EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: It’s Week 3 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 Twin Valley Conference.
This year’s group of experts includes veteran reporters Andy Shay and Andy Sandrick, as well as 4th Down owner and manager Adam Kulikowski.
Here’s who we think will win each game this week.
Picker: Week 3 — Overall — Perfect Picks
Andy Sandrik: 22-8 — 73-21 — 0
Adam Kulikowski: 21-9— 69-25 — 0
Andy Shay: 19-11 — 65-29 — 0
* Records in parentheses after school name; District and seed in parentheses before school name.
View our new podcast, 4th and Goal with Jake Adams and Andy Shay. This week, we’re chatting with West Perry wide receiver Ian Goodling. We’re also digging into what stood out in Week 2 including Big Spring’s victory over Shippensburg to claim the Little Brown Jug; our surprise team–the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders; plus we highlight an athlete to watch and one must-see game in Week 3.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 8
Altoona 35, Mifflin County 0
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 34, Altoona 20: Pretty obvious what the Huskies’ recipe for success is built around. Powered by an offensive line that is on point, running back Deakon Schaeffer is averaging 200 yards a game. Not sure Altoona can force Mifflin Country out of its comfort zone.
Andy Sandrik: Mifflin County 32, Altoona 24: Altoona will present a challenge, but the Huskies have answered the bell on both sides of the ball so far this season and deserve to be the favorites.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 27, Altoona 23: The Huskies are clearly trending up, coming off a 6-5 season last year. If the good times are to continue in Huskie Country, the defense will play a key role. One player that’s stood out in the early polling on that unit? Senior Owen Gipe. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound linebacker has racked up team-high 31 tackles to help limit MIfflin County’s first two opponents to 12 total points.
York 42, Carlisle 40
Andy Shay: York 42, Carlisle 21: Not sure either defense is going to have a lot of say in this outcome, and it appears as if the Bearcats have more firepower in their offensive arsenal right now.
Andy Sandrik: York 39, Carlisle 35: Kulikowski and Shay can pick against Carlisle without hearing about it from everyone in the drive-through elementary pickup. I don’t have that luxury.
Adam Kulikowski: York 39, Carlisle 28: Fun fact: the Thundering Herd have scored exactly as many points as they have yielded — 56. The result is a 1-1 record.
Central Dauphin 35, Coatesville 13
Andy Shay: Coatesville 35, Central Dauphin 14: This will be the Rams’ second opponent in three games ranked inside the Top 10 in the state. Red Raiders’ defense has been impressive through eight quarters and will provide the biggest challenge to date for the CD offense.
Andy Sandrik: Coatesville 33, Central Dauphin 17: Vibes are getting better in Rams’ country, but knocking off this tough Coatesville squad is much easier said than done.
Adam Kulikowski: Central Dauphin 28, Coatesville 27: All signs say to go with the Red Raiders — 77 points scored versus just seven yielded; a victory last year against Central Dauphin; plenty of weapons in the cupboard. Yet, the vibe is back with the Rams and momentum can raise the tide to new heights.
CD East 60, Northeastern 6
Andy Shay: CD East 35, Northeastern 7: There are huge matchup advantages all over the field for the Panthers in this one against a winless Bobcats squad.
Andy Sandrik: CD East 43, Northeastern 7: Even after a blowout loss, CD East is still about four steps ahead of Northeastern, in my book.
Adam Kulikowski: CD East 45, Northeastern 10: Losses to Red Land and Dover provide enough context to draw the conclusion that Northeastern doesn’t have the pieces in the proverbial cupboard to hang with the Panthers.
Chambersburg 42, Waynesboro 20
Andy Shay: Chambersburg 42, Waynesboro 7: A friendly reminder the Trojans dropped half a century on the Northern Polar Bears a week ago. Enough said.
Andy Sandrik: Chambersburg 45, Waynesboro 10: I’m still stunned at how badly the Trojans gashed Northern last week. Something’s cooking in Chambersburg, and it would be unwise to pick against the Trojans right now.
Adam Kulikowski: Chambersburg 34, Waynesboro 13: The Trojans have speed to burn, and that will provide plenty of trouble for a rebuilding Waynesboro squad.
Spring-Ford 63, Cumberland Valley 17
Andy Shay: Spring-Ford 21, Cumberland Valley 17: Rams are 2-0 while the Eagles are winless after facing two high-quality opponents. This feels like a more level playing field despite the records. Path to success for CV lies in more help from the offense.
