EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: It’s Week 5 of the Pennsylvania high school football season, and the 4th Down Magazine team is here to tell you who’s going to win every game involving Mid-Penn Conference teams, as well as Schuylkill-Colonial League games featuring former members of the now-defunct Tri-Valley League.
This year’s group of experts includes veteran reporters Andy Shay and Andy Sandrik, as well as 4th Down owner and manager Adam Kulikowski.
Here’s who we think will win each game this week.
Picker: Week 5 — Overall — Perfect Picks
Andy Sandrik: 13-9 — 105-33 — 0
Adam Kulikowski: 18-4 — 104-34 — 0
Andy Shay: 18-4 — 99-39 — 1
* Records in parentheses after school name; District and seed in parentheses before school name.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 21
Susquehanna Township 28, Shippensburg 19:
Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 20, Shippensburg 14: There is a certain style the Greyhounds need to play in order to win games. It starts with defense. The ‘Hanna Tribe are 2-2 but both losses are by a point.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 17, Susquehanna Township 14: Ship is 2-0 in one-score games, while ‘Hanna is 0-2. Use that information however you’d like, but the only thing I can say with confidence is this could very well be a one-score game.
Adam Kulikowski: Susquehanna Township 33, Shippensburg 20: Perennially a division favorite, the Greyhounds seem vulnerable this year. Can the Indians take advantage?
Gettysburg 41, Mechanicsburg 20
Andy Shay: Mechanicsburg 28, Gettysburg 26: Wildcats have rebounded nicely from an 0-2 start and have moved the needle forward on many fronts. Warriors will find their points, but have also surrendered 130 points in four games.
Andy Sandrik: Mechanicsburg 33, Gettysburg 24: I like the game-to-game improvement I’m seeing from this Mechanicsburg squad. With that said, the Wildcats will be facing a desperate 1-3 Warriors team and could have their hands full.
Adam Kulikowski: Mechanicsburg 38, Gettysburg 28: The Warriors’ defense is suspect, and the Wildcats have enough firepower to take advantage. Look for this one to be a high-scoring affair.
Waynesboro 29, Northern 28:
Andy Shay: Northern 20, Waynesboro 7: Couple of 1-3 teams who have identical struggles to put points on the board. Defense has kept the Indians and Polar Bears in games. Only a combined 105 points scored in eight games.
Andy Sandrik: Waynesboro 13, Northern 7: Something tells me the first team to score a TD in this game will be the winner.
Adam Kulikowski: Waynesboro 14, Northern 7: Can’t argue with the logic of my crony pickers. Winner just might be the team whose defense or special teams finds a way to put points on the board.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 22
CD East 28, Altoona 7
Andy Shay: CD East 27, Altoona 24: At times through the first month each team has shown some firepower against lesser opponents. Feels like a level playing field on many fronts, but that extra gear slightly favors the Panthers. Tough road game for them.
Andy Sandrik: Altoona 24, CD East 20: This is one of those coin-flip games that is going to come down to which team can scrap harder. I’ll take the Mountain Lions and the consistent running of Bron Mosley, who’s averaging 117 yards per contest.
Adam Kulikowski: CD East 34, Altoona 30: Picking against the Mountain Lions always seems to get me in trouble with my wife, a proud graduate of Altoona, but here we are.
Chambersburg 3, Carlisle 0
Andy Shay: Carlisle 29, Chambersburg 26: This game has so many box-of-chocolates elements for me that it creates a fascinating matchup. Trojans have the better record, but Thundering Herd have a couple one-score losses and have shown more consistency on offense.
Andy Sandrik: Carlisle 28, Chambersburg 18: Nothing like watching my kids’ school, Carlisle, go to battle against Chambersburg, my wife’s alma mater. Give me the Herd with a rebound win.
Adam Kulikowski: Chambersburg 26, Carlisle 21: Call it an upset if you’d like, but the Trojans have some serious speed which could present matchup problems for a Carlisle club coming off a physical tussle with Harrisburg.
State College 31, Central Dauphin 13
Andy Shay: State College 31, Central Dauphin 27: Feel comfortable saying the Little Lions deserve to be the favorite here and are built for games like this one. However, if the Rams team that slayed Coatesville shows up and plays at that level, not sure State College has any say in the outcome.
Andy Sandrik: Central Dauphin 28, State College 21: I’m trying to hold off on the “CD is back!” stuff for at least a few more weeks, but if the Rams pull off this win, you’ll know they are for real.
Adam Kulikowski: Central Dauphin 27, State College 26: Watching the Rams’ defense dominate Coatesville earlier this season told me what my compadre is not yet ready to admit. Rams are back and again a force.
Harrisburg 42, Cumberland Valley 7
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 42, Cumberland Valley 7: Just where these two teams are this year. Anything other than a result that looks like this will be a mild surprise.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 49, Cumberland Valley 14: Stuck in standstill traffic on I-83 en route to the Orioles game, I listened in as Harrisburg absolutely dismantled a decent Carlisle squad. I’m feeling those same vibes as the young Cougars march into Chapman Field, gaining confidence with each game.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 55, Cumberland Valley 13: The Eagles found a way to score last week in a thrilling victory against CD East, but the Cougars present a very different challenge.
