Andy Shay: Week 5: 15-6 Overall: 74-23
Andy Sandrik: Week 5: 14-7 Overall: 70-27
Jake Adams: Week 5: 15-6 Overall: 71-26
Geoff Morrow: Week 5: 15-6 Overall: 69-28
District 4-6 Playoffs
Class 6A Championship: Altoona vs. Williamsport, at Bald Eagle Area HS, 7
Andy Shay: Altoona 36, Williamsport 28: No late-game heroics here for Altoona. They have played a quality schedule and have momentum on their side after edging State College. Bottom line, Altoona is the better team.
Jake Adams: Altoona 33, Williamsport 24: Read GMo’s preview first. Now come back. I, too, have had bad luck in the space between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. But the Mountain Lions have not this year, and the former Commonwealth afterthought is now making a solid postseason run.
Andy Sandrik: Altoona 38, Williamsport 21: I remember speaking with Altoona coach Vince Nedimyer Jr. for a preseason interview, and I got off the phone believing that the Mountain Lions had a bright future. I didn’t realize that bright future would become a reality this season, though.
Geoff Morrow: Altoona 30, Williamsport 20: Those who know me well know my not-so-glorious relationship with Altoona (the town). However, I am beaming with ‘Tuna Pride this week after accurately picking the Mountain Lions to take out State College last week. I will high-five myself — and then probably fall off Horseshoe Curve.
District 3 Playoffs
Class 6A Semifinal: No. 4 York at No. 1 Harrisburg; Harrisburg forfeits (COVID-19)
Andy Shay: We live in a COVID-19 world, and the pandemic is still in charge. Harrisburg earned the right to be the No. 1 seed, but a confirmed case of the virus on their team should eliminate them from playing this week. I have zero problem with the District 3 policy in terms of the COVID-19 rules and regulations they adopted for the playoffs in August. Which means adding another team, even five or so hours after the brackets were finalized and the field is set, doesn’t fly with me. It’s a raw deal for Wilson. But the Bulldogs can keep playing football for a few more games and enjoy the rest of their season. Remember, in August, none of this looked possible.
Jake Adams: My sympathies to the players from both Harrisburg and Wilson. They are the ones most hurt by the events of the last few days. It’s a tough break for all of them. But it’s unsettling, immature and downright pathetic adults are throwing fits in some corners of District 3 over a system that was approved before games began now not going their way. Adults need to use this time to sit their players down and teach them that sometimes this is how life goes, and that at the end of the day, a global pandemic can and will upset the balance of life we have grown accustomed to. We preach that sports can teach how to handle adversity. Well, practice it.
Andy Sandrik: COVID-19 game cancellations were an expected outcome this year, but thanks to the creativity and flexibility — not to mention social media savvy — of programs and athletic directors, the show was able to go on. With that said, I don’t know why District 3 can’t just slide Wilson in to play. They can still do it. Right now. Yeah, I get that “rules are the rules,” but let’s use a little bit of common sense here. Can we just scrap the playoffs and let the fans vote for Thanksgiving Day “bowl” matchups?
Geoff Morrow: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that some rules — at least in the world of sports — can be broken. Look what MLB, the NHL and the NBA did to ensure games eventually continued. The world didn’t end. The Lightning, Lakers and Dodgers are no less championship-worthy than anybody who won in 2019 or 1995. Rules were also adjusted to ensure high school athletes were able to compete this fall, and it’s mostly worked out OK. Nothing is perfect, obviously, but we’re learning it doesn’t have to be. Which brings me to this: I feel for Harrisburg’s program, but I understand and respect the decisions made to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. So I don’t have a problem with the Cougars’ forfeit. Those are the breaks. But the unwillingness to slide Wilson back into the mix, especially because the Harrisburg news came so quickly after the brackets were set, doesn’t quite fit for me.
Class 6A Semifinal: No. 3 Central York at No. 2 Central Dauphin, 7
Andy Shay: Central Dauphin 31, Central York 20: Winning a playoff game is a huge hurdle for Central York to clear. They have been killing cats all season in impressive fashion. At this level, the last two years it has been a poor showing for the Panthers. Even if they put up a fight, the Rams have precious few weaknesses and know how to grind for 48 minutes.