Andy Sandrik: Spring-Ford 24, Cumberland Valley 14: I know CV has played some really good programs these opening two weeks, but six points in eight quarters is still a red flag for me. The Eagles’ defense will keep this game close for as long as they can, but the offense is going to have to take that next step sooner rather than later.
Adam Kulikowski: Spring-Ford 17, Cumberland Valley 7: Coach Josh Oswalt’s offense scheme is not an easy one to run fluently on Day 1. That means there’s growing pains that come along with a new cast of characters — and the Eagles certainly have faced those pains, netting just six points in their first eight quarters of play.
Manheim Township 38, Harrisburg 6
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 27, Manheim Township 24: Both squads have come out of the gates flying and executing at a very high level on both sides of the ball. The chess match between the Cougars’ defense and the Blue Streaks’ offense is going to be fascinating to watch play out.
Andy Sandrik: Manheim Township 30, Harrisburg 26: I get the sense that this won’t be the first time these behemoths square off this fall.
Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Township 31, Harrisburg 30: This one is worth the drive for Harrisburg football fans. My crystal ball says we might be getting a preview of a District 3 Class 6A title match later this year.
State College at Hollidaysburg, Canceled
Andy Shay: State College 34, Hollidaysburg 14: Pretty sure the Little Lions are going to be ready to go from the opening whistle this week and focused on getting back on track after watching a late rally fall just short a week ago.
Andy Sandrik: State College 45, Hollidaysburg 21: State College will be fully focused on getting ahead and staying ahead, which could snowball into a blowout loss for Hollidaysburg.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 45, Hollidaysburg 13: The loss to Downingtown East was a mild shock, but don’t let that fool you. The Little Lions are still a force to be reckoned with for any opponent.
Mechanicsburg 49, Red Land 30
Andy Shay: Red Land 24, Mechanicsburg 21: Toss-up game for me. The Patriots’ run game is a formula for success against the Wildcats’ defense, plus they have a defense that has created some key turnovers. Mechanicsburg offense will be the difference-maker if the Wildcats take this one.
Andy Sandrik: Red Land 21, Mechanicsburg 14: Having that first win under your belt can make a world of difference. The Patriots’ confidence, combined with its running attack and a sprinkle of defense, could serve them well in a grind-it-out kind of game.
Adam Kulikowski: Red Land 28, Mechanicsburg 20: If the Patriots watched the tape from Cedar Cliff’s victory against Mechanicsburg last Thursday, they likely saw a few tendencies in the passing game that can be exploited against the Wildcats.
Bishop McDevitt 47, La Salle College 21
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 35, La Salle College 14: A pair of come-from-behind victories against next-level opponents should serve the Crusaders well in this one. I expect this to be close well into the second half before McD takes charge.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 35, La Salle College 10: The star-studded Crusaders have had to fight and claw for everything they’ve gotten in their 2-0 start. That experience will serve them well in this contest.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 41, La Salle College 20: Crusaders survived about 20 haymaker shots last week but never toppled. Consider this crew hardened and ready for the final test before division play begins next week.
Cedar Cliff 43, McCaskey 6
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 27, McCaskey 20: There’s a little bit more pop in the Colts’ offense that you might think. They are a patient and efficient unit that will test McCaskey’s defense over the course of 48 minutes.
Andy Sandrik: Cedar Cliff 28, McCaskey 18: Cedar Cliff’s defense has been quietly having a nice little season, but I think they’ll be tested by a McCaskey squad that’s scored a point or two this season.
Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 41, McCaskey 17: The numbers Cedar Cliff has posted through Week 2 won’t wow you, but that’s just what’s scary about this team. They are getting solid contributions from a wide array of gents.
Hershey 35, Dallastown 19
Andy Shay: Dallastown 28, Hershey 21: Fully aware the Trojans are 2-0 and the Wildcats come into this one licking their wounds, sporting an 0-2 ledger. Who you play also matters, and Dallastown will have a say in the outcome of this game.
Andy Sandrik: Hershey 28, Dallastown 21: Hershey’s been a nice surprise this fall, but sooner or later someone’s going to knock off the Trojans, right? This seems like another 50-50 game, but fortune has favored Hershey in those kinds of contests this fall.
