Andy Shay: Last week 5-1; Overall 128-36
Jake Adams: Last week 6-0; Overall 123-41
Geoff Morrow: Last week 5-1; Overall 120-44
Andy Sandrik: Last week 6-0; Overall 120-44
PIAA Playoffs at Hersheypark Stadium
Class 1A Championship: 3-1 Steel-High vs. 7-1 Jeannette, 11 a.m.
Andy Shay: Steel-High 24, Jeannette 21: In a season where the kicker wins a state semifinal game and the Rollers extend back-to-back games on late defensive holding calls, kinda feels like the old legends of Steelton are having a say in the destiny of this Rollers team. Jeannette has just as many athletes as the Rollers, and the potential exists for a couple of freshmen to be the starting quarterbacks. Being forced to play a more physical style the last two games has the Rollers better prepared. This is razor-thin for me, though.
Jake Adams: Jeannette 35, Steel-High 28: Despite rising cases, stricter capacity limits and a “COVID-19 concern,” per TribLive, involving Jeannette in recent weeks, here we stand. State championship weekend. I hope everyone stays safe. Rollers have been a team of destiny the last few weeks, but I’m not sure that extends into Championship Friday.
Andy Sandrik: Jeannette 30, Steel-High 27: I’m not doubting the Rollers’ ability to compete here, but after scrapping to wins in three straight 50-50 postseason games, the odds are against Steel-High running that streak to four.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 33, Jeannette 28: Thinking about Jeannette always brings back fond memories of ol’ Patriot-News pal Rod Frisco sitting in on a PIAA preview show in 2007 and fielding quite an interesting phone call (live) while discussing the Jayhawks, Frisky trying his damndest to maintain composure in the hilarious moment. That Terrelle Pryor-led team won the Class AA title that year, while Steel-High claimed the Class A crown. As for this year’s matchup, the Jayhawks are favorites, but I’m riding with the local team of destiny.
Class 3A Championship: 3-1 Wyomissing vs. 7-1 Central Valley, 3:30
Andy Shay: Central Valley 34, Wyomissing 31: For all the talk about offense – and there should be plenty of chat about each offense – this game to me is ALL about defense. Ameer Dudley is going to test a Wyomissing secondary I think is pretty darn good but hasn’t faced this. Can a CV defense that has been lights out all season knock the Spartans off their Wing-T rocker? Man, this is the most intriguing game on the slate, in my opinion.
Jake Adams: Central Valley 42, Wyomissing 28: A bunch of Division I talent in this game, but the advantage tilts to CV’s lights-out defense.
Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 35, Central Valley 34: It’s weird not picking games to protect my first-place lead (congrats to Andy Shay), so I have no problem picking the Wyomissing machine to pull off the upset.
Geoff Morrow: Central Valley 34, Wyomissing 24: The Warriors have scored at least 35 points each game, while the Spartans have yet to allow anything more than 16 points in a game. So, naturally, I’m picking something in between. Watched former CV standout Jordan Whitehead pick off a Jared Goff pass for the Bucs on Monday Night Football. His Warriors team reached the Class AAA finals in 2014 but lost. This visit, though, I’m expecting a victory – especially if Whitehead sneaks into uniform.
Class 5A Championship: 10-1 Cathedral Prep vs. 7-1 Pine-Richland, 8
Andy Shay: Pine-Richland 49, Cathedral Prep 20: I’m not sure I see an avenue for Cathedral Prep to keep it close. And the Ramblers are a high-level PIAA pedigree program. Rams came storming back last week to overtake Governor Mifflin after falling behind 21-0 and 41-19. Pine-Richland is a machine and has so many options in that offense, it just seems destined to overpower Prep.
Jake Adams: Pine-Richland 48, Cathedral Prep 24: Oh look, Prep hasn’t played in three weeks. Coronavirus! Let’s give this to the Rams. Not long ago, their basketball team upset Carlisle in the state semifinals. That was an adventurous night, a story for another day.
Andy Sandrik: Pine-Richland 45, Cathedral Prep 35: Once while playing tennis, I tore out my knee and foolishly continued to play. My mobility was gone, of course, but I turned up the intensity on my serves and returns and went on to win. What’s my point? Cathedral Prep is being painted as this vulnerable, wounded animal, and while the Ramblers are underdogs, don’t underestimate the power of a wounded animal backed into a corner.
Geoff Morrow: Pine-Richland 55, Cathedral Prep 20: This is no offense to the Ramblers, who I’m sure will remember how to play football after receiving back-to-back COVID forfeits to get here. But the Rams are an absolute machine, one that I highly doubt will be slowed down in this late-evening slugfest. Governor Mifflin is the second-best team in Class 5A.