Bishop McDevitt 48, Cedar Cliff 7
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 42, Cedar Cliff 7: This has nothing to do with the Colts and what they are accomplishing this season. The gap in critical spots is simply that big.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 44, Cedar Cliff 21: Cedar Cliff is as good as it has been in years. Can the Colts hang with the overpowered Crusaders for one quarter? Two?
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 45, Cedar Cliff 20: There have been years when this matchup was closer than any of the experts predicted — and that’s a credit to the always well-coached and talented Colts squads. This year just doesn’t feel like that is a likely scenario.
Lower Dauphin 35, Red Land 7
Andy Shay: Lower Dauphin 30, Red Land 14: Quietly, Lower Dauphin has gone about its business and won three of its four games playing its style of football. The Patriots have allowed 85 points over the last eight quarters and are struggling to keep their offense in the game.
Andy Sandrik: Lower Dauphin 33, Red Land 16: I’m still eagerly awaiting the season debut of Falcons’ stud Ty Millhimes, who will hopefully return from an injury, but in his place LD has gotten a steady effort from senior RB Dakota Sary, who is giving the Falcons more than 100 yards per game.
Adam Kulikowski: Lower Dauphin 35, Red Land 10: The Falcons have yielded just 38 points through their first four games while the Patriots are allowing nearly 30 ticks a game.
Mifflin County 20, Palmyra 10
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 21, Palmyra 17: I expect points to come slowly and will take solid execution to crack the opposition’s defense in this one. Slow and steady wins the race, and the Huskies are comfortable playing that game from in front.
Andy Sandrik: Palmyra 23, Mifflin County 17: One big play or turnover could make the difference in what I see as a game between two evenly matched teams.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 26, Palmyra 24: There’s no doubt the Cougars are a much-improved squad from a year ago. A win against Mifflin County would be the club’s signature victory as we reach the midway point of the regular season. I’m just not sure they are ready.
East Pennsboro 24, Greencastle-Antrim 13
Andy Shay: East Pennsboro 27, Greencastle-Antrim 14: Nobody has been able to get a handle on this Panthers offense to date, and that’s for a reason. The Blue Devils can’t let East Penn make this game a chase for points to the finish. The Panthers will look to do just that.
Andy Sandrik: East Pennsboro 28, Greencastle-Antrim 21: I love the tension and excitement that comes when two undefeated teams meet on the field. No reason to believe this won’t be a thriller, as well.
Adam Kulikowski: East Pennsboro 34, Greencastle-Antrim 20: The Panthers will pose serious problems for any club with their dynamic duo of wideouts. Keeping pace for 48 minutes will be a challenge for the Blue Devils.
West Perry 47, James Buchanan 13
Andy Shay: West Perry 49, James Buchanan 0: Mustangs are legitimate contenders for the Capital Division crown. This won’t be a test, and it comes at the right time.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 55, James Buchanan 0: If you’re that JV player busting your tail on the scout team, you’ve got to be looking forward to playing at least a full half of varsity football, if not more.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 58, James Buchanan 6: We already know the outcome of this one. The only question is just when do the Mustangs get their starters a rest and some of the young lads an opportunity to see the Friday night lights.
Steel-High 46, Big Spring 7
Andy Shay: Steel-High 42, Big Spring 14: Just want to point out Big Spring is 3-1 after a thrilling OT win over Camp Hill last week, and the Bulldogs only loss was by three points. They might not be a pushover for the Rollers, but hard to see the lads from Newville keeping pace over 48 minutes.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 50, Big Spring 25: Steel-High has Big Spring outclassed across the board, but don’t think these Bulldogs are going to go down without giving the Rollers their best shot.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 45, Big Spring 20: This has been a resurgent season for the Bulldogs. Consider this just a bump in the road against a team that has all the pieces to raise another state championship banner.
Trinity 48, Boiling Springs 14
Andy Shay: Trinity 28, Boiling Springs 7: Pretty sure the T-Rocks’ star RB will see little or no action in this one. Couple of tough last-play losses for Trinity, and how you respond matters more than the setbacks.
Andy Sandrik: Trinity 45, Boiling Springs 7: A big win in this rivalry game would put Trinity right back on track in Capital Division play.
Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 38, Boiling Springs 13: Shamrocks are primed to release some frustration out on the Bubblers after back-to-back losses in tight contests against top-notch opponents.
Middletown 14, Camp Hill 7
Andy Shay: Camp Hill 28, Middletown 7: Nothing for the Lions to be upset about when your first loss comes in overtime. Confident this group will rebound against a Blue Raiders team that has trouble keeping up.
Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 21, Middletown 7: My newest landscaping customer, renowned PA football expert Eric Epler, agreed with me when I said Middletown had the size to make life a challenge for Line Mountain last week. I feel the same way this week, but what do I know, I’m just some guy with cordless hedge trimmers.
