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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Playoff Picks and Predictions for November 24-25

EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: It’s the fourth week of the PIAA football playoffs, and District 3 will crown its final three champions in Classes 4A through 6A. And the 4th Down Magazine team is here to tell you who will win the remaining playoff games involving Mid-Penn Conference and Colonial-Schuylkill League, 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

Andy Sandrik: 9-2 — 227-65 — 0

Adam Kulikowski: 7-4 — 225-67 — 2

Andy Shay: 8-3 — 213-79 — 1

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



6-1 Juniata at 4-1 Selinsgrove, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Selinsgrove 30, Juniata 13: Can the Indians make Act II that much different than Act I? The Seals posted a 30-point victory over Juniata in Week 2 and are still undefeated for a reason. Always hard to beat a team twice, and the run by Juniata has been magnificent. Feels like it ends here.

Andy Sandrik: Selinsgrove 32, Juniata 21: None of us could have predicted Juniata getting to within three wins of PIAA gold after the Indians’ 0-3 start, but here we are. All good things come to an end, however, and it’s going to take an incredible turn of events for Juniata to keep this game within striking distance.

Adam Kulikowski: Selinsgrove 28, Juniata 21: Seals running back Tucker Teats, a 2,100-yard rusher, possesses breakaway speed and the make-you-miss elusiveness that can cause havoc for any team. Add in a quality QB who takes care of the rock and completes enough passes to keep teams from keying too heavily on Teats, and you have a full-metal test on your hands. 



3-1 Camp Hill at 2-1 Dunmore, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Dunmore 37, Camp Hill 34: The pure brute football strength of the Bucks has serious potential to overpower Camp Hill. The Lions’ path to victory is all about hitting some big plays, having precious few empty possessions and making Dunmore uncomfortable chasing a game. I know if Dunmore gives QB Drew Branstetter the ball late with a chance to win the game, they will lose.

Andy Sandrik: Dunmore 32, Camp Hill 28: All signs seem to point to a Dunmore victory, but the Camp Hill coaching staff has had these Lions playing above expectations on an almost-weekly basis this season. Even as I’m typing, I’m still thinking about flipping this prediction.

Adam Kulikowski: Dunmore 33, Camp Hill 31: The Lions struggled last week against a run-heavy West Catholic squad. The Bucks bring that same ground-based threat with a more formidable group of big eaters. That doesn’t mean the Lions can’t continue this magical journey, but they will need their best effort from all gents on board. 



2-1 Lackawanna Trail vs. 3-1 Steel-High, at Scranton HS, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Steel-High 27, Lackawanna Trail 20: Generally regarded as two of the top Class 1A teams in the state, this has a lot of ingredients to be a down-to-the-wire contest. I like the Rollers’ ability to be a more balanced offense in this matchup.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 38, Lackawanna Trail 28: I think we’ve taken the clutch play of Alex Erby and the Rollers for granted. It’s easy to sit back and pick them in the postseason, but that’s only because they have normalized winning hard games. And this game will undoubtedly be their hardest challenge of the season. 

Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 31, Lackawanna Trail 28: The Lions posted their best regular season in school history this year, going an unblemished 10-0. Their ground-based attack, led by Lukas Gumble, must get out in front to be most effective in this battle of top-ranked state Class 1A teams. 



No. 2 Harrisburg at No. 1 Manheim Township, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Manheim Township 28, Harrisburg 26: The Blue Streaks have earned the role of favorites in this game by cracking the Cougars early in the season. I can see the path to victory for Harrisburg, but it can’t allow Township to play with a lead because that is their comfort zone. Remember, Blue Streaks scored three points in the second half against CV last week. Eagles laid down a blueprint.

Andy Sandrik: Manheim Township 33, Harrisburg 21: Harrisburg has grown so much since that Week 3 whipping it took from the Streaks, but another thing to consider is Manheim Township has also improved since the teams played two months ago. 

Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Township 34, Harrisburg 26: I believe the gap between these two clubs closed throughout the year, but closing a four-score gully against a club with a quarterback who has yet to throw a single interception is a tall task. 



No. 3 Manheim Central at No. 1 Bishop McDevitt, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 45, Manheim Central 20: When the playing field is level, this Barons defense has surrendered a few points — see Susquehanna Township scoring 34 to open the playoffs. There’s firepower on offense for Manheim Central, but I just don’t see enough for them to keep pace at this level.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 42, Manheim Central 21: We’ve reached that point in the postseason where the Crusaders could, in theory, get knocked off if they fall asleep at the wheel. I think they have invested too much into this season to let that happen, though. 

Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 45, Manheim Central 14: The Barons are a quality foe, but against a Crusaders team that has simply run over its opponents virtually all season I’m not sure it matters.

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