University Prep quarterback Ron Brown threw for 3,401 yards and 43 touchdowns last season.
By John D'Abruzzo / Tri-State Sports & News Service
It almost reads like one of those "place-mat menus" at a Chinese restaurant, but this could be the year of the Dragon in City League football.
Pittsburgh City League championship game last season for the second time in three years, Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett believes his Dragons have a legitimate chance to challenge for the program's first football title since 1967.
"We have a lot of talent coming back," said Haslett, who enters his sixth season as the Dragons head coach. "We're going to be balanced and have a lot of speed."
The Dragons, who finished 5-6 overall after losing to University Prep in the league championship game last year, return of a strong core of skill-position players, the Jackson twins, including James and Timothy.
James Jackson (6-2, 175, Jr.) is back as the Dragons' starting quarterback after throwing for 1,677 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore.
His main target will once again be his twin brother, Timothy (6-2, 175, Jr.), who piled up 1,009 receiving yards last season on just 33 receptions, a whopping 30.6 yards per catch. He scored nine touchdowns.
Dujuan Duggar (6-2, 170, Jr., QB/S) will provide solid depth behind James Jackson as well as an athletic presence in the secondary, while Trevon Williams (5-9, 155, Jr., TB/CB) likely will play of key role out of the backfield.
Allderdice also returns linemen Robert Smith (6-2, 265, Sr., LT/DL), Talon Scott (6-2, 265, LG/DE, Sr.), Anthony Langford (5-9, 225, Sr., OL/DL) and Lamone Dixon (6-4, 230, Jr., TE/DE).
Joe Graham (6-1, 185, Sr.) and Jamir Powell (6-1, 185, Sr.) are two key returning starters on defense.
"If we can stay healthy, I believe we can do some damage and should be the favorites [in the league]," Haslett said.
Expect this year to be a rebuilding season for the defending league champion Wildcats.
The team's first three years in the City League -- students from three schools, University Prep, Obama Academy and Science & Technology are eligible to play for UPrep -- were extremely successful.
"We are definitely retooling," fourth-year coach Lou Berry said. "We have a combination of line play up front, which should be our strength, but we won't have the talent at the skill positions.
"We're untested and have a lack of experience, but we still have a lot of potential."
University Prep, however, does return one of the league's top players in quarterback Ronald Brown (5-9, 170, Sr.). Brown put up some of the area's best statistics last fall, throwing for 3,401 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Brown should have protection on his front line, which will include fourth-year starter Kevin Williams (5-10, 225 Sr., C/DT) as well as Zacheria Sesay (5-10, 220, Sr., OT/DE), Juwan Hutchinson (5-10, 230, Jr., G/DT) and Hezekiah Johnson (5-9, 180, Soph., G/LB).
Berry also expects DeSean Bonneau (5-10, 180, Sr., WR/CB), Derius Shields (5-8, 170, Soph., HB/DB) and Malik Fields (6-3, 250, Soph., TE/DE) to play supporting roles on both sides of the ball.
"We're emphasizing patience," Berry said. "We're going to experience some growing pains and we understand that. We just can't hit the panic button. We have to find ways to win."
Seventh-year coach Monte Robinson will rely on a few returning starters to help his Bulldogs compete this fall.
"They're not household names just yet," he said. "But we have some guys who are ready play."
Although Westinghouse has a lot of holes to fill before the start of the season, Robinson expects Kejuan Burg (5-7, 200, Sr., FB/DE), Deontrae Boyce (6-5, 240, Jr., G/DT) and first-year player Maurice Bryant (6-0, 220, Jr., TB/LB) to make major contributions.
"I feel good about this team," Robinson said. "We're still young, but we have some good numbers this year. We have a good nucleus of guys who hit the weight room hard and conditioned during the offseason."
The Bulldogs, who haven't won more than one game in each of the past three seasons, went 1-9 last season. Westinghouse, however, did represent the City League in the state playoffs and lost to Chestnut Ridge during the PIAA Districts 5/8 semifinals.
"At the end of the day, we have to play fundamentally sound football and limit our mistakes," said Robinson, whose program hasn't qualified for the league playoffs since 2001. "We want to keep games close and try to win in the fourth quarter."
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