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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Picks and Predictions for Week 1

Week 1 Mid-Penn Schedule: 

Friday, Sept. 25

Juniata at Middletown

Andy Shay: Middletown 38, Juniata 7: I’m going to give the Indians a touchdown and am well aware the Blue Raiders took a beating at the QB position in that scrimmage with CD. And I also know that will not matter.

Jake Adams: Middletown 49, Juniata 0: Let’s not get cute here. The Blue Raiders are a machine that will welcome Mid-Penn newcomer Juniata very, very rudely. 

Andy Sandrik: Middletown 44, Juniata 0: The Indians have always been a tough out in the newly defunct TVL, and may yet be a tough out in the Mid-Penn, but Middletown… yeah, that’s not the team you want breaking you in for conference play. 

Geoff Morrow: Middletown 40, Juniata 12: Holy crap. I am so far behind the Andys and Jakes of the world. My head has been buried so deep in other life stuff that I completely forgot Juniata (and others) are part of the Mid-Penn now. 

4th Down’s weekly show, High School Football Now with Eric F. Epler and Andy Shay, has a new home exclusively on the Small Player, Big Play app. Down the app today from Android or Apple and give us a watch!

Related: Middletown preview

Related: Juniata preview

Cumberland Valley at Altoona

Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 41, Altoona 13: Former Eagles standout and Shippensburg University alum Josh Oswalt gets his first win at his high school alma mater. About time I could write that. It’s long overdue.

Jake Adams: Cumberland Valley 35, Altoona 3: Josh Oswalt’s spread offense finally reaches the Red and White. I don’t expect it to be running in midseason form, but it’ll be interesting to see what the result is.

Andy Sandrik: Cumberland Valley 33, Altoona 7: I’m as excited to see the Eagles’ new offense #TakeFlight as much as the next guy, but I’m wondering if we’ll even get to see beyond Page 1 of CV’s playbook in this contest.

Geoff Morrow: Cumberland Valley 43, Altoona 19: Blair County is an easier trip in September than it is in December. (I’m speaking physically here. Like the roads and things.) Advantage, Eagles.

Related: Cumberland Valley preview

Related: Altoona preview

James Buchanan at Big Spring

Andy Shay: Big Spring 25, James Buchanan 15: Welcome back to the MPC, Rockets. Appears JB has some talent to work with, and the Bulldogs are looking to fill the void created by weapons that have moved on. Still think BiS gets it done on the ground.

Jake Adams: Big Spring 27, James Buchanan 14: Rockets at Bulldogs, a well-established rivalry, back again with JB in its old stomping grounds. Big Spring has a bunch of weapons to replace, but the backfield appears stable and could grind out some good yards this week.

Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 31, James Buchanan 14: The Rockets return to the Mid-Penn after making strides during a four-year hiatus to build the program as an independent team. JB comes in confident now that it remembers what it feels like to win, but will that be enough for the Rockets to snap a 22-game losing streak against teams from the MPC?

Geoff Morrow: Big Spring 28, James Buchanan 20: Feels good to say “Jimmy Buck” again.

Related: James Buchanan preview

Related: Big Spring preview

Susquenita at Boiling Springs

Andy Shay: Susquenita 27, Boiling Springs 20: What does all that experience mean for the Bubblers and that nasty L streak they are carrying around? We are gonna find out. ‘Nita (gloriously displayed on their helmets) has a bit of junkyard dog in them and is my sleeper pick to win the Liberty.

Jake Adams: Susquenita 21, Boiling Springs 14: The Bubblers, I think, will end their losing streak this year, but I know how tough the Blackhawks have been in the TVL the last few years and think they’ll be a challenge. But I could be wrong and wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

Andy Sandrik: Susquenita 19, Boiling Springs 17: My gut feeling is to take Boiling Springs, which returns a wealth of experience, but until the Bubblers snap their 11-game losing streak, I’m going to keep picking against them. 