Adam Kulikowski: Hershey 24, Dallastown 21: Wavered on this pick for a few minutes, but I’m settling with the dudes in our coverage area who sport a tidy 2-0 record and a rushing offense that’s averaged a healthy 6.1 yards per carry.
Lower Dauphin 30, Elizabethtown 0
Andy Shay: Lower Dauphin 34, Elizabethtown 7: Bears have lost each of their first two games by 27 points and have struggled to be competitive. Fully healthy, the Falcons should have little trouble posting victory No. 2.
Andy Sandrik: Lower Dauphin 41, Elizabethtown 14: I’m having more difficulty trying to type “Elizabethtown” than I think LD will actually have with the Bears this week.
Adam Kulikowski: Lower Dauphin 41, Elizabethtown 13: Falcons have the firepower to get some of the youngsters varsity experience in the second half.
Palmyra 21, at Donegal 14
Andy Shay: Palmyra 28, Donegal 21: At first glance this might appear to be an upset. Not sure I see it that way. The Cougars’ defense has played eight solid quarters, and despite Donegal’s 2-0 mark, I think the 1-1 Cougars are playing their best football.
Andy Sandrik: Donegal 21, Palmyra 14: This has the makings of a defensive-minded contest. Give the edge to the L-L outfit playing at home.
Adam Kulikowski: Donegal 24, Palmyra 14: Give the Cougars credit for hanging tough against an East Pennsboro crew that has had their number in recent seasons. Perhaps it is a bellwether for what is to come in Palmyra, but for me it’s a bit early to bank just yet.
Susquehanna Township 28, Middletown 13
Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 35, Middletown 14: This is still a very dangerous ‘Hanna Tribe offense, and the Blue Raiders have already surrendered 79 points this season.
Andy Sandrik: Susquehanna Township 48, Middletown 14: The Middletown rebuild continues, and with ‘Hanna on tap, there’s sure to be more growing pains this week.
Adam Kulikowski: Susquehanna Township 55, Middletown 6: The Indians would be a pristine 2-0 if not for the last-second heroics of Milton Hershey in the season opener. Middletown continues to look for footholds after an idle year on the sidelines.
East Pennsboro 34, Milton Hershey 28
Andy Shay: Milton Hershey 26, East Pennsboro 21: Nearly half of the 44 meetings (19 to be exact) have been decided by eight or fewer points. All indicators are this battle of 2-0 clubs could be a tight squeeze, as well.
Andy Sandrik: Milton Hershey 28, East Pennsboro 21: I’d rather drink a Grimace Shake than try to figure out this puzzle of a game. I think the Spartans have an edge, but this seems like it could go either way.
Adam Kulikowski: East Pennsboro 24, Milton Hershey 21: Panthers have yet to be fully tested heading into Week 3, but that’s not their fault. The pieces are there with Keith Oates III and some supporting playmakers to challenge in the Colonial Division. And you know the Spartans will make it a grudge match for four quarters — just ask Susquehanna Township.
Greencastle-Antrim 35, Delone Catholic 21
Andy Shay: Greencastle-Antrim 21, Delone Catholic 14: Blue Devils are a surprising 2-0, and the Squires are struggling defensively and have lost to a pair of quality opponents. This will be a test at the next level for G-A.
Andy Sandrik: Greencastle-Antrim 24, Delone Catholic 12: Greencastle’s stats aren’t completely up to date, but we know the Blue Devils have at least three players who each have at least two sacks. That tells me Greencastle is fully capable of wrecking this game.
Adam Kulikowski: Greencastle-Antrim 26, Delone Catholic 20: Jury is deliberating just how good the Blue Devils can be in 2023, but let’s not overthink this one.
Dover 39, Northern 14
Andy Shay: Dover 17, Northern 14: Couple of 1-1 teams that were rolled by big-school opponents a week ago. Big concern for Northern is only three touchdowns scored in eight quarters. Change that, and this contest could easily be a W.
Andy Sandrik: Northern 14, Dover 7: I’m giving Northern the benefit of the doubt, here, but I have some concerns.
Adam Kulikowski: Northern 21, Dover 14: This may have more the feel of a soccer game than football — a game that is likely decided by field position and a key turnover. Both teams have the ability to gain the advantage, but the Polar Bears have the pedigree in recent years.
