ryan Daniels scored off two running plays to lift the 'Cats to an undefeated 3-0 and first place in the City.
     The Dragons face Carrick on Friday night. If they can beat the Raiders, they lock up at least the fourth place seed, and may have a shot at third place if Perry beats Brashear tonight to set up the 'Dice's last game in the regular season against the Bulls in the matinee on Friday the 19th.
     Brashear kept its hold on third place by crushing their South Hills neighbors, Carrick 35-6. All DaBulls points came on the ground as Diondre Farris scored twice and Deshawn Roberts three times.
     The other team at the top of the table, Perry, beat Westinghouse 43-2 to keep pace with U-Prep at 3-0. Assuming that both Perry and U-Prep win this weeks games against Brashear and Westinghouse, respectively, The One Stars and the 'Cats will tie up on the 19th under the lights. for sole possession of first place and the regular season title.

Thursday October 11 7:00pm
Perry vs. Brashear
     If there's one thing for certain, when Perry and Brashear hook up, there will be fireworks. The Commodores and the Bulls have faced each other multiple times with hardware on the line. And they do not like each other. Despite losing a lot of players from last seasons undefeated team, and picking up transfers from Langley when it closed, Brashear has had a decent season. They went 0-3 against non D8 competition, but they managed to win the two easy games on their City schedule against Carrick and the House. They can't get first place due to their loss to U-Prep which kills their head -to-head. But a win against Perry can give this young squad plenty of motivation to go into their final tussle against the Dragons. But the Advocate thinks that Perry is the stronger team in this matchup. Perry

Friday October 12 3:30pm
U-Prep vs Westinghouse
     The biggest challenge that U-Prep will have in this game is keeping themselves motivated enough to play a disciplined, penalty-free game against the Bulldogs. The bench should see plenty of action in this one. The starters will get enough work to tune up for the big test next week, but not so much as to risk a serious injury. U-Prep

Allderdice vs Carrick
     It's too bad that the City League does not practice flex-time scheduling. If the Advocate ran the league, he'd put this game on Thursday night and have Perry and Brashear play on Friday night. Friday night should be reserved for the best matchup of the week, not a yawner like this one. It's not like City League teams aren't used to having different amounts of time to prepare from week to week. The League's been doing this for better than 20 years. Allderdice should be able to win this game with no problem. They'll face the same issues that U-Prep will have against the 'House. Namely, giving their starters enough reps to keep them fresh, while getting the bench players quality time. Allderdice

Thursday, October 04, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 6

     By 9:30pm last Saturday night, the five City League schools who played over the weekend, were questioning witnesses as to whether anyone had gotten the license plates of the trucks that mowed them down. Non-conference opponents committed multiple hit and run offenses against the Advocate's teams to the tune of a 192-55 display of utter smackage. The only team to escape the beatdown was University Prep and that was only because their game against Gilmour Academy was canceled.
     The only game that could be deemed as competitive was the Brashear-Erie Strong Vincent game on Thursday night in which the Colonels were able to eke out a last minute score to win 21-14. Beyond that and Allderdice's 35-20 loss to Wheeling Central where Patrick Ferguson rushed for 155 yds and 2 touchdowns, the rest of the league was folded, spindled and mutilated at the hands of opponents from West-By-Gawd Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia.
     Perry scored on its opening drive on a 73 yd TD pass from Ahmad Turner to Mallory Claybourne, but Liberty Christian of Virginia rebounded by scoring 49 unanswered points to embarrass the Commodores on the SahSide 49-7. Ft. Hill (MD) scored on all eight of its possessions in their win over Carrick 54-8, and Westinghouse got their only score off a blocked field goal attempt and Iziaiah Spearman pounced on the ball and scampered 89 yds for the touchdown, but could do no more against the Big Red of Steubenville, OH.      All told, the City League went 2-14 against non-league competition this season.
     But the good news is, that last weekend signaled the end of non-league play for the City, and with no more need to travel all over God's creation to act as other team's tacking dummies, the school's of the City League can now concentrate on the most important three weeks of the season, where playoff seeds will be determined.

The Standings.
U-Prep 2-0
Perry 2-0
Allderdice 1-1
Brashear 1-1
Carrick 0-2
Westinghouse 0-3

    The marquee matchup for this weekend will happen on Friday night at 7:00pm when the U-Prep Wildcats/Panthers take on the Allderdice Dragons. The last time these two teams met was in the City Championship game almost a year ago, when U-Prep took advantage of an ineffective 'Dice offense to claim their first ever City Title 14-0. Akil Young has emerged as the main offensive weapon for the 'Cats, throwing the ball over 400 yards and scoring 6 touchdowns in U-Prep's 3 games so far. He's completed 35 of 50 passes this season, and this in a league where running the ball is still considered the majority of City team's offenses.
     Allderdice will counter with Patrick Ferguson who stands 6 ft tall and weighs a Jerome Bettis-like 260 lbs. Ferguson has rushed for 535 yds off 89 carries and 6 touchdowns this season. But for the 'Dice to be successful, they'll need a good performance by QB Bishop Gethers. And as the Advocate has repeatedly said over the years, Allderdice has never been a school that has produced good quarterbacks. But they will need Gethers to shine if they want to win this game. A win will put Allderdice in a tie with U-Prep and give the Dragons the all-important head to head tiebreaker.
     The rest of the week in the City will have Perry taking on winless Westinghouse tonight at 7:00pm, and Brashear going against their South Hills neighbor Carrick in the Friday matinee. But the Advocate's Game of the Week is the new Battle of the East End featuring Allderdice and U-Prep.
     Unless the Mayans had it all wrong and the end of the world was to happen between the time the Advocate is writing this and 7:00pm tonight, It's safe to say that Brashear and Perry should have no problems handling their business against Carrick and the 'House. But the U-Prep-'Dice game could go either way. Ferguson is a legit scoring threat for the Dragons, but he can't do it all. And while Bishop Gethers is getting looks from colleges, it isn't because of his skills as a QB, but rather as a DB. He needs to come up big under center if the Dragons are to win this game. U-Prep has lost a lot from that championship team, but they still have a lot to play with, and Young looks like the real deal in the City League this season. As much as the Advocate wants to see his Dragons win this game, he isn't sold on Gether's ability to keep U-Prep's defense honest. So with a heavy heart, he has to predict that U-Prep will win on Friday night.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 5

