5 things to watch in high school football for Week Zero

Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 7:33 PM

Scrimmage or schedule a game?

When WPIAL football teams first were given that choice four years ago, the response was split down the middle. There were 61 teams that scrimmaged and 61 that played a Week Zero game.

Now, their choice appears clear.

Ninety-eight of the 119 WPIAL teams have a game instead of a scrimmage this week, down one from last season after Albert Gallatin left the district. Overwhelmingly, coaches are embracing games.

“They’re kids. They want to play games,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said. “Let them get out there and do what they do.”

The main criticism against Week Zero games has been teams need two weeks of camp to prepare for a season. For teams that eliminate a scrimmage, the second week of camp becomes more about game preparation than fundamentals.

But that sentiment has somewhat softened.

“We’ve got plenty of time to prepare them. You have all offseason,” said Kasperowicz, whose team won the WPIAL Class 6A title last season. “There are no rules in Pennsylvania (to limit noncontact summer workouts). You can practice every day all summer if you want. You have to have (blocking) pads in front of you and all that stuff, but we’re lucky.”

Showcase adds 2nd stadium

One stadium wasn’t enough room for the Western Pennsylvania vs. Everyone Football Showcase, so the event has two sites this year.

There are eight games spread between Woodland Hills’ Wolvarena and North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium.

The schedule features seven WPIAL teams (Baldwin, Central Catholic, Imani Christian, OLSH, McKeesport, North Allegheny and Woodland Hills) and one from the City League (Westinghouse).

Single-day tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

There are four games Friday, two apiece at the Wolvarena and Newman Stadium. There are four games Saturday at the Wolvarena.

On Friday at the Wolvarena, Baldwin plays Avalon at 5 p.m., and Central Catholic faces York William Penn at 8 p.m. At Newman Stadium, Erie plays Theodore Roosevelt at 5 p.m., and North Allegheny plays Friendship Collegiate Academy at 8 p.m.

Roosevelt and Friendship Collegiate are Washington D.C. schools. Avalon is from Wheaton, Md.

On Saturday at the Wolvarena, Imani Christian plays National Christian of Fort Washington, Md., at 11 a.m., OLSH plays Westinghouse at 2 p.m., McKeesport plays Woodrow Wilson of Washington D.C. at 5 p.m., and Woodland Hills plays Calvert Hall of Baltimore, Md., at 8 p.m.

No. 1 vs. No. 1

Eight months after winning a state title, Aliquippa isn’t taking it easy.

The Quips are headed Saturday to Clairton. The contest matches the top-ranked team in Class 3A with the top team in Class A.

“I thought it would be a good challenge for our young guys,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield, who returns only a handful of starters from last year’s lineup. “Why wait? Let’s see what we’ve got right now and learn from it in a tough environment.”

Both schools are Class A in size, but Aliquippa plays up. Warfield said he sees a lot of similarities in the two communities, so when Clairton coach Wayne Wade extended an invitation, he accepted.

3,000 more?

Sto-Rox quarterback Eric Wilson became the first quarterback in WPIAL history to throw for 3,000 yards in the regular season when he finished last season with 3,003.

Now, he’s looking for at least 3,000 more.

Wilson opens his senior season at home Friday night against South Side. One factor that could help his cause: The Vikings installed artificial turf this summer.

Home and away

Avella and Mapletown, who share a Class A conference, will play one another twice for the second year in a row. The teams are schedule to play Friday at Mapletown in a Week Zero matchup and will play a conference game Week 8 at Avella.

The two schools are tied as the fourth smallest in the state. In the latest PIAA enrollment numbers, Mapletown and Avella listed 61 boys each in grades nine through 11.

Mapletown won both matchups last season, 14-12 in Week Zero and 47-14 in Week 8.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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