Standings through Week 12:
Andy Shay: Week 12: 9-2, Overall: 224-47
Geoff Morrow: Week 12: 9-2, Overall: 224-47
Jake Adams: Week 12: 10-1, Overall: 217-54
Andy Sandrik: Week 12: 8-3, Overall: 214-57
District 3 Class 4A championship
No. 2 Bishop McDevitt vs. No. 1 Berks Catholic, at Hersheypark Stadium, 1
Andy Shay: Berks Catholic 38, Bishop McDevitt 21: There's an element to this McDevitt offense that I think could present some problems for a Saints defense that nobody scores on. The first 12 minutes REALLY matter for the Crusaders as Berks has outscored its opponents 393-7 in the opening quarter this season.
Jake Adams: Berks Catholic 28, Bishop McDevitt 24: Um... I’m really not sure where to go here. Saw BC dismantle East Pennsboro last week, but I’ve heard a lot about this Crusaders offense. I could be dead wrong here.
Andy Sandrik: Berks Catholic 28, Bishop McDevitt 14: It’s going to take a mighty clean effort for the Crusaders to keep pace with BC, but even that might not be enough.
Geoff Morrow: Berks Catholic 35, Bishop McDevitt 33: Just an awesome matchup, and honestly struggled a lot with this pick. Saints won last year's 4A title, and McDevitt won the previous six Class AAA (4A equivalent, pre-expansion) championships, so there's great pedigree here even though they've never met. Berks is averaging 47.5 ppg over its 12-0 start (with one forfeit), while McD is averaging 45.5 ppg over its eight-game winning streak. Saints have a better statistical defense, but Crusaders played a tougher schedule. Slightest edge, to me, is Saints have been a tad more consistent up front, though Crusaders (10-2) have been really good in pass protection and run-blocking over second half of season. Enjoy this battle!
District 3 Class 5A championship
No. 4 Governor Mifflin vs. No. 2 Manheim Central, at Hersheypark Stadium, 7
Andy Shay: Manheim Central 28, Governor Mifflin 21: This is a real toss-up game for me. Each club is coming off a huge semifinal victory (Mifflin in that MASSIVE upset of Harrisburg). I lean to the Barons simply based on the fact they have more balance and diversity offensively. But if they can't stop that Mustangs veer and let GM hold the ball, it's lights out!
Jake Adams: Manheim Central 35, Governor Mifflin 21: I just can’t help but shake this feeling there will be a Mustangs let down after an emotional win over Harrisburg. As much as they won’t want to hear it.
Andy Sandrik: Manheim Central 24, Governor Mifflin 21: What happened the last time Manheim Central faced a stable of Mustangs in the district title game? They defeated my West Perry team, 28-21, in 1999. Governor Mifflin deserves all the credit in the world for bouncing Harrisburg, but the Barons are going to win their 17th district title this weekend.
Geoff Morrow: Governor Mifflin 30, Manheim Central 28: Another fantastic championship tilt between a couple of programs unfamiliar with each other. Barons (12-0, 46.3 ppg) have history on their side with a district-high 16 titles already in the bag, while the Mustangs (11-1) are 0-2 in title games. But one of these teams (Mifflin) just knocked off heavily favored Harrisburg with precision and ball control. Barons won't make the same mistakes as Cougars did with penalties, so Mifflin will again have to been razor sharp. Interesting to note that Mustangs' lone loss was getting doubled up by Barons rival Cocalico way back on Sept. 8, but they've rattled off nine straight wins since. Central beat those same Eagles twice, including last week's 21-20 triumph in the semis.
PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal
2-1 Scranton Prep vs. 3-1 Middletown, at Bethlehem Stadium, 7
Andy Shay: Middletown 28, Scranton Prep 16: I would describe Scranton Prep as rugged and physical. But it's not like the Blue Raiders are a finesse team, right? In 10 of its 13 games, Scranton Prep has held the opposition to seven or fewer points. Key for Middletown is when it breaks free, are they runs to the house or 15-yard runs? Big difference.
Jake Adams: Middletown 42, Scranton Prep 14: The Cavaliers haven’t lost a game this year, but the Blue Raiders haven’t either, and last year’s 40-13 thumping portends another blowout win.
Andy Sandrik: Middletown 35, Scranton Prep 21: Scranton Prep needed to force five turnovers to steal a 31-28 victory over Loyalsock. I’m expecting Middletown to not only take better care of the football, but to win as well.
Geoff Morrow: Middletown 30, Scranton Prep 22: A rematch of last year's quarterfinal won 40-13 by the Blue Raiders (12-0), who are now 26-1 over the last two seasons. Two things to remember about last year's game: 1. Middletown scored six straight touchdowns after the first quarter to seize control; and 2. The Cavaliers still outgained the Blue Raiders 205-78 in last year's first half. These teams are closer than last year's score indicates, and Cavs (13-0) have already established a program record for wins in a season. Among the big plays that went in Middletown's favor last year was a 90-yard punt return TD by Tyreer Mills, and don't be surprised if Raiders' ability to break those long scores again plays a pivotal role.