     It's almost hard to believe that we have reached the halfway point of the football season in the City League. Just seems like yesterday when the teams that make up Your City League Advocate's favorite little football league were getting on buses and traveling hither and yon to play games against teams from West-By-Gawd-Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere.
     And this week, the League goes off the reservation for the final time this season to play a slate of non-district games before starting the manic three week playoff run next Thursday.

The Standings
University Prep 2-0
Perry 2-0
Brashear 1-1
Allderdice 1-1
Carrick 0-2
Westinghouse 0-2

     University Prep's Akil Young is starting to look the quarterback to watch in the City League this season. Young went 23 of 32 for 280 yards in a 40-12 win over the Brashear Bulls. He threw two touchdown passes to Marcus Johnson of 3 and 17 yards, respectively, and 1 TD pass of 39 yards to Clay Moorefield. Moorefield also scored on runs of 4 and 48 yards. Brashear scored off a 58 yard pass from Russell Page to Adam Tajuddin and a 48 yard toss to Jamal Smith. The loss drops the Bulls into a tie for second with Allderdice at 1-1.
     Originally U-Prep was scheduled to travel to Gilmour Academy in Ohio this weekend, but according to the PG website, that game was called off. In fact, the Advocate checked Gilmour Academy's website, and confirmed that on the 29th, they were not playing U-Prep. So it looks like the Panthers will be getting this weekend off.
     Brashear, on the other hand won't have to travel any further than down McArdle St from Brookline to the SahSide to take on Erie Strong Vincent. The Colonels come into this game 1-3, and judging by the rain that is falling outside the Advocate's palatial estate, it looks like it's gonna be a wet miserable evening at the George.
     Allderdice managed to even its record at 1-1 with a much needed 32-6 win over Westinghouse. The Dragons' QB/DB Bishop Gethers helped the 'Dice's cause on both sides of the ball snatching up a fumble and returning 39 yds for a touchdown. He also tossed and ran for a score, while stud RB Patrick Ferguson ran for two touchdowns and 118 yds in the easy win. The Dragons head down to Wheeling to take on 3-2 Wheeling Central on Saturday night.
     The loss drops Westinghouse into a tie for last with Carrick at 0-4, and an article by Trib HS beat writer Kevin Gorman explains the Bulldogs' plight.
     For those who don't know, Westinghouse is by far the smallest school in the City League with only 185 boys in grades 9-11, and they have to routinely play against schools in and out of the City with enrollments three and four times their own. The team they play this weekend, Steubenville High School in Ohio has 260 boys in grades 9-11, and Allderdice, the largest high school in terms of enrollment in the City has over 600 boys in those grades. The 'Dawgs haven't won a City title since 1996, and coach Monte Robinson feels that if the 'House were to move to the WPIAL, they could compete against schools their size. The Advocate would agree. They may not win a lot of games, but at least they'd be able to compete on a more equitable playing field than they face in the City League.
      Perry moved into a first place tie with U-Prep at 2-0 with a 47-12 drubbing of the Carrick Raiders.
Tomorrow evening, at 7:00, the Commodores will host Liberty Christian of Virginia in the Bulldogs first visit to Pittsburgh. Liberty Christian brings a 4-1 record into the George, and they have an impressive resume. Since 2004, they have won 4 Virginia Division 1 state titles, were runners-up in 2009, and made it to the state semi-finals in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Clearly, the Commodores will have their work cut out against this team.
      Carrick will head down to Fort Hill, Maryland to face the Sentinels, who have torched City League teams the past two years. The Sentinels are 2-2 coming into the game against the Raiders and looking at their results, it's been either feast or famine for Fort Hill. They won their first and third games at home by 45 and 64 points respectively, but on the road, it's a different story as they've been crushed by 29 and 38 points, respectively.
     A look down the road, once the City League returns to District 8 play: Allderdice will have U-Prep, Carrick and Brashear in their final three games; Brashear has Carrick, Perry, and Allderdice; U-Prep has the 'Dice, Westinghouse, and a regular season finale against Perry that could decide the regular season title as well as the No.1 seed in the playoffs. And finally, Perry will have the 'House, Brashear, and U-Prep. It's safe to say that unless either Carrick or Westinghouse can pull of a major upset or two, the playoffs should consist of U-Prep, Brashear, Perry and Allderdice. The question is, in which order. But that's why they play the games.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 4

     The first week of league play in the City League is in the books and Your City League Advocate is 3-0. He correctly predicted all three of last weeks games, and has stumped all the so-called pundits in the fishwrap media who thought that Allderdice would best Perry in last weeks feature matchup.

The Standings
U-Prep, Perry, and Brashear are 1-0, Allderdice, Carrick, and Westinghouse are 0-1 in league play.

