The Fumbler is regularly praised for his high school football prognosticating expertise, but what most people don't know is that he also has a keen sense of style.
Just this past weekend he drove to the University of Oregon to watch the Ducks play their season opener. (The Fumbler has not flown since the Federal Aviation Administration banned him from getting on a plane after he stopped rooting for the New York Jets when they waived Joe Namath).
The Fumbler has long been enamored by Oregon's innovative uniform designs. As he sat in the stands, an idea popped into his head -- Why not have WPIAL teams add to the flashy jersey trend?
So, upon his return to Western Pennsylvania, The Fumbler met with a group of coaches to discuss his thoughts -- Aliquippa's Mike Zmijanac, Woodland Hills' George Novak and West Allegheny's Bob Palko. But upon further review, the veteran coaches convinced The Fumbler there is so much history and tradition woven into the fabric of the current uniforms, that a change might do more harm than good. That was all The Fumbler needed to hear. He'll happily settle for buying an Oregon jersey on eBay.
Most of the jerseys remained the same in Week 1, as did The Fumbler's penchant for picking winners. He began his 20th season with a 51-17 record (.750).
Here are his thoughts on this weekend's top games:
North Hills (1-0, 0-0) at Central Catholic (1-0, 1-0), tonight at 7:30 (at Carnegie Mellon's Gesling Stadium) -- When these teams last met in 2005, North Hills missed an extra point late in the game and fell to Central Catholic, 21-20. This time around, North Hills might keep the score close for a half, but Central Catholic's deep, talented backfield will eventually wear the Indians down. Winner: Central Catholic.
West Mifflin (1-0, 1-0) at Belle Vernon (1-0, 1-0), tonight at 7:30 -- Belle Vernon has a lot of size with 6-foot-6, 290-pound lineman Dorian Johnson leading the way, but West Mifflin has more speed. The Fumbler thinks the Titans' Derrick Fulmore and Jim Wheeler have the potential to be one of the top quarterback/running back duos in Class AAA. Winner: West Mifflin.
Monessen (1-0, 1-0) at Brentwood (1-0, 1-0), tonight at 7:30 -- With mighty Clairton suddenly looking mortal, the winner of this game could pose a major threat to the Bears in the Black Hills Conference. Monessen will have the best player on the field in quarterback Chavas Rawlins, but The Fumbler believes Brentwood has the better team. Winner: Brentwood.
North Catholic (1-0, 1-0) at Springdale (1-0, 1-0), tonight at 7:30 -- North Catholic's P.J. Fulmore ran for a WPIAL-best 265 yards last week in a win against Apollo-Ridge. Getting anywhere near that number against Springdale's stout defense is unlikely. The Trojans have scored only six points against the Dynamos each of the past two seasons. Winner: Springdale.
And the rest (home teams in capital letters):
WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Foothills Conference) Gateway over CONNELLSVILLE; ALTOONA over Kiski Area; HEMPFIELD over Latrobe; Penn-Trafford over NORWIN. (Northern Eight) North Allegheny over FOX CHAPEL; SENECA VALLEY over Pine-Richland; Shaler over BUTLER. (Southeastern) BETHEL PARK over Mt. Lebanon; PENN HILLS over Peters Township; BALDWIN over Plum; Upper St. Clair over CANON-McMILLAN.
WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Big Nine) Ringgold over LAUREL HIGHLANDS; Thomas Jefferson over ELIZABETH FORWARD; Uniontown over ALBERT GALLATIN. (Greater Allegheny) MARS over Derry; Greensburg Salem over HOLLIDAYSBURG; HAMPTON over Highlands; FRANKLIN REGIONAL over Indiana. (Parkway) WEST ALLEGHENY over Ambridge; Hopewell over CHARTIERS VALLEY; BLACKHAWK over Moon.
WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) Freeport over FORD CITY; EAST ALLEGHENY over Kittanning; Shady Side Academy over DEER LAKES; BURRELL over Valley. (Century) Seton-LaSalle over McGUFFEY; QUAKER VALLEY over South Allegheny; South Fayette over KEYSTONE OAKS. (Interstate) YOUGH over Brownsville; Jeannette over CHAR-LEROI; Mount Pleasant over GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC; Washington over SOUTHMORELAND. (Midwestern) Beaver Falls over MOHAWK; ELLWOOD CITY over Freedom; BEAVER over New Brighton.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) LAUREL over Neshannock; ROCHESTER over Shenango; STO-ROX over South Side Beaver; Western Beaver over OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART. (Black Hills) Clairton over CARLYNTON; Fort Cherry over CALIFORNIA; Imani Christian over SERRA CATHOLIC. (Eastern) NORTHGATE over West Shamokin; APOLLO-RIDGE over Wilkinsburg. (Tri-County South) Avella over WEST GREENE; CARMICHAELS over Frazier; Jefferson-Morgan over BENTWORTH.
NON-CONFERENCE -- WHEELING PARK, W.VA. over Brashear; CHESTNUT RIDGE over Carrick; Kiski School over COLUMBUS CRUSADERS, OHIO; Linsly School, W.Va. over ALLDERDICE; WOODLAND HILLS over McKeesport; New Castle over RIVERSIDE; ALIQUIPPA over South Park; Summit Academy over WAYNESBURG; KNOCH over Trinity; LEECHBURG over Union; MAPLETOWN over Vincentian; WHEELING CENTRAL CATHOLIC, W.VA. over Westinghouse.
WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Century) Steel Valley over BURGETTSTOWN.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Eastern) Avonworth over RIVER-VIEW. (Tri-County South) Beth-Center over GEIBEL CATHOLIC.
NON-CONFERENCE -- Perry over PIUS X.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Black Hills) BISHOP CANEVIN over Chartiers-Houston.