EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: It’s Week 10 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 in the final week of the regular season.
Picker: Week 9 — Overall — Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 17-5 — 173-53 — 2
Andy Sandrik: 13-9 — 172-54 — 0
Andy Shay: 12-10 — 162-64 — 1
* Records in parentheses after school name; District and seed in parentheses before school name.
FRIDAY, OCT. 27
Cumberland Valley 33, Altoona 20
Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 28, Altoona 7: Eagles have overcome the underdog role a couple times in the last few weeks, now let’s see if they can continue to flourish in the favorite role.
Andy Sandrik: Cumberland Valley 36, Altoona 21: Cumberland Valley is hitting its stride at just the right moment. I’m taking the Eagles to hit a season-high in points scored.
Adam Kulikowski: Cumberland Valley 32, Altoona 23: What a night and day difference from Week 1 to Week 10 for the Eagles. Hats off to the young gents and the coaching staff at CV on a job well done turning this season around.
CD East 44, Carlisle 24
Andy Shay: CD East 29, Carlisle 21: Playing out the string for both clubs, and sometimes that allows the best players on the field to shine even more. Counting on that for the up-and-down Panthers.
Andy Sandrik: CD East 33, Carlisle 10: The Panthers have been competitive against the toughest teams in the Commonwealth. I think they’re due for a blowout win.
Adam Kulikowski: Carlisle 24, CD East 23: I just have no idea what to make of the Panthers this season. One week they take Harrisburg to the wire, the next … um, they look nothing of the sort.
Harrisburg 47, Central Dauphin 21
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 30, Central Dauphin 14: Expect the best version of the CD Rams to show up here. Cougars have more firepower offensively, time to prove they can play solid run defense because CD will test that.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 30, Central Dauphin 21: This matchup seems much easier to pick than two or three weeks ago, but you can never count the Rams out, even against the surging Cougars.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 27, Central Dauphin 14: Cougars have perfectly timed their peak while Central Dauphin looks to set itself up well for the District 3 Class 6A playoffs.
State College 21, Chambersburg 14
Andy Shay: State College 42, Chambersburg 14: Not often you see the Little Lions in the position of picking up the pieces and moving forward. Right matchup for State College to turn the page.
Andy Sandrik: State College 44, Chambersburg 13: State College’s offense has been in hibernation for the past two weeks, but I fully expect the Little Lions to come out roaring this week.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 45, Chambersburg 20: All of a sudden, the Little Lions are reeling. Not the position we thought this club would be in heading into Week 10, but this is a week to right the ship.
Bishop McDevitt 61, Lower Dauphin 10
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 49, Lower Dauphin 7: Falcons have lost a couple tight ones and recorded an overtime victory the last three weeks. This won’t be close.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 52, Lower Dauphin 7: Bishop McDevitt’s defense has gone eight quarters without allowing a touchdown. Will that trend continue?
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 47, Lower Dauphin 13: The Falcons are a quality club. However, that makes little difference when you are lining up against a true juggernaut in the Crusaders.
Cedar Cliff 54, Milton Hershey 18
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 42, Milton Hershey 32: The trap for the Colts would be trying to exchange big plays with a Spartans team that can run as white hot as anybody in stretches. Colts are too savvy to take that bait. Overall, Cedar Cliff is the better team, too.
Andy Sandrik: Cedar Cliff 44, Milton Hershey 32: These teams have been opposites in terms of consistency, but if the Spartans get a couple bounces, they have the playmakers to make an honest run at this ballgame.
Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 45, Milton Hershey 33: This spicy match up has the makings of coming down to the final quarter. Give me the one-loss Colts and our guest-of-the-week, Erik Schriver. (Link to show).
Hershey 21, Palmyra 13
Andy Shay: Hershey 35, Palmyra 14: You punch your first ticket to the second season in a decade with a victory in order to take those all important momentum points along for the ride. Hershey is too big and strong for the Cougars.
Andy Sandrik: Hershey 34, Palmyra 17: My 10-year-old kid was in his “debut season” the last time Hershey made the playoffs. This backyard brawl will be a nice warmup for the Trojans.
Adam Kulikowski: Hershey 37, Palmyra 14: Trojans are primed to make its first playoff appearance since the 2013 campaign. Congrats, gents!
Mifflin County 22, Red Land 19
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 29, Red Land 14: Counting on the Huskies’ defense to be a difference-maker against the Patriots’ offense. Otherwise, this gets dicey for Mifflin County. Hey, a .500 season is on the line, and that matters.
