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Playoff Picks and Predictions for the PIAA Semifinals

EXPLAINING OUR PICKS: We’re down to the Final (Twenty-)Four.

It’s PIAA state football semifinals week. Four teams in all six classifications are still standing, including three Mid-Penn Conference juggernauts.

And the 4th Down Magazine team is here to tell you who will win these three games. 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 next week.

2023 Standings

Picker: Last Week — Overall — Perfect Picks

Andy Sandrik: 4-1 — 231-66 — 0

Adam Kulikowski: 4-1 — 229-68 — 2

Andy Shay: 4-1 — 217-80 — 1

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

This week’s edition of 4th & Goal with Andy Shay and Jake Adams features an interview with Bishop McDevitt and Alabama recruit Rico Scott plus we preview semifinal match ups with Mid-Penn Conference participants and more.

PIAA CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS

SATURDAY, DEC. 2

3-1 Harrisburg vs. 7-1 North Allegheny, at Altoona HS, 1 p.m.

Andy Shay: North Allegheny 34, Harrisburg 26: Still a run-centered offense for the Tigers, but they have sneakier balance than you think and can play any type of game thrown their way. Know this: NA has seven wins against teams that ended 2023 with a winning record. But Harrisburg has nine such quality victories. Harrisburg’s passing game has to be a force to win this game.

Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 27, North Allegheny 21: For most of the season I was convinced that Manheim Township was going to be the one District 3 team in 6A contending for a state title. And then the Cougars blew up those plans. For that reason I’m going with Harrisburg, the man who beat the man, so to speak.

Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 28, North Allegheny 24: The Cougars enter this tussle brimming with confidence after taking down Manheim Township last week. Can Coach Cal Everett’s crew parlay that momentum into another state championship game berth? It’ll take their best performance of the season, but I won’t doubt this crew. 

PIAA CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS

FRIDAY, DEC. 1

2-1 Dallas vs. 3-1 Bishop McDevitt, at Northern Lehigh HS, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 42, Dallas 14: The Mountaineers bring a perfect record and a handful of one-score victories to the table against a Crusaders team that needed to dig deep to keep its winning streak alive a week ago. Four of the five best players in the game suit up for McDevitt. That will matter.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 41, Dallas 14: For all of the weapons and talent the Crusaders have on the offensive side of the ball, it was the unheralded McDevitt defense that really rose to the occasion against Manheim Central last week. Something tells me the Crusaders’ offense bounces back this week.

Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 48, Dallas 7: The Crusaders are a bit banged up heading into this semifinal. It won’t matter. McDevitt is simply that much better.

PIAA CLASS 1A QUARTERFINALS

FRIDAY, DEC. 1

4-1 South Williamsport vs. 3-1 Steel-High, at Shamokin HS, 7 p.m.

Andy Shay: Steel-High 40, South Williamsport 20: Right now, with the way Alex Erby is running this offense, the balance it has with a solid running game and all those weapons on the outside in space, I can’t see how a Class 1A team competes with the Rollers. And remember, Steel-High is no slouch in the trenches, either.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 34, South Williamsport 14: Of the three remaining Mid-Penn teams still playing in December, Steel-High is the one I see with the best odds of hoisting a PIAA trophy.

Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 49, South Williamsport 21: The Rollers haven’t lost a football game since Sept. 2, 2022 — that’s a 26-game winning streak. Can South Williamsport have a say in breaking that momentum? I just don’t see a pathway.

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