Geoff Morrow: Boiling Springs 22, Susquenita 20: Feels like I picked the Blackhawks wrong every game last year, which, if nothing else, speaks to their ability to keep things interesting AND my inability to figure out just what Perdix’s role is in all things ‘Nita.

Related: Boiling Springs preview

Related: Susquenita preview

Line Mountain at Camp Hill

Andy Shay: Camp Hill 28, Line Mountain 13: I’m going to ride Lions veteran QB Daniel Shuster here. Not sure of the weapons at his disposal, but he’ll find them. First taste of the MPC for Line Mountain. Welcome!

Jake Adams: Camp Hill 35, Line Mountain 17: If the Lions can replace two-way talent Frank Shartle II properly, they’ll be just fine. That requires one or more players stepping up in the run game and another one or two at linebacker. Good thing? The Lions’ passing game should be improved.

Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 33, Line Mountain 6: Excited to watch the season progression of senior Camp Hill QB Daniel Shuster, who gets to test his arm against Line Mountain, an ex-TVL squad making its Mid-Penn debut. 

Geoff Morrow: Camp Hill 24, Line Mountain 20: Might not end up this close, but this seems like kind of a cool game. I’m digging this new Mid-Penn look.

Related: Camp Hill preview

Related: Line Mountain preview

Exeter Township at CD East

Andy Shay: Exeter Township 34, CD East 20: The Eagles have a game under their belt and despite the loss put up nearly 500 yards of offense. They will score points. Not sure the Panthers, who are preparing for their third opponent for this game, can be quite ready.

Jake Adams: Exeter Township 32, CD East 24: And this is the perfect example of why this season cannot possibly go smoothly. We’re only in Week 1 and East is on their backup-backup opponent. 

Andy Sandrik: Exeter Township 37, CD East 30: Part of me wants to think that East can trade blows with the Eagles, who took heavy graduation losses from last year’s district semifinals team. Another part of me thinks that returning all-league QB Gavin McCusker is going to put on a fireworks show. Maybe both things can be true.

Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 28, CD East 21: Ain’t nothing like a last-second change of schedule. Gotta figure Eagles have the edge with a productive win over Hempfield last week while the Panthers were still scrimmaging.

Related: CD East preview

Berks Catholic at Cedar Cliff

Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 21, Berks Catholic 20: The last time the Colts played a game it was an embarrassing performance in a District 3 championship game. That’s some fuel to light a fire right there. The Saints are the clear favorite. And I know the Colts are filling some huge shoes at important spots. I’m done picking them to lose big games until it happens — the D3 final doesn’t count as a game, either, cause it wasn’t.

Jake Adams: Berks Catholic 35, Cedar Cliff 20: Both teams made the district championship a season ago, but it appears the Colts have more new pieces to acclimate. And I think that shows in this hastily thrown together Week 1 matchup.

Andy Sandrik: Berks Catholic 28, Cedar Cliff 7: I can’t, in good faith, convince myself the Colts are going to beat the Saints when two days ago I was predicting Lower Dauphin to give CC a run for its money in the post-Jaheim Morris era.

Geoff Morrow: Cedar Cliff 22, Berks Catholic 21: I feel like I just accidentally copied AShay, though I didn’t notice his prediction until AFTER I made mine. Whatever. AShay is cool. I’m proud to sometimes think like him.

Related: Cedar Cliff preview

Chambersburg at Central Dauphin

Andy Shay: Central Dauphin 35, Chambersburg 7: Rams are the Alpha Dog in the division, and the Trojans have been knocking at the door. Some key losses means there’s going to be a gap. And playing a team like CD to learn how to plug those holes is a tall, tall ask.

Jake Adams: Central Dauphin 35, Chambersburg 21: The Rams look really, really dangerous. That’s what happens when a healthy chunk of a state championship finalist comes back.

