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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Picks and Predictions for Week 3 of the Postseason

EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: It’s the third week of the PIAA football playoffs, and the state tournaments officially begin Friday night while much of District 3 continues to determine its six champions. And the 4th Down Magazine team is here to tell you who will win the District 3, 4, 6 and 11 playoff games this weekend, most of which kick off at 7 p.m. Friday. 

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 and why, with the kind of analysis you won’t find anywhere else. Stick with us all the way through the PIAA state championships in December.

2023 Standings

Picker: Last Week — Overall — Perfect Picks

Adam Kulikowski: 15-3 — 218-63 — 2

Andy Sandrik: 15-3 — 218-63 — 0

Andy Shay: 13-5 — 205-76 — 1

* Records in parentheses after school name; District and seed in parentheses before school name.

Watch: This week’s edition of 4th & Goal with Andy Shay and Jake Adams features an interview with Juniata’s Jasper Shepps plus we dive into Camp Hill’s upset victory over Trinity, Cumberland Valley’s turnaround season, which Mid-Penn teams could claim District titles and previews of this week’s action.



6-1 State College at 10-1 McDowell, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: State College 20, McDowell 17: Based on the offensive output the last month by the Little Lions — averaging only two touchdowns per outing — is going to be a struggle. McDowell has an offense with some pop — will it be enough to rock the State College defense?

Andy Sandrik: State College 21, McDowell 14: This is my benefit-of-the-doubt pick with State College, a proven PIAA playoff team with a solid defense, but I’d be lying if I said that McDowell offense doesn’t have me second-guessing my pick.

Adam Kulikowski: State College 28, McDowell 21: Our crew’s collective worry gives me pause making the call to go with the Little Lions. But the pedigree of this program and its coaching staff says they will have an answer for the team’s recent offensive woes. 



6-1 Juniata at 10-1 Meadville, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Juniata 29, Meadville 27: This is a toss-up game for me all the way. What I can’t get away from is the quality of competition Juniata has faced this season. Meadville has enjoyed recent success in this matchup, though.

Andy Sandrik: Juniata 34, Meadville 24: When comparing the records, it seems like Meadville should be favored, but I’ve been saying it all season: Juniata’s schedule will have the Indians more than ready for this moment.

Adam Kulikowski: Meadville 31, Juniata 28: The Bulldogs possess a dynamic trio of runners — each with more than 940 stripes in 2023 — that could flex their collective muscles against the Indians.  



11-1 Williams Valley vs. 2-1 Dunmore, at Schuylkill Haven HS, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Dunmore 28, Williams Valley 26: Two hammer running backs going head-to-head in a power struggle. Look inside the trenches, and that is where the Bucks have a decisive advantage they have to take advantage of. Otherwise, the Vikings win.

Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 28, Dunmore 21: Alex Achenbach is the star running back for Williams Valley, I think we all know that much. But after completing 4 of 4 passes for 147 yards and three TDs last week, Achenbach now also leads the Vikings in TD passes — with eight.

Adam Kulikowski: Williams Valley 34, Dunmore 23: Both teams sport a tough rushing attack led by the Vikings’ Achenbach and Dunmore’s Danny Pigga. The size of the Bucks’ line has created matchup challenges for foes all season and could be an X-factor Friday night.

12-1 West Catholic at 3-1 Camp Hill, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Camp Hill 42, West Catholic 0: Talk about the Lions’ offense all you want, and that winning drive was nothing short of football perfection last week to win a District 3 crown. But for me, this is about a tough-as-nail Camp Hill defense in full bloom.

Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 38, West Catholic 7: This Camp Hill squad hasn’t faced an “easy” team since September, which should play to the favor of the Lions, who are heavy favorites in this PIAA opener.

Adam Kulikowski: Camp Hill 45, West Catholic 6: The Burrs have one win this season. One. 1. Uno. After knocking off Trinity to claim the District 3 Class 2A title last week, this game should feel like a warm up for the Lions. 



5-1 Northern Bedford County vs. 3-1 Steel-High, at Claysburg Kimmel HS, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Steel-High 49, Bedford County 35: This one has all the prime ingredients for a shootout where mistakes get lost in big play after big play. Bedford won’t mind the pace, but the Rollers thrive in these situations at another level.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 46, Northern Bedford County 28: By all accounts we have two terrific teams lining up Friday night, but I think the “been there, done that” factor will pay dividends for the Rollers in a game that could appear to be a 50-50 affair late.

Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 45, Northern Bedford County 41: If you like offense, this just might be the ticket to purchase Friday evening. Both clubs feature dynamic weapons at the skill positions and strong supporting casts. I fully expect the last team to hold the rock will win. 



