RECORDS (Week 12 — Overall — Perfect Picks):
Andy Shay: 14-3 — 220-51 — 1
Geoff Morrow: 14-3 — 206-65 — 3
Andy Sandrik: 9-8 — 203-68 — 0
Adam Kulikowski: 9-8 — 188-83 — 1
District 3 Class 5A Semifinals
(7) Exeter Township at (6) Cedar Cliff, 7
Andy Shay: Exeter Township 34, Cedar Cliff 21: The Eagles’ balanced offense is going to be something the Colts haven’t dealt with much this season. Cedar Cliff’s defense hasn’t faced too many experienced and savvy quarterbacks with a stellar running game to back it up.
Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 37, Cedar Cliff 20: Respect to the Colts for doing last week what many thought they wouldn’t do: knock off unbeaten Shippensburg. The Eagles, though, are a different animal from red-hot Berks County, with an explosive offense, no fear playing on the road, and a chance to earn the program’s first district championship berth.
Andy Sandrik: Exeter Township 33, Cedar Cliff 27: The Eagles were a well-oiled machine last weekend, racing out to a 36-0 halftime lead over Manheim Central. Exeter Township can get you on the ground with Eric Nangle (121.2 ypg, 15 TDs) and in the air with QB Colin Payne (157.9 ypg, 18 TDs). Cedar Cliff’s defense allowed just one score last week, but I have a feeling this game will revolve around offense.
Adam Kulikowski: Exeter Township 28, Cedar Cliff 27: We all know the Colts have a dynamic weapon in Jontae Morris, who they are not afraid to ride if that’s what the game plan dictates. Stopping the Exeter attack is the bigger question facing the Colts.
(4) Spring Grove at (1) Governor Mifflin, 7
Andy Shay: Governor Mifflin 56, Spring Grove 14: Mustangs are playing for keeps these days and keeping the pedal down — as they should. The combo of Nick Singleton and that offensive line just evaporates a defensive pushback. That won’t change here.
Geoff Morrow: Governor Mifflin 54, Spring Grove 21: No offense to the Rockets, who’ve enjoyed an exceptional season, but the statewide No. 1-ranked Mustangs are top-level (literally) right now. Smells like an all-Berks finale to me.
Andy Sandrik: Governor Mifflin 49, Spring Grove 13: Have you ever had one of those amazing sports dreams? You know, where you sink a halfcourt shot or win a marathon? That must be how Nick Singleton felt — in real life — when he scored seven TDs against a playoff team last week.
Adam Kulikowski: Governor Mifflin 55, Spring Grove 14: The Mustangs make it look like they are playing Madden on rookie level. Having gents like Nick Singleton in the backfield sure makes it easy some nights.
District 3 Class 4A Semifinals
(4) Berks Catholic at (1) Bishop McDevitt, 7
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 49, Berks Catholic 7: In terms of program name recognition, this one features a pair of Class 4A heavyweights. On the field, this Saints team isn’t quite as strong as recent years, and the Crusaders are better than they’ve been in … let’s just say quite a while.
Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 48, Berks Catholic 22: There’s no shame in any of the Saints’ four losses this season (Central Dauphin, Malvern Prep, Exeter, Governor Mifflin). And there won’t be any shame if and when they lose to the Crusaders, who only find danger if they’re heavily mistake-prone.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 55, Berks Catholic 10: I like the résumé Berks Catholic has put together this season, but I’m not sure if the Saints are anything more than a bump in the road for McDevitt.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 56, Berks Catholic 7: The District 3 4A semifinal shouldn’t feel like a warmup, but with McDevitt’s offensive firepower and a strong defense to complement it, that’s just what this one feels like.
(3) Kennard-Dale at (2) Lampeter-Strasburg, 7
Andy Shay: Lampeter-Strasburg 48, Kennard-Dale 14: Give me the explosive and volatile Pioneers’ offense that has scored nearly 500 points this season in this one. Rams aren’t built to play a shootout, and keeping L-S under 35 isn’t likely.
Geoff Morrow: Lampeter-Strasburg 56, Kennard-Dale 14: Hunting their third straight championship-game appearance, the Pioneers have scored 50 or more points in five straight games, 42 or more in seven straight games. Obviously the Rams will need to play their absolute best defensively to earn their program’s first title game berth.