     In that game, The Dragons and the Commodores spent most of the first half shooting themselves in the foot and not doing a very good job of that. Both teams accounted for six lost fumbles, and entered each others red zone multiple times only to come away with nothing due to turnovers, penalties or neither team being able to get out from under its own shadow. The first half ended in a scoreless tie. Allderdice had the ball for five possessions in the first half, lost three fumbles, had a kick blocked and lost 9 yds on a bad snap on a punt. That, boys and girls, is not good, definitely not the kind of play that is indicative of a team that was touted to win their first City title since 1967.
     With ten minutes left in the third quarter, Perry broke the ice with a DaRon Clark pass into traffic that bounced off two Allderdice defenders before landing into the arms of Juyuan Byrd. Clark was substituting for starter Ahmad Turner who left the game with an unnamed injury. The game remained 6-0 until Clark scored on a 4 yd run with 4:58 remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Commodores. Star running back Patrick Ferguson was removed from the game with a hip injury. As he is responsible for most of the 'Dice's offense, the Advocate hopes that the injury is a minor one and that he'll be back in action this week.
     Although, with the schedule that awaits the Green Hats the next two weeks, it may be wise to sit the young man out. Allderdice plays winless Westinghouse on Friday afternoon, and heads back down to West By-Gawd Virginia to play their final non-league game of the season against Wheeling Central Catholic on the 29th.
     Brashear defeated Westinghouse last Thursday night 30-7. DaShaun Roberts caught a 17yd pass for a touchdown and recovered a fumble and ran 11 yds for another to pace DaBulls. But what really caused the Advocates head to explode was that The Bulls Aaron Lagnese converted three extra points and made field goals 30, 35, and 37 yds. Now, can anyone who has followed the City League for any length of time, tell the Advocate what is so significant about this feat? He's waiting...Give up?
     Simple, boys and girls. The average City League kicker can barely make one field goal much less three. And they definitely won't even try a field goal of longer than 30 yds. And most City League teams don't even bother kicking for the extra point, they'd rather go for two. And have you ever seen City League teams perform or cover a kickoff? Let's just say it's not the highest priority on the coach's practice schedule. The average City kickoff goes 50 feet in the air and 20 yards forward, or skitters along the ground like a scalded rabbit.
     AAAnyway, with that win, Brashear notches one in the win column. The next opponent for the Bulls are the University Prep Panthers who destroyed the Carrick Raiders 56-0. Seven different players scored for U-Prep in their victory. 21 points scored off fumble recoveries alone. Akil Young threw for three touchdowns. And will someone please tell Mike White and his minions down at the PG to update their standings and schedule page? They have yet to acknowledge that U-Prep did actually play a game back in Week 2. If you remember, guys, U-Prep went up to Aquinas Institute in Rochester, NY and lost 49-20 two weeks ago. It's a sad state of affairs when a hack like Your City League Advocate manages to get the story more accurately than the 'pros' of the PG.

Thursday September 20 7:00pm
Perry vs Carrick.
Really? Perry.

Friday September 21 3:30pm
Allderdice vs Westinghouse
The Advocate doesn't know the status of Patrick Ferguson for this game. There was no indication of the seriousness of the hip injury he suffered against Perry. The Dragons should be able to muster enough offense to defeat the Bulldogs. While a loss here definitely does not hurt the 'Dice's shot at a playoff spot, they need to right the ship now. After their game at Wheeling, they resume their City Schedule with games against U-Prep, Carrick and Brashear in that order. Going 0-2 in City play against that lineup is not a good thing. Allderdice

Brashear vs University Prep
This is the Advocate's Game of the Week. The Advocate believes that U-Prep, while it has lost some key contributors from last season's incredible championship team, still has enough to beat a Brashear Bulls squad that is also very young. Both teams opened against weak opponents. This will be their first big test of the City League season. U-Prep

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 3

Now, the games count.

After traveling the length and breadth of the Tri-State area along its many highways and by-ways, and playing non-league games in the hinterlands and among the hedgerows, the teams of the Pittsburgh City League have finally come home to the friendly confines of George K. Cupples Stadium on the Sah'Side to commence the all important league play. After being the designated cupcakes playing in front of one-sided crowds in unfamiliar settings and coming away more often than nothing more than a loss for their troubles, now the remaining six City can spend the next two weeks scratching and clawing for those all-important wins within the League that will determine this season's playoff seeds.

Playoffs? Playoffs? Dear Advocate, surely you must have started celebrating your reaching the half century mark a mite early. This is only week 3. Isn't it a touch premature to start thinking about the playoffs? No,Bunkie, it is not. There are only five games on the league schedule. Even a game against a bottom dweller like a Carrick or a Westinghouse can spell the difference between making the playoffs and being on the outside looking in. There are no easy games in this miniaturized version of the City League. Every game counts, and even a Carrick or a Westinghouse can play the spoiler.

Your City League Advocate was listening to the podcast about high school football hosted by Mike White and Terry Shields, and a surprising amount of the show was dedicated to the City League, which those who are familiar with this podcast know, that the City can go weeks on end without even the slightest acknowledgment. Not only did Messrs. White and Shields open the podcast with the upcoming game between Allderdice and Perry as one of their feature matchups, they also posed the question of the City joining the WPIAL in football, which is starting to gain some traction amongst the aficionados of the high 
school game played in this area.

The two hosts agreed that the first possibility of a merger would occur with the next enrollment cycle in two years time, but they also opined that before the City would pursue a merger, two things should happen.
One, the City should spend more money on enlarging coaching staffs. Which, while it would be nice to have the massive staffs that the leading Quad A WPIAL schools have, the chances of that happening are slim and none, given the financial crisis the Pittsburgh Public Schools find themselves in. The other, would be if one or more of the schools would form a co-op in order to better compete with the big boys of the WPIAL.

Now, this got the Advocate's mind to thinking, which depending on the subject matter being perused, can be a very scary and somewhat dangerous situation. The Advocate knows that the PIAA allows schools who have difficulty putting together sports teams due to low enrollment, to form a co-op arrangement whereby two or more schools can pool their talent together to form a team that will play under a common banner.

After all, the City League already has such a creation. University Prep is a three-headed hydra consisting of players from Obama Academy, University Prep High School, and Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, plus a few players from various charter schools, who come together and play under the U-Prep name and colors.

