The Fumbler: His history goes back, back, back ...

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It's been 100 years since the WPIAL began crowning football champions.

Yep, it was a whole century ago when Wilkinsburg was declared the inaugural winner.

Well, there's another centennial anniversary going on, one you likely had no prior knowledge of.

The Fumbler is picking winners of high school football games for the 100th year.

"Wait, so the person writing this is that old?," you might have just yelled in amazement.

The answer is actually no. Here's the deal. The award-winning scribe penning this piece is legally known as The Fumbler IV. Just as his father and grandfather before him, this Fumbler has simply continued the family business the original Fumbler kicked off in 1914.

Now, for the majority of the 100 years, The Fumbler's picks didn't appear in newspapers. For instance, during Prohibition, The Fumbler's winners were found on chalkboards in speakeasies. In the 1950s, The Fumbler stood outside of Steelers games at Forbes Field handing out his picks to fans. Only for a few decades has this column been published, first by The Pittsburgh Press and later by the Post-Gazette.

All of this information, of course, can be found in the soon-to-be-released biography "The Fumbler: The Life and Times of a Handsome Prognosticator." If all goes right, The Fumbler will be signing copies at the WPIAL championships this season.

That's enough reminiscing for the day. A prognosticator is called a prognosticator for a reason.

Here are his thoughts on this weekend's top games:

North Allegheny at Seneca Valley, 7:30 tonight -- "Hump Day!" Chances are you've seen that goofy camel say those words in one of those auto insurance commercials. Hump Day -- or Wednesday as its more commonly known -- actually fell on a Friday one week last fall for Seneca Valley. On Sept. 13, the Raiders got over the hump, snapping an 11-game losing streak against North Allegheny with a 20-6 win. That was in some ways a milestone win for the Raiders. This one will be pretty meaningful, too. Winner: Seneca Valley.

Upper St. Clair at Penn Hills, 7:30 tonight -- Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render's offensive approach is almost always to use the run game and a physical line to wear down defenses. But could Render actually be thinking about airing the ball out 40 to 50 times a game this season? A look at the USC roster suggests as much. After all, the Panthers have a Gunner [Lund] and [Jesse] Slinger. Lund actually plays quarterback, too. Just sayin'. On this night, it will be the Penn Hills quarterback, Bill Kisner, who makes the difference. Winner: Penn Hills.

Ringgold at Thomas Jefferson, 7:30 tonight -- There's a fine bakery near Thomas Jefferson High School named Pastries A-La-Carte. A friend of The Fumbler's ordered his wedding cake from there this summer. Delicious! Donuts also are served there, but you can find those just as easily at TJ games. Five of the Jaguars' opponents last season ended up with a "0" on the scoreboard. Ringgold managed to score 10, but gave up 31. The Rams could be very good this season, but nobody beats TJ at TJ. The Jaguars have won 51 in a row at home. Winner: Thomas Jefferson.

Central Valley at Montour, 7 tonight -- The Fumbler is sending his teenage nephew out the Parkway to cover this Parkway Conference game. Nephew has had four speeding tickets this summer, but the speedy one to watch this evening is Central Valley RB-DB Jordan Whitehead. Montour got caught in the dust last year against Central Valley when Whitehead ran wild in a Central Valley rout. Whitehead obviously is good, but Central Valley has more than him. An inexperienced Montour team will be better the second half of the season. Winner: Central Valley.

And the rest (home teams in capital letters):

Tonight

WPIAL CLASS AAAA -- (Foothills Conference) McKEESPORT over Connellsville; NORWIN over Latrobe; Penn-Trafford over KISKI AREA; HEMPFIELD over Plum. (Northern Eight) NORTH HILLS over Fox Chapel; Pine-Richland over SHALER. (Southeastern) MT. LEBANON over Canon-McMillan; Woodland Hills over PETERS TOWNSHIP.

WPIAL CLASS AAA -- (Big Nine) Belle Vernon over TRINITY; Elizabeth Forward over LAUREL HIGHLANDS; West Mifflin over UNIONTOWN. (Greater Allegheny) Franklin Regional over KNOCH; GATEWAY over Greensburg Salem; Mars over INDIANA; HOLLIDAYSBURG over Yough. (Parkway) CHARTIERS VALLEY over Hopewell; BLACKHAWK over Moon; West Allegheny over NEW CASTLE.

WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Allegheny) Apollo-Ridge over WEST SHAMOKIN; VALLEY over Burrell; Highlands over FORD CITY; Kittanning over DEER LAKES; Shady Side Academy over FREEPORT. (Century) STEEL VALLEY over Carlynton; SOUTH FAYETTE over East Allegheny; Quaker Valley over KEYSTONE OAKS; STO-ROX over South Allegheny. (Interstate) WAYNESBURG over Burgettstown; SOUTHMORELAND over Charleroi; WASHINGTON over Derry; McGuffey over MOUNT PLEASANT. (Midwestern) Aliquippa over MOHAWK; Beaver Falls over FREEDOM; NEW BRIGHTON over Laurel.

WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) Neshannock over SOUTH SIDE BEAVER; Rochester over UNION. (Black Hills) Avonworth over CHARTIERS-HOUSTON; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over NORTHGATE; OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART over Fort Cherry. (Eastern) GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC over Monessen; JEANNETTE over Riverview; Springdale over SERRA CATHOLIC. (Tri-County South) FRAZIER over Avella; CARMICHAELS over Bentworth; Beth-Center over MAPLETOWN; Jefferson-Morgan over WEST GREENE.

NON-CONFERENCE -- Allderdice over WHEELING PARK (W.VA.); BALDWIN over Ambridge; CENTRAL CATHOLIC over Bethel Park; WESTINGHOUSE over Blairsville; Brentwood over VINCENTIAN; BEAVER over Brownsville; ALTOONA over Butler; BRASHEAR over Carrick (non-league); Clairton over CALIFORNIA; Hampton over ALBERT GALLATIN.

Saturday afternoon

WPIAL CLASS AA -- (Century) SETON-LaSALLE over South Park. (Midwestern) SUMMIT ACADEMY over Ellwood City.

WPIAL CLASS A -- (Big Seven) WESTERN BEAVER over Shenango. (Eastern) WILKINSBURG over Leechburg.

NON-CONFERENCE -- Riverside over BISHOP CANEVIN.

Saturday night

NON-CONFERENCE -- Slippery Rock over PERRY.


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