Three weeks into season and it's become obvious that, despite some strong individual talent, local high school football remains in a down cycle. The reasons why are plentiful.
Bloggers on this site simply want to blame coaching. Closer inspection and an impartial eye reveals other factors.
One thing that jumps out is a lack of size among offensive/defensive linemen. Where have all the 6-4, 250 kids gone? Did they move? Transfer? There have to be more able-bodied big men out there than are on local football teams. Even at the larger schools, a lack of size is impacting won-loss records.
Another is roster size.
Avella isn't the only local team struggling with numbers. I covered Friday night's Class A Black Hills Conference game between Serra Catholic and Burgettstown. Not only were Serra's big men bigger than Burgettstown's, there were more to chose from.
Not surprisingly, Serra Catholic wore down Burgettstown.
Then, there's ego inflation.
This week on this board, upset Trinity posters mentioned how well the current varsity players performed at various levels growing up.
It doesn't matter.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard, "This team went undefeated in seventh grade" or "This kid is the next Brian Davis" or "They didn't give up a point in fifth grade," I could retire.
One poster asked what could possibly change from junior high to varsity. Here are a few: growth, players moving out, no one moving in, disinterest, trouble with grades, trouble with the law, better facilities, speed programs, migrating to other sports and injuries.
Every time I hear about the next Brian Davis, chances are the young man doesn't end up as a starting tailback. Every time I hear about an undefeated eighth-grade team, chances are that team gets mercy-ruled in 11th grade.
Maybe it's because they're being told this from the time they are 10-year-olds.
* No local team has reached the WPIAL championships since 2001, when Washington won PIAA and WPIAL Class AA titles and Fort Cherry lost to Rochester in the Class A final. In the time since, only Beth-Center, Carmichaels, Jefferson-Morgan and Monessen have reached the semifinals.
In 2008, Monessen won a playoff game. Teams from Washington and Greene counties went 0-9.
Rock bottom? Well …
Who could place blame on anyone who thinks a repeat performance is approaching? Results from Canon-McMillan, Trinity and Washington weren't encouraging.
Maybe Fort Cherry, McGuffey and South Fayette can put the area in the win column. Each team looks strong through three weeks.
** Speaking of South Fayette, the Lions' 28-22 victory over Keystone Oaks could be called its best since moving to Class AA.
*** Ringgold's coaching situation is unsettled but the Rams shrugged off the distraction and are 2-1 heading into next Friday's game against Thomas Jefferson.
**** Finally, The Varsity Letters wants to thank the fellas working the press box at Burgettstown's Hill Memorial Stadium. Led by local legend Troy Elich, there's never a dull moment during a Blue Devils home game.