Andy Sandrik: Central Dauphin 28, Chambersburg 14: The Trojans want so badly to become one of the top programs in the elite Commonwealth and have made strides with their ascent in the division’s pecking order, but in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Chambersburg is being asked to do just that in Week 1 against defending champ Central Dauphin, a team the Trojans haven’t beaten since 2013.

Geoff Morrow: Central Dauphin 40, Chambersburg 20: So, some 2019 stuff is coming back to me, even though it feels like 8 million years ago. I remember the Trojans are a player now. But I also know the Rams are arguably the best team in the area.

Related: Central Dauphin preview

Related: Chambersburg preview

Northern at East Pennsboro

Andy Shay: Northern 26, East Pennsboro 23: This is going to be a scrap because the Polar Bears no longer have an ace in the hole. Up front Northern is better. EP has more seasoned and known weapons. I’m leaning on the hogs up front as the deciding factor. 

Jake Adams: East Pennsboro 28, Northern 21: You know what? Let’s go for the upset. Longtime CD assistant John Denniston snags his first career head-coaching win in his first try.

Andy Sandrik: Northern 28, East Pennsboro 21: For four years, Kyle Swartz was a cheat code for the Polar Bears. Something tells me this game is closer than expected as Northern adjusts to playing the game with mere mortals on its roster. 

Geoff Morrow: Northern 25, East Pennsboro 15: Hard to imagine a Panthers team without Todd Stuter patrolling the sideline. It’s not hard to imagine this being a fun contest.

Related: Northern preview

Related: East Pennsboro preview

Hamburg at Halifax

Andy Shay: Hamburg 20, Halifax 13: The best player on the field, Diohnny Ruiz, plays for Hamburg, and in this strange world we now live in that’s enough a difference maker for me.

Jake Adams: Halifax 26, Hamburg 23: The Hawks won this one handily last year. But the Wildcats return a sizable amount of weapons. Gut call, considering how little I know outside the Mid-Penn.

Andy Sandrik: Hamburg 24, Halifax 21: Halifax had best keep an eye on Hamburg’s HB/LB Diohnny Ruiz, who was all-league on both sides of the ball last season. 

Geoff Morrow: Hamburg 30, Halifax 7: At first I thought this said “Harrisburg at Halifax,” and I was like, “Uh oh. That’s not good for the Wildcats.” After correcting myself, this still feels like an uphill battle to me.

Related: Halifax preview

Red Land at Hershey

Andy Shay: Red Land 20, Hershey 13: Scoring enough points to stay competitive is a hurdle Hershey must overcome this year. They have the horses to be better, but can they execute? Patriots are cooking with more they can trust right now. Should be a good one.

Jake Adams: Red Land 23, Hershey 20: This might be one of the juiciest matchups of the first week. The Trojans and Patriots both return a sizable chunk of last year’s squads, and at some valuable positions. This one’s a coin toss to me.

Andy Sandrik: Red Land 17, Hershey 7: All signs point to improved seasons from both the Patriots and Trojans, so this is a tough one to call. I’m giving Red Land the advantage because the Pats beat up on Hershey 31-6 in last year’s meeting.

Geoff Morrow: Red Land 20, Hershey 14: I went to Red Land, but I’m not a homer. I just flip coins.

Related: Red Land preview

West Perry at Mechanicsburg

Andy Shay: Mechanicsburg 42, West Perry 7: Welcome to the Colonial Division, Wildcats. You get to open with a Mustangs team that is solid up front but replacing all those yards and points at the skill positions is a process. And Wildcats QB Micah Brubaker is sneaky good.

Jake Adams: Mechanicsburg 35, West Perry 10: We know the Wildcats will rack up yards. But can they finish off a few more drives this year AND, more importantly, make more stops on defense? That’s the key to a successful Colonial Division debut.

Andy Sandrik: Mechanicsburg 28, West Perry 10: The Mustangs have strength on the offensive line, which is where games are ultimately won or lost, but WP’s new cast of playmakers will need to start producing almost immediately to keep pace with the rejuvenated Wildcats, led by Micah Brubaker, perhaps the biggest QB threat in the Colonial Division.

