EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: The 4th Down Magazine crew picks all games involving Mid-Penn Conference teams, as well as Schuylkill-Colonial League games featuring former members of the now-defunct Twin Valley Conference. Come playoff time, they’ll expand to include all District 3 teams, as well as the local District 4, District 6 and District 11 programs. Then they’ll get really bold in the state semifinals and start picking games across the state. The predictions are meant for entertainment purposes only because, truth be told, these guys aren’t very bright. Three of them are former full-time sportswriters (dummies), and the other decided to start a high school football magazine despite the fact he already works a full-time job. But, dangit, they like to watch football, think about football, write about football, and eat. That last one isn’t related to picking football games unless you count the mustard on the keyboard. As always, enjoy, and don’t take it too seriously. Nobody here hates any program. Any perceived disrespect is a figment of your imagination. Except Sandrik, who absolutely DESPISES … (transmission interrupted) …
2022 STANDINGS DURING WEEK 5
Picker: Week 5 – Overall – Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 16-5 — 94-38 — 0
Andy Sandrik: 17-4 — 92-40 — 0
Geoff Morrow: 14-7 — 91-41 — 0
Andy Shay: 15-6 — 91-41 — 2
WEEK 5 SCHEDULE
* In scorelines, home team in all caps
Thursday, Sept. 22
Gettysburg 14, MECHANICSBURG 0
Andy Shay: Gettysburg 20, Mechanicsburg 14: The Warriors haven’t surrendered more than 20 points to an opponent in any of their three wins. Not sure the Wildcats have the firepower offensively to snare this one.
Geoff Morrow: Gettysburg 30, Mechanicsburg 14: Back when they were previously division foes about a decade ago, this had become a one-sided rivalry with the Wildcats winning five straight from 2009-13. But it’s almost like the Warriors left to go find themselves, succeeded, and now they’re ready to compete for the Colonial crown yet again.
Andy Sandrik: Gettysburg 28, Mechanicsburg 17: This game won’t be a gimme for Gettysburg, but I think the Warriors’ defense puts them in a good position to snare this road win.
Adam Kulikowski: Gettysburg 28, Mechanicsburg 14: One thing I learned when Gettysburg bullied East Penn a week ago: Its big men can take over a game.
EAST PENNSBORO 30, Greencastle-Antrim 13
Andy Shay: Greencastle-Antrim 28, East Pennsboro 7: Should the Blue Devils clear this hurdle and reach 5-0, they are without question the biggest surprise team of 2022. G-A defense has surrendered only five touchdowns through 16 quarters.
Geoff Morrow: East Pennsboro 23, Greencastle-Antrim 17: This has quickly become a VERY important game for the Panthers, whose Colonial title hopes move to life support already if they fall to G-A. I’m expecting a battle, but I like the home team’s chances to bounce back against an opponent who is probably starting to feel a bit invincible.
Andy Sandrik: Greencastle-Antrim 35, East Pennsboro 25: And just like that, the Blue Devils are one of the teams to beat in the Colonial.
Adam Kulikowski: Greencastle-Antrim 21, East Pennsboro 20: The Panthers will need to find another gear to stop the Blue Devils achieving the best start to their season since 2015.
SHIPPENSBURG 34, Susquehanna Township 13
Andy Shay: Shippensburg 31, Susquehanna Township 14: The Greyhounds are reeling a bit after getting bounced last week. Question is, can the Indians keep them wobbly long enough to make this a game?
Geoff Morrow: Shippensburg 29, Susquehanna Township 13: Program power sometimes means prognosticators give (or don’t give) certain teams too much (or enough) credit. I think we overvalued Ship a bit, but I also know that aforementioned program power means there’s an expectation to bounce back, to figure things out, and to start brand new winning streaks. I see that with the Greyhounds this week.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 33, Susquehanna Township 14: How long can ‘Hanna keep this game in reach?
Adam Kulikowski: Shippensburg 24, Susquehanna Township 21: OK, raise your hand if you saw the Greyhounds falling to Northern last week. Does the Polar Bear blueprint aid the Indians Thursday night?