PIAA Playoffs at Hersheypark Stadium
Class 2A Championship: 4-1 Southern Columbia vs. 10-1 Wilmington, 11 a.m.
Andy Shay: Southern Columbia 54, Wilmington 14: It’s hard to see anybody giving the Tigers a game into the fourth quarter in Class 2A, including Wilmington. It’s just a Susquehanna River between Southern and everybody else in this classification. Wilmington earned its shot the hard way, and you have to respect the grind to get to this game. Talent-wise, though, it’s a stacked deck for the Tigers.
Jake Adams: Southern Columbia 52, Wilmington 10: I know the rules. The Tigers win this one. Only research I did was to check SC’s margin of victory in recent games. The technical term is “a lot to a little.”
Andy Sandrik: Southern Columbia 45, Wilmington 21: I’ve seen at least one dissenting view on Twitter claiming that Wilmington can win this game. Not sure if I agree with that, but we’d all love to at least see a competitive game here.
Geoff Morrow: Southern Columbia 58, Wilmington 14: The Tigers are annoyingly good. Their dominance sucks the fun out of it for all but the SC community. And, because of what they’ve done to Wilmington in previous state title matchups, I don’t mind admitting I’m rooting for something closer and more exciting, at least for the Greyhounds. However, how the heck do you argue with pure dominance (46 ppg) and a 58-game winning streak? Short answer: You don’t.
Class 4A Championship: 4-1 Jersey Shore vs. 7-1 Thomas Jefferson, 3:30
Andy Shay: Thomas Jefferson 42, Jersey Shore 20: This is a monumental accomplishment for the Bulldogs and District 4. I just see Thomas Jefferson as a football bully, and with the schedule the Jaguars have played, they have every right to believe they can push you around. Because they’ve already done that. Tackling is a difference-maker for me in this game, and TJ tackles very, very well.
Jake Adams: Jersey Shore 37, Thomas Jefferson 34: I will never understand a school named Jersey Shore located in the space between Lock Haven and Williamsport, some 200 miles away from the actual Jersey Shore. Pennsylvania, man.
Andy Sandrik: Jersey Shore 35, Thomas Jefferson 28: I’m kind of stuck on this one, so instead of flipping a coin, I’m going to go with the school that shares the name of the show that was playing in the delivery room when my daughter was born. #Analysis
Geoff Morrow: Thomas Jefferson 28, Jersey Shore 21: The No. 1 Bulldogs are unbeaten and a bit of a feel-good story, the program being less than a decade removed from an 0-10 season (2012). But the Jaguars are defending champs and, though ranked No. 2 by recent birthday boy Eric Epler, still feel to me like favorites. TJ’s big-game experience could be a factor, especially if Jersey Shore starts a tad slowly.
Class 6A Championship: 12-1 St. Joseph’s Prep vs. 3-1 Central York, 8
Andy Shay: St. Joseph’s Prep 49, Central York 20: Until you step on the field and get a real-snap look at what SJP brings to the table, it’s hard to comprehend. Key for Central York is to navigate the first 8-10 minutes with minimal damage. QB Beau Pribula will play a HUGE role in keeping the Panthers hunting after 12 minutes. SJP has all the god-given talent you need; are the Hawks hungry, though? The Panthers are ferociously hungry but have to find a way to get past that first 12 minutes without having to chase the tail of the dog. Go down 14-0 in this one, and it looks a LOT different than it did against McDowell a week ago.
Jake Adams: Central York 52, St. Joseph’s Prep 49: Yeah, I know the odds on this. But a week or two ago, I said I was riding with the Panthers because this was fun as heck, and I’m gonna stick with it. I don’t care if half of Prep’s roster is made up of the sons of former NFLers I watched with a bowl of Spaghettios in my hands at 10 years old.
Andy Sandrik: St. Joseph’s Prep 43, Central York 27: If the Hawks can get past Central York, that should be enough to move them up in the state rankings ahead of Penn State and just behind the Philadelphia Eagles.
Geoff Morrow: St. Joseph’s Prep 57, Central York 34: Look, I’ll be honest, having the sons of Jeremiah “The Axe Man” Trotter in the Hawks’ lineup is kind of a big deal to this lifelong Eagles fan, though the elder brother (Jeremiah Jr.) is questionable with an injury. I love the Panthers’ rise from York County rubbish to state finalists, and I wouldn’t be the least bit disappointed if they finished this storybook season with a W, especially against a program as annually stacked as St. Joe’s. But there’s a TON of talent for Central to overcome here. The Hawks are championship regulars for a reason.