Jake Adams: Central Dauphin 42, Central York 21: The only way the Panthers pull off the upset is if the Rams I saw in the first half of the Carlisle game show up for an entire 48 minutes. I don’t expect that will happen.
Andy Sandrik: Central Dauphin 45, Central York 21: Listen, I won’t be surprised if Central York makes this a game, but don’t forget the Panthers were in a very similar situation last year and got pasted 47-14 by the Harrisburg Cougars.
Geoff Morrow: Central Dauphin 33, Central York 22: The very talented Panthers have absolutely destroyed all foes this year. But just remember, all six of those opponents were big-school York County programs. This is a much different league, literally and figuratively, which Mid-Penn Commonwealth alumnus and CY coach Gerry Yonchiuk knows well.
Class 3A Semifinal: No. 4 Bermudian Springs at No. 1 Middletown, 7
Andy Shay: Middletown 30, Bermudian Springs 14: Both squads will want to pound the ball and set the tone and tempo. Blue Raiders have bigger, stronger and faster backs to get that done. The physical advantage is what separates these two in my book.
Jake Adams: Middletown 38, Bermudian Springs 16: This is still the Blue Raiders’ bracket until someone says otherwise. That will not be the Eagles this week.
Andy Sandrik: Middletown 35, Bermudian Springs 17: This Middletown team seems a little more vulnerable than the state finals squads of years past, but this is still Middletown we’re talking about. Something tells me the Blue Raiders weather an early storm and pull away after halftime.
Geoff Morrow: Middletown 42, Bermudian Springs 14: The Blue Raiders had little trouble with the Eagles in the 2017 and ‘18 playoffs. I don’t expect much to be different this year.
Class 1A Championship: No. 2 Steel-High at No. 1 Delone Catholic, 7
Andy Shay: Steel-High 49, Delone Catholic 28: You just have to give the Rollers 40-50 points because that’s what they do. Delone defense will present a challenge, but the balance of diversity of the Steel-High offense is a LOT to take on as a defense. Rollers getting off the field on third down will be a key.
Jake Adams: Steel-High 54, Delone Catholic 28: Something tells me the Rollers find another gear this week and turn in one of District 3’s most lopsided title wins of the year.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 38, Delone Catholic 22: Yes, DC is unbeaten, but there aren’t many big schools — let alone 1A programs — that can hold serve with the Rollers.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 41, Delone Catholic 29: Third meeting for these programs since September 2019, and the first two battles were high-scoring and competitive. No reason to doubt we see another. Squires lost the regular-season tilt last year, then exacted revenge in the title game. The pattern tells me it’s Steel-High’s turn.
District 4 Playoffs
Class 2A Semifinals: No. 4 Line Mountain at No. 1 Southern Columbia, 7
Andy Shay: Southern Columbia 54, Line Mountain 7: Making this pick has nothing to do with Line Mountain. They are just next on the list for the powerful, skilled and athletic Tigers.
Jake Adams: Southern Columbia 55, Line Mountain 7: David, meet Goliath. Goliath brought a really big club. Good luck.
Andy Sandrik: Southern Columbia 52, Line Mountain 7: All good things come to an end, and make no mistake about it, Line Mountain’s season was a good thing.
Geoff Morrow: Southern Columbia 49, Line Mountain 14: Since the Eagles triumphed over Southern in 2007, the Tigers have won nine straight in this series, with seven of those in the playoffs. The last two meetings were a combined 104-0.
District 6-8-9 Class 4A Regional Championship: Juniata vs. Bellefonte, at Altoona HS, 7
Andy Shay: Juniata 29, Bellefonte 25: Great matchup between these D6 teams. Bellefonte has worked back to .500 after a strange 0-3 start, mainly working the ground game to the tune of about 245 yards per game. Juniata, with QB Jacob Condo running point, has a real shot to win here. The Indians have to get Caleb Seeger and Yaniel Ortiz going first.
