Mike White | 7:35 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10
McKeesport's offense has grabbed the headlines, averaging 42.3 points a game. But McKeesport's defense has been just as impressive.
McKeesport's defense has allowed only 48 points all season, and the Tigers' defense has a few players who have a future in Division I college football. Dana Brown is a 6-foot-1, 260-pound senior defensive tackle who has scholarship offers from Ohio University, Kent State and a few other Mid-American Conference schools.
Inside linebacker Carlos Brown is a 6-3, 235-pound junior and McKeesport coach George Smith expects him to be a top prospect next year.
"Dana is very quick, fast, athletic. He's real good," Smith said. "Carlos is a good one. He'll have [scholarship] offers next year.
"This defense gets overshadowed by the offense but this defense is very good."
Oct. 23. That's the date many WPIAL football fans have circled. That's when McKeesport plays Gateway in a Thursday night game.
4,00 yards? No big deal
Go back 25 years and remember what a big deal it was when a WPIAL running back would reach 4,000 yards rushing? I remember when Swissvale's Brian Chizmar did it in the mid 1980s. It was a gigantic feat and the school made a big deal of it.
Not so any more. East Allegheny's Monte Ashby went over 4,000 yards last week and it barely was mentioned in newspapers. Years ago, it was headline material.
There is a reason the 4,000-yard mark isn't as big of a deal as it was years ago. It's because so many running backs have reached the mark. The WPIAL started playing football in the early 1900s. Through 1987, only six runners reached 4,000 yards. Since 1988, 33 WPIAL runners have reached 4,000.
There are a few reasons why more running backs have reached 4,000. First, you see many more sophomores and even freshmen playing these days. Thirty to 40 years ago, it was a big deal when a sophomore was in the starting lineup. Now, it's not that big when a freshman starts. Thus, running backs start running earlier in their careers.
Secondly, teams get more games nowadays, which means more carries, which means more yards. Nowadays, four teams from every conference make the WPIAL playoffs. Years ago, only the conference champion made the playoffs. In the 1960s and before, only two teams made the playoffs and played for the championship.
Not to demean anyone who rushes for 4,000 yards, but the benchmark for greatness now should probably be 5,000 yards.