The Fumbler: WPIAL Championships are the most wonderful time ...
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This is The Fumbler's favorite part of the season.
Instead of spending days analyzing dozens and dozens of games each week, he now has to focus on just a handful of matchups.
And, boy, are they some good ones or what?
If you're a fan of high school football, you love watching exceptional players, outstanding teams and great coaches.
Today at Heinz Field, there will be all three.
From Tyler Boyd and Mack Leftwich to Shai McKenzie and Dravon Henry, those watching will see some of the finest talent in Western Pennsylvania.
And then there are the coaches -- guys such as George Novak, Art Walker, Bob Palko, Mike Zmijanac and Tom Nola. At least a few future WPIAL Hall of Famers in that group, right?
And how could The Fumbler not mention some of the great storylines?
Clairton can set the PIAA record for consecutive wins (60) with a victory. North Allegheny can capture its third title in a row -- an unprecedented feat at the Class AAAA level. Aliquippa and Washington square off in a battle of undefeated teams.
The Fumbler will say this: Don't take this season's championship games for granted. Grand finales like this don't come around very often, other than the annual Fourth of July fireworks display at The Point.
How good have the playoffs been this year? Let The Fumbler know by emailing him at email@example.com.
The Fumbler went 7-3 last week, including 6-2 in his WPIAL semifinal picks (he did not pick Woodland Hills or Washington). For the season, The Fumbler is 521-131 (.799).
Here's how he handicapsthe four WPIAL title games today at Heinz Field, along with University Prep's PIAA playoff game on Saturday.
North Allegheny (12-0) vs. Woodland Hills (10-2), 2 p.m. -- It's odd to say a program such as Woodland Hills has sneaked up on its opponents, but that's what the Wolverines have done this postseason by upsetting No. 2 Gateway and No. 3 Upper St. Clair. Beating top-rankedNorth Allegheny, however, is too tall of a task. Winner: North Allegheny.
West Allegheny (11-1) vs. West Mifflin (11-1), 8 p.m. -- It's been nearly 50 years since West Mifflin won a WPIAL title (1963), and that was back when the district had two high schools -- North (which won) and South (which went undefeated in 1966 but didn't qualify for the WPIAL championship game because it came up short on Gardner Points). As good as that West Allegheny defense is, The Fumbler thinks it's simply the Titans' time to shine. Winner: West Mifflin.
Aliquippa (12-0) vs. Washington (12-0), 5 p.m. -- Many are curious to see if Shai McKenzie can gouge Aliquippa's dominant defense like he has done against every other opponent the Prexies have faced. McKenzie will break a few long runs and rush for about 150 yards, but The Fumbler thinks Aliquippa's unheralded quarterback, Malik Shegog, will come up with some big plays. Winner: Aliquippa.
Clairton (12-0) vs. Sto-Rox (11-1), 11 a.m. -- Imagine if Sto-Rox would stun Clairton to end the Bears' legendary run? It would be an historic upset, one that would thrust the Vikings into the spotlight and give them the elusive title the Bears denied them a season ago. Back to reality now. The Bears will be who we thought they were. Winner: Clairton.
University Prep (7-3) vs. Selinsgrove (9-3) 1 p.m. Saturday at Altoona, -- It's time to start believing in this University Prep team, one which has won two PIAA subregional games behind an historic two-game flurry by quarterback Akil Young (815 yards, 11 touchdowns). Selinsgrove is led by freshman running back Juvon Batts (217 yards last week). Winner: University Prep.
First Published November 23, 2012 12:00 am