But the Advocate isn't sure that the PIAA would allow the other schools in the City League to enter into co-ops for the sole purpose of making a team that could compete at the highest levels of the WPIAL.
Allderdice, Perry, Carrick, Brashear, and Westinghouse have no problem getting enough players together to form football teams. They may not be very good football teams, but with the exception of a Westinghouse, they don't have small enough talent pools that would require a co-op arrangement.

But put aside the PIAA's rules for a second. Suppose that a co-op could be legal in order to make a team that could compete in the WPIAL from the get-go. What schools could be involved? U-Prep would not be able to enter into a co-op because they already are one. But for sheer competitiveness, geography and logistics be damned, a three school co-op consisting of Allderdice, Perry and Brashear would stand the best chance of at least being respectable in the Quad A right out of the gate. They may even be able to dig up enough wins to grab a lower seed in the playoffs.

If only two schools could make up the co-op, a combination of any two of the schools mentioned above could also make some noise. Numbers wouldn't be an issue, any two the schools mentioned can bring out 60-80 players for football. And even a two school co-op would be better able to compete right away, and by compete, the Advocate is saying, win two or three games in the conference in their first season of the WPIAL, and make the playoffs in their first five years.

The City went 2-4 in this latest round of non-league games last weekend. Allderdice became the first City team in three years to notch a win against Linsly School out of West By-Gawd Virginia, defeating the Cadets 24-6. The Dragons rode to victory of the back of a 243 yd rushing performance by senior tailback Patrick Ferguson, who scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Bishop Gethers tossed a 29 yard TD pass to Jaylen Wilkins to round out the scoring. The Advocate is wondering whether this was just a down Linsly squad or were the Dragons that good. This was a Linsly team that hung 44 on the 'Dice last season.

The Dragons opponent this Friday night was also a victor. The Perry Commodores traveled to Bangor, PA to take on St. Pius X and the One Stars emerged the winner by a count of 32-13. Perry opened the scoring with 9 yd pass from Ahmad Turner to Quentin Carter. Pius responded with 13 point s of a 31 yd TD pass and a 65 yd pick six. But Commodores shook off the setback and scored four more times off rushes of 49,19,1, and 60 yds respectively.

Westinghouse slipped to 0-2 on the season with a 37-22 loss to Wheeling Central Catholic. The Maroon Kinghts opened up to a 37-0 lead off of five runs and a 27 yd field goal. The Bulldogs scored all their points in the 4th quarter.

The Big Bads open City League play against Brashear who also headed down to Wheeling, but they played Wheeling Park and lost to the tune of 41-14. No summary of the scoring was available.

Carrick lost to Chestnut Ridge 35-12, and U-Prep was beaten by Aquinas Institute in Rochester,NY 49-20.

Thursday Sept 13, 7pm
Brashear vs Westinghouse
DaBulls and the Bulldogs open up league play both sporting 0-2 records. Both teams are very young. Brashear picked up a bunch of Langley's players when that school closed. Westinghouse didn't benefit from either Langley or Oliver's demise. The 'House will be battling its usual demons: Low numbers to start with, and attrition due to grades or players quitting as the season goes along, although if they can get a win or two and make some noise for the playoffs, they may be able to keep the kids motivated enough to stick around. But while the Advocate's heart is for the 'Dawgs, his head has to pull for the Bulls. Brashear

Friday Sept 14, 3:30pm
Carrick vs U-Prep
The Panthers didn't play a game on opening weekend, which should insure that they aren't as dinged up. They suffered a 29 point loss to a very good Aquinas Institute team in New York. While U-Prep isn't as strong as they were last year, they are still expected to make the playoffs. U-Prep

Friday Sept 14, 7:00pm
Allderdice vs Perry
It's not often that Mike White's high school football podcast leads off with a City League game as one of his featured matchups. And what a matchup to open City play with. The Dragons have a stud tailback in Patrick Ferguson. Perry counters with a respectable running back of their own in Curtis Edmonds. But Perry has a better passing game. The 'Dice's secondary will get a workout. Allderdice will have to dig up a passing game from somewhere. The Advocate loves his Dragons, but he's not sure if they are worth the No.1 ranking that the PG has bestowed upon them. He's picking the Commodores in a tight one. Perry

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2012 City League Preview Week 2