No. 4 Cumberland Valley at No. 1 Manheim Township, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Manheim Township 42, Cumberland Valley 17: This is not the same Eagles team the Blue Streaks faced in Week 1 and dispatched by 28 points with relative ease. It’s the same Township outfit, just more polish on the brass.

Andy Sandrik: Manheim Township 40, Cumberland Valley 14: Most of CV’s big wins have been unexpected, but if the Eagles find a way to win this one, that would be infinitely more unexpected than all of those other wins combined. 

Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Township 43, Cumberland Valley 23: Yes, this is likely the final stop for the Eagles in 2023, but what an incredible journey it has been for Josh Oswalt’s team — one that will pay huge dividends in 2024. 


No. 3 Central York at No. 2 Harrisburg, 1 p.m.

Andy Shay: Harrisburg 40, Central York 38: Give me some points and the last team that has the ball. If this turns into a defensive battle, then something has gone sideways big time. Panthers are better equipped for a close shave, though. They know how to win this type of game.

Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 39, Central York 21: A lot of folks are calling for this one to be a slobberknocker, but not me. With the Cougars playing at Severance Field with Shawn Lee Jr. behind center, I’ll go ahead and go as far as calling this my lock of the week. 

Adam Kulikowski: Central York 39, Harrisburg 37: One of the best matchups on the docket this week, the Panthers figure to provide the biggest challenge since Harrisburg’s Week 3 tussle with Manheim Township. 



No. 8 Hershey at No. 5 Ephrata, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Hershey 29, Ephrata 28: Riding the Trojans Train. Why not?

Andy Sandrik: Hershey 30, Ephrata 27: Angel Cabrera is having a postseason that none of us could have imagined. Except for 4th Down Magazine, that is, which recognized Cabrera as Hershey’s “One Player to Watch” way back in 2022.

Adam Kulikowski: Hershey 35, Ephrata 31: Mettle. Grit. Resilience. Pick the adjective you like best. They all fit a Trojans team that simply has refused to allow their 2023 circuit to end. 

No. 3 Cocalico at No. 2 Cedar Cliff, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Cocalico 35, Cedar Cliff 27: I believe the Colts can win this game if some dominos fall their way. They need a little help, though. I don’t think Cocalico needs that help and have earned the role of favorites. Tough draw for Cliff.

Andy Sandrik: Cocalico 28, Cedar Cliff 14: Both teams come in with 10-1 records, but if you count the number of quality wins possessed by Cocalico, it’s not hard to tell Cedar Cliff is the team that’s going to need a few breaks to stay in this one.

Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 27, Cocalico 24: Call it a contrarian pick. But a tough draw won’t deter a Colts team that possesses the weapons to win a tight battle. 



No. 5 Lampeter-Strasburg at No. 1 Bishop McDevitt, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 41, Lampeter-Strasburg 14: The L-S defense has earned respect. Pretty sure they haven’t seen an offense like this, and I still think the McD defense gets overlooked a bit this time of year.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 42, Lampeter-Strasburg 14: There’s nothing about Lampeter-Strasburg’s résumé that suggests the Pioneers are going to do the thing to McDevitt that 11 other teams have failed to do. 

Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 45, Lampeter-Strasburg 14: The 9-2 Pioneers sport a formidable defense that has yielded less than 100 points this year. Is that enough to slow the Crusaders and keep this a game close for a full four quarters? Tall task. 

No. 3 Manheim Central at No. 2 Twin Valley, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Twin Valley 27, Manheim Central 21: The better offense in this matchup belongs to the Barons. On the other side of the ball, this Twin Valley defense has grown into a big part of the keys to victory. I’m taking the defense in this one.

Andy Sandrik: Manheim Central 23, Twin Valley 20: Something tells me the Barons have just enough to outlast fellow L-L power Twin Valley. 

Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Central 33, Twin Valley 14: I’ll place my chips on Barons senior gunslinger Zac Hahn (2,600 yards, 37 touchdowns) and his dynamic weapons in running back Brycen Armold (1,275 stripes, 17 scores) and wideout Aaron Enterline (1,415 yards, 24 touchdowns).



No. 3 West Perry at No. 1 Wyomissing, 1 p.m.

Andy Shay: Wyomissing 35, West Perry 28: The Mustangs are better equipped for the Class 3A beast of District 3. I can see a path to victory for them. Just not prepared to pick them to shock the Spartans until somebody does it. Wyomissing demands 48 minutes of excellence from a team and can grind on you like very few can.

Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 42, West Perry 35: Even the most hardcore of West Perry fans will acknowledge the Mustangs have their work cut out for them this weekend. It’s going to take some kind of effort just to stay competitive. 

Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 45, West Perry 24: This might not be one of those classic Wyomissing clubs that will drop a 60-spot on you like they did last year to the Mustangs, but the Spartans still pack a big punch.

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