Andy Sandrik: Lampeter-Strasburg 52, Kennard-Dale 15: When it comes to running the ball, how deep are the Pioneers? Well, let’s just say there are 10 different players averaging more than six yards per carry. Ten.
Adam Kulikowski: Lampeter-Strasburg 55, Kennard-Dale 20: The Pioneers haven’t scored less than 50 over their last five contests. That’s some explosiveness that Kennard-Dale just hasn’t seen this season.
PIAA Class 6A First Round
(2-1) Delaware Valley vs. (6-1) State College, at Hazleton HS, 7
Andy Shay: Delaware Valley 24, State College 17: Delaware Valley started 0-3 and has rattled off nine straight since then. This one is going to be a tight squeeze all the way. Little Lions’ defense is the key to springing a mild upset in my book. Each squad will have some success in the run game. The squad who gets better QB play wins.
Geoff Morrow: Delaware Valley 20, State College 14: The Warriors’ defense has been smokin’ hot and the catalyst for their rebound from an 0-3 start. Last week’s 35-20 playoff victory over Hazleton was the first time they’ve allowed 20 points since Sept. 10. Little Lions haven’t been an explosive team, but they’ll need to break through to earn a quarterfinal date with the District 3 champ.
Andy Sandrik: Delaware Valley 23, State College 21: The Little Lions have been far from a perfect team, but you know what? They’ve been really good at hanging in and staying competitive, regardless of opponent. I expect a nailbiter from beginning to end.
Adam Kulikowski: Delaware Valley 28, State College 27: Give credit to the Little Lions, who have overcome obstacles throughout their circuit. Their very best collective effort will be needed to keep this journey going for another week.
(2-1) Old Forge vs. (11-1) Williams Valley, at Dunmore HS, 7
Andy Shay: Old Forge 33, Williams Valley 7: There is a reason the Blue Devils are the No. 1-ranked Class 1A team in the state beyond being unbeaten. The Old Forge defense has allowed 66 points in 10 games. Vikings are on a high after taking out Tri-Valley in the D11 title game, but the lads from Old Forge are a different beast.
Geoff Morrow: Old Forge 28, Williams Valley 21: While I recognize the Blue Devils’ No. 1 ranking, exceptional defense and expectation to win, I don’t know much about the quality of foe they play up there near Scranton. What I do know is the Vikings stoked after bumping off their archrival last week, and I have faith Jackson Yoder and crew will make their mark in this one, too. But will it be enough?
Andy Sandrik: Old Forge 36, Williams Valley 10: Kudos to the Vikings, who were able to break up Tri-Valley’s ridiculous shutout streak in a big way to win the D11 championship. I’m just not sure Old Forge is a riddle that WV is equipped to solve.
Adam Kulikowski: Old Forge 33, Williams Valley 21: The Vikings accomplished what our crew didn’t think was possible. Making our crew look foolish a second week in a row would be a remarkable feat.
District 3 Class 6A Championship
(5) Wilson at (2) Harrisburg, 1
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 20, Wilson 10: I don’t see a lot of points in this game. Both defenses will have plenty to say about this outcome. Cougars have a subtle way of making sure they dictate the tempo, pace and tenor of a game and are really hard to shake off that spot. Bulldogs’ offense needs to be special to spring the upset.
Geoff Morrow: Wilson 24, Harrisburg 21: A rematch of the 2012 Class AAAA championship, I am struggling with my fingers typing out a score that shows Harrisburg losing at home. But to do what the Bulldogs did to a Central York team many of us felt was nearly invincible is enough to sway me. However, since the Wilson assistant coaches seem to only derive motivation from perceived 4th Down Magazine slights, I wonder if the upset pick will somehow ruin their mojo.
Andy Sandrik: Wilson 17, Harrisburg 14: A visitor winning at Severance Field is a rarity, but the Bulldogs have a defense that gives them a chance to slay a giant for the second week in a row.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 28, Wilson 21: The Cougars’ combination of Mahki Hopkins inside and Kyle Williams Jr. on the edges will push any defense to the brink. Coming off a stellar win against Central York, Wilson should provide a quality test to Calvin Everett and crew.
District 3 Class 3A Championship
(2) Boiling Springs at (1) Wyomissing, 1
Andy Shay: Wyomissing 28, Boiling Springs 21: There’s a matchup issue here. The Bubblers’ offense is the meal ticket to wins. Spartans counter with a defense that gives up very little — if anything — on a consistent basis. Not sure how that plays out. One hidden key to a possible upset for Boiling Springs is its kick return game. It’s elite and could bust one or two.
Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 35, Boiling Springs 28: I expect some weirdness in this one, even though I’m picking a fairly generic final score. I don’t think the Bubblers care that this is their first championship appearance, or that the two-time defending champ Spartans are here for the 18th time in program history. Weirdly, I think the fact it’s at Wyo and not a fancy neutral site plays to Boiling Springs’ favor, quieting some of that “title game” hype. But it will still take something special to pull the upset.
Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 35, Boiling Springs 21: I’ve never been trolled harder online than I was last year when I picked Boiling Springs to win a game that Wyomissing went on to win … by 40 points. The Bubblers have improved and have a better idea of what to expect, but it still seems like the Spartans are a few steps ahead.
Adam Kulikowski: Boiling Springs 34, Wyomissing 33: Perhaps I should fear the online harassment Mr. Sandrik faced last year, but the Bubblers are better suited to pull off what still would be considered an upset in my book.
PIAA Class 2A First Round
(12-1) West Catholic vs. (3-1) York Catholic, at Cardinal O’Hara HS, 1
Andy Shay: York Catholic 28, West Catholic 7: Yes, the Burrs have played a killer schedule and, in some respects, their 3-7 mark makes sense. But scoring points has been a problem all season. Irish have more pop on that side of the ball, and it will show up.
Geoff Morrow: York Catholic 30, West Catholic 14: A closer look at the Burrs’ 3-7 season provides little answers. To do what they did last week against a seemingly heavy favorite should be enough to get the Fighting Irish’s attention. But YC is unbeaten and in system, while, prior to last week, West Catholic had two wins against teams with a combined 1-19 record. I can’t trust that résumé at this point in the season.
Andy Sandrik: York Catholic 34, West Catholic 14: Man, the Fighting Irish came to play against Upper Dauphin last week. I picked a YC win but wasn’t expecting the blowout. I think three-win West Catholic is in trouble.
Adam Kulikowski: York Catholic 45, West Catholic 14: The Fighting Irish sport a pair of backs, Andrew Adams and Levan McFadden, who average 6.9 and 6.2 yards per carry, respectively, with nearly 1,900 yards of offensive production combined. That’s a mighty one-two punch for a three-win club to corral.
PIAA Class 4A First Round
(6-1) Juniata at (10-1) Meadville, 3
Andy Shay: Meadville 21, Juniata 8: Only one team, Steel-High, has scored more than 20 points on the Indians this season. Slight problem here is Meadville has piled up more than 500 points in 11 games against some solid competition. The longer it’s close, though, the better Juniata’s chances. In a tight spot, it will prevail.
Geoff Morrow: Juniata 20, Meadville 19: The Bulldogs, who have just one senior on their roster, have come a long way in a short period of time, and they’ve been scoring points in bunches this year with a dynamic rush attack. However, the Indians excel on the defensive side. If they can score enough — a big if — I think Juniata has the chops to march on.
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 16, Meadville 14: Can’t count Juniata out of any game when it’s trotting out a defense like this.
Adam Kulikowski: Meadville 24, Juniata 10: Hats off to that Juniata defense — our Big School “Player” of the Week. This is a unit that will keep the Indians in any game. Against a Meadville squad which averages almost 50 a game, the bigger question will be if Juniata can put up enough points to advance.
PIAA Class 1A First Round
(4-1) Canton vs. (3-1) Steel-High, at Towanda HS, 3
Andy Shay: Steel-High 34, Canton 32: This is an intriguing matchup for a lot of reasons. The Warriors are unbeaten and have been clubbing teams all season with some big numbers offensively and very few points allowed. Have they seen the kind of speed in open space the Rollers are going to bring to the table? Could be “a last team to have the ball wins” affair.
Geoff Morrow: Canton 28, Steel-High 25: Usually at this point in the season, the Rollers find another gear. There was magic in last year’s team that won District 3’s first PIAA title since Wyomissing in 2012. Does that magic remain? Or do the Warriors take advantage of a few mistakes and do enough at the end to survive?
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 38, Canton 30: I’m picking Steel-High to win a shootout, but I’m concerned about this Warriors team that hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game all season.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 42, Canton 34: The Rollers will need their best performance of the season to outlast a strong Warriors defensive unit. I fully expect some new wrinkles to be a part of the Rollers’ offensive attack Saturday.