Shippensburg 14, Spring Grove 6
Andy Shay: Shippensburg 27, Spring Grove 7: Pretty sure the Greyhounds are less than pleased at having to surrender the Little Brown Jug. This is the right matchup for Ship to steer its season in a new direction.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 21, Spring Grove 14: The Greyhounds’ offense is still trying to find some traction, so this could be a closer contest than a lot of folks might think.
Adam Kulikowski: Shippensburg 31, Spring Grove 13: The troops from Spring Grove won’t be sending Big Spring party favors anytime soon after the Bulldogs shook the hornet’s nest last week en route to their first victory against Shippensburg in more than a decade.
Big Spring 47, Newport 0
Andy Shay: Big Spring 26, Newport 7: Bulldogs are on a heater and understand they can’t let the hangover of claiming the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 2010 define their season. Buffaloes’ offensive woes are clear and obvious.
Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 48, Newport 12: I can’t even imagine how big the bonfires were in Newville after Big Spring finally won the big game against the ‘Hounds. Even if the ‘Dogs are a little “hung over” from last week, I still think they have enough studs in the trenches to make life difficult for Newport.
Adam Kulikowski: Big Spring 33, Newport 13: Is there a better feel-good story from Week 2 than the Bulldogs’ victory in the Little Brown Jug game? Those good vibes should continue against a Newport team that is enduring the pain of a rebuild.
Gettysburg 50, Boiling Springs 14
Andy Shay: Gettysburg 32, Boiling Springs 20: If nothing else the Warriors’ offense has been good enough to be 2-0 instead of 0-2. This game will be determined by how much hay the Bubblers’ offense can make against a struggling Gettysburg defense.
Andy Sandrik: Gettysburg 38, Boiling Springs 14: Boiling Springs would love to slow this game down with its defense and turn this into a low-scoring affair, but I think the Warriors have a little too much pop for that to happen.
Adam Kulikowski: Gettysburg 45, Boiling Springs 20: Gettysburg may be the most dangerous 0-2 team in District 3. But to make any ground in the Colonial, the Warriors are going to need to limit the defensive miscues.
Camp Hill 42, Upper Dauphin 20
Andy Shay: Camp Hill 28, Upper Dauphin 14: When the dust settles around this one, the bottom line is the defense will play a key role in guiding Camp Hill to a 3-0 start.
Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 36, Upper Dauphin 21: Austin Duplessie has three sacks in two games for Upper Dauphin from his defensive tackle position. Can he disrupt the Camp Hill passing attack?
Adam Kulikowski: Camp Hill 35, Upper Dauphin 21: For a small school, the Lions always seem to find a young lad who can sling it. They have another in QB Drew Branstetter. The junior’s completion percentage is a hardy 69% (40 of 58 for 549 yards), and he has yet to toss a pick.
Wyomissing 35, Trinity 34
Andy Shay: Wyomissing 31, Trinity 21: I’m fascinated by this matchup in so many ways. Spartans are the clear favorites, but the T-Rocks have some offensive firepower and the Wyo defense will present a challenge at another level.
Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 30, Trinity 21: This is one of those games where I think the Shamrocks need to force a turnover or two to stay within striking distance.
Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 38, Trinity 36: To me, this is the biggest prove-it game on the docket for the Shamrocks. We know they are good, but we don’t know yet if they can knock off a perennial District 3 superpower.
West Perry 39, Juniata 21
Andy Shay: West Perry 42, Juniata 7: The Indians have allowed nearly 100 points over eight quarters, and keeping the scoreboard rolling is not a problem at all for the high-octane Mustangs.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 51, Juniata 14: The Mustangs are the Perry County champs after routing Susquenita and Newport, and it doesn’t seem like anything is going to stop WP from taking over Juniata County next.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 48, Juniata 13: The Mustangs are running like a finely tuned Cobra right now. It isn’t a matter of if they will win, but rather when will they let off the gas.
Halifax 53, Hancock (Md.) 6
Andy Shay: Hancock 35, Halifax 31: Wildcats are riding high after a convincing 40-0 victory, and the Panthers were blown out in their season opener. Opportunity for Halifax to be 2-1 is right in front of them.
Andy Sandrik: Halifax 36, Hancock 20: It’s so nice to see the Wildcats showing a little pop this season. This is going to be a tough road test, but I’m riding with Halifax.
Adam Kulikowski: Hancock 45, Halifax 20: In my heart, I want to take the Wildcats. But my gut says don’t overvalue the offensive explosion displayed in Week 2.