Geoff Morrow: Mechanicsburg 33, West Perry 14: Boss’ son plays for the Wildcats, so I’m just predict right now that Mechanicsburg wins the Super Bowl this year and hope it gets me a quality job review.

Related: Mechanicsburg preview

Related: West Perry preview

Bishop McDevitt at Mifflin County

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 44, Mifflin County 0: Thinking this is more like a scrimmage than a Week 1 game. The talent gap is rather large here. 

Jake Adams: Bishop McDevitt 56, Mifflin County 3: The Crusaders are built to score a billion points, and that starts in Week 1.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 42, Mifflin County 0: The Crusaders are great on offense and exceptional on the defensive side of the ball. I think McDevitt’s starters and backups work hard to keep MiffCo off the board. 

Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 55, Mifflin County 7: Running wild in Lewistown.

Related: Bishop McDevitt preview

Related: Mifflin County preview

Hollidaysburg at Palmyra

Andy Shay: Hollidaysburg 20, Palmyra 16: This is my guess pick of the week. The fact the Golden Tigers already have eight live quarters under their belt has to mean something, right?

Jake Adams: Palmyra 28, Hollidaysburg 13: Normally, I’d like a team coming in with two games in hand, but the Golden Tigers are already 0-2 and went 0-4 pretty decisively against Mid-Penn competition last year. Cougars cruise here.

Andy Sandrik: Hollidaysburg 28, Palmyra 13: I’m going to disagree with Jake here. Even at 0-2, I fully expect the Golden Tigers to be more prepared for the lights in Week 3 than an untested Palmyra in Week 1. That’s not a slight on the Cougars, either, just another weird-but-true reality of 2020.

Geoff Morrow: Palmyra 21, Hollidaysburg 17: Such an intense, classic rivalry here. It’s like cats vs. dijon mustard.

Greencastle-Antrim at Susquehanna Township

Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 33, Greencastle-Antrim 26: The Blue Devils will be improved and look to play at a much different pace than their opponent. I fully expect the Hanna Tribe to flash, but G-A will make it grind over 48 minutes.

Jake Adams: Susquehanna Township 41, Greencastle-Antrim 19: It’ll be a 3-4 team race in the Colonial this year, perhaps the most entertaining division race to watch in the entire Mid-Penn. ‘Hanna firmly belongs in that camp, while G-A will be looking to play spoiler all year.

Andy Sandrik: Susquehanna Township 48, Greencastle-Antrim 21: The Indians will, as expected, make their Colonial Division debut an explosive one. This is, however, one of Greencastle’s best teams in years. Can the Blue Devils keep the game entertaining?

Geoff Morrow: Susquehanna Township 35, Greencastle-Antrim 14: I remember Jake issued an edict last year saying we now have to spell out “township” in these school names. I gave in, but it will always be “Twp.” in my heart.

Related: Susquehanna Twp. preview

Related: Greencastle-Antrim preview

Newport at Trinity

Andy Shay: Newport 20, Trinity 7: Both squads are shopping for weapons to emerge at the skill positions. This is a box of chocolates game to me — not sure what you are going to get.

Jake Adams: Newport 28, Trinity 21: I’m going to struggle the first few weeks figuring out these Liberty-Capital crossover games. But I’m not sure what to expect from a rebuilt Shamrocks offense that will have a new QB, new RB and several new receivers. 

Andy Sandrik: Trinity 14, Newport 7: Both teams replacing some key skill players so points might come at a premium on Friday night. Coin flip game in my mind, so going with the home team.

Geoff Morrow: Trinity 21, Newport 18: It’s a good nickname battle. Let’s hope this is also a good actual battle. I think it will be.

Related Newport preview

Related: Trinity preview

Shippensburg at Waynesboro

Andy Shay: Shippensburg 24, Waynesboro 13: In a year when very little resembles what we saw in 2019 because of COVID, the Greyhounds are lethally predictable. That will serve them well against the pesky Indians.