Andy Sandrik: Mifflin County 28, Red Land 12: The Huskies aren’t perfect, but they have more than enough gas in the tank to steal a win from Red Land at West Shore Stadium.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 26, Red Land 23: I see this as a closer matchup than my esteemed colleagues. The Patriots are capable of a victory in this tilt, but right now the safe bet says go with the chalk.
East Pennsboro 38, Waynesboro 12
Andy Shay: East Pennsboro 37, Waynesboro 21: One thing we know about this Panthers team, the 48 minutes of a game matter to them, and until the clock runs out they will keep plugging away no matter what the situation looks like. That will show here.
Andy Sandrik: East Pennsboro 38, Waynesboro 14: This East Pennsboro team is about as playoff ready as a squad can get, and I’m not sure what Waynesboro is going to be able to do to stop itself from being the springboard for the Panthers’ postseason run.
Adam Kulikowski: East Pennsboro 33, Waynesboro 20: For three quarters the Panthers were on the mat against Susquehanna Township, then Keith Oates III and the East Penn crew pounced on the Indians to steal full control of the Colonial Division. This one should be less of a full-metal test.
Susquehanna Township 45, Gettysburg 28
Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 42, Gettysburg 28: Been a long time since I witnessed a team absorb so many self-inflicted gut punches. How the Indians respond is what matters. They have all the firepower they need.
Andy Sandrik: Susquehanna Township 38, Gettysburg 30: Who can better get over a tough loss? That’s the question after ‘Hanna had a collapse against East Penn and Gettysburg gave up 500 yards and nine TDs to a single man.
Adam Kulikowski: Susquehanna Township 45, Gettysburg 37: You can bet the Indians heard one of those storied Coach Joe Headen talks after a toxic cocktail of penalties and misplays doomed their chances at sole possession of the Colonial Division title.
Greencastle-Antrim 21, Shippensburg 14
Andy Shay: Greencastle-Antrim 28, Shippensburg 14: Raise your hand if you had the Blue Devils playoff bound for the first time in a dozen years before the season kicked off. Put your hands down! A win here seals the deal, and it would be well-earned by GA.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 21, Greencastle-Antrim 18: While the playoffs are out of the question for Shippensburg, the ‘Hounds have a great opportunity to not only sweep their Franklin County competition (Ship also blanked Waynesboro 27-0 last week), they have a chance to spoil Greenastle’s run to the postseason.
Adam Kulikowski: Greencastle-Antrim 29, Shippensburg 23: You have to go all the way back to 2011 to find the Blue Devils in the postseason. GA should be in control of its own destiny to earn the right to play another week.
Mechanicsburg 32, Northern 18
Andy Shay: Northern 28, Mechanicsburg 24: Not exactly fans of each other. The Polar Bears’ strength is the Wildcats’ weakness — size in the trenches and physical football. Mechanicsburg has shown up all season. This is a coin-flip game for me.
Andy Sandrik: Northern 27, Mechanicsburg 21: I want to say Cole Bartram put up “video game numbers” for Northern last week when he ran for 500 yards and nine TDs, but those are the kind of video game numbers you rack up when you’re playing against your 8-year-old brother, not a full-fledged varsity team.
Adam Kulikowski: Mechanicsburg 33, Northern 27: Give credit to Cole Bartram, who posted the game of a lifetime last week — he’s an absolute stud on both sides of the ball. I see the Wildcats putting up a stronger defensive test than the porous Warriors of Gettysburg.
Big Spring 21, Middletown 7
Andy Shay: Big Spring 34, Middletown 14: Yeah sure, the Bulldogs need some serious help to earn a postseason invitation. But all they can control is winning this game. Powerhouse running game will serve them well in this matchup.
Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 36, Middletown 13: Whether this is the final game of the season for Big Spring or not, it’s worth praising Joe Sinkovich’s boys for the way they rose to the competition this season, including several matchups against playoff-bound teams.
Adam Kulikowski: Big Spring 28, Middletown 14: The Bulldogs, currently sitting No. 11 in a 10-team Class 4A dance, need some help to reach the postseason. But none of that matters if they don’t take care of their own business.
Camp Hill 35, Boiling Springs 27
Andy Shay: Camp Hill 42, Boiling Springs 14: Tough season for the Bubblers, and the Lions have been a little shaky after that hot start. Chance to finish .500 is at stake, and that is an accomplishment this season in the Capital Division.
Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 34, Boiling Springs 14: I’ll respect any team that can grind out a 6-5 win in American football, like the Bubblers did last week against Middletown, but Camp Hill represents a different kind of challenge for Boiling Springs.
