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Monday, March 4, 2024

4th Down Magazine’s Picks and Predictions for the Week of Nov. 12-14


Andy Shay: Last week 20-6; Overall 112-32

 Jake Adams: Last week 20-6; Overall 109-35

Geoff Morrow: Last week 17-9; Overall 103-41

 Andy Sandrik:  Last week 14-12; Overall 102-42


Regular Season

Mechanicsburg at CD East, 6

Andy Shay: Mechanicsburg 31, CD East 7: Wildcats are gonna be stinging a bit after that game with Mifflin, but back in the fray they go. They’ll be fine. East defense has been tough all year, and nothing says that is going to change. Panthers haven’t scored in two-plus games, though.

Jake Adams: Mechanicsburg 35, CD East 7: The final score may depend a little on if RB Taylor Shearer is healthy after twisting his ankle last week. But, even without him, the Wildcats should have no problem bouncing back from a tough District 3 loss.

Andy Sandrik: Mechanicsburg 34, CD East 14: The Wildcats are out of the playoffs, but they get to resume their season with a pair of crossover contests against Commonwealth Division reps CD East and Cumberland Valley. Won’t be as easy most think, but Mechanicsburg will take care of business. 

Geoff Morrow: Mechanicsburg 24, CD East 6: Interesting dynamic, returning to regular-season football after getting thrashed in a playoff game. Psychologically, it can’t be easy to revive the same fire from pre-playoffs. But this is simply a good team vs. a not-so-good team.


PIAA Playoffs

Class 3A Quarterfinal: 3-1 Wyomissing at 2-1 Lakeland, 7

Andy Shay: Wyomissing 42, Lakeland 7: All I’m going to say is the Spartans’ offense gets a lot of attention, and it should. But watch out for this defense. That unit is the game-changer in my book.

Jake Adams: Wyomissing 49, Lakeland 14: Lakeland’s CJ Dippre (Maryland commit) is a talented TE with a couple TDs and 199 receiving yards. He may be more destructive on defense, where he has 13 TFLs and a team-high four sacks. But Wyo has its share of D-I recruits as well.

Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 38, Lakeland 18: I can’t say I’m super familiar with Lakeland’s season, but I can say I just finished watching Wyomissing put a HURTING on two high-quality opponents, and I’m not quite ready to pick against that yet.

Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 35, Lakeland 15: Gotta respect what the Chiefs have done this year out of District 2, but they’re entering a different level of football. It is a long trip to the rural Scranton suburb, though, for the Spartans.

Class 2A Quarterfinal: 12-1 Bishop McDevitt at 3-1 Camp Hill, 7

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 34, Camp Hill 20: McD (Wyncote) has battled COVID-19 shutdown this season and hasn’t played a ton of football. But its schedule is full of quality teams, and it competed at a high level. That will show up here. Lions are free to take their shots and see what happens. This is like playing with house money for them.

Jake Adams: Camp Hill 28, Bishop McDevitt 24: My yearly bemoaning that there’s next to nothing on any school in District 12. Anyway … if the Lions’ newfound offensive balance carries into a second straight week, they just might make the final four for the first time in 16 years.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 35, Camp Hill 21: I thought for sure we’d be talking about Bishop McDevitt in the playoffs, but not … like this.

Geoff Morrow: Camp Hill 30, Bishop McDevitt 21: It’s been a weird season for everybody, but the Philly Catholic League has been particularly absurd. I’m not sure I trust the Royal Lancers here, and the Lions have been playing with heart. Notable: Penn State OL legend Chris Conlin is a McDevitt alum.

Class 1A Quarterfinal: 3-1 Steel-High at 2-1 Old Forge, 7 

Andy Shay: Steel-High 37, Old Forge 33: This is a toss-up game for me mostly because the Rollers didn’t finish last week. Until the mercy rule clock rolls or the final horn sounds, gotta stay focused and on point. Overall, I still think they are the better team by a wide berth. Defense rallies, and it could be a smoother ride to victory.