     Now, Your City League Advocate is one who tolerates a lot of things. As he is fast approaching the big 5-0 in a few short days, The Advocate has to take it easy when rendering his admittedly flawed opinion on most subjects of the day, hence he spikes his already high blood pressure.
     And considering that the annual festival of wanton excess, unhealthy living, and general naughtiness that is the annual Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake is coming up soon, the Advocate has to save his limited energy for more important and engaging pursuits, like judging the myriad of promising entries in the Most Lethal Concoction Contest, or rounding up willing contestants and, uh assistants in the Catch the Virgin Race, or making sure that the crack security detail consisting of an unlikely combination of ex-Navy Seals, retired SWAT team operatives, and members of the local Hell's Honeys motorcycle club can work together to keep an eye out for the local gendarmes, if and when they decide to cruise by the undisclosed location.
     Not so much to keep the boys in blue away, but to discreetly inform the Advocate of their arrival so that he can insure that the requisite donations to the Policeman's Benevolence Association are made out in the proper amounts and given to the correct people.
     Many of the subjects that the Advocate opines upon are well beyond his limited knowledge of just about everything. But like many pundits have proven over the years, the lack of knowledge about a subject doesn't stop Your City League Advocate from rendering an opinion about them. As a matter of fact, The Advocate has learned from his many readers that uninformed opinions tend to be the most entertaining, and Your City League Advocate would not be performing his high calling to the best of his ability if he didn't entertain his followers.
     The bone of contention that is baking Your City League Advocate's biscuits this week has to do with Thursday night high school football. The Advocate listened to a podcast recently hosted by two of the local high school football pundits that ply their trade for the local fishwrap. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. These two gentlemen, Mike White and Terry Shields, host a weekly podcast where they talk about the high school football scene and break down the upcoming big games in the WPIAL and City League.
     All in all, they do a very good job. In the latest edition of the podcast, Mr. White and Mr. Shields tell their audience about the deal between Root Sports (formerly Fox Sports Pittsburgh) and the WPIAL to televise certain high profile games on Thursday nights. Which the Advocate has no problem with.
     But what frosts the Advocate's wedding cake is the implied suggestion that somehow, playing football on Thursday nights is something that is exclusive to the WPIAL and Root Sports and that it has never been done before, and/or isn't done anywhere else. And this further perpetuates the belief that if the WPIAL doesn't do it, or hadn't thought of it, then it doesn't exist, or isn't worth doing.
      To which, the Advocate has to raise his hackles and protest most strenuously, that the City League has been playing football on Thursday nights for over 20 years. Every since the Pittsburgh Public Schools decided rightly or wrongly to move all football games to Cupples Stadium back in the late 80's, football has been played on Thursday nights.
      Now the Advocate will concede the point that the City League plays on Thursday nights out of necessity, and the WPIAL/Root Sports co-op does it to showcase matchups that stand out from the rest of the pack. 
      And he also concedes that in most cases, the best City matchups don't always play on Thursday nights. And that the crowds on Thursday nights at the George won't come close to the turnouts that come out to see two top WPIAL teams play.
      But for the WPIAL to act as if they invented Thursday night football is ludicrous. Give credit where it is due. The City League has been doing Thursday night football long before the WPIAL even conceived of the idea.
     Okay, enough ranting about the provincialism of the WPIAL. On to the weekend past and weekend upcoming in Everyone's Favorite Little Football League.

     The City League opened their season last weekend with all but University Prep in action against schools from outside the area. And as expected, all five teams ended up losing.
     The only City squad that gave a credible performance was Brashear, who hosted Slippery Rock and hung tough with the Rockets from Dist 10 until a 1 yard run with 41 seconds left in the game from Slippery Rock's Ryan Currie broke a 26-26 tie and handed them the win. Bulls QB Russell Page went 14-23 for 254 yds and three TD's plus a rushing score. DaBulls next game is on September 7, when they travel down to West By-Gawd Virginia to take on Wheeling Park who are 1-1 on the season. The Advocate is tempted to ask the Brashear coaches to head over to the dog track and lay a fiver on a dog named Gimpy running in the sixth race. The Advocate has it on good authority that this pup is a dead cert. The fact that it only has three legs, is blind in one eye, and will hump anything in sight apparently has no effect on its performance.
     Perry headed up to Veterans Memorial in Erie, a venue they are more than familiar with to face the Ramblers of Cathedral Prep, an opponent they are more than familiar with. And ECP didn't hesitate in letting the Commodores know how much they missed their rivals from Pittsburgh by handing them a 56-6 beatdown. Perry's lone score came on a 1 -yard run by Ahmad Turner. Perry will next take to the road traveling 301 miles across I-80 to play St. Pius X of Bangor, PA. The Royals were crushed in their home opener 61-0 to perennial power Southern Columbia.
     The Allderdice Dragons headed down to Morgantown to play the Mohigans and were outclassed 32-13. Chazzy Thomas scored three touchdowns for Morgantown and rushed 15 times for 204 yds. The 'Dice's two scores came off an 89 yd kick return by Antonio Thomas and a 1 yd rushing TD by Matt Yarbough. The Dragons will come home to host the Linsly Cadets who lost their first game of the season 33-19, to Parkersburg South. The last time Allderdice and Linsly tied up, the Cadets whipped the Dragons 41-6 in West VA.
     Carrick took on Grove City and was blanked 40-0. The Eagles rushed for 269 yards and passed for 119, scoring 5 touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. Next up for the Raiders, will be an 111 mile trip down I-70 for a road game against Chestnut Ridge which is a AA school out of New Paris, PA. The Lions are 0-1, losing 51-20 to Central out of Martinsburg.
     The Westinghouse Bulldogs headed into the Buckeye State to play Buckeye Local and were defeated 24-6. The Big Bads next game is against Wheeling Central Catholic who is 1-1 after losing their last game to Weirton Madonna.
     University Prep finally gets to start their season after waiting too long to put their schedule together, and having to scramble to find games at the last minute. The Wildcats will be heading 288 miles up I-79 and I-90 into Rochester, NY to take on the Little Irish of Aquinas Institute. Aquinas is 1-0 on the season winning their opener 44-7 over St. Francis. Aquinas is listed in the top 5 in New York according to Max Preps, and finished last season 10-2. One of the marquee games on their schedule is a game against Erie Prep on Oct 12.

     As you can see, City League teams are traveling far and wide to find quality opponents. This is the second week in a row that City squads are playing non-conference opponents, and City League play will start the weekend of the 13th and 14th. Which incidentally is the weekend of the Advocate's Birthday Bacchanal and Clambake.
     The Advocate wishes that the gurus who put together the League schedule for the season would have consulted with him in regards to the logistics and difficulties of covering the City League whilst also trying desperately to keep the lid on the most infamous gathering of free-spirited whackjobs in recorded history. We're only taking about a gathering that would make Caligula's biggest debauchery look like a Sunday School picnic. How hard can it be to make allowances for the one person in this area who covers the City League with any kind of semi-professionalism? Oh well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 2012 City League Preview