Adam Kulikowski: Camp Hill 27, Boiling Springs 14: Lions have plenty of weapons in the cupboard to end the regular season with a .500 record and secure a coveted playoff berth.
Steel-High 33, West Perry 12
Andy Shay: Steel-High 32, West Perry 21: Can the Mustangs complete the perfect regular season? Rollers will ask a lot of questions and have been in plenty of these bright-lights games, so this is nothing new.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 33, Steel-High 30: Mustangs are not only playing for a Capital Division title, but also the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 3A playoffs. Beating Steel-High is a heck of a task, but if WP gives a complete and clean effort, it can turn this into a coin-flip game.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 42, West Perry 41 (OT): If I could make the score any closer, I would. A playoff atmosphere arrives a week early in Elliottsburg, where a winner-take-all heavyweight bout will crown someone the Capital Division champ.
Trinity 45, Halifax 8
Andy Shay: Trinity 42, Halifax 14: Key for the Shamrocks is to take care of business and get as many key ingredients off the field in preparation for the second season. Wildcats don’t have the speed in space to keep up with the T-Rocks.
Andy Sandrik: Trinity 40, Halifax 14: This is a great opportunity for the ‘Rocks to rest, recover and develop some much-needed depth for the postseason.
Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 47, Halifax 20: Shamrocks provided the best test of the season to Steel-High last week. This team is more than ready for anything an improved Wildcats team can fire at them.
Newport 29, James Buchanan 0
Andy Shay: James Buchanan 13, Newport 12: Not “rooting” for the Buffaloes, but one win isn’t too much to ask. Rockets have more offensive weapons, but the gap isn’t a big one.
Andy Sandrik: Newport 23, James Buchanan 7: It’s a long bus ride to Mercersburg, but it could be a very fun ride back home to Newport if the Buffs can defuse the Rockets.
Adam Kulikowski: James Buchanan 13, Newport 6: Both clubs are desperately looking to end the season on a positive note. Give the edge to the Rockets, who appear to have more horsepower under the hood.
Susquenita 18, Juniata 7
Andy Shay: Juniata 37, Susquenita 22: Indians are still in the Liberty Division hunt, but none of that matters if they don’t take care of the Blackhawks. Can’t see how Susquenita can make them sweat over the long haul.
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 33, Susquenita 24: The ‘Hawks, on a three-game winning streak, are playing as good now as they have all season. But is it enough to overcome Juniata?
Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 34, Susquenita 20: Line Mountain broke a five-game Juniata winning streak last week. Time for the Indians to start anew.
Line Mountain 35, Upper Dauphin 0
Andy Shay: Line Mountain 42, Upper Dauphin 20: This grind catches up to you when you push uphill, and the Trojans have pushed more water uphill this season than most. Eagles are better equipped for the long game and are ready to claim the Liberty title.
Andy Sandrik: Line Mountain 44, Upper Dauphin 19: I think we can all agree that UD has outperformed just about every expectation this season, but I’m just not sure the Trojans have enough sandbags to stop this tidal wave of momentum from the Eagles, who come into this game winners of six straight.
Adam Kulikowski: Line Mountain 41, Upper Dauphin 26: Line Mountain has scored 40 or more points each of the last three weeks. Can the Trojans stop the streak?
Williams Valley 49, Tri-Valley 14
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 28, Williams Valley 26: One of the better “town rivalries” around, and I’m aware the Vikings are on a hot streak against the Bulldogs. So I’m taking the law of averages: Tri-Valley in a toss-up game. Why not?
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 24, Tri-Valley 17: It’s always hard to get any kind of grasp on a rivalry game. The Vikings are looking for their fifth win in a row and deserve to be favored, yet I get the sense Tri-Valley is going to march step for step with WV.
Adam Kulikowski: Williams Valley 39, Tri-Valley 24: I’m predicting a Vikings dub — and the winner of Williams Valley’s 50-50 drawing will take home more than $1,500.
Marian Catholic 20, Pine Grove 7
Andy Shay: Marian Catholic 42, Pine Grove 7: I sense MC will come in a little fired up after a couple close setbacks. The Colts have the offensive weapons to make this one easy, but they will have to earn it.
Andy Sandrik: Marian Catholic 36, Pine Grove 7: The Colts are coming off back-to-back competitive losses to Williams Valley and Tri-Valley, but if they keep their composure, this is a game MC should win.
Adam Kulikowski: Marian Catholic 33, Pine Grove 6: Marian Catholic has shown plenty of mettle in its 5-4 campaign to date. Cardinals will face a stiff test against a defense that is surrendering just 13.7 points per game.