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