Friday, Sept. 23
Altoona 28, CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST 14
Andy Shay: Altoona 27, CD East 20: Have a feeling this one could be tight most of the way, but in the end I see the Mountain Lions’ defense rebounding after getting run over by State College and being a difference-maker down the stretch.
Geoff Morrow: CD East 26, Altoona 21: There’s no shame in losing to State College or Cumberland Valley, as these teams did last week. But those were sizable lumps the Mountain Lions and Panthers took, respectively. With each needing a bounce-back effort, I’ll go with East High, which won the last two meetings by multiple scores.
Andy Sandrik: Altoona 28, CD East 21: I like Altoona’s body of work just a little more than East, but I still see this being a tight game throughout.
Adam Kulikowski: CD East 35, Altoona 28: Keep me in the proverbial dog house with Mrs. 4th Down (an Altoona alum) for another week.
Carlisle 18, CHAMBERSBURG 7
Andy Shay: Chambersburg 38, Carlisle 35: Thundering Herd have dropped two straight and surrendered nearly 100 points in those two setbacks. That’s a red flag. Trojans are coming off a tough loss to Central Dauphin. Toss-up game all the way.
Geoff Morrow: Chambersburg 28, Carlisle 21: I already typed in 28-21 as my predicted final score, but you know what’s interesting here? These classic rivals have evenly split the last 12 games (6-6), but only one of those dozen games ended with the losing team within a touchdown. In other words, whoever wins usually wins by a lot.
Andy Sandrik: Carlisle 34, Chambersburg 30: My wife is a CASHS grad, while my kids go to Carlisle. No matter who I pick, no one will be offended because I’m the only one in this house who follows high school football.
Adam Kulikowski: Carlisle 35, Chambersburg 31: This one is a 50-50 matchup to me. The difference? The Thundering Herd possesses a few more offensive weapons in the cupboard.
STATE COLLEGE 19, Central Dauphin 8
Andy Shay: State College 42, Central Dauphin 14: Usually a classic when these two square off recently, but the talent level gap this season is just too big to ignore. Little Lions are keeping the scoreboard rolling, hitting 40-plus in three of their four wins.
Geoff Morrow: State College 44, Central Dauphin 28: CD has really bullied the Little Lions over the last three meetings, and I don’t expect the Rams will simply lay down and hand over the keys to State High just because the Little Lions are at home and rolling heavy right now. But I can’t pull the trigger on the upset because it seems too much separates these historically powerful programs at this exact moment.
Andy Sandrik: State College 27, Central Dauphin 23: Everyone here seems to be calling for a State College blowout, but even though the Rams are 1-3, they’ve been competitive almost every time out. I don’t think that changes here.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 43, Central Dauphin 21: The Little Lions have big expectations for a Commonwealth title and a deep run into states while the Rams are just beginning to find their footing on the way back up the mountain.
BISHOP McDEVITT 48, Cedar Cliff 7
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 49, Cedar Cliff 14: This is a bad spot for the Colts after getting upset a week ago by surrendering a two-score lead in the fourth quarter. This is not the outfit to face when you need to fix what is broken.
Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 53, Cedar Cliff 7: When things are going well for McD – and they often are – the Colts are one of the only Keystone foes to usually give the Crusaders a worthy challenge. But last year was 56-0, and it appears the Cliff still has plenty to figure out before it’s ready to compete at this level again.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 52, Cedar Cliff 14: How long can the Colts keep this one competitive before the floodgates burst?
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 55, Cedar Cliff 14: I’ve learned long ago to never count out Colin Gillen’s crew. They always seem to find a way to put their best foot forward against Bishop McDevitt. The mountain this year just seems too steep to climb.
Lower Dauphin 49, RED LAND 3
Andy Shay: Red Land 21, Lower Dauphin 20: This is strictly a guess. I see four to five avenues to victory for each squad. Tomorrow I might pick it the other way, but this is where my coin (heads) landed today.
Geoff Morrow: Red Land 20, Lower Dauphin 17: These teams’ schedules and results thus far have been weird. This could end a million different ways, but here’s what we know for sure: somebody will win.
Andy Sandrik: Lower Dauphin 21, Red Land 19: Coin-flip game? Low scoring? Best reads I can gather for this one.
