October is only in its first few days, and we've already seen a bit of a transition in the local sports scene.
The Steelers are 0-4, causing many fans to say the season is over.
The Penguins play their season opener tonight.
But in the world of WPIAL football, we're caught in between. It's Week 6, so the regular season is just past its halfway point.
That said, how about we give out some awards?
It's time for the Bradleys -- Midseason Edition.
Here is one writer's take on what stood out during the first half of the season among East Xtra schools.
TOP PLAYER -- Montae Nicholson, Gateway. The No. 1-ranked recruit in the state has performed like, well, the best player in the state. It's impossible to say whether Nicholson -- the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania according to Rivals -- is indeed the best in the Keystone State, but it's undeniable that he is having one heck of a season. Gateway coach Donnie Militzer recently said of Nicholson: "He's been as impressive as can be." Nicholson, a wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner, has scored seven touchdowns -- three on receptions, two on defense (an interception return and fumble return) and two on kickoff returns. Nicholson, who has more than 30 scholarship offers, has helped the Gators to a 5-0 start for the second season in a row.
BEST TEAM -- Central Catholic. High-scoring offense? Check. Dominating defense? Check. Best team in Class AAAA? Possibly. Central Catholic (5-0) has been as good as they come. The Vikings own the top scoring offense (47.2 points per game) and second-best scoring defense (2.6) in Class AAAA. Upper St. Clair is the only WPIAL team to have allowed fewer than the 13 points the Vikings have surrendered. The Vikings own three shutouts and have yet to allow a point in the first half. Luigi Lista-Brinza is among the WPIAL's rushing leaders with 920 yards and 10 touchdowns. Central Catholic is a run-heavy team, but quarterback J.J. Cosentino is coming off a very productive performance (146 yards and three touchdown passes) in last week's 42-0 rout of Seneca Valley.
BREAKOUT PERFORMER -- Billy Kisner, Penn Hills. He's only a sophomore, but Billy the Kid has been a huge weapon for a Penn Hills team that is off to its best start since 2006. Kisner is no gunslinger, choosing instead to eat up big chunks of yardage with his legs. He's one of the top running quarterbacks in the WPIAL, having rushed for more than 600 yards (a total that includes a pair of 200-yard efforts). Kisner has also showed a flair for the dramatic. In a 21-17 triumph at North Hills last week, Kisner scored the winning points on a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:05 left in the game.
TOP COACH -- George Smith, McKeesport. After taking three years off, Smith returned to the sideline and has picked up right where he left off. The Tigers (5-0), who went 21-9 and did not win a playoff game the past three seasons, are suddenly a contender for the WPIAL Class AAAA title. Smith has his flexbone offense clicking and the defense is giving up only 11.6 points per game. The Tigers could be destined for a Week 9 showdown with Foothills Conference co-leader Gateway.
BEST GAME -- Jeannette 27, Yough 22 (Sept. 13). In the three most recent meetings, Jeannette had beaten Yough by at least 32 points on each occasion. This time, Yough gave the visiting Jayhawks all they could handle. Jeannette led, 21-7, heading into the fourth quarter, but Yough got two touchdown passes from Tyler Donahue (plus an extra point and 2-point run) to go ahead, 22-21. The Jayhawks, though, had one more strike left in them. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Julian Batts connected with Zack Altieri for a 55-yard touchdown with about two minutes remaining to pull out the win.
MR. BIG SHOT AWARD -- Greensburg Central Catholic running back Tyler Balla is listed as being only 5 feet 5, 159 pounds on the team roster, but Balla made about as big time of a catch as you'll see in helping the Centurions defeat Waynesburg, 35-20, on Sept. 20. Balla lined up in the slot, ran about 20 yards and, while falling backward, made an incredible one-handed catch that got the attention of national websites such as Yahoo! Sports and USA Today. The video has been viewed more than 37,000 times on YouTube. Oh, and Balla is no one-catch wonder. He ran for four touchdowns and passed for another in that game. Balla leads the Centurions in rushing, receiving and scoring.