by Malik Vincent
Purple, white and black are the colors that are on the home uniforms of USO (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama). Of course, their helmets are gold, but let’s cancel that for now.
The NFL team that most resembles that is the Steelers arch rivals, the Baltimore Ravens—who won a Super Bowl in the year 2000.
That team went down in history for having one of the best defenses ever.
USO’s senior leader, Jaylen Coleman did the exact shuffle that the Ravens’ leader Ray Lewis does during his introduction to the crowd, just before kickoff.
And his 10 tackles, to lead the team, also mimicked the future hall-of-famer in USO’s ninth shutout in 10 games to get past Allderdice, 14-0, en route to claiming a City League football crown in their first year of existence on Nov 19 at Cupples Stadium.
“Nobody scores on our defense ever,” senior quarterback and free safety Dontae Forte said.
Indeed, they have been the stingiest defense in the city all year as they haven’t given up a single point since Oct 8. Their last points surrendered to a league foe came against Brashear—who also handed them their only loss this campaign in the first game of the season.
“We changed our entire offensive philosophy and decided that we were going to be dedicated to tightening things up on defense since that game,” first-year USO head coach Lou Berry said.
Coleman came through for his Panthers in more ways than one, as he has all year. His 91 –yard touchdown run in the closing minutes put the game out of reach for the Dragons—who remained in the game until the final stanza.
Allderdice (4-3, 5-7) couldn’t get much done on offense as their quarterback, Bishop Gethers, threw two critical fourth quarter interceptions. And their star running back, junior Patrick Ferguson, was held to 18 yards on 15 carries.
“No doubt about it, this has been a good tight defensive matchup,” superintendent of schools Linda Lane said. “I really enjoy seeing them go at it. Also, the job that the three schools that have been involved in this USO team have done in unifying these youngsters has been phenomenal. I send my congrats to all of them.”
Forte, who played quarterback all year for the Panthers was relieved by Akil Young in the second half under center, and he was moved to the slot. Young threw a 7-yard strike with about six minutes left in the game to sophomore Marcus Johnson. At that point, the scoreless tie was broken.
The final Coleman score was set up by an interception inside of the USO 10-yard line by number 21, Shannen Binnion, who wore that number because his coach did in his playing days.
“That moment has been a result of being coached by Coach Berry for the past four years,” Binion said. “He has been the reason that we’re here right now.”
Despite all the credit received, Berry showed gratitude for his opportunity and referenced the “warm reception” he has received since taking over the program.
“All I needed was the opportunity,” Berry said. “Everyone, despite the circumstances, has been extra supportive of me and these young men. I want to also thank these young men and everyone else for all of the great things that they’ve done. I’m so grateful.”
USO will compete under the AAAA section of the PIAA State playoffs this year. They will play State College (7-4) at Mansion Stadium in Altoona on Nov 26 at noon. Also, Oliver (3-7) will represent the city in AA against Moniteau (11-0) the day before at Cupples Stadium. That game is set to kick off at 7 p.m.
(Follow our continuing coverage of the City League and add your comments to our website at www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com. Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @malikvincent.)