Adam Kulikowski: Lower Dauphin 35, Red Land 20: I thought I’d see more fight coming from the Patriots against Milton Hershey than last week’s 35-10 loss indicated. Perhaps I need a recalibration.
HERSHEY 28, Milton Hershey 21
Andy Shay: Hershey 21, Milton Hershey 14: The schedule has been kind to the Spartans, and they have taken full advantage to post a 3-1 mark. I know Hershey has only one win, but they have figured some things out and been competitive weekly against far superior opponents.
Geoff Morrow: Milton Hershey 27, Hershey 24: Both coming in hot after impressive victories last week. Add the rivalry factor, and this could be a beaut. However, I give the edge to the Spartans, who’ve claimed three straight and six of the last seven in this classic series.
Andy Sandrik: Hershey 28, Milton Hershey 23: There’s a lot more than usual at stake in this Cocoa Bowl for the Trojans and Spartans, now Keystone Division playmates.
Adam Kulikowski: Milton Hershey 28, Hershey 20: Just as I learned a wee bit about the Patriots last week when the Spartans carved them up, I think Jeff Boger’s crew learned a little something about the mixer needed for this version of Milton Hershey football.
MIFFLIN COUNTY 14, Palmyra 0
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 28, Palmyra 7: Huskies are very balanced offensively and spread the ball around to their weapons. That just feels like too much for the Cougars defense right now.
Geoff Morrow: Mifflin County 33, Palmyra 14: To me, this just comes down to confidence. Right now the Huskies have it, while the Cougars are desperate to find it.
Andy Sandrik: Mifflin County 24, Palmyra 10: Tough spot for Palmyra. Huskies stock is rising, and fast.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 35, Palmyra 10: The Huskies are having their best season in ages while the Cougars are struggling to find their offensive footing.
STEEL-HIGH 61, Big Spring 7
Andy Shay: Steel-High 47, Big Spring 20: This is about Big Spring playing out-of-its-mind defense to keep this game within range. Rollers have tipped the axis and seem to have the full arsenal on all-systems-go right now.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 43, Big Spring 32: Remember, this was a blowout the other way last year. With the Rollers putting up something like 512 points last week, it’s easy to get on that bandwagon. But the Bulldogs are figuring it out in a hurry and are certainly capable of the upset. Defense needs to force multiple turnovers, though, and I don’t see that happening with the experienced Rollers QB.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 49, Big Spring 21: Wait, HOW many points did the Rollers put up against Boiling Springs last week? The Capital Division is Steel-High’s division to lose, without a doubt.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 55, Big Spring 20: Cast aside now any rumblings you might have heard about the Rollers’ conditioning. Andrew Erby’s crew lit up the nitro last week. An encore performance is possible.
TRINITY 26, Boiling Springs 14
Andy Shay: Boiling Springs 31, Trinity 21: It has gone sideways for both these squads since a fairly promising early salvo or two. Combined, the Shamrocks and Bubblers have lost five consecutive games. Somebody needs to find the shiny, happy feeling, right?
Geoff Morrow: Trinity 28, Boiling Springs 21: I get the wheels fall off sometimes, and a bad day turns into an ugly day real fast. But 74 is a huge number. I know the Shamrocks aren’t exactly riding along on a victory party bus right now, but there’s room here to land a few figurative punches and close the first half of the season on a high note.
Andy Sandrik: Boiling Springs 28, Trinity 14: I’m not going to bust the Bubblers too hard for getting hit with a 74-point bomb last week, as I’ll give all the credit to a talented Steel-High team. With that said, I like the Bubblers’ defense to slow the run and force a turnover or two this week – and make it three straight wins in their rivalry series with Trinity.
Adam Kulikowski: Boiling Springs 38, Trinity 24: Trinity got outmuscled last week against West Perry. The Bubblers have the right mix up front to replicate the challenge the Shamrocks faced last week. Will the results match as well?
Juniata 55, HALIFAX 0
Andy Shay: Juniata 34, Halifax 0: Something tells me first downs might be hard to come by for the Wildcats in this matchup.
Geoff Morrow: Juniata 38, Halifax 7: Not much to write about here. Just two programs on opposite poles right now. But things can turn in a hurry. The Wildcats beat the Indians in 2018, which was only four years ago!
