I don't usually do this, but with the sports editor away the protege will play.
Here's my take on the WPIAL Championships today.
North Allegheny (12-0) vs. Woodland Hills (10-2)
Everyone knows about the tradition that Woodland Hills carries with it into Heinz Field. Recently, though, North Allegheny has made their mark. Led this season by quarterback Mack Leftwich, the Tigers have run wild over their competition.
Don't sleep on the big play capabilities of WH. They'll keep it close, but the Tigers have too much talent for the Wolverines. Tigers hoist the trophy, 28-14.
West Allegheny (11-1) vs. West Mifflin (11-1)
This should be a dandy.
Great defense versus great offense. The Indians haven't lost at Heinz Field, but they'll be taking on the No. 2 running back in the WPIAL in the Titans' Jimmy Wheeler. When Wheeler needs a breather, the Titans turn to quarterback Derrick Fulmore who can heave it deep or take off on his own.
West Allegheny has allowed only 26 points during their last seven games, all wins. Like many other games, this game will be won in the trenches and I think that bodes well for the Indians. Wheeler will get his yards, but the Indians will get the hardware. West Allegheny, 23-8.
Aliquippa (12-0) vs. Washington (12-0)
The Quips are the Quips. They keep rolling, but here comes Shai McKenzie and the Little Prexies. The WPIAL's leading rusher, McKenzie has rushed for 2,656 yards and scored 41 touchdowns this season. I thought the Prexies were going to meet their match last week against South Fayette, but when I thought about making my pick for the Fearless Five I hesitated and had to go to Charleroi coach Ed Jenkins for his thoughts. “Wash by 14” was his response.
Thinking about it more, McKenzie and Wash High can chew up yards on the ground. But this is Aliquippa. Heinz Field is like their home away from their stadium, The Pit. Close game, but I have to go with the Quips, 38-34.
Clairton (12-0) vs. Sto-Rox (11-1)
The Class A Championship, with notably smaller schools, will feature as much, if not more Division I talent than the three later games. The Vikings are talented bunch, but not like Clairton. News outlets from around the country have noticed what the Bears are doing. All the stories have one message. This 59-game winning streak is important to the city and the players. Sto-Rox will go into the record book ... as win No. 60, a new state record. Bears roll, 44-20.
• Does anyone else miss the Backyard Brawl?
Over the past few years the game was usually held the day after Thanksgiving. This year, it just seems like something is missing. Who knows what would have happened if the teams would have met this season.
Great offense, no defense for the Mountaineers. Decent run game and no consistency for the Panthers.
Like any other rivalry game, though, records rarely mattered in the Brawl.
13-9 anyone? Sorry, had to get that in there for my friends that are Mountaineer faithful! But, WVU owns the last four.
Here's hoping that one day the ADs can find a way to get the job done and play the game.
• With Pitt heading to the ACC and Maryland leaving the conference, when is the madness going to stop. Rutgers left the Big East to follow Maryland to the Big 10. When is the madness going to stop!? It's a shame that all this conference jumping has nothing to do with competition.
It's all about the dollar sign and the NCAA allows it. But, if a booster lends Johnny Linebacker some money for some clothes or groceries, it's an improper benefit and a violation.
Sooner or later, athletes have to get a piece of the pie. They're making too much money for the universities.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2667.