The Fumbler: Even on season's opening night, important games surface

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The Fumbler paid close attention to some of the recent eligibility rulings concerning student-athlete transfers. He could relate.

Earlier this summer, The Fumbler was going to take his prognosticating talent and transfer from the Post-Gazette to The Daily Planet. The newspaper that employed Clark Kent wanted the Superman of High School Football Prognosticators.

But The Fumbler had to have a hearing in front of the WPIAL (Why a Prognosticator Is Allowed to Leave). The WPIAL ruled The Fumbler ineligible to prognosticate at The Daily Planet, saying he transferred for prognosticating reasons and not simply to write for the magazine department, as The Fumbler had claimed.

Well, The Fumbler appealed the WPIAL's ruling to the PIAA (Prognosticator Is Allowed Anywhere). It doesn't' happen often, but the PIAA upheld the WPIAL and made The Fumbler ineligible at The Daily Planet. The Fumbler decided to stay at the PG. But The Fumbler has no regrets. The Daily Planet doesn't have a Varsity Xtra section like this, anyway.

So, The Fumbler is back for his 20th season of picking games for the PG. Here are his thoughts on this weekend's top contests:

Woodland Hills at Upper St. Clair, tonight at 7:30 -- No. 1 North Allegheny and No. 2 Gateway seem to be way ahead of everyone else in Class AAAA. Upper St. Clair is No. 3 and Woodland Hills No. 5, but The Fumbler believes there likely are six or seven teams that could be ranked in spots 3-5. The winner of this Southeastern Conference game deserves one of those spots. Winner: Woodland Hills.

Mars at Franklin Regional, tonight at 7 -- Franklin Regional returns to the Greater Allegheny Conference this year after a two-year "sabbatical" in the old Keystone Conference, and the Panthers' first game back just might go a long way in determining the conference title. Mars is a team that could make some noise this season, but no one is speaking louder in Class AAA right now than Franklin Regional. The Panthers' defense will make the difference. Winner: Franklin Regional.

Blackhawk at West Allegheny, tonight at 7 -- Blackhawk junior quarterback Chandler Kincade committed to Pitt when he was a sophomore. He most certainly is a talented quarterback, but has had trouble staying healthy in his first two seasons. West Allegheny doesn't have a star player, but it has one of the best "teams" in Class AAA. Winner: West Allegheny.

Washington at Greensburg Central Catholic, tonight at 7 -- This is the first game for Greensburg Central in the "post-Muzzy era." Muzzy Colosimo was fired as coach earlier this month. The Fumbler says that with or without Muzzy, Greensburg Central wouldn't win. Winner: Washington.

And the rest (home teams in capital letters):


WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Foothills Conference) Connellsville over KISKI AREA; McKEESPORT over Hempfield; GATEWAY over Latrobe; ALTOONA over Norwin. (Northern Eight) SENECA VALLEY over Butler; Central Catholic over SHALER; PINE-RICHLAND over Fox Chapel. (Southeastern) Baldwin over PETERS TOWNSHIP; Bethel Park over PLUM; Penn Hills over CANON-McMILLAN.

WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Big Nine) Belle Vernon over UNIONTOWN; TRINITY over Elizabeth Forward; WEST MIFFLIN over Laurel Highlands; THOMAS JEFFERSON over Ringgold. (Greater Allegheny) KNOCH over Greensburg Salem; Hampton over INDIANA; Highlands over HOLLIDAYSBURG. (Parkway) Central Valley over NEW CASTLE; Chartiers Valley over MOON; MONTOUR over Hopewell.

WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) VALLEY over Deer Lakes; SHADY SIDE ACADEMY over Ford City; Freeport over KITTANNING. (Century) STEEL VALLEY over Keystone Oaks; SOUTH FAYETTE over McGuffey; SOUTH PARK over Quaker Valley; Seton-LaSalle over SOUTH ALLE-GHENY. (Interstate) Mount Pleasant over WAYNESBURG; JEANNETTE over Southmoreland; CHARLEROI over Yough. (Midwestern) Ellwood City over NEW BRIGHTON; Mohawk over FREEDOM; BEAVER FALLS over Riverside.

WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) Laurel over SOUTH SIDE BEAVER; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart over UNION. (Black Hills) Brentwood over SERRA; MONESSEN over California; FORT CHERRY over Carlynton; Clairton over CHARTIERS-HOUSTON; BISHOP CANEVIN over Imani Christian. (Eastern) APOLLO-RIDGE over North Catholic; NORTHGATE over Riverview; Springdale over WEST SHAMOKIN; Wilkinsburg over LEECHBURG. (Tri-County South) Bentworth over WEST GREENE; Beth-Center over MAPLETOWN; Carmichaels over JEFFERSON-MORGAN; FRAZIER over Geibel.

NON-CONFERENCE -- DERRY over Albert Gallatin; MORGANTOWN, W.VA. over Allderdice; Beaver over BURGETTSTOWN; Burrell over BROWNSVILLE; GROVE CITY over Carrick; North Allegheny over MT. LEBANON; NORTH HILLS over Penn-Trafford; ERIE CATHEDRAL PREP over Perry; Rochester over AVONWORTH; BRASHEAR over Slippery Rock; AVELLA over Vincentian.

Saturday afternoon

WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) East Allegheny over SUMMIT ACADEMY.


Saturday night

NON-CONFERENCE -- Aliquippa over AMBRIDGE; BUCKEYE LOCAL, OHIO, over Westinghouse; Sto-Rox over SHENANGO.



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