USO head coach Lou Berry knows the entire Pittsburgh City League is coming for his Eagles. After all, they are the defending City League champions.
“That’s the case,” he confirmed with a smile. “Anytime you’re the champ…”
Perry. Carrick. Allderdice. Brashear. Westinghouse.
“I haven’t seen them play as of yet, but they’re always tough,” Berry said of the Bulldogs.
That game occurs Oct. 6. But before then, it’s Allderdice’s turn to give USO their first City League loss.
“We have a big one Thursday night (Sept. 14), so I’ll know more about our team come Thursday night, see how we handle a little bit of success, but we’ll be under the lights against Allderdice, who from what I understand have a very veteran-laden team.”
USO (University Prep, Sci-Tech, Obama schools) hasn’t lost a league game so far this year, with their biggest test happening in their first league game of the season, last Friday, Sept. 8 against Brashear. USO beat the Bulls 15-14 in the 2016 City League championship game.
Brashear returned seven starters on both offense and defense this year, while USO had only three returning starters on “O.” But it was a tough-nosed USO defense that had multiple sacks, an interception, and limited Brashear to only 7 points in the game. The Eagles won, 26-7, at Cupples Stadium on the South Side.
Though USO lost its first two non-conference games to out-of-state teams, the competition they faced seemed to have them prepared for Brashear. The question now is: Can they hold off the rest of the improved City League contingent that’s looking to knock off the champs any time, any place?
“Yea,” said star QB/DB Dorian Jackson of the Eagles. “We’re working on going all the way to states. We aren’t working on just the City.”
Jackson, a senior, said the best part of his team is the defense. “Our defense will get better each week, we’ve always had a strong defense.”
After the Sept. 14 Allderdice contest, USO (1-2) will travel to Steubenville, Ohio to face Steubenville High School (Sept. 22), followed by Carrick (Sept. 29), Westinghouse (Oct. 6) and Perry (Oct. 12). The Eagles finish the regular season in West Virginia against Wheeling Central Catholic, Oct. 20.
Other standout players for USO include Damon Macklin, a senior cornerback with “great hand-eye coordination,” Berry said. Macklin also led the team in rushing last year. Also, Raujee Clerfe is an exceptional “two-way player who gets it done at the receiver and outside linebacker position,” and an improved defensive line. “We’re starting to get the penetration but also finishing off plays in the backfield,” Berry said.
But overall, “We gotta get better, we’re still nowhere near where we want to be,” Berry, now in his seventh season at USO, told the Courier. “I understand the growing pains that come with a young, inexperienced team, but sometimes it gets a little frustrating when you’re the reason why you don’t finish drives, you’re the reason why you’re committing turnovers that prevent you from being great.
“So, we got a long way to go.”
Remaining USO Schedule
(1-2, 1-0 in City League)
Sept. 14—7 p.m. at Allderdice
Sept. 22—7 p.m. at Steubenville, Ohio
Sept. 29—3:30 p.m. at Carrick
Oct. 6—3 p.m. Westinghouse
Oct. 12—7 p.m. Perry
Oct. 20—7 p.m. at Wheeling Central Catholic, W. Va.
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