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 DURING WEEK 12
Picker: Week 12 – Overall – Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 10-3 — 201-66 — 0
Andy Shay: 8-5 — 196-71 — 2
Andy Sandrik: 11-2 — 196-71 — 1
Geoff Morrow: 10-3 — 195-72 — 1
WEEK 2 PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
* Records in parentheses after school name; District playoff seed in parentheses before school name in district playoff games; District and seed in parentheses before school name in PIAA playoff games; In scorelines, home team in all caps.
Thursday, Nov. 10
PIAA DISTRICT 6 CLASS 6A CHAMPIONSHIP
State College 28, Altoona 7
Andy Shay: State College 45, Altoona 14: The Little Lions are a powerhouse, and this result has nothing to do with a competitive Altoona squad not being worthy of playing for a title. The Mountain Lions are a respectable side but massively overmatched in this one.
Geoff Morrow: State College 40, Altoona 13: Wasn’t terribly close when they met in the regular season. Little Lions haven’t done anything since to cause concern. This is a really good team.
Andy Sandrik: State College 48, Altoona 14: I give all the credit to Altoona for scrapping all season, but there’s not enough gas left in that tank for the Mountain Lions to stay competitive with State College.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 43, Altoona 17: The undefeated Little Lions have a cupboard full of weapons to fuel a lengthy stay in the playoff bracket. A first-person view of SC running back D’Antae Sheffey is worth the price of a ticket to this tilt.
PIAA CLASS 4A ROUND OF 32
Juniata 17, DuBOIS 7
Andy Shay: Juniata 24, DuBois 7: Getting two touchdowns on the board against these Indians has been a tall order. And that will be a difference-maker against the Beavers.
Geoff Morrow: Juniata 31, DuBois 14: Two things quickly jump out to me: 1. The Beavers have lost four of five entering this game; 2. Both teams played Clearfield, with the Indians winning by multiple scores while DuBois got smoked.
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 28, DuBois 10: If defense truly wins championships, give me Juniata to at least take this Round of 32 game. The Indians are allowing just 8.8 points per game this season.
Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 34, DuBois 14: The Indians registered their second best rushing performance of the season last week against Susquenita with 270 stripes, the fifth time Juniata eclipsed the 200-yard mark. DuBois hasn’t yielded more than 100 yards on the ground since Week 8.
PIAA DISTRICT 11 CLASS 1A CHAMPIONSHIP
Northern Lehigh 40, Tri-Valley 15
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 21, Northern Lehigh 20: This one could go either way. Tri-Valley getting the lead early will give them a big-time boost that will go a long way to getting across the finish line successfully.
Geoff Morrow: Northern Lehigh 23, Tri-Valley 20: A true “Bulldog” fight here, a pair of programs unfamiliar with each other but plenty familiar with high-stakes playoff battles. Northern Lehigh’s postseason success last year will have it feeling confident. T-V would really benefit from a strong start here.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 24, Northern Lehigh 21: Looking over the Northern Lehigh stat leaders, there are no superstars, but the Bulldogs are capable across the board. Tri-Valley can win, but solid execution of the game plan is a must.
Adam Kulikowski: Tri-Valley 28, Northern Lehigh 24: I’m having flashbacks to that wild Bulldogs matchup last year against Williams Valley in the downpour. TV handled the conditions with ease – and I expect another wet Slip ‘N Slide at midfield Friday night.
Friday, Nov. 11
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 6A QUARTERFINALS
HEMPFIELD 30, Carlisle 14
Andy Shay: Hempfield 30, Carlisle 20: Here we go with the chase for big-school district supremacy, and it starts with a top seed vs. No. 8 seed game where the Thundering Herd — the No. 8 seed — have plenty of paths to victories. The depth of the Lancaster-Lebanon League will show up, though.
Geoff Morrow: Hempfield 19, Carlisle 14: For a No. 1 seed, the Black Knights are far from untouchable. The Herd have a legitimate chance to win their first playoff game since 2004. But they’ll need to win the turnover battle and take advantage of nearly every red zone trip. Can be done.
Andy Sandrik: Hempfield 28, Carlisle 13: I’m going to stick with the odds, here, but for a 1-seed vs. an 8-seed, this sure seems like it could be a toss-up game.
Adam Kulikowski: Hempfield 27, Carlisle 20: The Thundering Herd enter postseason play riding a three-game winning streak — including a ‘dub against Cumberland Valley. That makes them a dangerous opponent for the District 3 Class 6A No. 1 seed.
