When The Fumbler showcases his prognosticating talents to his many fans, he's a wordsmith and artist. His circa 1970 typewriter is his paintbrush, and the copy paper his canvas. He so eloquently describes the thoughts and knowledge spinning around in his head by putting it on paper, but rarely through his voice.
Last week, however, he spoke. And he did it in a pressure situation in front of famous musicians.
The Fumbler rode his bicycle to the Benedum and auditioned for The Voice.
It was there where he showed his "ladies man" side, belting out love songs "Let's Get in On" by Marvin Gaye and Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately" in front of judges Blake Shelton, Cee Lo, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine.
The Fumbler was realistic about his chances, knowing he was a long shot to make the cut. He figured his only chance might be to impress Aguilera, a former North Allegheny High School student.
So, just hours before the audition, The Fumbler made an emergency phone call to NA athletic director Bob Buzzuto, who hooked him up with a Tigers' No. 1 jersey, which matches the football team's WPIAL and PIAA ranking.
Aguilera quickly noticed the jersey when The Fumbler walked on stage and said she's still an NA fan, but, in the end, The Fumbler's efforts went for naught. His singing simply wasn't good enough. It was then he realized he has a voice and face for paper, not TV or radio.
The Fumbler got it on once again last week, going 52-13 in his picks. He has gotten better each week and is 156-45 (.776) this season.
Here are his thoughts on this weekend's top games:
Kiski Area (2-1, 2-1) at Hempfield (2-1, 2-1), tonight at 7 -- Kiski Area graduate Scott Long gained fame nearly a decade ago by starring in the reality show "Big Brother." What seems unrealistic is that these schools -- both of which went 1-8 last season and are used to playing the "little-brother" role -- are meeting in a meaningful game. Neither school has finished above .500 since 2003, but the winner here will see its chances of doing so increase greatly. Winner: Hempfield.
Shady Side Academy (3-0, 3-0) at Burrell (3-0, 2-0), tonight at 7:30 -- You know the saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?" Well, The Fumbler thinks it has something to do with Burrell running back Cole Bush, who is second in the WPIAL in rushing with 623 yards. Bush nearly always is a sure thing, except when facing Shady Side Academy, which handed him a lot of frustration last season (five carries for 10 yards). The Fumbler might be taking a risk here, but ... Winner: Burrell.
Butler (2-1, 2-1) at North Hills (2-1, 1-1), tonight at 7:30 -- The Fumbler's map of WPIAL schools shows Butler being above North Hills. On the football field, that's been anything but the case. North Hills has outscored the Golden Tornado, 192-16, while winning the past six meetings, including 72-0 the past two seasons. This Butler team has some firepower (it scored 60 points two weeks ago), but The Fumbler believes the North Hills faithful will be leaving Martorelli Stadium happy yet again. Winner: North Hills.
Beaver Falls (3-0, 3-0) at Beaver (3-0, 2-0) Saturday at 7:30 -- Beaver Falls is the Niagara Falls of Western Pennsylvania. Well, at least that's what The Fumbler tells out-of-towners. There's no Maid of the Mist navigating the Beaver River, but there was once a sitcom set in Beaver Falls about an English housekeeper named Mr. Belvedere. The Fumbler admits he was a fan of that show. He's also a fan of coach Ryan Matsook's team this week. Winner: Beaver Falls.
And the rest (home teams in capital letters):
CITY LEAGUE -- University Prep over BRASHEAR; ALLDERDICE over Westinghouse.
WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Foothills Conference) GATEWAY over Altoona; Latrobe over NORWIN; McKeesport over PENN-TRAFFORD. (Northern Eight) Central Catholic over FOX CHAPEL; North Allegheny over PINE-RICHLAND. (Southeastern) BETHEL PARK over Canon-McMillan; Mt. Lebanon over BALDWIN; UPPER ST. CLAIR over Penn Hills; Woodland Hills over PLUM.
WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Big Nine) Elizabeth Forward over BELLE VERNON; Ringgold over UNIONTOWN; Thomas Jefferson over TRINITY; West Mifflin over ALBERT GALLATIN. (Greater Allegheny) FRANKLIN REGIONAL over Greensburg Salem; MARS over Highlands; KNOCH over Hollidaysburg; DERRY over Indiana. (Parkway) Central Valley over BLACKHAWK; WEST ALLEGHENY over Hopewell; Montour over NEW CASTLE.
WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) East Allegheny over DEER LAKES; Freeport over VALLEY. (Century) KEYSTONE OAKS over Quaker Valley; Seton-LaSalle over STEEL VALLEY; South Allegheny over SOUTH PARK. (Interstate) Greensburg Central Catholic over WAYNESBURG; Jeannette over BROWNSVILLE; Mount Pleasant over CHARLEROI; Washington over YOUGH. (Midwestern) Aliquippa over NEW BRIGHTON; MOHAWK over Riverside.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) STO-ROX over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; ROCHESTER over South Side Beaver; UNION over Western Beaver. (Black Hills Conference) Bishop Canevin over CALIFORNIA; Carlynton over SERRA CATHOLIC; BRENTWOOD over Fort Cherry; Imani Christian over CHARTIERS-HOUSTON. (Eastern) Apollo-Ridge over LEECHBURG; AVONWORTH over West Shamokin; NORTHGATE over Wilkinsburg. (Tri-County South) Beth-Center over BENTWORTH; Frazier over WEST GREENE; MAPLETOWN over Geibel Catholic; Jefferson-Morgan over AVELLA.
NON-CONFERENCE -- Chartiers Valley over ELLWOOD CITY; SENECA VALLEY over Connellsville; Ford City over SOUTHMORELAND; Freedom over McGUFFEY; SPRINGDALE over Laurel; HAMPTON over Laurel Highlands; Peters Township over SHALER; CARMICHAELS over Vincentian.
WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Parkway) Moon over AMBRIDGE.
WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) SUMMIT ACADEMY over Kittanning. (Century) South Fayette over BURGETTSTOWN.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) North Catholic over RIVERVIEW.
NON-CONFERENCE -- BLAIR ACADEMY, N.J. over Kiski School.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) Neshannock over SHENANGO.