Jake Adams: Shippensburg 28, Waynesboro 14: The Greyhounds may not be able to get to warp speed after some lightning-fast graduations, but they’re still big, still strong, still confident and still have some speed left over.

Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 21, Waynesboro 12: Ship appears to have the best team on the field this week, and perhaps in the Colonial Division all season, but Week 1 is a dangerous time to be taking Waynesboro’s best shot.

Geoff Morrow: Shippensburg 30, Waynesboro 20: Remember that one year Brennan Marion coached the ‘Boro and added some spice to the entire Colonial? That was fun. Indians have been pretty competitive since, too.

Related: Shippensburg preview

Related: Waynesboro preview

Saturday, Sept. 26

Upper Dauphin at Steel-High

Andy Shay: Steel-High 33, Upper Dauphin 22: To me this game goes one of two ways, either’s a fun up-and-down Saturday thriller on Cottage Hill, or the Rollers take the Trojans out behind the woodshed. The over-under for touchdown plays covering 60 or more yards is 3.5.

Jake Adams: Steel-High 37, Upper Dauphin 32: Two favorites in their respective divisions with two potent offenses, this also has the makings of an excellent Week 1 clash. If the Rollers’ rookie QB Alex Erby proves the preseason hype correct, this could be a fun, high-scoring game.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 30, Upper Dauphin 20: My wife wants us to take the kids to Hersheypark on Saturday, but it’s gonna be really hard not to stay home and search for a livestream of this juicy matchup. 

Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 44, Upper Dauphin 30: Rollers family suffered some recent heartbreak, and I think the team rallies around that and wins one for the community.

Related: Upper Dauphin preview

Related: Steel-High preview

*State College, Lower Dauphin, Carlisle: No contests scheduled

Related: State College preview

Related: Lower Dauphin preview

Related: Carlisle preview

Week 3 Schuylkill League Schedule: 

Friday, Sept. 25

Jim Thorpe at Pine Grove

Andy Shay: Jim Thorpe 26, Pine Grove 14: I don’t think I realized JT was nicknamed the Olympians. WHAT a great nickname. There’s a physical level between the old TVL (rest in peace you beautiful small-school league) and the Schuylkill League. The Cards are finding that out.

Jake Adams: Jim Thorpe 27, Pine Grove 20: I think I played a youth league baseball game against a team from Jim Thorpe 20 years ago. That’s my special nugget of knowledge for this one.

Andy Sandrik: Jim Thorpe 28, Pine Grove 7: The transition to Schuylkill League football hasn’t been an easy one for 0-2 Pine Grove, and I’m not sure the road gets any easier this week for the Cards, who now have to deal with the 2-0 Olympians.

Geoff Morrow: Jim Thorpe 35, Pine Grove 21: If you’re gonna play against just one guy, Jim Thorpe probably isn’t the guy you want to face.

Related: Pine Grove preview

Williams Valley at Nativity BVM

Andy Shay: Williams Valley 37, Nativity BVM 12: The Vikings are to the point where they just want to outscore you and provide their fans as much splash and big plays as possible. They are fun to watch. Nativity is 2-0 but hasn’t faced a test like this.

Jake Adams: Williams Valley 35, Nativity BVM 13: I think the Vikings want to atone for finishing third in the last year of the Tri-Valley League. I see they averaged 12.2 yards a carry last week. That must feel nice.

Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 28, Nativity BVM 24: Looks like it’s business as usual for the Vikings, who opened with a 54-0 win over Shenandoah Valley. I’m curious to see if unbeaten Nativity, which went 0-2 against TVL teams last year, can challenge Williams Valley. 

Geoff Morrow: Williams Valley 45, Nativity BVM 14: Pre-, mid- or post-pandemic, the Vikings are a safe bet to win football games.

Related: Williams Valley preview

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