Jake Adams: Juniata 31, Bellefonte 22: Seems like the Indians can kick it even when QB Jacob Condo is out. Junior Cameron Sweigart had little problem in last week’s blowout win over James Buchanan.
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 28, Bellefonte 24: Let’s be real. This has been a trash year for all of us. But, man, the football gods have been smiling on Juniata all season long. I think the Indians keep the magic going for another week.
Geoff Morrow: Bellefonte 33, Juniata 21: I could be wrong here, but the Red Raiders seem to be on a heckuva roll right now. Then again, the Indians won the last meeting between these schools by a 50-0 final. But that was nine years ago. If it goes OT, though, I switch my pick to Juniata.
Week 6 Mid-Penn Regular Season
Cumberland Valley at Spring-Ford, 7
Andy Shay: Spring-Ford 21, Cumberland Valley 10: Once you’ve struggled this many games to score more than two touchdowns in a game, that’s not something that’s going to be fixed.
Jake Adams: Spring-Ford 28, Cumberland Valley 7: Eagles pick up a game after CD qualified for the playoffs, and the result is not likely to be much different.
Andy Sandrik: Spring-Ford 20, Cumberland Valley 3: Instead of the Rams of CD, the Eagles get the Rams of Spring-Ford. CV is trying to get its offense to shift out of neutral, but it doesn’t help that their opponent is allowing just over five points per contest.
Geoff Morrow: Spring-Ford 28, Cumberland Valley 0: Not your typical CV season, not your typical CV result. Against the unbeaten Rams, who haven’t allowed a point since Oct. 2, it’s a lot to ask to find some type of rhythm.
CD East at Carlisle, 7
Andy Shay: Carlisle 31, CD East 7: Thundering Herd offense has been on a tear for eight quarters, and nothing indicates that will slow down here. Running game is running hot for Carlisle. CD East’s defense is tough, but staying fired up on D when you know the margin of error is almost nothing is tough.
Jake Adams: Carlisle 35, CD East 20: You know your o-line is running in high gear when your running back breaks a school record with more than 330 yards. Holy moly. What’s Sean Smith got for an encore this week?
Andy Sandrik: Carlisle 42, CD East 25: Well then, Carlisle, welcome to the grown-ups table. Now that the Herd know what they are capable of, I’m not sure what scrappy CD East can do to stop them.
Geoff Morrow: Carlisle 27, CD East 6: Panthers haven’t hit double digits yet this season. Herd, meanwhile, are averaging a touchdown per quarter over their last two games.
Red Land at Twin Valley, 7
Andy Shay: Red Land 21, Twin Valley 13: Patriots have a winnable game here. And when presented that scenario this season, they have performed pretty well.
Jake Adams: Red Land 28, Twin Valley 14: Boldly predicting the Patriots get a pick-6 in this one.
Andy Sandrik: Red Land 25, Twin Valley 17: Red Land’s season has been loss-win-loss-win-loss, so that means the Patriots are in for a ‘W’ this week, right?
Geoff Morrow: Red Land 20, Twin Valley 14: My parents live in Red Land territory, whereas my brother and his family live within paper-airplane distance of TVHS. The chances of any of them having any idea this game is taking place? Zero point zero.
Bishop McDevitt at Hershey, 7
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 35, Hershey 7: Couple of undefeated Keystone Division squads who ended up on the wrong side of the District 3 playoff COVID-19 plexiglass for making the field. It’s a brutal pill to swallow, so we’ll see here who is able to move on faster.
Jake Adams: Bishop McDevitt 45, Hershey 14: Would’ve liked to see what kind of noise the Crusaders could’ve brought this postseason. And Hershey. But alas. Now both teams need to figure out who wants the pride of being division champ more.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 45, Hershey 17: I distinctly remember a time late in my senior season where I was upset and emotional because of the realization that winning five of our last six games wasn’t going to be enough to get in the playoffs. We were 5-5. I can’t imagine what’s going on in the heads of the Crusaders and Trojans, who haven’t lost a game all season.
Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 44, Hershey 14: I can appreciate the frustration of missing the playoffs when there’s not a single mark in your loss column. However, let’s not forget that the four playoff teams ahead of both of these programs in their respective classifications are also undefeated, too. It’s just bad luck for these two. Welcome to 2020.
Cedar Cliff at Mifflin County, 7
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 35, Mifflin County 7: Too much talent and pride on the Colts defense for them to get taken out behind the woodshed for the second week in row. A victory for Cliff is all about its defense and how it performs here.
Jake Adams: Cedar Cliff 35, Mifflin County 14: No way the Colts’ d-line takes that butt-whooping from the Herd offense and doesn’t immediately turn around and take it out on the Huskies.
Andy Sandrik: Cedar Cliff 35, Mifflin County 21: This has been a bummer of a season for the Colts, but if they take care of business here, they’ll take on Red Land next week with the chance to finish with a winning record.
Geoff Morrow: Cedar Cliff 43, Mifflin County 20: Feels like I should have picked a 35-28 score, but I’m rebelling against this particular pattern.
Lower Dauphin at Palmyra, 7
Andy Shay: Lower Dauphin 14, Palmyra 10: This is a toss-up game now because the Cougars are in a much better place after getting a win last week. The Falcons played their best game of the season against Hershey and lost. Another week of executing at that same level, and it ends this losing streak.
Jake Adams: Lower Dauphin 13, Palmyra 10: This is not a shot against the Cougars. I sometimes just like picking the team with the two-year losing streak. No group of players deserves to deal with consecutive winless seasons.
Andy Sandrik: Palmyra 17, Lower Dauphin 14: I just can’t bring myself to trust the LD offense to generate enough points here. In my mind, it’s going to take a defensive TD — or at least a crucial turnover — for the Falcons to gain the upper hand.
Geoff Morrow: Lower Dauphin 16, Palmyra 13: Falcons end their losing streak at 15 games and taste victory for the first time in over two years, though it will not be easy.
Shippensburg at Greencastle-Antrim, 7
Andy Shay: Shippensburg 26, Greencastle-Antrim 20: Whatever the Greyhounds were searching for to start the season they have found. Still a tight squeeze as the Blue Devils are streaky and can play well in stretches.
Jake Adams: Shippensburg 35, Greencastle-Antrim 14: Are the Greyhounds hitting their stride? Looks like they might be. That doesn’t bode well for the Blue Devils.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 38, Greencastle-Antrim 21: It’s a shame that the Greyhounds don’t get an entire season to iron out the wrinkles, or else we might be talking about Eric Foust’s boys making a run for the division and/or playoffs.
Geoff Morrow: Shippensburg 24, Greencastle-Antrim 16: Two teams going in opposite directions in terms of winning and losing streaks. Also, did you know the Greyhounds have won nine straight against the Blue Devils dating to the 2011 regular season?
East Pennsboro at Mechanicsburg, 7
Andy Shay: Mechanicsburg 35, East Pennsboro 14: Both teams have been able to keep the scoreboard rolling on their side this season; the big difference I see is the Wildcats have shown the chops to score in myriad ways. East Pennsboro secondary is solid, but this will be a major test.
Jake Adams: Mechanicsburg 38, East Pennsboro 21: Sure, the Panthers lost to Shippensburg last week, but they’ve consistently put up points. Wildcats get their toughest test of the season here before the 5A semifinals next week.
Andy Sandrik: Mechanicsburg 45, East Pennsboro 14: The worst part about getting that rare third-down stop against Micah Brubaker and the Mechanicsburg offense is that your offense then faces the unenviable task of trying to produce points in bunches against the tenacious Wildcats’ defense.
Geoff Morrow: Mechanicsburg 28, East Pennsboro 14: Wildcats haven’t played any “automatic outs” this season and have still been hammering teams. And the defense has been decidedly better over the last three weeks. This is an uphill climb for the capable but inconsistent Panthers.
Northern at Waynesboro, 7
Andy Shay: Northern 28, Waynesboro 14: A couple tight squeezes in a row for the Polar Bears, and answering the bell in tight spots shows mental toughness. Still not convinced their defense can be a difference maker in a game. Indians’ Wing-T offense can be tricky.
