Predictions of tomorrow night's big games are below. But first, spanning the globe of high school sports ...
Top Florida power in hot water
The Lakeland High School football team is a perennial Florida power and is regularly in national rankings. But apparently the Dreadnaughts do not play by the rules - and it could cost the school thousands of dollars.
The Ledger in Lakeland is reporting that the school has admitted some athletes, including football players, should not have been allowed to play last season because they really didn't live in the school district, or falsified addresses, or lived rent free after transferring into the school.
It's not a surprising story. This stuff goes on all the time around the country, including right here in Western Pennsylvania, too. A kid transfers into a district, uses maybe his grandmother's address for his home address, but never lives at that address. Or an athlete transfers into a school, gets an apartment and pays little or no rent. Or better yet, someone else pays the rent.
Do schools know when an athlete uses a fake address? Not always. But I know there are coaches and school district personnel out there who turn their heads to such situations. Just read the Lakeland story. Maybe the school didn't know what was going on. But that's pretty hard to believe. Seven athletes in various sports at Lakeland have been found in violation of Florida High School Athletic Association rules.
Here is what I like about the FHSAA: The organization fines schools who use ineligible players in games. Lakeland is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines. If a school knew it could be fined for recruiting a player or using a player that didn't live in the district, you better believe the school and coaches wouldn't turn their heads so much.
Apparently, the FHSAA has employees who investigate schools that might be breaking rules. The FHSAA has investigated some other schools and recently levied a $53,000 fine against Dr. Krop High School for using players who falsified documents, including addresses. Neither the WPIAL or PIAA has the manpower or the tools to thoroughly investigate schools. Many times, they leave it up to the individual schools to police themselves. Some schools do police themselves. But it's a joke at some schools because the schools sometimes put on blinders when it comes to student-athlete transfers.
The Florida situation of fining schools is certainly interesting.
It makes me laugh when people think a kid is a good player just because he can throw down some impressive dunks. Dunking doesn't mean you can play. It simply means you are athletic. I know plenty of dunkers who couldn't play a lick.
But I must admit that watching a 12-year-old kid jump over someone and dunk is pretty impressive. Just watch below. James Michael Walker is a 12-year-old from Georgia and watch him at a dunk contest this summer at the Junior All-American Camp.
The Sons shine
Came across two North Allegheny athletes recently whose fathers were pretty darn good football players. Gregg Garrity, a junior, caught a touchdown pass in the Tigers' first game of the season. His father, Gregg Sr., is a former North Allegheny player who went on to play at Penn State. Dad is best known for catching the key TD pass in the 1983 Sugar Bowl that gave Penn State a national championship. He also caught a touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw in Bradshaw's final game as a Steeler.
Also at North Allegheny, Colton Fedell is one of the top players on North Allegheny's strong golf team. His father, Steve, was a stud player at North Hills in the mid 1970s and went on to play on some great teams at Pitt.
Here are my predictions on the big football games this Friday in the WPIAL and City League. Record was 8-4 last week.
Allderdice vs. Brashear - Brashear hasn't showed much offense, which makes we want to pick Allderdice. But ... Winner: Brashear.
WPIAL CLASS AAAA
Upper St. Clair at North Allegheny - I'll be covering and doing a live blog from this game, which is the game of the week in Post-Gazette. Neither team has been tested yet. Key to the game is how Upper St. Clair's defensive front and linebackers fare against North Allegheny's offensive line. Winner: Upper St. Clair.
Seneca Valley at McDowell - McDowell only plays in the WPIAL in football, so most people don't know much about the Trojans. I know they're pretty good. Winner: McDowell.
Latrobe at Gateway - Remember Ray Reitz, who was Terrelle Pryor's coach at Jeannette? He has Latrobe off to a 2-0 start. But the Wildcats will taste defeat for the first time. Winner: Gateway.
WPIAL CLASS AAA
Central Valley at New Castle - Root Sports Game of the Week. Central Valley has a good defense and New Castle usually has a good offense. Now Central Valley has a place to Root. Winner: Central Valley.
Indiana at Highlands - Both teams are 2-0. I like Indiana's offense. Winner: Indiana.
Hampton at Mars - Mars lost a ton of players from last year's team. But the Planets knocked off Class AAAA Pine-Richland last week while Hampton took out Ringgold. This could be a good one. Winner: Mars.
WPIAL CLASS AA
Mount Pleasant at Ellwood City - Ellwood City scored more than 50 points in both games this season. The Wolverines won't get 50 this time, but they will get win No. 3. Winner: Ellwood City.
Steel Valley at South Fayette - South Fayette isn't as good as last year, but still good enough to win a conference title. Winner: South Fayette.
WPIAL CLASS A
Bishop Canevin at Northgate - Bishop Canevin comes to The Vue (Bellevue) for a big game. By the way, does anyone know how many Jacobys are still coaching at Bishop Canevin? Winner: Bishop Canevin.