Gorman: Why Westinghouse needs a new landscape
Westinghouse was once the crown jewel of the city, a football program so strong under Pete Dimperio that it went to the City League championship game 21 consecutive seasons and won 17 times between 1946-66.
The Bulldogs have won 35 City championships, but none since 1996. Westinghouse is a Class A school playing against AAA and Quad A counterparts.
If that doesn't sound fair, consider the Bulldogs (0-4) will play Friday at Steubenville, Ohio, which beat Woodland Hills in 2009.
“It's a challenge for us, being the size of our school,” coach Monte Robinson said. “But, given our circumstances in the City League, it's what we have to do. Historically, in City League football, you had your bigger schools playing smaller schools but there was an even playing field. Now, it's like the playing field is a little lopsided.”
Robinson is reminded of just how lopsided at his day job. He works at Clairton for Project Grad, which assists students in preparing for and getting into college. So, he sees how a similar-size school can have record-setting success.
According to PIAA enrollment figures, Westinghouse has 185 boys in grades 9-11, significantly less than University Prep (266), Carrick (387), Perry (548), Allderdice (626) and Brashear (767).
Robinson won't go so far as to say Westinghouse would beat Clairton, which is riding a 51-game win streak, but after twice beating Bentworth he believes a move to the WPIAL would benefit the Bulldogs.
“We could play with other schools in our class,” Robinson said. “I think we could compete in Class A. We play out of our class every week. Every time we get a team at our eye level, we do very well.”
A 1995 Westinghouse graduate, Robinson was a student there at the height of the gang wars and can count at least a half-dozen teammates who were killed. He isn't blind to the reason why City students avoid Westinghouse.
“A lot of the parents who went to school back then, their kids are filtering into school now,” Robinson said. “There's a disconnect there. They don't want their kids subjected to the same things we went through. My head's not in the clouds on that. My thing is, there's some good things going on and we can still thrive.”
Robinson and his twin, top assistant Ramon starred on the Bulldogs' City champions in '92-93, and have a passion for restoring the tradition at Westinghouse — even if the odds are against them.
“It's definitely frustrating because I played on championship teams,” he said. “Growing up in Homewood, it was something everyone wants to be part of. It's tough because kids are going everywhere but Westinghouse. That's tough for me because we're a community school and the football team was always a pride of the community.
“What we're doing at Westinghouse, it's feasible. The landscape will have to change a little for us to start competing for titles, but it's encouraging at some levels.”
But the 'House won't feel at home until it starts playing schools its own size.