Jake Adams: Northern 35, Waynesboro 14: A shame we have to wait until after the playoffs to find out if Northern or Mechanicsburg is the Colonial’s best team. P-Bears get a warmup before the 4A semis.
Andy Sandrik: Northern 28, Waynesboro 21: The Polar Bears are already locked into the postseason, so they have the luxury of resting players, if they choose. The only thing a Northern loss will do here is make the McDevitt folks about a million times angrier than they already are.
Geoff Morrow: Northern 25, Waynesboro 21: The boys from Dillsburg haven’t exactly been dominant on the scoreboard, but showing how to win close games means something. At least until you run into a playoff hammer.
West Perry at Susquehanna Township, 7
Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 27, West Perry 20: Indians have cleared some hurdles after COVID-19 forced them to start, stop, start again then stop once more. It’s been a crazy season for a lot of teams. The little details are starting to show up for the crew from Elmerton Avenue.
Jake Adams: Susquehanna Township 28, West Perry 16: Having seen both teams against Mechanicsburg this year, I can say they are both hardly boring. Mustangs play with a frenetic energy, and the Indians do have some pop on offense, especially on the ground. That run game proves the difference here. Sandrik beat me to the score.
Andy Sandrik: Susquehanna Township 28, West Perry 16: It’s taken a few games, but I think that young talent on Township has grown a little bit. I think that’s enough to hold off a feisty WP squad at home.
Geoff Morrow: Susquehanna Township 21, West Perry 20: Both teams coming off their first victories of the season. For their respective coaches, I expect both will battle exceptionally well for another taste.
Big Spring at Halifax, 7
Andy Shay: Big Spring 39, Halifax 13: When your offense has been pretty consistent all season in terms of production on the scoreboard, that’s a huge advantage for the Bulldogs.
Jake Adams: Big Spring 34, Halifax 12: Schedule juggling hits the Bulldogs, who get to recover from last week’s loss to Steel-High by turning around and thumping the visiting Wildcats.
Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 44, Halifax 16: I’m a little perplexed with how Halifax’s quick-strike offense got completely shut down by Susquenita last week. Bulldogs will have a chance to put on a fireworks show on the road.
Geoff Morrow: Big Spring 39, Halifax 14: A few years back, the Bulldogs flirted with joining the Tri-Valley League. Well, that didn’t happen, and now the TVL is a memory. But this provides a peek of what that might have looked like for the football program!
Newport at Upper Dauphin, 7
Andy Shay: Newport 33, Upper Dauphin 16: Buffaloes have been roughed up since returning from a COVID-19 siesta of a couple weeks. Chance to turn that around here.
Jake Adams: Upper Dauphin 28, Newport 24: Looks like the closest thing to a toss-up we have in the Mid-Penn this weekend.
Andy Sandrik: Upper Dauphin 28, Newport 21: I think this is a one-possession game for the majority of the contest, but I just feel like the Trjoans are trending a little bit higher than the Buffs right now. Had it not been for a one-point loss to Fleetwood, UD would be coming into this on a three-game winning streak.
Geoff Morrow: Upper Dauphin 38, Newport 34: They can’t really stop anybody, but knowing how to score points will come in handy for the Trojans this week against a Buffaloes team that is playing its second game in five days.
Susquenita at Trinity, 7
Andy Shay: Susquenita 26, Trinity 14: Kudos to each squad for adding another game to the docket. Any game in 2020 is worth playing. Couple of struggling teams, and it just feels like ‘Nita has shown more pop on offense, and that will play a role in this one.
Jake Adams: Susquenita 28, Trinity 14: The COVID-go-round scheduling changes strike again. Trinity, dropped by banged-up Camp Hill before the Lions play in next week’s District 3 Class 2A championship, now tackle the Blackhawks. ‘Nita has struggled, but they’ve got enough in the tank here.
Andy Sandrik: Susquenita 21, Trinity 14: Yeah, I think this is a winnable game for Trinity, but the ‘Rocks are still looking to find that second gear that Susquenita has already discovered.