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 33, Halifax 0: Not sure I see a path to victory, or even the end zone, for the Wildcats.
Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 44, Halifax 6: Indians get a nice tune-up in this one before squaring off against James Buchanan and Boiling Springs the next two weeks.
Susquenita 35, LINE MOUNTAIN 21
Andy Shay: Line Mountain 27, Susquenita 20: Couple of 1-3 teams, but why does it feel like the Eagles have turned a corner and the Blackhawks are still trying to navigate their way through the corner?
Geoff Morrow: Line Mountain 28, Susquenita 13: If the Eagles win here, they’ll be heavily favored next week against Halifax, then have a winnable game in Week 7 against James Buchanan, and suddenly that 0-3 start feels like a century ago. But the key for Line Mountain is actually winning this game first.
Andy Sandrik: Line Mountain 28, Susquenita 25: Line Mountain flipped a switch in Week 3 and has been full speed ahead since. I still see this as a knock-em-down, drag-it-out battle that could go either way.
Adam Kulikowski: Susquenita 24, Line Mountain 21: ‘Nita’s Derek Gibney is a risk-taker with the ball, which might make this a bit of an upset. Question is, for whom will the risks he takes pay out Friday night?
Upper Dauphin 41, NEWPORT 20
Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 49, Newport 7: Trojans love to keep their foot on the gas with that fast-paced offense, and the Buffaloes have been struggling to keep teams out of the end zone.
Geoff Morrow: Upper Dauphin 50, Newport 0: Buffaloes haven’t scored since Week 1, have lost seven in a row dating to last season, and, well, it’s fair to look back or look ahead to better times.
Andy Sandrik: Upper Dauphin 42, Newport 7: It’s been week after week of body blows for the Buffs, and this week doesn’t promise to be any easier against a UD squad that believes it’s much better than its 2-2 record.
Adam Kulikowski: Upper Dauphin 55, Newport 6: To me, I’ll be watching to see if this matchup can jump-start a new level of confidence for Trojan QB1 Aidan Bingamen. My magic 8-ball (is that still a thing?) says yes.
TRI-VALLEY 19, Executive Education Academy 18
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 29, Executive Education Academy 21: Good thing the Bulldogs have already been in a struggle to the final whistle because this is the best team they have seen to date and will challenge them in new ways.
Geoff Morrow: Executive Education Academy 26, Tri-Valley 21: This is a tricky one. Clearly the Bulldogs are, once again, really good. But they’ve also shown some recent vulnerability. Meanwhile, the Raptors are 3-1 against a pretty solid schedule (including a win over Berks Catholic), and there’s room here for a takedown. Will the Allentown area charter school be able to deliver in tough confines?
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 33, Executive Education Academy 24: Every week when I turn away and then return for another look, Tri-Valley just looks better every time. Which is a good thing for the ‘Dawgs, because they just might be facing their toughest opponent yet.
Adam Kulikowski: Tri-Valley 45, Executive Education Academy 21: Tri-Valley survived a test two weeks ago against Line Mountain, then cruised to a 37-0 victory against Schuylkill Haven last week. ‘Dawgs hold serve another week to move to a sparkling 5-0 record at the midpoint of the regular season.
WEST PERRY 51, James Buchanan 8
Andy Shay: West Perry 49, James Buchanan 0: When your QB1 makes the bold call he thinks they can hang 40-plus on Trinity and then they go out and do it that isn’t throwing shade at the opposition. This offense has horsepower and is riding high.
Geoff Morrow: West Perry 44, James Buchanan 12: The Mustangs’ first-half schedule hasn’t exactly been filled with roadblocks, but you can’t find any fault in their effort, their performance or their results. Things get tougher in the second half, but despite the Rockets’ 3-1 mark, this should be another multi-score win for WP.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 55, James Buchanan 0: Take away a few special teams miscues last week and there’s a good chance we’d be talking this week about how the Mustangs pitched three consecutive shutouts for the first time in school history. Didn’t happen. But there’s an opportunity to start a new streak with the Rockets coming to Elliottsburg.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 48, James Buchanan 7: Personally watched the Mustangs’ big dawgs eat last week against Trinity. Very impressive. That group of gents – on both sides of the ball – are the unsung heroes on a team filled with stud playmakers.