Manheim Township 37, CUMBERLAND VALLEY 31
Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 13, Manheim Township 10: Not sure conditions will be ideal for a pass-happy game with the weather forecast. Running game and defense could be the deciding factors. Feels like the Eagles are better equipped for adverse conditions.
Geoff Morrow: Cumberland Valley 20, Manheim Township 18: All three previous meetings since 2017 — including Week 1 of this year — have been decided by six points or fewer. So don’t expect any runaways. I think the week off helps CV just a little bit more.
Andy Sandrik: Manheim Township 13, Cumberland Valley 10: It’s supposed to be quite a wet Friday. Will this still be a track meet in those conditions?
Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Township 27, Cumberland Valley 24: Township junior QB1 Hayden Johnson made serious strides during the second half of the season. After tossing interceptions in four straight contests early in the circuit, he hasn’t been picked off once in the final five matchups. Can the Eagles force Johnson into a mistake? Could be the key to moving on in the postseason.
CENTRAL YORK 51, York 44
Andy Shay: Central York 34, York 30: Buckle up, this is going to be another wild ride for the Panthers and Bearcats. This one could go either way. Expect the fourth quarter to be full of drama.
Geoff Morrow: Central York 40, York 35: Folks at the Daily Record and Dispatch must be loving this. These rivals just met in Week 10, with the Panthers escaping with a 41-36 triumph. Was anybody saving anything special for a potential playoff meeting? We’ll see. Central has won four straight in the series.
Andy Sandrik: York 36, Central York 33: After playing within five points of CY in Week 10, the Bearcats know they belong on the field with the Panthers, who have all the pressure in this game.
Adam Kulikowski: Central York 45, York 41: This high-octane tilt might be one of the finest on the docket this week. Weather could play a huge role in this one with heavy rain on tap Friday night.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 5A QUARTERFINALS
Cocalico 23, GETTYSBURG 13
Andy Shay: Gettysburg 21, Cocalico 17: I know the Eagles are on a red-hot roll and have been flattening teams the last month or so. Gettysburg is comfortable in its own skin and will not be rattled by a test at this level.
Geoff Morrow: Cocalico 26, Gettysburg 18: Of concern to me as a predictor: The Warriors have lost eight straight playoff games, last winning one in 2007. Meanwhile, the Eagles are fresh off a dominating performance last week and are flying around carefree right now. All pressure is on the hosts.
Andy Sandrik: Cocalico 32, Gettysburg 24: The Eagles have been smoking teams since their 3-4 start. Even if the offense sputters, Cocalico’s defense has been allowing just 6.5 points per contest during its four-game winning streak.
Adam Kulikowski: Gettysburg 24, Cocalico 21: Call me the contrarian, but I believe this is the year the Warriors break that playoff victory drought. Just a hunch.
Northern York 20, NEW OXFORD 7
Andy Shay: New Oxford 27, Northern 21: Just what the Polar Bears want: the underdog role in the postseason. If New Oxford fails to show up with its ‘A’ game, the Colonials will certainly go down. Northern believes it has put together a winning formula.
Geoff Morrow: New Oxford 23, Northern 20: Again, the Polar Bears are intensely difficult to predict, which I’m sure they love. The Colonials, meanwhile, have been pretty good but are certainly beatable. They’ve won six straight against PA opponents, though, so I’m riding the hot hand.
Andy Sandrik: Northern 28, New Oxford 27: There’s no good reason for me to make this pick other than the Polar Bears play out of their minds when they’re the team that’s expected to lose.
Adam Kulikowski: Northern 25, New Oxford 23: I’m doubling down on my Polar Bears wager after cashing in last week as the lone crony to pick Northern.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 4A QUARTERFINALS
BISHOP McDEVITT 42, East Pennsboro 7
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 56, East Pennsboro 0: Another layup game for the Crusaders. Bigger tests are coming down the pipe in these playoffs, but this isn’t one of them. The Panthers are massively overmatched.
Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 58, East Pennsboro 7: Heck of a job – and a pretty surprising result – by the Panthers to not only snap a five-game losing streak last week but to do it in dominating fashion against Kennard-Dale. However, this is a different universe this week.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 55, East Pennsboro 7: I know Michigan is all over McDevitt QB Stone Saunders and that he’s just a high school sophomore, but I’m pretty sure he could start for Penn State this weekend and lead the Lions to victory over Maryland.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 64, East Pennsboro 7: Crusaders simply have an abundance of firepower that might not be matched until the bus rolls into Cumberland Valley for the PIAA finals.