     The 93rd campaign of City League Football begins this Friday, and a league that consisted of as many as a dozen high schools battling on the oil-soaked dirt gridirons of the Seventies enters 2012 with exactly half that many entrants. Langley and Oliver are the latest high schools to enter the ranks of the fallen in the history of this storied league, where they take their place among such famous institutions as: Schenley; Fifth Avenue; Gladstone; Allegheny; South Hills; Peabody; and South. The players who wore the maroon and white of the Langley Mustangs and the brown and orange of Oliver's Bears have found new homes among Brashear's Bulls and Perry's Commodores.
     While there are no more high schools scheduled to close in the near future, there is the question of what will ultimately happen to the City League in general and football in particular. The recent acceptance of Allderdice, Carrick, Brashear and Obama Academy into the WPIAL for certain sports could be the the first steps towards what many who have watched the City League over the years including Your City League Advocate have argued about.
     And that is the eventual disbanding of the League and the merging of its athletics programs into the WPIAL. For now, the City League will still be contesting league championships and representing District 8 in the PIAA with all six schools in football, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and wrestling. Soccer, baseball and softball will have City teams participating, but no league playoffs or championships. The remaining sports will also have league competitions with varying numbers of schools participating, but in most cases, not Allderdice.
     But it is the Advocate's contention that this arrangement will last but a couple years and then the PIAA will step in and impose its will on the League to merge with the WPIAL. The Advocate's position on this matter has been made clear on numerous occasions so he sees no reason to expound upon it here.
The Advocate does believe that absorption into the WPIAL is inevitable. And he is not against it. One can tilt at windmills for only so long. But he still feels that the long history of the City League must still be preserved. And that is something that can only be done by those who have grown up in the League, and have followed it through its rise and decline.
     And make no mistake about it, the City League has been in decline for over 30 years. The disparity in competitiveness between the City and the rest of the state in many sports has never been wider. Fewer athletes are getting exposure to D1 colleges, and even fewer get looks from major college programs. A league that has struggled to stay relevant over the years may be on the verge of being erased completely, its schools subsumed by its larger all-consuming cousin, the WPIAL.
    But until that fateful day comes, the League still stands. Bending, but not broken. Streamlined down to its final six survivors. Ready to face its final days, however many or few that may be, with the grim determination that can only be found amongst kids who grew up in the inner city with all its pitfalls and challenges. Many of these kids come from broken homes, from neighborhoods in stagnation. They have seen friends cut down before their lives have even had a chance to bloom. They have been forced to grow up a lot faster than they'd like.
     But instead of embracing the life of gangs and drugs, at least for the time they are in high school, they turn their energies towards the field of play, towards spirited athletic competition. And while they lack the luxuries, and the necessities that their suburban brethren take for granted, they still have one thing...hope, a chance, a shot, an opportunity, if you will to make their lives better. To lift themselves out of the quicksand that claimed so many of their friends and relatives. Some will make it, some won't. But they all have the chance. Don't feel sorry for these kids. They won't let you. And they don't want you to. But they do desire and deserve your support. And the Advocate has their back.

   Okay, campers. Enough of the sentiment and flowery speech. It's time to play some football. Due to the small lineup of schools, and the changes in the WPIAL's method of scheduling, This season has posed significant challenges for the City League. Because the WPIAL no longer allows member schools to schedule a non conference game on their own in the first week as in the past, the routine of City teams opening their season against WPIAL competition is kaput.
   As a result, City League teams have had to scramble to pick up games when and wherever they could. Some of the perennial opponents from West Virginia like Wheeling Central Catholic, Wheeling Park, and Linsly Academy, and familiar District 10 opponents from Erie like Cathedral Prep, and Strong Vincent have stepped up to fill holes in schedules, but some new names and faces will lining up across the scrimmage line against City League squads this season. Schools like Slippery Rock, Gilmour Academy from Ohio, and Liberty Christian from Virginia will be gracing the George with their presence for the first time, while some City schools will be hopping on the bus and traveling to places like Grove City, Fort Hill in Maryland, Buckeye Local in Ohio, and for the first time in the league's history, a City team will be playing on the road against a team from New York. Every team will be playing at least one game against an opponent from outside Pennsylvania, and all but one will be making a trip out of state.
     Also due to there only being six football playing schools in the City League, there are only five games on the league schedule, making every game even more important towards getting that coveted playoff seed. Jockeying for playoff spots will begin as early as the first league games the weekend of September 13-15. The City Championship game, usually held on the second Saturday in November has been moved up a week to the first Saturday.


     The Post Gazette and the Trib have the Dragons as the team to beat in the City League this season. And the 'Dice has plenty of incentive to finally break what is now the longest championship drought in the City League. The last time the City Championship trophy paid a visit to 2409 Shady Ave in Squirrel Hill was 1967. The Advocate was only five years old, The Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl, the ABA was formed, Montreal hosted the World's Fair, and a team with a similar drought, the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup.
     The 'Dice has been in the title game three times since 2000, and has come up empty each time. Two of the three times have been close affairs, but they had one thing in common. In both games, Allderdice had a great running game...and little else in terms of offense.
     Let's step back into the dusty halls of history to the year 1990, which was a banner year for the 'Dice because it was the one and only year that Pitt, and NFL Hall of Fame great, Curtis Martin wore the Green and White. The Advocate remembers that season well, because that was the year that the Dragons mowed down every team in the City League during the regular season.
     But despite having arguably the greatest running back and offensive weapon in City League history, Allderdice still didn't win the title. They didn't even get to the title game. Why is that?, you ask the Advocate. Simple. Curtis Martin was the entire Allderdice offense. The coaching staff ran him out of the backfield. They lined him up out wide as a receiver, and threw to him. And the vast majority of the time, he was a men among boys. But the coaches didn't have anyone else to keep defenses on their toes. Other than Martin, they had no passing game. Everyone knew what was coming, and they still couldn't stop him, but it still wasn't enough to get the 'Dice to the title.
     Last year, Allderdice and University Prep played for the City Title. Both teams got to the final game on the backs of swarming relentless defense. University Prep had shut out 8 of their 11 opponents and had a five game shutout streak going into that City final. Allderdice's four league wins were all shutouts, and they held a Brashear team that went undefeated in league play to a safety in their semifinal game. But the Dragons lost to the Panthers despite having a running back who rushed for more than 900 yards during the season. The Dragons had no passing game.
      Their offense, like it was in 1990, was one-dimensional. And the 'Dice have the same situation going into this season. Patrick Ferguson, (6-1,250) a 2,900 yard career rusher returns for his final season to anchor the Allderdice offense. But it's up to quarterback Bishop Gethers, who has a strong arm, but isn't very accurate, along with three year starter Cornelius Ray to provide a second dimension to this offense. Allderdice lost Pitt recruit Tyrique Jarrett, but will still have a large presence on the line on both sides of the ball. Shawdi Parker (6-7, 350), and (6-3, 270) Brody Miller will bring the beef to the lines. The Dragons will open against two teams from West By-Gawd Virginia. They'll head down to Morgantown to take on the Mohighans who beat Westinghouse in a shootout 58-36 last year. The next week will see Linsly Academy come up to the George to open the home part of the season. Allderdice has yet to beat the Cadets of Linsly, come to think of it, no one in the City League has. The Dragons first City League test comes on the 14th of September when they take on Perry.


