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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Picks and Predictions for Week 2 of the postseason

RECORDS (Week 11 — Overall — Perfect Picks):

Andy Shay: 20-3 — 206-48 — 1

Andy Sandrik: 18-5 — 194-60 — 0

Geoff Morrow: 19-4 — 192-62 — 3

Adam Kulikowski: 20-3 — 179-75 — 1

Friday’s Games

District 3 Class 6A Semifinals

(5) Wilson at (1) Central York, 7

Andy Shay: Central York 28, Wilson 21: Remember, this was a Bulldogs team that was 2-3 at the midway point of the season and beat Hempfield and Manheim Township the final two weeks — each by a touchdown. The game won’t be too much for them. Until somebody beats Beau Pribula, I’m not willing to pick against him.

Geoff Morrow: Central York 48, Wilson 24: Love the Bulldogs’ pedigree. But, against such a dynamic foe, I worry a little bit about a defense that’s surrendered more points per game than any other Wilson team in recent memory.

Andy Sandrik: Central York 35, Wilson 28: Say what you want about Central York’s monster season; I’m just excited for my name to make it on Wilson’s bulletin board for the second time this season.

Adam Kulikowski: Central York 35, Wilson 30: Hats off to the Bulldogs, who continued to evolve into the perennial contender we are accustomed to seeing after a 2-3 start to their regular season. Difference to be is that dude, Beau Pribula, who has the ability to take a team on his back. Just ask Central Dauphin.

District 3 Class 5A Quarterfinals

(6) Cedar Cliff at (3) Shippensburg, 7

Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 28, Shippensburg 24: There’s an element to the Colts that the Greyhounds have not faced, and that’s a really good RB and a couple of receivers who are slick in space. Toss-up game for me all the way. This is the upset pick.

Geoff Morrow: Shippensburg 28, Cedar Cliff 20: If the Colts’ offensive line and running game find a way to control clock and tempo, well, then we’re talking upset. But nothing about the Greyhounds’ season thus far gives me reason to doubt their ability to set the tone.

Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 35, Cedar Cliff 21: When you have players like Anthony Smith and Erby Weller on the field, like Shippensburg does, it forces the opposition to devote multiple players toward stopping you. Quality teams have taken their shots at the Greyhounds all season — and have been denied each time.

Adam Kulikowski: Shippensburg 24, Cedar Cliff 21: It’s hard to pick against a team that has yet to lose in 2021 — but this is easily the biggest challenge the Greyhounds have faced thanks to what Jontae Morris brings to the table.

(7) Exeter Township at (2) Manheim Central, 7

Andy Shay: Exeter Township 23, Manheim Central 21: Not overly wild about the Eagles’ showing in the playoff opener, but advancing is all that matters. The trendy pick is Manheim Central. The Eagles’ losses are to teams that are still playing, and two of those are No. 1 seeds. They’ve been tested. This won’t be a challenge they haven’t seen.

Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 35, Manheim Central 32: Both teams have played impressive schedules. I mean, how often do you get to match foes who both claim victories over Wilson? I’m picking the Eagles but wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Barons prevail. If I was advising neutral fans to find a game Friday, this might be my pick.

Andy Sandrik: Manheim Central 27, Exeter Township 14: To this day, I still have PTSD from Manheim Central’s Jeff Smoker and Co. knocking my team out of the district championship game in 1999. There are certain programs that just live in the postseason, and the Barons are one of them.

Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Central 31, Exeter Township 28: This matchup features two outstanding senior QBs, Exeter’s Colin Payne and MC’s Judd Novak, both of whom take care of the football and limit mistakes. Which one will make that game-changing play? I’ll take Novak and the Barons.

(8) Warwick at (1) Governor Mifflin, 7

Andy Shay: Governor Mifflin 49, Warwick 21: There are elements of this Warwick squad I really like. And, against the Mustangs, those elements won’t matter enough to dent this machine.

Geoff Morrow: Governor Mifflin 43, Warwick 20: The Mustangs’ schedule this season features some monsters, all of whom have been humbled in lopsided defeat. Seriously, can we get an NCAA-style four-team tourney featuring Central York, Governor Mifflin, Bishop McDevitt and Wyomissing?

Andy Sandrik: Governor Mifflin 44, Warwick 14: We’re running out of chances to see Nick Singleton in a high school uniform before he starts racking up yards for Penn State in the near future. Enjoy the show now — while you can still get a ticket and a snack for less than $10.

Adam Kulikowski: Governor Mifflin 37, Warwick 20: No team to date has been able to slow the machine that is Nick Singleton and that brutal offensive line he runs behind. Until that happens, the Mustangs are my pick.