Jake Adams: Old Forge 49, Steel-High 42: One thing these two teams do well is score points. Should be fun for fans who like that sort of thing. I could see this game going either way.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 24, Old Forge 20: I don’t think the Rollers can win a shootout with the Blue Devils, who haven’t allowed more than 19 points in a game all season. If Steel-High wins, it’s going to be because of its defense. 

Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 42, Old Forge 38: Not sure the status of Rollers WR Mehki Flowers, who injured his ankle last week. But he’s definitely not a one-man show. At this level, Steel-High can’t afford the penalties, defensive lapses or turnovers that helped keep Muncy alive until the final whistle last week. If there’s a repeat of those mistakes, the Rollers likely lose to the Blue Devils as they did in 2013.

District 3 Playoffs

Class 5A Championship: No. 1 Governor Mifflin wins by forfeit over No. 2 Warwick, COVID-19

Class 4A Championship: No. 2 Elco at No. 1 Lampeter-Strasburg, 7

Andy Shay: Lampeter-Strasburg 42, Elco 20: All the Pioneers do is score 40 points a game each and every week. Has to be a real special effort from Elco to keep pace.

Jake Adams: Lampeter-Strasburg 45, Elco 14: The Pioneers have won the last two meetings between these two teams, both in the district playoffs the last two years, and have scored no less than 40 points in eight games this season. You do the math.

Andy Sandrik: Lampeter-Strasburg 52, Elco 13: All signs point to a Pioneers blowout.

Geoff Morrow: Lampeter-Strasburg 39, Elco 21: Third straight November these teams meet, with the Pioneers winning the last two by a combined score of 71-7. That said, I won’t make the same mistake disrespecting the Raiders as I did last week. Elco clearly has something special this season. It’s just that it will take a lot of it to upend L-S.

Regular Season

Big Spring at Upper Dauphin, 7

Andy Shay: Big Spring 34, Upper Dauphin 22: Behind the running of Mr. Wakefield, the Bulldogs are making it happen after a rough start. Run defense has to be on point against the Trojans.

Jake Adams: Big Spring 28, Upper Dauphin 20: I said it last week, and I’ll say it again — Dillon Wakefield seems good for 150 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Every. Single. Week. On the flip side, the Trojans’ run game must find a way to crack a stingy Bulldogs defense allowing around 4 yards per carry.

Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 35, Upper Dauphin 21: The Bulldogs seem to have found their footing after a 1-2 start, which does not bode well for UD, a team that comes in on a two-game skid.

Geoff Morrow: Big Spring 27, Upper Dauphin 13: Third straight ex-TVL foe for the Bulldogs, and the first two ended in victory. A victory here gives Big Spring its first six-win season since 2016.

Bishop McDevitt at Hershey, 7

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 35, Hershey 17: Nobody has slowed down McD quarterback Lek Powell this year. He’s good for about 250-275 yards and three touchdowns a game. A little shine is off this game, but Trojans still have a lot to play for.

Jake Adams: Bishop McDevitt 35, Hershey 21: The game we’ve all been waiting for lost a little shine after the Trojans’ first loss last week, but this should still be an entertaining battle for the Keystone title.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 42, Hershey 20: This game is like marrying your high school crush, but like 20 years later when they’ve already had kids and accumulated a bit of debt. Could be a good game, but the contest doesn’t quite carry the same weight to me that it did a few weeks ago. 

Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 45, Hershey 22: Let’s everybody hop on the Crusaders bandwagon, overlook the Trojans and predict multiple-score victories for McDevitt. I hope we’re all wrong and that this game comes down to the wire, though.

Columbia at Pine Grove, 7

Andy Shay: Pine Grove 26, Columbia 13: Long road trip for the Crimson Tide, and playing at PG is a great venue. Cardinals have enjoyed a decent last month; now it’s time to finish strong against a team that just played Monday.