TWIN VALLEY 43, Milton Hershey 29
Andy Shay: Milton Hershey 27, Twin Valley 20: Spartans are certainly capable of this result, but they have to keep the game within reach heading into the later stages in order to make this happen. If Twin Valley strikes big early, it might run away and hide. Toss-up game!
Geoff Morrow: Milton Hershey 21, Twin Valley 14: Credit to the Raiders for a second straight District 3 playoff appearance (last year was their first ever). But this is definitely a winnable game for the visiting Spartans, assuming they put Week 10’s decisive loss to Cedar Cliff appropriately in the rearview.
Andy Sandrik: Twin Valley 28, Milton Hershey 21: Football teams aren’t the only ones pursuing postseason glory. Catching up to Kulikowski in the pick ‘em standings starts with a TV victory.
Adam Kulikowski: Milton Hershey 21, Twin Valley 17: Spartans, if you needed any extra motivation to win Friday night, keeping Team K ahead of my run-for-8-hours-straight-for-charity friend, Andy Sandrik, should be just the extra juice you needed. All jokes aside, give the Sandman some props: He trotted nearly 33 miles last weekend to raise funds for Extra Life Hershey.
MANHEIM CENTRAL 63, York Suburban 14
Andy Shay: Manheim Central 38, York Suburban 20: The diversity and balance for the Barons’ offensive will keep Trojans off balance all game, and being able to focus on one dimension defensively will free the Central defense to fly around.
Geoff Morrow: Manheim Central 40, York Suburban 21: A monumental – and, frankly, jaw-dropping – performance by Trojans RB Mike Bentivegna (12 carries, 382 yards, 6 TDs) last week vs. Donegal. Will be interesting to see how the Barons decide to defend this guy.
Andy Sandrik: Manheim Central 38, York Suburban 24: Goodness gracious, how are you supposed to defend these Barons? QB Zac Hahn has a 25-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio, while RB Brycen Arnold averages 9.1 yards a pop.
Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Central 41, York Suburban 24: Barons have a Swiss Army of weapons equipped to combat any weather issues or defense the Trojans throw at them.
LAMPETER-STRASBURG 52, Susquehanna Township 6
Andy Shay: Lampeter-Strasburg 28, Susquehanna Township 21: Tough draw for the ‘Hanna Tribe, who went from zero wins a year ago to a No. 6 seed in the playoffs. Arriving at the next level ahead of schedule will show against a postseason stud in the Pioneers.
Geoff Morrow: Lampeter-Strasburg 27, Susquehanna Township 23: Welcome back to the playoffs, ‘Hanna! Though it’s only been since 2019 since the Indians have been here, it’s felt longer with a couple of trying seasons in between. L-S, which finds another gear in the postseason (8-1 over its last nine District 3 playoff games), provides a great test for Joe Headen’s crew.
Andy Sandrik: Lampeter-Strasburg 33, Susquehanna Township 21: It doesn’t matter the sport, Lampeter-Strasburg is where Mid-Penn dreams go to die. I’ve seen it happen many times decades ago writing for the Sentinel and Patriot, and I think it happens against these Indians, too.
Adam Kulikowski: Lampeter-Strasburg 29, Susquehanna Township 27: A storybook season for the Indians closes on the road against L-S. But this season was a resounding success for Joe Headen’s crew.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS
West Perry 63, LANCASTER CATHOLIC 20
Andy Shay: West Perry 31, Lancaster Catholic 20: You have to respect the Crusaders’ undefeated season on merit. But once the game kicks off, the Mustangs will look to push the pace and make this a track meet. It’s what they do well.
Geoff Morrow: West Perry 29, Lancaster Catholic 19: While the Crusaders bring an unbeaten mark into the postseason, it feels to me like the Mustangs have faced – and mostly passed with flying colors – a few more tests this season, including a fairly definitive takedown of Schuylkill Valley last week. West Perry has never won two straight playoff games, though. Does that change Friday night?
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 30, Lancaster Catholic 24: It blows my mind that my alma mater is one win away from a berth in the district championship game. It’s also not a surprise, though, after QB Marcus Quaker and Co. spent countless hours in the offseason becoming a well-oiled machine.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 43, Lancaster Catholic 20: The Mustangs are not afraid to punch you in the mouth. That physical brand of football combined with the offensive weapons at Bob Boden’s disposal will make West Perry a tough out.