Loyalsock Township 35, WILLIAMS VALLEY 29
Andy Shay: Loyalsock Township 28, Williams Valley 26: Anybody who beats Southern Columbia will be a favorite to beat almost anybody else in my book until Southern is no longer elite as a program.
Geoff Morrow: Loyalsock Township 32, Williams Valley 20: You’d never know it from reading the 4th Down crew’s predictions, but did you know the Lancers have beaten Southern Columbia this season? Echo, echo, echo…
Andy Sandrik: Loyalsock Township 23, Williams Valley 17: Both teams took one on the chin last week to have their undefeated seasons spoiled. Who can rebound? I’ll take the team that owns a regular-season win over Southern Columbia.
Adam Kulikowski: Loyalsock Township 33, Williams Valley 21: Word is that the Vikings were navigating some issues last week, resulting in a shorter roster than normal. Curious if they are back to a full squad. Either way, I’ll echo my fellow cronies in siding with the team that knocked off Southern Columbia.
Saturday, Sept. 24
HARRISBURG 30, Cumberland Valley 14
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 28, Cumberland Valley 17: The Eagles are ready for this game. Question is, can they win it? Harrisburg clearly has more overall talent. Are the Cougars ready to win this game?
Geoff Morrow: Harrisburg 35, Cumberland Valley 28: Another tricky one in a week full of tricky ones. CV is clearly playing its best football in years, and Harrisburg remains one of the state’s premier programs and is running hot with its head coach back on the sideline. The Cougars have roughed the Eagles up the last five meetings. And while that might not have a negative impact on CV’s psyche heading into this one, I think it might have a positive impact on Harrisburg’s.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 35, Cumberland Valley 21: CV coach Josh Oswalt might stop taking my gardening texts after this prediction, but I picked Harrisburg and CV 1-2 in the Commonwealth, and I can’t stray from that now. Especially after the way the Cougars’ defense just drained the life away from an explosive Carlisle team last week.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 35, Cumberland Valley 30: Two weeks ago – before the return of Coach Cal – I would have taken the Eagles in this spot. It was evident then that they missed their leader. But after the Cougars drop-kicked Carlisle into Week 5, I believe Harrisburg is back to being ‘drip.’
WAYNESBORO 13, Northern 10
Andy Shay: Northern 28, Waynesboro 7: I just haven’t seen enough out of Waynesboro’s offense to see how they challenge the Polar Bears, who have to be juiced up after dumping Ship a week ago. “No letdown” will be the calling card in Dillsburg.
Geoff Morrow: Northern 24, Waynesboro 14: Awesome win for the P-Bears last week, but this is still a team that lost to a mediocre York-Adams program the week prior. So it’s hard to know what to expect. However, while I think the Indians are fully capable of winning on Saturday afternoon, they’ve not yet shown that same “awesome win” capability Northern just did.
Andy Sandrik: Northern 25, Waynesboro 23: The Polar Bears showed last week how much fire and intensity they can play with when the rest of the football world expects them to lose a game. Can they play the same way in a road game they’re expected to win?
Adam Kulikowski: Northern 33, Waynesboro 21: When you knock the king off the top of the hill, you need to back it up the next week. Polar Bears do just that against an Indians team still searching for its top gear.
SCHUYLKILL-COLONIAL RED DIVISION
Jim Thorpe 66, PINE GROVE 14
Andy Shay: Jim Thorpe 27, Pine Grove 7: The Cardinals have scored four touchdowns all season. Despite both clubs owning 1-3 marks, the Olympians have been the more consistent squad offensively.
Geoff Morrow: Jim Thorpe 35, Pine Grove 14: Olympians have been a lot more competitive this year, so I’m going with the visitors.
Andy Sandrik: Jim Thorpe 26, Pine Grove 10: Offensive consistency has me leaning toward the Olympians. Pine Grove has not put points on the board since Sept. 2.
Adam Kulikowski: Jim Thorpe 33, Pine Grove 6: Neither team is going to light up the scoreboard, but the Olympians sport a balanced offense with just a few more difference-makers on board.