Jake Adams: Pine Grove 37, Columbia 33: I wonder what the recovery feels like for the Crimson Tide after they go 17 days between games, play Monday and then quickly turn around for a game four days later.

Andy Sandrik: Pine Grove 24, Columbia 9: Pine Grove, 2-2 over its last two games, seems to have turned a corner. As for the Crimson Tide, I’m wondering if they’re still getting their football legs back after a long break from live games. 

Geoff Morrow: Pine Grove 27, Columbia 21: Personally speaking, the Cardinals have been one of the tougher teams for me to predict this season. I think the Crimson Tide have a solid group, though circumstance has not done them any favors. This could be an entertaining contest.

Cumberland Valley at Cedar Cliff, 7

Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 21, Cedar Cliff 17: This has all the elements of a great late-season, pandemic-world game in my book. Each team has battled through some tough times and is looking to finish strong. I see a lot of fight from the Colts and Eagles all game.

Jake Adams: Cedar Cliff 28, Cumberland Valley 21: I’m not sure the Carlisle win suddenly means the Eagles have turned a corner, but it’s clear they’re getting better. But I like the Colts on their home turf more.

Andy Sandrik: Cumberland Valley 17, Cedar Cliff 14: Eagles have improved enough for me to call this a coin flip game. Colts are confident after two straight wins, though, and have thrived in scoring offense all season. 

Geoff Morrow: Cedar Cliff 23, Cumberland Valley 20: Picking Cedar Cliff games this season is torture. I make this pick with zero confidence.

Hollidaysburg at State College, 7

Andy Shay: Hollidaysburg 29, State College 27: Going with the Tigers for no real reason other than it feels like it’s their time to knock off the Little Lions.

Jake Adams: Hollidaysburg 30, State College 25: Yep, I’m gonna swing for the fences. It’s 2020, after all. Go big or go home.

Andy Sandrik: State College 28, Hollidaysburg 21: My gut is telling me to go with Hollidaysburg, but it also told me to eat the whole bag of nachos, effectively ruining family nacho night, so I’ll think for myself on this one.

Geoff Morrow: State College 33, Hollidaysburg 27: It’s been a LONG time since the Golden Tigers beat the Little Lions, and they have a legitimate chance in this game. A score I look back on now that surprises me is the Tigers’ double-digit takedown of Altoona. If that effort shows up here, it’s celebration time for the guests.

Mifflinburg at Line Mountain, 7

Andy Shay: Mifflinburg 36, Line Mountain 27: Three straight weeks in the fire at this level feels like a bit of a tall ask for the Eagles at this point.

Jake Adams: Mifflinburg 35, Line Mountain 28: Watch out for the Wildcats’ Colin Miller, who has 42 tackles and two sacks on defense as well as 372 rushing yards, 273 receiving and six combined TDs. Three of Mifflinburg’s four losses came against state-ranked squads.

Andy Sandrik: Mifflinburg 32, Line Mountain 28: The Eagles are a talented squad, but it’s awfully hard to rebound from back-to-back lopsided losses, especially against a quality team like Mifflinburg.

Geoff Morrow: Line Mountain 27, Mifflinburg 24: One thing that gives me pause is the Wildcats haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. Eagles are coming off back-to-back losses but still enter with a mark of 4-3.

Newport at Halifax, 7

Andy Shay: Newport 32, Halifax 19: Well done Wildcats putting that first W on the left side of the ledger last week. Buffaloes have been fighting COVID-19 a lot this season, so this is a bonus for them to even be playing.  

Jake Adams: Newport 35, Halifax 14: Good on the Wildcats for snagging that first win last week. The Buffaloes might be a little sluggish out of the gate after having not played since Oct. 26.

Andy Sandrik: Newport 28, Halifax 14: The Buffs answered the bell big time Monday. I think they ride that momentum to a ‘W’ Friday. 