James Buchanan 21, Biglerville 19
Andy Shay: Biglerville 21, James Buchanan 7: By a slim margin it feels like the Canners have a few more options in terms of offensive weapons. Will say the Rockets’ defense has been up to the task so far, though.
Andy Sandrik: Biglerville 28, James Buchanan 7: In a few months that fall drive through Adams County will be one of the most picturesque trips you can take on a budget. But I don’t think this ride home from Canner Country will be that fun for the Rockets.
Adam Kulikowski: Biglerville 21, James Buchanan 14: The Canners have scored just 21 points in their first eight quarters of play but have a 1-1 record to show for their efforts. Doubling the tally from the first two weeks should be enough to get the dub.
Tri-Valley 23, Line Mountain 14
Andy Shay: Line Mountain 38, Tri-Valley 28: Let the good times roll, right? This has all the ingredients of being a back-and-forth slugfest for a long time despite each squad checking in at 1-1. Throw the records out.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 27, Line Mountain 24: Coin-flip game, in my mind, but I’ll take the scrappy Bulldogs. Any team whose QB doubles as a DE, like the Bulldogs’ Blake Schwartz (6-6, 190), deserves to be called scrappy.
Adam Kulikowski: Line Mountain 32, Tri-Valley 31: Last year, the Eagles nearly pulled off a huge upset when they took Tri-Valley to the wire. In some regards, it was the beginning of the awakening of LM. This year, I’m not even sure we would categorize a victory by the home squad as an upset.
Schuylkill Valley 48, Susquenita 14
Andy Shay: Susquenita 27, Schuylkill Valley 21: Give me 6-4, 230-pound Blackhawks QB Derek Gibney and his 500-plus passing yards, six touchdowns and one INT in eight quarters. Shots will be taken is all I know.
Andy Sandrik: Schuylkill Valley 28, Susquenita 20: As a West Perry grad, I’m obligated to pick against the ‘Hawks in a 50-50 game, right?
Adam Kulikowski: Susquenita 34, Schuylkill Valley 31: The Gibney brothers, Derek and Drew, are taking the backyard pitch-and-catch to new heights this season, connecting 18 times for 236 of QB Derek Gibney’s 527 stripes to date.
North Schuylkill 48, Pine Grove 0
Andy Shay: North Schuylkill 33, Pine Grove 14: Fully aware each squad is 1-1, just think the Spartans are going to ask some questions of the PG defense that haven’t been asked of them to date.
Andy Sandrik: North Schuylkill 32, Pine Grove 12: I’ve been on the wrong end of some of those 48-6 losses, like the one PG took last week. It’s remarkably hard to get back on track, even if you’re facing an opponent that may otherwise be an even match.
Adam Kulikowski: North Schuylkill 37, Pine Grove 20: Coming off a week in which Williams Valley gashed the Pine Grove defense for 370 yards, the thought of NS senior running back Jaxson Chowansky and his 7.6 yards per carry (26 carries, 198 yards) likely is keeping the PG defensive coordinator up at night.
Schuylkill Haven 24, Williams Valley 21
Andy Shay: Williams Valley 35, Schuylkill Haven 20: When you have a dude who averages more than 280 yards a game on the ground, that will cover up for a lot of other gaps on your squad.
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 44, Schuylkill Haven 9: Folks are buying tickets just to see Alex Achenbach run the ball, and No. 5 is doing it so well that Williams Valley’s hustling defense — which has allowed six points all season — is still an afterthought.
Adam Kulikowski: Williams Valley 45, Schuylkill Haven 13: Last week, Vikings running back Alex Achenbach broke the school rushing record with 343 yards on just 14 carries. Whose record did he break, you might be wondering? His own — 321 yards against Panther Valley in 2021.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 9
Steel-High 29, West Catholic (Philadelphia) 22
Andy Shay: Steel-High 46, West Catholic 19: While West Catholic is a known name brand in the state, not sure the Burrs have the firepower this season to hold serve against the Rollers. Steel-High is better at putting pressure on teams to play its style of game.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 50, West Catholic 13: Rollers are averaging 44 points per contest. I have a feeling that average rises a little bit after this weekend.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 55, West Catholic 14: West Catholic scored just six points in its season opener last week. That’s simply not enough offensive firepower to contend with Alex Erby and the gents in Steelton.