Geoff Morrow: Susquenita 23, Trinity 16: Might not seem like much at first glance, but the Shamrocks took a significant step forward last week vs. Middletown. Is it enough to set them up for their first win this week? I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked.
Not playing this week: State College, Chambersburg, Camp Hill, James Buchanan
Week 8 Schuylkill League Regular Season
Pine Grove at Tamaqua, 7
Andy Shay: Tamaqua 32, Pine Grove 14: Just feels like right now Pine Grove doesn’t quite have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Tamaqua for the long haul.
Jake Adams: Tamaqua 30, Pine Grove 20: What GMo said.
Andy Sandrik: Tamaqua 28, Pine Grove 21: The Cards enter this game as road underdogs, but they’ve been playing better of late. Tamaqua should be a few steps ahead, but I think this game is closer than most people think.
Geoff Morrow: Tamaqua 25, Pine Grove 19: So, follow this: Tamaqua gets smoked three weeks back by Blue Mountain. A week later, Blue Mountain is crushed by Lehighton. Last week, Lehighton knocks off Pine Grove. Which means, this week, the Cardinals sweep the Cubs in six. Wait. Hold on. I am now totally lost …
Williams Valley at Marian Catholic, 7
Andy Shay: Williams Valley 47, Marian Catholic 7: Scoring points has been a real problem for MC this season, scoring seven or fewer points in six of its seven games. Putting points on the board is not a problem for the Vikings.
Jake Adams: Williams Valley 45, Marian Catholic 0: Let’s not get cute here.
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 49, Marian Catholic 0: I think the most fun part about following WV this season is that the Vikings don’t necessarily deliver first-round knockouts. They get punched in the mouth and knocked into the ropes, yet still come out of the ring with their arm raised. Finally, WV gets a chance to breathe.
Geoff Morrow: Williams Valley 47, Marian Catholic 0: Marian has scored seven points in its last four games. The Vikings are going to win this.
Tri-Valley at Panther Valley, 7
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 28, Panther Valley 14: Coming of a tough loss in a very good game with former TVL mate Williams Valley means the Bulldogs are in rebound mode. PV snapped its four-game slide and will be feeling good about itself.
Jake Adams: Tri-Valley 30, Panther Valley 15: Because I don’t endorse animal fighting, who wins in a tug-o-war? Bulldog or a Panther? What about Chase Herb plus a bulldog vs. a Panther?
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 33, Panther Valley 17: I don’t care if there are actual Panthers overrunning the streets of Lansford, but naming the Panther Valley mascot a “Panther” is the laziest choice I’ve seen since high school, when I picked “Andrew” as my confirmation name.
Geoff Morrow: Tri-Valley 39, Panther Valley 13: Bounce-back mode engaged for the Bulldogs. Also, why is everything a valley? We need a desert or something up in the Skook. Mix it up, y’all!
District 3 Playoffs
Class 3A Semifinal: No. 3 Boiling Springs at No. 2 Wyomissing, 1
Andy Shay: Wyomissing 28, Boiling Springs 19: Wing-T vs. Wing-T. Whichever converts the TE waggle better wins. I’m joking, of course. Spartans have depth at those skill positions and come at you in waves. Physically, the Bubblers are up for this challenge, and I expect them to be in the game. Wyo schedule is the worst in District 3, so they haven’t yet played a competitive game.
Jake Adams: Wyomissing 35, Boiling Springs 20: The Spartans have allowed just 19 points, but it comes against a suspect schedule. Still, this is a team with serious playoff experience as the reigning district champs going up against a group that has had a fantastic season. Don’t expect the Bubblers to go down quietly.
Andy Sandrik: Boiling Springs 35, Wyomissing 21: Boiling Springs has played two strides ahead of my predictions all season (and 898 strides ahead of my Camp Hill pick last week), so I’m talking the Bubblers to march out of Wyomissing with a decisive signature win.
Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 22, Boiling Springs 15: Against admittedly weak competition, the Spartans have posted four shutouts. And knowing what to do against a Wing-T is part of the players’ DNA. I believe this will be very competitive, but Wyo’s experience probably matters.