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. Now that we’re into playoff time, they’ve expanded 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 AFTER WEEK 11
Picker: Week 11 – Overall – Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 9-8 — 191-63 — 0
Andy Shay: 11-6 — 188-66 — 2
Andy Sandrik: 10-7 — 185-69 — 1
Geoff Morrow: 13-4 — 185-69 — 1
WEEK 1 PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
* Records in parentheses after school name; District playoff seed in parentheses before school name; In scorelines, home team in all caps.
Thursday, Nov. 3
EASTERN CONFERENCE CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIP
POTTSVILLE 32, Big Spring 10
Andy Shay: Pottsville 24, Big Spring 20: In playoff games, the daily double is a home game and a better strength of schedule. Pottsville will cash in, but it will be a white-knuckle affair all the way. Bulldogs are capable but lack the outside firepower to knock the Crimson Tide off their game.
Geoff Morrow: Pottsville 27, Big Spring 17: Edge to the Crimson Tide, who played a pretty tough regular-season schedule and get to play at home. Still, a good chance for the Bulldogs to end a so-so season on a high note.
Andy Sandrik: Big Spring 33, Pottsville 27: Even for a four-win team, I really like Big Spring’s résumé and how hard the Bulldogs have pushed some really good teams. Expect no less from Big Spring on Thursday evening.
Adam Kulikowski: Big Spring 38, Pottsville 27: It seems all season like the Bulldogs have been searching for a way to get over the hump with a number of close losses. Call it an upset if you want, but this is a matchup that aligns well with the Bulldogs’ strengths.
EASTERN CONFERENCE CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIP
BERKS CATHOLIC 49, Pine Grove 14
Andy Shay: Berks Catholic 41, Pine Grove 7: Great close to the season for Pine Grove, but the 4-6 team they are playing from Reading has played a brutally tough schedule. That will show.
Geoff Morrow: Berks Catholic 42, Pine Grove 14: Love that the Cardinals turned things around late in the regular season and earned themselves an extra game. However, while the Saints’ sub-.500 mark is unique for them, they played a HAMMER schedule — and played it tough. They’re a notch or two above PG right now.
Andy Sandrik: Berks Catholic 38, Pine Grove 7: Both teams enter postseason play with losing records, but this game has all the ingredients necessary for a BC blowout win.
Adam Kulikowski: Berks Catholic 35, Pine Grove 13: Tip of the cap to the Cardinals, who have the opportunity to play No. 11 this year. Saints will end their season on a high note.
Friday, Nov. 4
PIAA DISTRICT 6 CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS
ALTOONA 31, Mifflin County 24
Andy Shay: Altoona 31, Mifflin County 14: Several weeks does not erase getting steamrolled by 38 points. There is a matchup gap the Huskies can’t close. And the Mountain Lions, despite a three-game slide entering the postseason, know it.
Geoff Morrow: Altoona 26, Mifflin County 14: This was a blowout/shutout when they met for the first time in series history earlier this season, but the Mountain Lions have suffered through a relentless Commonwealth slate since while the Huskies built some more confidence in the rather ordinary Keystone Division. Still, a 38-point difference is A LOT to make up. Winner gets State College.
Andy Sandrik: Altoona 31, Mifflin County 13: The Mountain Lions limp into the playoffs on a three-game skid, but they smoked the Huskies 38-0 in Week 3. Not sure how MiffCo flips that script.
Adam Kulikowski: Altoona 35, Mifflin County 20: This Huskies team is not the same group that got bounced 38-0 in Week 3, but has the gap closed far enough to make this a game late in the final stanza?
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 5A FIRST ROUND
SHIPPENSBURG 32, Cedar Cliff 14
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 24, Shippensburg 21: Shippensburg won the first meeting, but it also got rolled by non-playoff squad Greencastle-Antrim to close out the regular season. This Colts team has found its groove and has five consecutive wins to prove it.
Geoff Morrow: Cedar Cliff 21, Shippensburg 13: A pair of teams growing more and more familiar with each other after the Colts stunned the Greyhounds in last year’s playoffs, then Ship rebounded to rip Cliff in Week 1 this year. However, the Colts enter the postseason on a five-game winning streak while the ‘Hounds have been inconsistent nearly all year. A high-scoring game would surprise me. Winner gets 10-0 Solanco.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 23, Cedar Cliff 20: It’s hard to bet against the Colts at this point, but Ship’s already topped Cliff once this season.
Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 28, Shippensburg 27: The Colts are playing their best football of the season at just the right moment, and their young QB is a big reason why. Sophomore Bennett Secrest hasn’t thrown a pick since September and has a QB rating over 126 in his last three games.
Cocalico 42, ELIZABETHTOWN 2
Andy Shay: Cocalico 34, Elizabethtown 30: This is a team the Bears, who have enjoyed their best run in more than a decade, did not want to see. The Eagles are battle tested and not afraid to push the envelope.
Geoff Morrow: Cocalico 40, Elizabethtown 28: The Bears have enjoyed their best season in 15 years, but they’ve been giving up way too many points in recent weeks, which doesn’t bode well for the high-octane playoff season. The Eagles, meanwhile, seem to be settling into a groove at the perfect time. Winner gets Gettysburg.
Andy Sandrik: Cocalico 33, Elizabethtown 28: Buckle up for this L-L slugfest. I’m taking the Eagles by a hair.
Adam Kulikowski: Cocalico 26, Elizabethtown 24: Eagles do nearly all their damage on the ground while Elizabethtown has struggled to stop the other’s storm troopers. Edge: Cocalico.
DOVER 40, Garden Spot 21
Andy Shay: Garden Spot 45, Dover 20: The Spartans are a powder-keg team that can rip off points in a hurry and in big bunches. The Eagles will have to either keep up or find a way to make this game a slugfest.
Geoff Morrow: Dover 24, Garden Spot 23: Eagles, who finished 1-9 a year ago, are riding a six-game winning streak into the playoffs, their first visit since 2013. The Spartans, who just dropped 66 points on Elizabethtown two weeks ago, are into the postseason for the first time since 2014. This has potential to be a very entertaining game. Winner gets unbeaten powerhouse Exeter.
Andy Sandrik: Garden Spot 28, Dover 21: I trust Garden Spot QB Kye Harting to carry the Spartans to victory. Dude has thrown 16 TDs and is a 1,000-yard rusher, to boot.
Adam Kulikowski: Garden Spot 37, Dover 34: The weapons on both sides of this tilt should create plenty of fireworks. I’ll give the edge to Harting and his mates, but this one is an even-money game to me.
Northern York 21, SOUTH WESTERN 20
Andy Shay: South Western 28, Northern 24: All I know is if you think you know what to expect from this Polar Bears team in 2022, good chance you will be wrong. Mustangs are beatable but have earned the call. Northern and how it plays will most likely decide this outcome.
Geoff Morrow: South Western 33, Northern 24: Considering the geography, it’s somewhat surprising these teams don’t have much, if any, recent history. The Mustangs’ résumé this season is a bit better, but Lord knows the Polar Bears are nothing if not battle-tested (nine straight games decided by 11 points or fewer). Winner gets New Oxford.
Andy Sandrik: South Western 35, Northern 27: South Western deserves to be the favorite here, but Northern has a tendency to play at a higher level when its back is against the wall. Could be a closer game than most expect.
Adam Kulikowski: Northern 33, South Western 30: Predicting Northern games has been one of the most challenging aspects of this season. But the quality wins against Shippensburg and Gettysburg illustrate the upside for Bill Miller’s crew.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND
EAST PENNSBORO 43, Kennard-Dale 0
Andy Shay: Kennard-Dale 20, East Pennsboro 14: Both squads are in the same boat, bringing a losing record to the table for a playoff game. The Panthers’ last win came in September. And it’s November. Tough to get past that.
Geoff Morrow: Kennard-Dale 16, East Pennsboro 14: Rams have lost three of four; Panthers have lost five straight. Welcome to the playoffs! Winner gets (gulp) Bishop McDevitt. Are we sure that’s a good thing?
Andy Sandrik: Kennard-Dale 22, East Pennsboro 15: I hate to be the old man waving his cane, but back in my day, we had 8-2 teams that missed the playoffs!
Adam Kulikowski: Kennard-Dale 27, East Pennsboro 21: Losing five straight is no way to enter postseason play, but perhaps the “new” season helps the Panthers turn the page.
YORK SUBURBAN 41, Donegal 7
Andy Shay: York Suburban 33, Donegal 14: Already a game between this duo earlier in the season. The team with the winning record won by three scores, and that gap is a tall uphill climb for the Indians.
