By Mike White | Thursday, Nov. 26, 9:15 a.m.
Happy Thanksgiving. We'll have a live blog all day Friday from Heinz Field for the WPIAL football championships.
Hopewell's Rushel Shell and West Allegheny's Mike Caputo both hope to lead their teams to a WPIAL title tomorrow when they meet for the Class AAA championship at Heinz Field. But you could make good point to say these two might also be playing for the WPIAL Player of the Year.
Shell and Caputo both have been tremendous this season. Both have over 2,000 yards rushing. Don't they have to be the top candidates for WPIAL Player of the Year? Stop and think about it. It's hard to come up with any other WPIAL player who would be a better candidate for player of the year than these two. Caputo also is a standout on defense, but Shell also plays defense (cornerback). He had an interception in last week's semifinals.
So who do you think should be player of the year? And do you think this game will decide it? What if they both run for more than 200 yards?
The Post-Gazette announces its player of the year after the state championship games. If you want to share your opinion on the player of the year, go to the "comments" section of this blog.
Woodland Hills hurting
Woodland Hills coach George Novak said a few of his top players are hurting this week. Novak did not want to get into their injuries or the severity, but one of the injured is Lafayette Pitts, who is a talented defensive back and also plays some at running back. Woodland Hills meets Gateway for the WPIAL Class AAAA championship tomorrow.
Last year's crowd for the four championships was disappointing, with a little more than 18,000 in attendance. The WPIAL always hopes to get at least 20,000. I predict the attendance this year will be right around 20,000 again. It could be 18,000 again.
A couple things will hurt attendance. First, the weather (temperature only in the high 30s). Secondly, I really think having the games the day after Thanksgiving hurts the crowd. The Pitt-West Virginia game will probably keep away a few people, too.
On top of all that, a few teams involved probably won't bring many people. Clairton and Rochester are so used to playing in the title game that the novelty has worn off. Greensburg Central Catholic is a parochial school, so it doesn't have a town following the team. Gateway also has been known, at times, not to have a great following.
I think some people will say, "Why should I go out in the cold? Let's stay home, eat leftovers, and flip back between the Pitt-West Virginia game on ESPN and the high school games on FSN?"
By the way, the record attendance for the four games was 39,031 in 2001, the first year Heinz Field opened.
The 1986 games, which featured the epic North Hills-Gateway game, drew around 35,000.