PIAA Class 1A quarterfinal
11-1 Williams Valley vs. 3-1 Steel-High, at Milton Hershey's Henry Hershey Field, 7
Andy Shay: Steel-High 27, Williams Valley 24: This is a great match-up. When the Rollers and Vikings squared off a year ago it was a sizzler. I wonder about WV star RB Dylan Rabuck and his ankle injury. RBs and ankle injuries do not generally go well together. Will Rollers RB Dupri Andrews be available this week? He didn't play last week. Lots of questions.
Jake Adams: Steel-High 28, Williams Valley 24: Another rematch from last year, one the Rollers won 24-20. I think you can tell I expect this to be a close one yet again. Not sure about Dylan Rabuck’s status at time of pick.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 28, Williams Valley 21: Tough one for me to pick, but I think Steel-High has done more against tougher competition. That week-to-week grind pays off in games like this.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 29, Williams Valley 28: Another rematch from last year's quarterfinals. The 2016 version played out to the end, with Rollers QB Malachi Young firing a 50-yard TD pass with 1:22 left for a 24-20 victory. This one appeared to favor the Tri-Valley League champion Vikings (13-0), at least until ace RB Dylan Rabuck severely sprained his ankle in last week's PIAA first-round victory. Even if he plays, Rabuck will be lacking the explosiveness that's lifted him to nearly 3,000 rushing yards this year. But WV is a lot deeper than Rabuck. Heck, they even have another butt-kicking Rabuck (Devon). But battle-tested Steel-High (10-2) boasts plenty of confidence in these types of battles and won't be the least bit intimidated by the Vikings' 46.6 ppg. Playing next door could help, too.
Saturday, November 25
PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal
7-1 Pine-Richland vs. 6-1 State College, at Hempfield Area HS, 1
Andy Shay: Pine-Richland 49, State College 7: The Rams are just a machine offensively. QB Phil Jurkovec is a Notre Dame recruit who is on his way to a 5,000-yard season passing and rushing combined. Lots of weapons around him, too. And the P-R defense is nasty up front and fast on the back end. Little Lions are in a tough spot here but have some weapons that all need to be clicking.
Jake Adams: Pine-Richland 49, State College 21: From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – The Rams averaged 49 points per game, the most by a WPIAL champ in the league’s 103-year history. From the Pittsburgh Tribune – The Rams haven’t scored less than 41 points all season and have won by at least three touchdowns every week. I listen to facts, folks.
Andy Sandrik: Pine-Richland 42, State College 14: Mike White, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tells us that the Rams have averaged 49 points per game in WPIAL competition. State College has proven itself as a state-caliber team, but the Little Lions might have their hands full this weekend.
Geoff Morrow: Pine-Richland 42, State College 26: Man, everything you read about this WPIAL-champion Rams teams is impressive, beginning with Notre Dame QB commit Phil Jurkovec (191-of-253, 3,279 yards, 33 TD, 4 INT). Plus LB Tommy Camino has 15 sacks. One-third of his tackles ARE SACKS. The Rams (13-0) have mercy-ruled 10 of 13 foes, including last week's 42-7 thrashing of defending WPIAL champ Pittsburgh Central Catholic at Heinz Field. That said, the Little Lions (10-2) are no slouch, though they'll need to do a lot better than the first-half disappearing act and just 21 points scored last week vs. Delaware Valley. State High needs its 'A' game.
District 3 Class 6A championship
No. 2 Manheim Twp. vs. No. 1 Cumberland Valley, at Hersheypark Stadium, 6
Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 28, Manheim Twp. 20: This is the third trip to a District 3 championship game for this group of CV seniors. That carries some serious weight on my scale. The Blue Streaks are making their first championship game appearance EVER. I like the Eagles' run game against an MT defense that is diverse in strength but gives up some yards on the ground.
Jake Adams: Cumberland Valley 28, Manheim Twp. 14: It’s been smooth sailing for the Eagles all postseason. They’ve got the D to bottle up RB Grayson Sallade (170-1,191), who's rushed for 16 TDs.
Andy Sandrik: Cumberland Valley 21, Manheim Twp. 7: Congrats to the Blue Streaks for making it to the district final for the first time in school history. They’ll be facing a CV squad that has won 13 titles in 20 tries.
Geoff Morrow: Manheim Twp. 28, Cumberland Valley 27: Yet another high-quality championship battle scheduled at the Concrete Palace, and again it matches title-game pedigree (CV is 13-7 all-time) vs. up-and-comer (Blue Streaks are making first such appearance). But Mark Evans' Streaks (11-1) have been doing just that, winning nine in a row. They've swept a pair of games from Central Dauphin, which handed CV (10-2) one of its two losses, and they've twice knocked off Wilson, which bounced the Eagles in last year's title game. Key for CV, as usual, is that Wing-T and playing keep-away from playmaking Township QB Luke Emge. Nothing would surprise us here, but we ultimately think the magic continues for the L-L Section 1 champs.