Geoff Morrow: Newport 38, Halifax 20: Buffaloes have won six of the last seven meetings, many of them with a TON of points on the board. Not sure they match those outputs, but the ‘Port deserves to be called favorite in this one.

Northern at Palmyra, 6

Andy Shay: Northern 20, Palmyra 17: Polar Bears have seven points scored and have allowed 64 points over their last eight quarters. Gonna need to buck that trend to get this win. Cougars will put up a fight.

Jake Adams: Northern 28, Palmyra 14: The Polar Bears have been trending downward recently, and the offense has struggled, but this is a good matchup with which to bounce back.

Andy Sandrik: Northern 24, Palmyra 17: Palmyra is a much-improved team, but I’m wondering if this is the game that Northern bounces back with.

Geoff Morrow: Palmyra 26, Northern 16: Not sure where the Polar Bears are mentally right now after a couple of thorough losses followed their 5-0 start. Before a predictable loss to McDevitt last week, the Cougars showed they’re on a significant upward trend. I’m not even sure I’d call this an upset at this point.

Susquehanna Township at Waynesboro, 7

Andy Shay: Waynesboro 22, Susquehanna Township 20: ‘Hanna offense has to find that groove again against an Indians squad that has been up-and-down. But when they are riding a high wave, they do exactly as they wish.

Jake Adams: Waynesboro 28, Susquehanna Township 14: In keeping with the bizarro world the Colonial has been this year, the Franklin County Indians started white hot (3-0) and now have a couple perplexing losses in the last four weeks. Your guess is as good as mine.

Andy Sandrik: Waynesboro 27, Susquehanna Township 13: Save for a frustrating loss to East Penn, Waynesboro has been exceptional at Rip Engle Field. 

Geoff Morrow: Waynesboro 25, Susquehanna Township 18: Home-field advantage is the main reason for this pick. Secondary reason is ‘Hanna’s single-touchdown effort last week against Shippensburg causes concern.

Trinity at West Perry, 7

Andy Shay: West Perry 40, Trinity 20: Mustangs are playing their best football of the season and are looking to make it three wins in four games after a rough start.

Jake Adams: West Perry 35, Trinity 20: The Shamrocks have been oh-so-close the last few weeks trying to avoid a winless season. Mustangs have won two of the last three.

Andy Sandrik: West Perry 44, Trinity 21: WP took its early season lumps, went back to the drawing board and has re-emerged as a dangerous unit that not a lot of teams want to play right now. 

Geoff Morrow: West Perry 46, Trinity 22: Tough spot for the improving Shamrocks here, as the Mustangs are finding a groove and might not miss a beat at home this week.


PIAA Playoffs 

Class 6A Quarterfinal: 3-1 Central York at 2-1 Delaware Valley, 1

Andy Shay: Central York 42, Delaware Valley 20: Panthers have more firepower and are willing to take more shots. That’s the difference maker here. Defense sets the table in this one for a late offensive explosion.

Jake Adams: Central York 55, Delaware Valley 21: How have the Panthers allowed just 45 points all season? Rooting for this team the rest of the way just because this is a fun-as-heck run.

Andy Sandrik: Central York 38, Delaware Valley 27: After years and years of YAIAA teams being the runts of the District 3 litter, it’s been really cool to see Central York win back respect, one blowout at a time. 

Geoff Morrow: Central York 44, Delaware Valley 28: If you’re driving 160 or so miles to play your first state playoff game, I expect a solid plan will be in place. Per the fabulous Matt Allibone of the York Daily Record, this could be York County’s first PIAA playoff win, with Littlestown (Adams County) owning the YAIAA’s only victory way back in 2004.

Local teams not playing this week: Altoona, Boiling Springs, Carlisle, Central Dauphin, Chambersburg, East Pennsboro, Greencastle-Antrim, Harrisburg, James Buchanan, Juniata, Lower Dauphin, Middletown, Mifflin County, Red Land, Shippensburg, Susquenita, Williams Valley, Tri-Valley.

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