     DaBulls lost a lot due to graduation. 18 players including quarterback Adam Lynch have put on the cap and gown. But Brashear has also gained about 15 players from the now-defunct Langley program. The question is, are the former Mustangs good enough to cover the loss of the former Bulls? The Advocate says...maybe.
     Langley was a doormat for the City League for as long as the Advocate can remember, which isn't very much these days due to his rapidly advancing age. AAAnyway, the new Bulls should be pretty excited to be a part of a program that makes a yearly appearance in the City playoffs instead of one that was always on the outside looking in. And it can't hurt to have extra bodies. Russell Page and Angelo Reed will compete for the quarterback spot, and Jamal Smith will play on both sides of the ball as a leading receiver and and defensive back. Former Langley lineman Antonio Rosa (6-4, 290) will provide bulk on the Bull's O and D-lines. Brashear went 7-0 in league play during the regular season and lost to Allderdice 6-2 in their playoff game. The Bulls open the season at home against Slippery Rock and go on the road the next week against Wheeling Park.


     The Raiders have an uphill climb if they are to improve on a record who's only win came against a school slated to close at the end of the season. The Tribe were shutout 4 times in 2011, and held to 8 or fewer points 4 times. Standout players for Carrick include All-City receiver Orlando Harvard and sophomore rusher Joe Kalsek. Devon Cruse will be under center as quarterback, and will be depending on a O-line anchored by All-City sophomore lineman Josh Walker (6-1, 320) The Raiders will open on the road at Grove City and will host Chestnut Ridge out of New Paris, PA, between Johnstown and Bedford.


     Like the Bulls, the One Stars also benefited from a nearby school closing, when their long time North Side rival Oliver got the chop. The major concern facing the Perry coaching staff was whether the Perry and Oliver kids would get along. The rivalry between the Bears and the Commodores was a long and heated one.
     And getting players from both schools to come together required some delicate work as well as numerous team-building activities. But it seems that those efforts were largely successful. The Advocate thinks that Perry upgraded their program with the addition of the Oliver transfers to a greater extent than Brashear did with the kids from Langley. Oliver had seen better days, football and academic-wise, but was still a better program than Langley. As usual, Perry will have studs on offense. Standout All-City receiver Shakeem Cox, a former Oliver Bear will provide an immediate impact. Cox's versatility is also apparent in that he can also play quarterback if needed, which should provide the potential for trickeration and gadgetry.
Curtis Edmonds and Robert Willie return to tote the pig. But the Commodores have lost their star quarterback Darrelle Carson who threw for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. Replacing him will be (6-0, 205) Ahmad Turner. While their linemen are a tad smaller compared to the behemoths playing at other schools, never count out Perry's coaching staff. They teach the fundamentals, they inspire their players, and they have a bunch of trophies to prove it.
     Perry's tradition of scrimmaging and playing quality opponents anywhere continues as the One Stars open with two games on the road against perennial Catholic powerhouses, Erie Cathedral Prep and St. Pius X. Perry and ECP know each other very well having played multiple times in PIAA playoff games. And Pius X is a yearly contender in the PIAA's.
     On September 28, The Commodores will host Liberty Christian from Virginia, and the Advocate knows what you're thinking. Yes, that is the Liberty Christian founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell as a part of their massive Liberty University/Thomas Road Baptist Church empire. The Advocate did a little snooping around, and found out that Liberty Christian is a pretty good team. They went 11-0 last season. Perry will have their hands full. This could be the game of the season to check out.

**University Prep**

      The Panthers are now the Wildcats. U-Prep won the City Title last season in their first year of existence and came within one point of the being the first City League team to win a PIAA Class AAAA playoff game. U-Prep had an impressive 11-2 debut in 2011, beating perennial state playoff contender St. Pius X 24-12, and losing to State College in the AAAA playoffs in a thriller, 33-32. They outscored their City playoff opponents 32-0.
     Until their loss to State College, the Panthers/Wildcats had only one game where they gave up more than 12 points. And until they just added a road game for Sept 8th against Aquinas Institute of Rochester, NY, they weren't going to open their season until almost three weeks after the rest of the league. U-Prep will be the only team in the City League to have an open date this weekend. According to an article in the Tribune-Review, the Wildcats would have gone as far as Michigan to play this weekend. But the plans fell through, and the 'Cats are sitting idle.
     U-Prep graduated their stud rusher/linebacker, Jaylen Coleman, and their starting quarterback, Dante Forte. But the cupboard isn't bare. Akil Young will take up the duties under center, and Myles Caitlin will be the primary offensive target. Marcus Johnson and Stephon Hawthorne will also add versatility to the offense. The O-line is full of starters. And the linebacking corps should be competent, but they'll need to find people to step up in the secondary.