Adam Kulikowski: Camp Hill 31, Middletown 20: For all the struggles the Blue Raiders have endured in their comeback season, they may make this closer than some expect.
Juniata 35, Halifax 14
Andy Shay: Juniata 33, Halifax 14: So Halifax is 3-1 and Juniata is 1-3 and this is not considered an upset. Indians ran an opening killer three-game gauntlet and are better for it. That will show up.
Andy Sandrik: Halifax 28, Juniata 14: This is my “I should know better” pick. Juniata has been much more tested than Halifax this season, but I’ll stay on the Wildcats hype train for one more week.
Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 26, Halifax 20: This is no disrespect to the Wildcats, whose fans have taken to Sandrik’s bullish Halifax picks.
Line Mountain 27, Susquenita 21
Andy Shay: Line Mountain 29, Susquenita 20: Starting to have some concerns about the Eagles’ offense after back-to-back 14-point outings. The Blackhawks surrender 36 points a game, so points can be had.
Andy Sandrik: Line Mountain 28, Susquenita 14: Two straight weeks of blowout losses isn’t the way Susquenita wanted to come into this match against the preseason Liberty Division favorite.
Adam Kulikowski: Line Mountain 35, Susquenita 24: Congrats to the Gibney brothers, who set new career records at their respective positions last week. As for what to expect from their team on any given week, I just don’t have a pulse.
Upper Dauphin 30, Newport 6
Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 41, Newport 14: The winless Buffaloes are struggling to compete, and the Trojans don’t play very nice when they can dictate the tempo of a game.
Andy Sandrik: Upper Dauphin 43, Newport 7: Tough matchup for a Newport team that’s averaging 3.25 points per game.
Adam Kulikowski: Upper Dauphin 45, Newport 6: It’s never fun picking a team to lose in the fashion that our crew has for Newport. Buffaloes simply are out-gunned in this matchup.
Tri-Valley 21, Executive Education 8
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 23, Executive Education 21: I could see this one going either way, but the path the Bulldogs have navigated to 2-2 seems like a road that will serve them well in this game.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 27, Executive Education 20: Nothing about this will be easy, but Tri-Valley’s defense, which can apply pressure in the backfield and force turnovers, has me convinced the Bulldogs have a chance.
Adam Kulikowski: Tri-Valley 21, Executive Education 14: Give some props to Tri-Valley sophomore linebacker Cole Gemberling. This lad has racked up 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks, emerging as a force on defense for the Bulldogs through their first four games.
Jim Thorpe 47, Pine Grove 7
Andy Shay: Jim Thorpe 31, Pine Grove 14: A couple of one-win teams that have lost by pretty big margins. Difference here is Jim Thorpe has scored nearly twice as many points overall as the Cardinals.
Andy Sandrik: Jim Thorpe 39, Pine Grove 23: After starting the season slow, Jim Thorpe’s offense has piled up 79 points over its last two games. Pine Grove is also coming off a season-high in points scored, but the Cardinals can’t afford to let this turn into a shootout against the Olympians.
Adam Kulikowski: Jim Thorpe 45, Pine Grove 21: The Olympians have some nice pieces on offense — highlighted by 6-foot-2 junior wideout Justin Yescavage, who is averaging more than 20 yards per catch.
Loyalsock Township 24, Williams Valley 7
Andy Shay: Loyalsock Township 26, Williams Valley 22: All I know is the Lancers have played back-to-back hammers in Southern Columbia and Danville. Both those squads are state ranked, and LT wasn’t rolled in either game. The Vikings’ defense needs to be a difference-maker to pull off this upset.
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 33, Loyalsock Township 32: This could very well be a lopsided loss for the Vikings, I have that much respect for this LT team that played within three points of state-ranked Danville. But this is a different game in a different week, and I’ll take my chances with Williams Valley pressing the Alex Achenbach button.
Adam Kulikowski: Loyalsock Township 31, Williams Valley 27: Stopping the Achenbach is never a small feat, and the Lancers have yielded nearly 7 yards per carry. Biggest question is whether Williams Valley has the troops to slow the Lancers’ air attack.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 23
Hershey 33, Milton Hershey 22
Andy Shay: Hershey 27, Milton Hershey 20: Love the annual Bean Bowl matchup, and this year it could be a dandy. Spartans can be super explosive at times but have trouble holding teams down. The Trojans are built for close games and are comfortable in their own skin. This easily could be the other way.
Andy Sandrik: Hershey 26, Milton Hershey 19: Tough call, but I’ll go with Hershey controlling the offensive flow with the hard running of Angel Cabrera and the accuracy of dual-threat QB Cameron Sweeney, who is completing 77% of his passes this fall.
Adam Kulikowski: Milton Hershey 28, Hershey 27: This has the makings of one of the best tilts on the docket in Week 5. Spartans, who have won six of the last 10 contests, look to regain the Bean after Hershey claimed bragging rights in 2022.