Cold. Snow. Ice. Warming up his car for 15 minutes and vigorously scraping off his windshield.
The Fumbler hates it all.
Relatively speaking, it's not even that cold yet, but what in actuality is 30 degrees feels like minus-30 to The Fumbler.
It's mid-November and The Fumbler is already having thoughts of moving west or south sometime in the next few years. He hears high school football is really good and ultra-popular in places such as Texas, California and Florida. Eight of the top nine teams in the country reside in those states.
He's not an expert on teams in those areas, but he doubts it would take long to catch on. After all, he's The Fumbler. He has the gift of prognosticating. That will follow him anywhere.
The Fumbler would love to regularly follow teams such as Long Beach Poly (Calif.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) and DeSoto (Texas). A lot of talent on those fields.
Most important, it will be warm.
But it would be tough for The Fumbler to leave Western Pennsylvania. There's plenty of talent here, too. He'd miss watching rivalries such as Aliquippa/Beaver Falls and North Allegheny/North Hills. He'd miss some of the outstanding coaches such as Woodland Hills' George Novak and Thomas Jefferson's Bill Cherpak. He'd miss seeing programs such as Central Catholic and Upper St. Clair regularly compete for WPIAL championships.
Will The Fumbler leave this area one day? It's possible.
Will it happen in the foreseeable future? No.
Cold or not, one of the most fantastic nights of the season is here, as eight teams will punch their tickets to Heinz Field.
If you're going to a game, dress warm. The Fumbler surely will.
Who will win tonight's matchups and bring home championships next Saturday? Email The Fumbler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fumbler went 12-5 (.705) last week, making him 523-113 (.822) for the season.
Here are his thoughts on tonight's matchups. All WPIAL games will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Upper St. Clair (11-0) vs. Woodland Hills (9-2) at Baldwin -- When The Fumbler wrote his preview for this matchup back in August, he had a feeling the two would meet again in the postseason. He was right. Both teams were tested in the quarterfinals, as both trailed in the second half. Upper St. Clair has shown a little more offensive balance, so that has The Fumbler leaning toward picking the Panthers. In what should be a great one ... Winner: Upper St. Clair.
Central Catholic (11-0) vs. Penn-Trafford (8-3) at West Mifflin -- The Fumbler has a bone to pick with Penn-Trafford. Of the four teams The Fumbler picked to win championships, one has been eliminated. That was McKeesport, which Penn-Trafford upset last week. McKeesport could run the ball, but had a defense that was vulnerable. Central Catholic can run the ball and has a terrific defense. That will be the difference. Winner: Central Catholic.
West Allegheny (11-0) vs. Franklin Regional (10-1) at North Allegheny -- Charan (pronounced Churn) Singh helped Franklin Regional churn out a thrilling win against West Mifflin in the quarterfinals. Here's an interesting stat for you: Singh has thrown for 723 yards on 110 attempts and has rushed for 723 yards on 108 attempts. The Panthers are good, but West Allegheny and wide receiver Jed Buck (two touchdowns last week) are money. Winner: West Allegheny.
Thomas Jefferson (11-0) vs. Central Valley (10-1) at Chartiers Valley -- The Thomas Jefferson offense had been productive all season, but recently it has been making teams chase Chase (Winovich), who has rushed for 507 yards the past three games. Winovich, a Michigan recruit, must wait until next season before playing in the Big House. For now, he'll happily settle for leading the Jaguars to the "Big Game." Winner: Thomas Jefferson.
Aliquippa (11-0) vs. Beaver (8-3) at Ambridge -- Aliquippa has Beaver's number on the field. Heck, the Quips probably have their home and cell phone numbers, too. Aliquippa has won the past six meetings, including a 50-13 blowout in the regular season. Beaver won't be able to slow down Aliquippa's run game, and the Quips will put the wraps on WPIAL passing leader Alex Rowse. Paging Aliquippa. The Quips dial up another trip to Heinz Field. Winner: Aliquippa.
South Fayette (11-0) vs. Beaver Falls (9-2) at Montour -- Beaver Falls has (Kahlil) Caracter and is (Cody) Long on talent. If South Fayette wins this game, they know the prize won't be a (Dan) Lombardi Trophy. To beat Beaver Falls, the Lions must be (Logan) Sharp and be like a Hunter (Adams) tracking down a (Jasper) Wolfe. This is the fourth year in a row these two have faced off in the playoffs. South Fayette won the previous three. Not this time. Winner: Beaver Falls.
Sto-Rox (11-0) vs. Clairton (10-1) at Chartiers-Houston -- Speaking of hunting, today marks the beginning and end of Bear hunting season for Sto-Rox. After losing to the five-time defending champions in the title game the past two years, Sto-Rox finds itself as the favorite this time. No player who rushed, passed or had a reception in last year's game is still around for Clairton. Sto-Rox has most of its guys back; most significant is quarterback Lenny Williams. Winner: Sto-Rox.
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-0) vs. Neshannock (9-2) at Mars -- When the clock hits 0:00 at the conclusion of this one, history will be made: One of these schools will make it to the WPIAL championship game for the first time. This is a rematch of a non-conference game played Oct. 18, won by North Catholic, 21-14. Quarterback Adam Sharlow accounted for all of the Trojans touchdowns, but is out for the season with a knee injury. Winner: Neshannock.
PIAA Class AAAA Playoffs
Allderdice (5-5) vs. Erie McDowell (5-5) at Cupples Stadium, 7 p.m. -- Don't let Erie McDowell's record fool you. The Trojans played a strong regular-season schedule that included Class AAA power Erie Cathedral Prep and Ohio juggernauts St. Edward, St. Ignatius and Cardinal Mooney. All of those games ended in lopsided losses for the Trojans, but The Fumbler believes they have enough to get past Allderdice. Winner: Erie McDowell.