by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier
When it comes to the City League, until recently, nobody has looked in Allderdice’s direction to be the big winner. Perry owned the league for much of the ’90s and most of the last decade. Brashear took over and ran the show with back-to-back titles in ’07 and ’08. Even Schenley, who hadn’t won a title in 50 years, broke their championship drought in 2009. But now it’s the Dragons, who are looking to avenge their “non-winning” ways of late, as they’d lost every game for the two seasons prior to this one. If you ask Allderdice’s coach, Jerry Haslett, he’s not afraid to voice his views on his team’s recent success.
“I’m not surprised, in fact, I never am,” Haslett said. “The guys worked hard all year last season. They’d worked hard all summer. Actually, they saw each other from 6-8:30 p.m. every day since June 24 when we started at the Riverview Passing League.”
Passing leagues are organized instructional clinics for players and teams to receive information on the specifics of the game. “They taught our kids how to play some defense, how to drop in pass coverage, and, most importantly, how to have camaraderie with one another and to play as a team,” Haslett said.
At the season’s halfway point, Allderdice is currently sitting at the top of the league standings with Perry at 4-1, overall, and 4-0 in the city.
“Winning this year has been amazing,” said Allderdice senior quarterback Mike Pfleger. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. There have been several things that have made us better. One has been that our defense has played amazing. They don’t give up many points at all. Coach has an amazing defensive scheme. He understands every player’s strength and that each player can dominate in each part of the game.”
Their offense has made many improvements and progressions, as well, with the emergence of a couple of their skill players. Sophomore running back Patrick Ferguson, dating back to last season, has been one of the league’s most feared runners. “Last week against Westinghouse, I was able to pass for more than 180 yards because their defense kept keying in on Patrick,” Pfleger said.
One of Pfleger’s favorite targets, Dominic Gardner, is also one of the reasons they had so much success in that game. “Most of our passing plays are designed for Dominic because of his tremendous skills,” Pfleger added.
Allderdice’s next opponent will be Perry at Cupples Stadium Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Their defensive captain, Jared Davis, believes there’s no reason to be alarmed by a Commodores team that has been picked by many to win it all in the city this season.
“It doesn’t make me nervous,” Davis said. “We’re all competing for the same thing, the city championship. Hopefully we play together and get done what we hope to and get a win. We’ll run behind our sophomore running back (Ferguson) and pass behind our senior quarterback (Pfleger). We’ll come ready.”
Ferguson is also confident that they will come out victorious against the feared Commodores. “We’re ready for the challenge,” Ferguson said. “My job is to gain as many yards as I can to give my team a better chance to put points on the board. I’m aware of that responsibility and I’m ready to get out there and get it done.”
(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)