     The Big Bads are looking to transition from City League pretender to contender. The 'House hasn't added to their league-leading 35 City Titles since 1996. The 2012 Bulldogs are a very young squad, and being the smallest school in the City League, they are also battling attrition. And the closures of Oliver and Langley didn't add to the 'House's lineup. The one advantage of being so young is that it can pay dividends down the road. Ronald Brown will handle quarterback duties for Westinghouse. He has a strong arm and the coaches are impressed with his accuracy. Brown will have two good sized receivers to throw to in 6-2 Robert Bailey, who'll also play hoops for the 'House, as well as 6-1 freshman Sean Lyons. Westinghouse will open the season with two road games. This weekend, they'll travel to Buckeye Local, an Ohio AAAA school, and then six days later, down the road to Wheeling Central Catholic.

     So, after all this wordage, who does the Advocate see hoisting the hardware on November 3rd? If Allderdice can develop a passing game that can complement their strong running attack, then there is a good chance that the Dragons can win their first City title in 45 years. Although he's not as bullish on his Dragons as the pundits at the PG and the Trib. They will definitely be a playoff contender, along with Brashear, Perry and U-Prep. But as far as the Advocate can see, there is no head and shoulders team that he'd tell his readers to bet the kiddies college fund on.
     Brashear has a lot of new bodies from Langley, but only a few will be significant contributors this season, and they won't make up for the losses to graduation.
     Perry also has a transfusion of talent from Oliver, and unlike Brashear, they have harvested a bigger upside. The Advocate believes the Commodores are the only threat to Allderdice.
     U-Prep lost a lot of its defense, and that explosive running attack. But while they have players coming back, the Advocate doesn't see the Wildcats having the year they had last year.

Here are the Advocate's rankings and predictions:
  1. Allderdice
  2. Perry
  3. University Prep
  4. Brashear
  5. Carrick
  6. Westinghouse.
Allderdice and Perry in the City Championship game.

Allderdice wins the City title in a squeaker.

Friday, July 13, 2012

$800 for a blazer...Made in China??

     It's been a while since I've posted anything of substance to the Scribbler.  Maybe it means that the days of this thing are numbered.  A lot going on in the world, but I've chosen not  to opine about it.  The upcoming Presidential election and all the partisan bickering by both sides have made me decide to keep my opinions to myself, lest I either be labeled as Un-American by one side or unenlightened by the other.  So I've stayed away from politics, and all the kerfuffle about what's happened at Penn State re: the fallout from the Sandusky scandal.  I tend to write about the stuff that gets into my head and won't leave until I put it into writing.  And a lot of it has nothing to do with the events of the day.  Lately, I've been putting most of my writing chops into my latest Oh My Goddess! fanfic.
     But the sturm und drang that has erupted recently with the release of the US Olympics team's uniforms has planted itself into my head, and won't go away until I put something down on it. ABC News posted this story about lawmakers who want to have the Ralph Lauren designed, and Chinese made uniforms 'burned.'
     Now, personally, the fact that politicians like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are woofing and hollering with such righteous indignation about the origin of our Olympic teams uniforms is more than a little funny because many of the actions of Democrats and Republicans in Congress over the years have pretty much placed the textile industry in the United States on life support for years, and I'd love to look into their closets and see how of their $1,000+ suits and dresses are made in the good ol' US of A.  This is typical grandstanding and piling on by our elected representatives in an election year, because it makes for cheap political points, and it gets folks all bent out of shape, which makes the media content providers happy.
      And of course, the right will blame Obama because it happened on his watch and because it's a presidential election year, even though we've been getting many of our goods from China while there have been Democratic and Republican presidents occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  When yinz folks go to Wal-Mart to save a buck or two on Pudding-Pops for the kiddies, where do you think Little Joey's Angry Birds T-shirt was made?  I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.  
     I understand why businesses would rather make their stuff in China.  A business makes money by maximizing their revenue, and minimizing their costs.  And labor is usually the largest cost for any business.  Chinese workers will work for a whole lot less than American ones.  Face facts.  Americans want American workers to make their stuff, but they don't necessarily want to pay the extra premium that American workers will demand.  
    But Pelosi, Reed et al do have a point.  While people won't grumble all that much about Little Joey's Angry Birds T-shirt being made China, anything having to do with the Stars and Stripes will get American's dander up.  The US Olympic team represent the people of the United States of America.  They have sacrificed time,  blood, sweat, and tears, endured career threatening injuries, and unlike most other nations, get no support from the government.  The US Olympic Committee is funded entirely by private funding, including donations from people like you and me.  But they also get funding from corporate sponsorships, and the clothing manufacturers also get to put their logo on the uniforms.  Government does not put one red cent into the funding of the Olympic team.  
     But getting back to my point, these young men and women put all this time and effort out for one wear the colors of their country.  One of the highest forms of patriotism is to represent your country, whether in field of battle or the field of competition.  The least the Olympic committee could have done is to have Ralph Lauren commit to making the uniforms in the United States by American workers.  
     Now, would having the uniforms made in the US, have revived the textile industry in this country? No, it would have been akin to dropping a glass of water into a dried out Lake Michigan.  But it would have shown that the athletic ambassadors of America, who work so hard, and get so little support from the government that Pelosi, Reed et al make their sizable living running, would at least be able to proudly walk out on the Olympic Stadium floor in London in two weeks wearing gear made in this country proudly made by the people whom they will represent in victory and defeat.