Geoff Morrow: York Suburban 38, Donegal 13: This wasn’t much of a contest when they met in Week 2. Add to that the Trojans’ current four-game winning streak with a high-scoring offense, and they should be punching their ticket to meet Manheim Central in the next round.
Andy Sandrik: York Suburban 28, Donegal 15: York Suburban was 23 points better than Donegal in Week 2. Can the Indians close the gap?
Adam Kulikowski: York Suburban 24, Donegal 17: One of the best aspects of the playoffs is the opportunity to see some of the best talents from outside your normal coverage area. For me, this one meant an opportunity to watch a few highlights from senior YS running back Mike Bentivegna. Bentivegna has powered the Trojans’ attack all season with 1,873 yards on 209 carries — that’s 9 yards per carry.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 3A QUARTERFINALS
HAMBURG 49, Upper Dauphin 35
Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 41, Hamburg 27: Making the playoffs and having success is becoming an expectation for the lads from the northern reaches of Dauphin County. Hamburg doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up over the course of 48 minutes.
Geoff Morrow: Hamburg 30, Upper Dauphin 28: Both teams can — and will — score. But the Hawks probably get to tailgate at Cabela’s. Edge to the Berks County squad. However, the winner gets the No. 1 state-ranked team in Class 3A, Wyomissing. Good luck.
Andy Sandrik: Upper Dauphin 42, Hamburg 28: This could very well turn into a touchdown-a-minute affair, but I think Upper Dauphin’s unheralded defense makes the difference this week.
Adam Kulikowski: Upper Dauphin 48, Hamburg 21: Upper Dauphin has plenty of firepower to out-gun you, but the key here is that Trojan defense which I believe has a few more playmakers than Hamburg can handle.
WEST PERRY 45, Schuylkill Valley 21
Andy Shay: West Perry 45, Schuylkill Valley 14: The Mustangs weren’t quite ready to win a division and had a very shaky start in a winner-take-all game a week ago at Steel-High. Don’t expect any stage fright entering the second season. Mustangs will be ready.
Geoff Morrow: West Perry 27, Schuylkill Valley 21: Firstly, I do not expect a blowout. The Panthers haven’t been an easy out and can score in bunches. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see how the Mustangs respond to their first loss. I expect they’ll be OK, but they cannot show up and just expect to win. Surprising unbeaten Lancaster Catholic awaits the victor.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 44, Schuylkill Valley 7: A humbled West Perry team enters the playoffs after taking its first loss of the season. If the Mustangs have their heads screwed on right, they certainly have the pieces to open postseason play with a bang.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 38, Schuylkill Valley 13: Would it have been cool to see a 10-0 Mustangs team enter postseason play? Sure. But maybe the heavyweight bout with Steel-High sharpened West Perry for a postseason run.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS
ANNVILLE-CLEONA 42, Camp Hill 13
Andy Shay: Annville-Cleona 28, Camp Hill 21: This is a toss-up game for me. I think the Lions are capable, but A-C is very comfortable in its own skin. Camp Hill has struggled a bit the last month, and it goes beyond losing games. I’m taking the No. 1 seed.
Geoff Morrow: Annville-Cleona 20, Camp Hill 14: Four straight losses for the Lions, who are lucky to have a shot to break that skid. They have a chance, too, but the Dutchmen are really “in een groef.” (My attempt at Dutch.) Confidence is key here. A-C has it.
Andy Sandrik: Camp Hill 24, Annville-Cleona 21: It’s been over a month since the Lions won a game. With that said, I think Camp Hill’s schedule has it prepared for this moment.
Adam Kulikowski: Camp Hill 27, Annville-Cleona 24: I have no doubt the Lions will find a way to fill their side of the scoreboard. Can they stack the box enough to stop the Dutchmen’s explosive running attack?
Trinity 56, DELONE CATHOLIC 17
Andy Shay: Trinity 35, Delone Catholic 14: Pretty clear the Squires have made plenty of strides since the Shamrocks issued a 28-point thumping to open the season. Guess who is much better and battle tested? Trinity is the favorite to win it all, in my opinion.
Geoff Morrow: Trinity 31, Delone Catholic 20: Even before the Shamrocks went through their “Let’s play the NFC East” section of their schedule, they crushed the Squires in Week 1. And even though Delone cruised through the YAIAA part of its schedule, Trinity has only gotten better because of those planned growing pains.
