PG West/North/South/East: Preparing for season easy as ABC
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High school football camps opened across the commonwealth last week, which means coaches spent plenty of time the first couple days on the basics of blocking and tackling.
With that in mind, we decided to go back to the basics as well.
So, without further ado -- somebody has to explain to me some day why people say that -- we bring you the ABC's of scholastic football in Western Pennsylvania. What can be more basic than the ABCs.
A -- is for assistant coaches, the under-paid, under-appreciated -- except by their head coach -- members of a staff. Assistants do their jobs for pennies an hour -- some even volunteer and work for nothing -- because they love the sport.
B -- is for the band. Yes, the band members work just as hard as the players, but I've never seen a tuba player tackled by a bass drummer from another school.
C -- is for the concession stands at each stadium. It also stands for coffee or [hot] chocolate, which are needed for those cold, night games in November.
D -- is for the dances that often follow the games on Friday night. Hey, you gotta like that tradition. Ah, fond memories.
E -- is for the excellent sportsmanship that 95 percent of teams display during the season. It's great to see players pat each other on the helmet after trying to tear each other's arms off.
F -- is for football. What else would it be for?
G -- is for the grass fields that are slowly being replaced by artificial turf. Hardly anybody gets muddy any more when it rains.
H -- is for Heinz Field, the site of the WPIAL's championship games. H also stands for Hershey, where the PIAA championship contests are played.
I -- is for the insinuation that football in Western Pennsylvania isn't what it used to be. Try telling that to Paul Posluszny of the Buffalo Bills, Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets, Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins and Charlie Batch of the Steelers.
J -- is for the junior varsity players who hope to get a chance to prove themselves in the varsity game each week.
K -- is for the kicker. OK, so some of you would say a kicker isn't really a football player, but no game can start without somebody's toe connecting with the football.
L -- is for linemen, the guys who labor in the pits. They always have the dirtiest uniforms after a game and never seem to receive enough glory.
M -- is for the MSA Sports Network, which carries more high school games on the radio and the Internet than any other broadcast organization in the state.
N -- is for the noise of the crowd. There's nothing like the cheers from the fans on a crisp Friday night in the fall.
O -- is for the opportunity football provides for players to receive college scholarships. OK, so every players isn't 6-4, 270 pounds and headed to Michigan or Notre Dame, but a lot of WPIAL and City League guys end up as starters at Division II or III colleges.
P -- is for the playoffs, the most exciting time of the season.
Q -- is for the Quips. That's the Aliquippa Quips, who have the winningest program in the WPIAL in past 25 years.
R -- is for the rivalries that dot the high school landscape. Some of the best are North Hills-North Allegheny, Upper St. Clair-Mt. Lebanon, Woodland Hills-Penn Hills, Jeannette-Greensburg Central Catholic and, for the last time, Monaca-Rochester.
S -- is for the shouts of encouragement from the cheerleaders. Even if their team is losing by 30 points, the cheerleaders keep screaming.
T -- is for touchdown. See explanation for F.
U -- is for the undying enthusiasm of the Western Pennsylvania fans for high school football.
V -- is for victory. See explanation for F.
W -- is for Wagner, as in Springdale coach Chuck Wagner. He's still going strong as he enters his 45th year as a head coach.
X -- is for X's and O's, which coaches like to draw on dry-erase boards. (No one uses a blackboard any more, do they?)
Y -- is for the yardlines. You're right, I couldn't think of anything else for Y, but without yardlines how would rushing, passing and receiving statistics be recorded?
Z -- is for the zebras, better known as the officials. OK, so sometimes they throw too many flags and often are off by a yard or so when they re-spot the ball following a play. But, on the whole, they do a pretty good job and you can't play football without them.
First Published August 27, 2009 12:00 am