Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 City League Playoff Preview

University Prep

    It’s playoff season in the Pittsburgh City League, and in the Advocate’s long history of watching his favorite league play football, he has never seen a playoff scenario develop like the one that gets underway this Thursday night.  For the first time in the Advocate’s memory, a team that has only won one game this season will qualify for the playoffs, although not by their performance on the field.  
   As a result of the fight that occurred between Perry and Westinghouse after their game on October 10, the Pittsburgh Public Schools decided to cancel the last game of the season for both teams.  In both cases, those games were meaningless non-league affairs, but Perry had qualified for the final playoff spot.  Three days ago, administrators at Perry took one further step and wisely decided to pull the Commodores football team out of the playoffs.  Which meant that the playoff spot fell to the next team in line, record-wise.  Which happened to be the Carrick Raiders, owners of a 1-4 league record.  
    While the Advocate is pretty sure that the coaches and players at Carrick were pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to extend their season by at least one more game, he is also sure  they understand that standing between them and a shot at a sixth City Championship is a very hungry Allderdice squad that is trying to win their first City title since 1967, that has mowed down their City competition in 2014 by a combined score of 188-23, and that is very anxious to get that 47 year old smelly assed monkey off their backs.  
    Of the three non-league season finishers on the docket last weekend, the most interesting one was the shootout that happened on last Friday night between Allderdice and Linsly Academy out of West-By-Gawd Virginia.  When it was all said and done both teams scored a combined 98 points with Allderdice pulling out a 54-44 victory over the Cadets.  Quarterback James Jackson completed 23 of 42 passes for 318 yards.  He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.  He and his brother Tim Jackson connected for two touchdown passes of 66 and 15 yards.  He also threw touchdowns to Lamone Dixon and Joe Graham for 2 and 17 yards, respectively.  Jeremiah Hardrick also contributed with a 4 yard rush for a touchdown, and Tim Jackson had a 100 yard pick six in the first quarter.  The Advocate didn’t attend this game, although he wishes he did.  The Dragons finish the regular season at 7-1 on a 7 game winning streak.
    University Prep traveled to Stuebenville, OH to take on the Big Red and ended up on the short end of a 49-20 loss.  Ron Brown figured in all the scoring for U-Prep cashing in three different ways.  He caught a 4 yard pass from David Strozier, ran for a 2 yard TD, and threw a 15 yard strike to Kenny Robinson.
    Carrick also took a trip to the Mountaineer State to take on Wheeling Park, and received a 36-17 smackdown for their trouble.  The Raiders got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Joe Kalsek scored on a five yard run, and they tackled the Wheeling quarterback in the end zone for a safety.  Joe Thornton picked up a Wheeling Park fumble and an it back 40 yards for a touchdown to finish the Raider’s scoring.

    Thursday October 23
    #2 University Prep vs #3 Brashear
    The Panthers aren’t used to looking up at an opponent in the standings.  They’ve won two City League championships and have appeared in the final all three years of their short existence, and have been the hunters instead of the hunted.  They come into tonight’s game losers of two straight.  While the Panthers have a robust offense, their defense does give up a lot of points. Ron Brown is a versatile weapon that U-Prep has built its entire offense around.  Brashear has weapons that can make the game interesting in Ty Powe and Khalil Sanders,  and they scored 34 points against that U-Prep defense in their previous meeting.  But that was back in week two.  The Advocate sees the Prep getting off the schneid tonight against the Bulls to punch their ticket into their fourth straight City League final on November 1st.  University Prep.

    Friday October 24
    #1 Allderdice vs #4 Carrick

    The Advocate is a firm believer in the old saying, “Never say never.”  He knows that anything can happen in the world of sports.  As improbable as it may be, Carrick has a puncher’s chance of upsetting the Dragons.   An interception or fumble at the wrong time, an important playmaker coming up injured, or an underdog playing with reckless abandon because they know that they have nothing to lose.  Allderdice can contribute to their own demise by looking past Carrick to either Brashear or U-Prep in the final.  These kids know that they have a very good chance of making school history, to be the team that breaks the longest championship drought in City League history.   To be sure, Carrick will take full advantage of the gift that fell into their laps.  They will bring the noise against the Dragons.  Coach Haslett will have to impress upon his boys the importance of respecting this opponent, but also to put the Raiders away decisively.  The ‘Dice has a balanced attack, and a strong defense.  In their previous meeting, Allderdice spotted the Raiders the opening touchdown, and then scored 48 unanswered points to win.  The Advocate expects the Raiders to put up a valiant fight reminiscent of a team that’s thinking “Why not us?”  But Allderdice is just too strong for Carrick to contain.  Allderdice