(5) Waynesboro at (4) Spring Grove, 7

Andy Shay: Spring Grove 28, Waynesboro 26: These clubs traded paint in the season opener, and the Rockets prevailed by a field goal. Second time around is always different, right? Not if the Indians have anything to say about it!

Geoff Morrow: Spring Grove 21, Waynesboro 14: A rematch from what feels like a year ago, when the Rockets edged the Indians in a Week 1 beauty. What sells me again on Spring Grove right now is a defense that’s been pretty darn stout the last month.

Andy Sandrik: Waynesboro 30, Spring Grove 27: Win or lose, Aidan Mencia will still be going to bed with at least a dozen 4DM Player of the Week awards to his name. He’s gone above and beyond for the Indians since Mikel Holden went down.

Adam Kulikowski: Waynesboro 31, Spring Grove 28: I fully expect this one to come down to whoever has the ball last. I love the toughness of the Indians, and this is the time of year when leaning on senior running back Aidan Mencia is never a bad idea.

District 3 Class 4A Quarterfinals

(10) Big Spring at (2) Lampeter-Strasburg, 7

Andy Shay: Lampeter-Strasburg 33, Big Spring 27: Having a week to catch your breath and take a breather is more important than you think. L-S offense has been rolling up big numbers against struggling teams. The one constant is the Pioneers’ defense, though. The Bulldogs made history. This game is winnable for them. Has to be their very best, though.

Geoff Morrow: Lampeter-Strasburg 39, Big Spring 33: Pressure is entirely on the Pioneers, who cleaned up in a relatively weak L-L Section 3 this year and haven’t really been challenged since September. As we all know, the Bulldogs just bit off their first bit of District 3 playoff victory chew toy, and they’re hungry for more. If they believe like they did against Steel-High, Big Spring could celebrate again. But I’m still having a hard time picking against the Pioneers here. 

Andy Sandrik: Lampeter-Strasburg 28, Big Spring 10: The Bulldogs are coming off their first playoff win in school history, while the Pioneers win postseason games year after year. I think that track record, and a sturdy defense, will carry L-S to victory.

Adam Kulikowski: Big Spring 35, Lampeter-Strasburg 31: One week after a historic victory — the first in school history — the Bulldogs have a good chance to double up on that playoff win total. 

(5) Cocalico at (4) Berks Catholic, 7

Andy Shay: Berks Catholic 34, Cocalico 27: You look at who Berks Catholic lost to this year, and every single one of those four losses makes sense. Being tested at that level on a consistent basis will show up here against a sneaky Cocalico team that, when running downhill, is very tricky to get slowed down.

Geoff Morrow: Berks Catholic 29, Cocalico 23: Two teams with identical records and similar ups and downs this year, and both had last week off to game plan and prepare. I’m giving the edge to the homebound Saints, but this one could very well come down to creative coaching.

Andy Sandrik: Cocalico 35, Berks Catholic 28: I have a feeling this game is going to be a nailbiter, but give me Anthony Bourassa (183.3 yards per game) and the Eagles’ running game to spring the mild upset on Friday.

Adam Kulikowski: Berks Catholic 41, Cocalico 35: The Saints sport plenty of depth in the backfield behind 1,100-yard rusher Christian Cacchione and Josiah Jones and Luke Hughes each topping 450 stripes.

(6) Donegal at (3) Kennard-Dale, 7

Andy Shay: Kennard-Dale 33, Donegal 31: I’m going with the chalk here. I literally picked Donegal to win, then switched to K-D and back again to Donegal. Does that mean I think this is a “pick ‘em” game?

Geoff Morrow: Kennard-Dale 27, Donegal 14: Gimme the red-hot Rams, who’ve not been turned back since a Week 1 loss to Octorara. Neither side boasts strong strength-of-schedule, but K-D has home field and some more consistently impressive offensive outputs this year.

Andy Sandrik: Donegal 35, Kennard-Dale 27: You ever try to solve a math problem and just get lost staring at the numbers? That’s how I feel trying to figure out the victor in this game. Coin flip all the way.

Adam Kulikowski: Donegal 28, Kennard-Dale 27: I’ll echo the thoughts of my compadres. This one is a toss-up that’s worthy of punching a ticket to see in person on Friday night. Eight gents on Kennard-Dale and six more on the Donegal roster have rushed for more than 100 yards on the season.

(8) Northern York at (1) Bishop McDevitt, 7

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 56, Northern 7: Because this is the best score to pick for McDevitt this season. The opponent is irrelevant. Crusaders operate at a different level, and the expectation is the Polar Bears will play well.

Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 59, Northern 14: Bryce Hall went beast mode — as did Tayvon Bowers and Michael Jones — when these squads met in the 2015 playoffs. See my pick when these squads meet again in the playoffs in 2026 to see who went off for McDevitt this time.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 62, Northern 21: Never say never in a battle of McDevitt vs. the Colonial Division (see the Crusaders vs. Ship in 2016 playoffs). But, yeah, there are a lot of weapons that need to be accounted for, and Northern doesn’t have the personnel to spring the upset.

Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 49, Northern 14: I simply don’t see a way that the Polar Bears can slow down this McDevitt crew enough to keep it close. Marquise Williams and Cy Bowers are dynamic backs, their wideouts have done plenty, and Stone Saunders is already a Division I-level talent. Stop one facet? OK. Stop all of those weapons? Tall task.

District 3 Class 3A Semifinals

(3) Hamburg at (2) Boiling Springs, 7

Andy Shay: Boiling Springs 42, Hamburg 14: Coming off a huge win, the expectation is Hamburg has some juice. The Bubblers counter with a variety of weapons offensively that find a way to make big plays at the right time.

Geoff Morrow: Boiling Springs 40, Hamburg 20: Remember, the Bubblers are two years removed from 0-10, and they just posted their first district playoff victory since “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” was topping the box office in 2006. The Hawks, meanwhile, just won their first playoff game EVER. I just think the crew from Cumberland County has more to offer on both sides of the ball.

Andy Sandrik: Boiling Springs 33, Hamburg 21: You’ve got to love the energy Hamburg has brought to the field this season. The Hawks have a little pop, and although I think they’re heavy underdogs here, don’t be surprised if they have successful plays, series and quarters against the Bubblers.

Adam Kulikowski: Boiling Springs 37, Hamburg 24: This is shaping up to be one special season for the Bubblers. That modified Wing-T offense does just enough to keep teams off balance, and Brad Zell’s physical defense should provide a challenge to Hamburg.

District 3 Class 2A Championship

(3) Upper Dauphin at (1) York Catholic, 7

Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 30, York Catholic 28: The Trojans are more suited for this matchup than a week ago with Columbia, and UDA still knocked off the Crimson Tide in that wild ride of a game. Undefeated YC has some pop offensively, but so do the Trojans. Riding the underdog in this one to keep rolling.

Geoff Morrow: York Catholic 26, Upper Dauphin 23: This will be the fourth time these teams have met in the District 3 playoffs (1982, 2009, 2013), though all previous meetings came in the semifinals. Fighting Irish have won two of those three meetings. Not much separates these two. Picking this one caused me significant mental turmoil.

Andy Sandrik: York Catholic 38, Upper Dauphin 32: Can I just take a moment to say how much I appreciate both teams inputting their stats on to MaxPreps every week this season? This game proves that you can still have a quality program without hiding your stats from the world.

Adam Kulikowski: Upper Dauphin 35, York Catholic 21: Would this be considered an upset after what the Trojans did to Columbia last week? Just asking.

District 4-6 Class 6A Championship

(2) Williamsport vs. (1) State College, at Central Mountain HS, 7

Andy Shay: State College 30, Williamsport 14: Nice revenge win for Williamsport last week taking out Altoona. The Little Lions will ask more of the Millionaires this week, and I’m not convinced Williamsport will have the answers.

Geoff Morrow: State College 31, Williamsport 20: While the Millionaires won the most recent meeting (2016), I like what the Little Lions did over the last two weeks of the regular season this year: nearly stunning Harrisburg at home, then taking care of Altoona in Week 10. It won’t be easy, but I think State High is rounding into a more typical playoff form than its 5-5 record suggests.

Andy Sandrik: Williamsport 28, State College 21: Williamsport left no doubts in its rout over Altoona last week. State College, I believe, is the favorite here, but when are the Millionaires going to have a better crack at the Little Lions than right now?

Adam Kulikowski: State College 35, Williamsport 28: The Little Lions were hit hard by the injury bug throughout much of the regular season. But things just might be getting better for Matt Lintal’s crew at just the right time.

District 11 Class 1A Championship

(2) Williams Valley vs. (1) Tri-Valley, at North Schuylkill HS, 7

Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 28, Williams Valley 14: I’m choosing to disregard that Week 10 T-V victory in the rain and slop. That’s not a valid measuring stick in those conditions. Still think the Bulldogs’ defense is just too much for the Vikings. That unit has a tendency to suck the football life out of an offense.

Geoff Morrow: Tri-Valley 20, Williams Valley 6: Four straight shutouts by the Bulldogs means it’s tempting to pick a shutout. And, hey, it might rain again Friday like it did in the regular-season meeting two weeks ago. Of note: T-V’s only loss this year is to another team mentioned on this predictions page: Hamburg.

Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 17, Williams Valley 0: A month has come and gone since Tri-Valley last allowed a touchdown in a 42-17 win over Nativity BVM on Oct. 8. Defense wins championships, and the Bulldogs’ D is going to do just that on Friday.

Adam Kulikowski: Tri-Valley 35, Williams Valley 21: Sure, the rain and slop in the Week 10 mud bowl wasn’t a good indication of what each team can do. But what I saw in that mess was that the Vikings didn’t come ready to fight while the Bulldogs did. Will that change with the District 11 championship up for grabs?

Saturday’s Games

District 3 Class 6A Semifinals

(6) Hempfield at (2) Harrisburg, 1

Andy Shay: Harrisburg 27, Hempfield 13: Yes, Hempfield is better than its 7-4 record. The one-loss Cougars haven’t been caught napping by anybody this season and have answered the bell every time. This won’t be easy, but this Harrisburg squad somehow finds a way.

Geoff Morrow: Harrisburg 25, Hempfield 21: This would have been a quicker and easier pick for me except for two recent results: the Cougars’ 15-13 white-knuckle victory over State College in Week 9, and the Black Knights’ 35-2 domination of Harrisburg rival CD East last week. I’m now trying to convince myself that the Cougars are favorites here. And I did. Barely.

Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 35, Hempfield 14: Harrisburg dismantled a high-quality Carlisle squad with ease, while the Black Knights earned a 33-point win over CD East. I’m leaning on the Cougars big time, but Hempfield can’t be taken lightly.

Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 35, Hempfield 21: The Cougars bring a punch-you-in-the-jaw mentality each week — and it is working just fine. After several years of flashy skill-position players, this team relies more on grit, stingy defense and power running.

District 3 Class 3A Semifinals

(5) Middletown at (1) Wyomissing, 1

Andy Shay: Wyomissing 41, Middletown 7: Despite all those mistakes a week ago, the Blue Raiders are here. And even one mistake is too many against a Spartans team that leans on you for 48 minutes and forces teams to eventually wave the white flag. (I don’t mean quitting.)

Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 43, Middletown 14: Sixth straight November meeting for these playoff rivals, and the Spartans will win their third straight vs. the Blue Raiders after dropping the first three in this fun series. Middletown will wear the underdog label proudly and fearlessly, but this Wyomissing is seriously special, even by Wyomissing standards.

Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 34, Middletown 7: The Blue Raiders have done nothing but get better every week. That’s all you can ask. If Middletown can hold serve with Wyomissing for a half or longer, that’s a win in my book.

Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 45, Middletown 14: Tate Leach provided a spark to the Blue Raiders’ offense around the mid-season mark, and Middletown hasn’t looked back since. Taking down a Wyomissing group that has yielded just 93 points all season will take a monumental effort.

District 3 Class 1A Championship

(2) Delone Catholic at (1) Steel-High, 1

Andy Shay: Steel-High 48, Delone Catholic 20: Yes, the Rollers drag a two-game losing streak to the table in this one. Don’t be fooled. Big Spring beat the pants off them, and they answered the bell a week later and showed up big-time against Boiling Springs. They are ready to defend their state title starting here.

Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 49, Delone Catholic 21: I’m banking on Andrew Erby to have his Steamrollers ready to iron out those late-season wrinkles and begin the second season in style.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 47, Delone Catholic 26: The Squires have to feel hope knowing Steel-High is coming into this game on a two-game skid. Or maybe that just means the Rollers will be playing with a chip on their shoulder as they begin their state title defense.

Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 45, Delone Catholic 21: Rollers enter this battle on a skid, but in reality they’ve answered the bell and are battle tested heading into 1A play. Their chances of back-to-back state titles are fully in play.

District 6-8-9 Class 4A Championship

(3) University Prep vs. (1) Juniata, at Altoona HS, 1

Andy Shay: Juniata 20, University Prep 7: There’s a discipline and precision to this Juniata defense that will give UP problems all game. Hard to see it any other way.

Geoff Morrow: Juniata 23, University Prep 6: Congrats to the Panthers from Pittsburgh for snapping a four-game skid and beating District 9’s DuBois on a late TD and two-point conversion last week. But I don’t think that 14-13 victory is adequate preparation for roughneck Juniata in this subregional championship.

Andy Sandrik: Juniata 23, University Prep 10: My research somehow shifted from the football aspect of this game to trying to find the mascot for University Prep. I’ve given it 10 minutes and still haven’t figured it out, so let’s just say the Indians ride their defense to a win over The Football Team.

Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 30, University Prep 14: It seems like we say the same thing about the Inidans each week: their defense will be the key. But the chorus rings true and it should help Juniata slip past UP.

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