Andy Sandrik: Trinity 28, Delone Catholic 14: Delone Catholic has come quite a long way since its 35-7 beatdown loss against Trinity in Week 1, which kickstarted an 0-3 start to the season. The problem for the Squires is the ‘Rocks have also improved by leaps and bounds.
Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 42, Delone Catholic 20: Squires enter this fray as winners of seven straight; however, none of those wins came against a club with the chops the Shamrocks possess.
PIAA DISTRICT 4 CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA 69, Line Mountain 6
Andy Shay: Southern Columbia 42, Line Mountain 13: Are the Tigers the automatic ticket to the state finals that vaporize every team along the way? They are not, but they still pack a pretty powerful punch and, at this level, are still ridiculously tough.
Geoff Morrow: Southern Columbia 40, Line Mountain 20: Believe it or not, the Tigers’ 7-3 mark means this is their “worst” season since finishing 9-5 in 2009. It’s still a lot to ask of the Eagles to hang tough against a team that’s beaten them by a combined score of 111-21 in the previous two postseasons.
Andy Sandrik: Southern Columbia 33, Line Mountain 12: With three division losses to Southern Columbia’s name, you get the sense the defending state champions are vulnerable this November. I just don’t think Line Mountain is the team that breaks through.
Adam Kulikowski: Southern Columbia 45, Line Mountain 14: Give the Eagles big props for the progress they have shown in the second half of the season. Still see an uphill battle against Southern Columbia.
PIAA DISTRICT 11 CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS
TRI-VALLEY 24, Minersville 13
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 28, Minersville 26: Just feels like the Bulldogs are a little off their game entering the second season, and it was no easy task to slip past the Miners to kick off the season. The surprise here is Tri-Valley rolling.
Geoff Morrow: Tri-Valley 25, Minersville 18: The Battlin’ Miners, who hung tough with the Bulldogs back in Week 1, won’t be intimidated. And we’ll see how T-V responds to yet another disappointing loss to rival Williams Valley. This is a dangerous spot for the ‘Dawgs, but I still expect them to handle business.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 23, Minersville 21: This game is a rematch of a Week 1 scrap that saw the Bulldogs clip the Miners 20-13. Tri-Valley deserves to be the favorite here, but this is a much better Minersville team than we’ve seen in recent years.
Adam Kulikowski: Minersville 24, Tri-Valley 21: OK, so this is an upset to me if it happens with a talented freshman QB Dante Carr getting his first playoff exposure at the helm for Minersville. But they sport the kind of balance that plays well in the postseason — a talented QB with dual-threat abilities, a leading rusher with more than 1,000 yards, and four receivers with more than 225 yards.
Saturday, Nov. 5
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 1A CHAMPIONSHIP
STEELTON-HIGHSPIRE 62, Fairfield 6
Andy Shay: Steel-High 56, Fairfield 14: Rollers should respect Fairfield taking the game, get some necessary work done, and then call off the dogs. No need to pad the stats. The outcome isn’t a question. There are much bigger fish to fry for Steel-High coming down the stream.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 59, Fairfield 7: This latest championship for the Rollers will not be their most difficult. Credit to the Green Knights for volunteering their Saturday afternoon for this.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 73, Fairfield 14: I see no evidence that suggests this game will be anything other than a Rollers blowout.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 68, Fairfield 6: Rollers handle business. ‘Nuff said.
PIAA DISTRICT 11 CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS
Executive Education Academy 22, WILLIAMS VALLEY 20
Andy Shay: Williams Valley 38, Executive Education Academy 27: All I know is EEA will show up and take its shots, and some will land. Vikings have to be ready to trade haymakers and keep the gas pedal on the floor to win this one.
Geoff Morrow: Williams Valley 20, Executive Education Academy 17: The Raptors gave Tri-Valley all it could handle in the regular season and should give the Vikings a battle here. But after some deserved midseason adversity, WV has rediscovered its groove and enters the dance on a five-game winning streak.
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 33, Executive Education Academy 29: Give me the Vikings, winners of five straight, but this has all the makings of a contest that comes down to the final play.
Adam Kulikowski: Williams Valley 45, Executive Education Academy 28: This is the type of game the Vikings are best equipped to play. That win last week against Tri-Valley only fortified the confidence WV should have entering this tilt.