Running back Patrick Ferguson has rushed for 535 yards for Allderdice this season.
By Malik Vincent Tri-State News & Sports service
Many expect it to become a rivalry and Allderdice's head coach Jerry Haslett agrees.
His Dragons will take on University Prep for the first time since they were defeated, 14-0, Nov. 19 in the City League title game.
"It would be really nice if it could turn out that way," Haslett said about his fellow East Side foes. "As our league shrinks, it would be great for both programs if this could turn into a legit rivalry."
Despite being on the losing side of that game, Allderdice was portrayed by some to be this year's favorite to win the league title. But the Dragons have gotten off to a disappointing 2-3 start, including a 1-1 league record.
"It's going to be very important that we come out disciplined and ready to play," he added. "UPrep has plenty of talent all the way down its roster. And they've proved to be a different team this year than last."
On the other hand, one thing that has remained consistent for Allderdice is running the ball with four-year starter Patrick Ferguson.
"We have to stop Pat," University Prep senior H-back Myles Catlin said. "One thing that is certain is they're going to run the football hard. And he's their guy.
"He's very experienced and has been in these situations the whole time. We have to make sure we're prepared for that on [defense]."
At 6 feet and 260 pounds, Ferguson is doing his best Jerome Bettis impersonation, gaining 535 yards on 89 carries with six touchdowns in Allderdice's first five games.
University Prep, in just its second season, has suffered just one loss to a league opponent -- in its brief history. That was a 22-13 defeat at the hands of Brashear last season. Since then, the Wildcats have won 10 in a row, including last year's league title game and two games this season.
In their two games this season, they've outscored their two City opponents, 96-12, including a 56-0 romp of Carrick on Sept 21.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their non-league games have been canceled, which means the team will play only five regular-season games. Most high school teams in Western Pennsylvania play nine games and the other City League teams are playing eight.
That puts even more emphasis on their remaining City League games. It's certainly a reason for the Wildcats not to look back at last year.
"Last season was last season. We're not the same as we were last year and neither is Allderdice," UPrep senior Ryan Daniels said.
"We went into some formations on defense and they were effective in the past. We may use some of them this year, too. But we're still not taking for granted that it will turn out the same way."
The Wildcats have found a way to pass the ball this season. Senior Akil Young has passed for more than 400 yards with six touchdowns and has completed 70 percent of his passes (35 of 50).
"They went from running the ball down everyone's throat with [former running back Jaylen] Coleman and they're now passing a lot more," Haslett said. "It's something that we'll definitely be looking out for."
Haslett will also look to his senior quarterback, Bishop Gethers, to catch his opponents off guard with a solid passing performance.
"I've been making sure that he and some of my receivers understand that they'll play a vital role in whether we win or not," said Haslett.
He'd also like for senior receiver Cornelius Ray, who also plays basketball, to step up and have a good game.
"There are many packages that we have Cornelius going out and we really hope that he can use his athleticism and leaping ability to make plays for us," he said.
"I understand that we need to be multi-dimensional on offense in this game to compete with their good defense."
• Game: Allderdice (2-3, 1-1) vs. University Prep (2-0, 2-0).
• When: Friday, 7 p.m.
• Where: Cupples Stadium.
• Skinny: Allderdice needs a victory to stay alive in City title chase.