As The Fumbler walked out of the Karns City-Keystone game last Friday -- he likes to take in a non-WPIAL contest every now and then -- the prognosticator of all prognosticators was approached by a man in a designer suit, fancy shoes and a briefcase.
"I did pay my taxes this year, didn't I?" thought The Fumbler.
As it turns out, the fast-talking, slick-looking guy was a famous publisher with a novel idea he wanted to discuss with The Fumbler -- a potential best-selling book with a catchy name.
Fifty Shades of The Fumbler.
Unlike the ultra-popular romance novel of a similar title, Fifty Shades of The Fumbler is not expected to be filled with tales of love, but rather an in-depth look at the legendary week in October 1987 when The Fumbler went a perfect 50-0 in his football picks.
The publisher scribbled a dollar amount on a ketchup-stained napkin he found lying at the concession stand and told The Fumbler that gaudy figure would be his payment should he agree to the book deal. Impressive, to say the least.
Sure, the thought of going through with it might sound outlandish, but as The Fumbler said to his cousin, The Dribbler, "If they can make a movie about [local stats guru] Deuce Skurcenski, then they can write a book about me."
Stay tuned. The Fumbler might be coming to a bookstore near you.
As for his picks, The Fumbler stayed in tune last week, finishing with his best mark of the season, 53-12. That improves his season record to 306-92 (.768).
Here are his thoughts on this weekend's top games:
Central Catholic (5-1, 4-1) at North Allegheny (6-0, 4-0), 7:30 p.m. today -- Aside from Clairton, no local team has had more success this decade than North Allegheny, which is 35-2 and has won two WPIAL titles. With a balanced offense and an overpowering defense that has not yielded a touchdown in more than a month, this team is scary good. The Fumbler found out this week that horror-film makeup artist/special effects legend Tom Savini is a Central Catholic grad. Savini's Vikings might put a scare into the Tigers, but nothing more. Winner: North Allegheny.
Seneca Valley (5-1, 4-1) at North Hills (5-1, 3-1), 7:30 p.m. today -- "Run, Forrest, run!" Could Tom Hanks even run half that fast in real life? Chances are Seneca Valley's Forrest Barnes is faster than the fictional character. One of the top sprinters in Pennsylvania, Barnes doubles as a terrific running back who rushed for seven touchdowns in a game earlier this season. Barnes has no Lieutenant Dan on his side, but he does have an excellent field general in quarterback Jordan Brown. In what is another key Northern Eight Conference game, it will be Brown -- who at 6 feet 3 is no shrimp -- who captains the Raiders to victory. Winner: Seneca Valley.
Upper St. Clair (6-0, 5-0) at Bethel Park (4-2, 4-2), 7:30 p.m. today -- When The Fumbler's sweet tooth flares up, he often swings by Bethel Bakery, a joint filled with a vast array of delicious goodies. Bethel Bakery refers to itself as "The Cake Place." As for the town's football team, trying to beat Upper St. Clair has been anything but a piece of cake the past two seasons, with the Panthers rolling to a pair of comfortable victories, including 55-0 last year. Bethel Park knows a victory against USC would be as sweet as can be, but the Panthers won't let it happen. That's just how the cookie crumbles. Winner: Upper St. Clair.
Clairton (6-0, 6-0) vs. Bishop Canevin (5-1, 5-1), 7 p.m. Saturday at Dormont Stadium -- There's a popular eye doctor in Clairton named George Grisnik, who will be quick to tell you that it doesn't take 20/20 vision to see that the Bears have a realistic shot of winning their fourth consecutive state title, thus extending the nation's longest current winning streak to 63 games. Clairton certainly passes the "eye test," but will Bishop Canevin pass its biggest exam of the season? As the Crusaders will find out, this Clairton team is once again out of sight. Winner: Clairton.
And the rest (home teams in capital letters):
CITY LEAGUE -- ALLDERDICE over Carrick; University Prep over WESTINGHOUSE.
WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Foothills Conference) Altoona over LATROBE; McKEESPORT over Connellsville; PENN-TRAFFORD over Kiski Area; GATEWAY over Norwin. (Southeastern) WOODLAND HILLS over Canon-McMillan; Penn Hills over PLUM; MT. LEBANON over Peters Township.
WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Big Nine) LAUREL HIGHLANDS over Albert Gallatin; ELIZABETH FORWARD over Ringgold; Thomas Jefferson over BELLE VERNON; Trinity over UNIONTOWN. (Greater Allegheny) Hampton over DERRY; Highlands over GREENSBURG SALEM; FRANKLIN REGIONAL over Hollidaysburg; MARS over Knoch. (Parkway) Central Valley over HOPEWELL; AMBRIDGE over Chartiers Valley; Montour over BLACKHAWK; WEST ALLEGHENY over New Castle.
WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) Burrell over FORD CITY; Freeport over EAST ALLEGHENY; Kittanning over DEER LAKES; VALLEY over Summit Academy. (Century) McGUFFEY over Burgettstown; SETON-LaSALLE over Quaker Valley; South Allegheny over KEYSTONE OAKS; Steel Valley over SOUTH PARK. (Interstate) Greensburg Central Catholic over CHARLEROI; Washington over MOUNT PLEASANT; Southmoreland over BROWNSVILLE; YOUGH over Waynesburg. (Midwestern) Aliquippa over ELLWOOD CITY; Beaver over MOHAWK; BEAVER FALLS over Freedom.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) Neshannock over OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART; Rochester over LAUREL; STO-ROX over Western Beaver. (Black Hills) Brentwood over CARLYNTON; Chartiers-Houston over CALIFORNIA; MONESSEN over Imani Christian; FORT CHERRY over Serra Catholic. (Eastern) NORTHGATE over Apollo-Ridge; Springdale over AVONWORTH. (Tri-County South) Carmichaels over AVELLA; BETH-CENTER over Frazier; BENTWORTH over Geibel Catholic; WEST GREENE over Mapletown.
NON-CONFERENCE -- Baldwin over FOX CHAPEL; HEMPFIELD over Butler; WEST MIFFLIN over Indiana; MOON over New Brighton; SOUTH FAYETTE over Riverside; JEFFERSON-MORGAN over Vincentian.
WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Northern Eight) Pine-Richland over SHALER.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Eastern) RIVERVIEW over Leechburg; North Catholic over WILKINSBURG.
NON-CONFERENCE -- Jeannette over SHADY SIDE ACADEMY; SOUTH SIDE BEAVER over West Shamokin.
WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) Union over SHENANGO.