Westinghouse, Allderdice square off for City League title to cap season that almost wasn’t

Thursday, November 12, 2020 | 12:11 PM

The fact that the Pittsburgh City League football championship game is approaching can be called an accomplishment in itself.

It wasn’t too long ago that the season was in jeopardy and Saturday’s Westinghouse-Allderdice matchup was unlikely.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlett’s office announced there would be no fall sports on Aug. 6, the same day Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration recommended delaying interscholastic sports until Jan. 1, 2021.

But on Aug. 26, the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education gave the green light to fall sports on a 9-0 vote after hearing pleas from coaches and student-athletes.

The unique path to the title game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Cupples Stadium is not lost on either coach.

“Every day, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity,” said coach Donta Green of defending champion Westinghouse (6-0). “When the guys got a little out of hand at practice, I tell them that for a couple of votes going the other way, we might not be here.”

“All coaches stood together, and we accomplished getting it started,” said Allderdice (5-1) coach Jerry Hazlett, whose team is seeking its third City title in the past four seasons. “The kids are happy, and we hope some pretty good players can now get some looks from colleges.”

No one would be surprised if Saturday’s game turns into a defensive contest.

The first game between the two schools Oct. 1 was a 0-0 stalemate after four quarters. In overtime, Malik Harris scored for Westinghouse and ran in the 2-point conversion. Then the Bulldogs stopped Allderdice on downs at the 2 to ice the victory.

After a 12-2 victory over University Prep last season brought Westinghouse is 36th City title, Green looked to face a massive rebuilding job, losing 20 of 22 starters, including Pitt freshman defensive end Dayon Hayes, who had an astounding 23.5 sacks last season for the Bulldogs.

Instead, a considerable amount of young players have blossomed quickly.

Said Green: “It’s awesome. We have a lot of new guys in their first year. I didn’t know what to expect.”

The Westinghouse defense gave up its first touchdown from scrimmage last week against Brashear in the semifinals. The only other score was a kick return by Carrick on Oct. 23.

While Malik Harris has been the backfield workhorse, Darius Bruce has big-play ability. He ran back the kickoff after the Brashear touchdown 82 yards for a score last Saturday.

“He’s amazing,” Green said of Bruce. “He’s not only a great athlete, but he’s our emotional leader.”

Allderdice is in its seventh City title game in the last 10 seasons.

“We’ve got some pretty good defensive players,” Hazlett said. “Our defense has been solid all year and our offensive line’s really jelling.”

The defense limited University Prep to just 20 rushing yards in Saturday’s 25-21 victory over the Wildcats.

Senior quarterback Shakur Pack-Adams threw for 112 yards and two touchdowns and carried the ball 22 times for 75 yards.

Marcel Holyfield ran back a kickoff 87 yards to score a key touchdown.

“This is going to be a real tough game, but we’ll be ready to see how it goes,” Hazlett said.

It will be the final game of the season for both teams as the Pittsburgh Public Schools have opted out of the PIAA playoffs this season.

In a consolation game Saturday at Cupples Stadium, University Prep will play Brashear at noon.

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