Saturday, Nov. 12
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 6A QUARTERFINALS
(6) Wilson (8-2) at (3) Harrisburg (7-2), 1
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 20, Wilson 14: I expect a lot of defense and heavy hitting inside the trenches right from the opening possession. Wilson is a squad that improves more than most over the course of a season, but the clearly more talented squad is the Cougars. Mistakes in this one will be magnified.
Geoff Morrow: Harrisburg 21, Wilson 17: Don’t look surprised, but the Bulldogs are bouncing with excitement now that we’re into the second season. However, they’ve struggled in recent playoff meetings vs. the Cougars (0-3 since 2018, including a 14-10 loss last year). Manheim Township and State College figured out how to beat Harrisburg at Severance Field this year, so it can be done. Points could be at a premium yet again.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 28, Wilson 13: Harrisburg seems a touch more susceptible than in years past, but these Cougars are still loaded and can still make quality teams like Wilson look bad.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 31, Wilson 20: Cougars have the weapons (enter stage right, Kyle Williams) to make the game-breaking plays needed to advance in the playoffs.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS
(4) Hamburg (9-2) at (1) Wyomissing (10-0), 1
Andy Shay: Wyomissing 49, Hamburg 7: Going with the vintage Spartans score in this one. Anything else would be a surprise. Hamburg won’t have much say in the outcome in this one because Wyomissing has a standard of play it generally has no trouble reaching.
Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 53, Hamburg 7: No offense to the Hawks, who have now won two District 3 playoff games over the past two seasons after having ZERO wins on their postseason résumé entering 2021. But nobody knows the Spartans’ dominance quite like Hamburg, which has seen it close up for decades.
Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 50, Hamburg 10: I’ll throw the Hawks a bone and say they score more than Wyomissing’s 6.9 points allowed per game. Aside from that, I’m not sure Hamburg can keep this game competitive.
Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 45, Hamburg 14: Slowing down the Spartans’ Wing-T attack is a task no one to date has accomplished successfully.
PIAA CLASS 1A ROUND OF 32
(3-1) Steelton-Highspire (9-1) vs. (12-1) Belmont Charter (7-3), at Germantown Super Site, 5
Andy Shay: Steel-High 55, Belmont Charter 13: The gap between for the Rollers at this level is bigger than you can measure based on any record. Steel-High overwhelms less-equipped teams, and the Tigers don’t have enough horsepower to keep up.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 60, Belmont Charter 20: It’s just the second season for the Tigers out of Philadelphia, and both have been pretty successful in terms of win-loss record. But last year’s slate also included a 61-6 regular-season loss to the Rollers, so…
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 60, Belmont Charter 21: After beating up on a Capital Division full of bigger schools, Steel-High continues its trek through the small-school postseason ready to break every PIAA record there is.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 65, Belmont Charter 14: The Rollers right now are simply sparring with their opponents as they await the heavyweight bouts later in the postseason.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 5A QUARTERFINALS
(8) Shippensburg (8-3) at (1) Solanco (10-0), 6
Andy Shay: Solanco 26, Shippensburg 20: Nothing seems to shake the Golden Mules, and they have an experienced team that is built to take the best shot of the opposition and still find a way to prevail. It’s their time.
Geoff Morrow: Solanco 27, Shippensburg 21: Half of the Golden Mules’ 10 wins have been within a single score, which tells you two things: 1. They know how to win the close ones; 2. They’re susceptible to an upset against a foe that comes correct with a dynamite game plan. Will that be the Greyhounds? Maybe!
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 24, Solanco 20: Shippensburg has enough horses in its RB stable to slow the game down and stay within reach. This is somewhat of an upset pick, as I still think the ‘Hounds will need a big defensive play or two to turn the tide.
Adam Kulikowski: Solanco 33, Shippensburg 27: The Golden Mules possess four ‘backs with 500 or more yards on the turf this season. On what could be a rainy evening, their fierce running game could be the ticket to another week of practice.
(7) Dover (9-2) at (2) Exeter Township (10-0), 7
Andy Shay: Exeter Township 42, Dover 14: The Eagles are the best team in this bracket and have a depth of weapons that Dover isn’t built to slow down enough to keep pace.
Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 38, Dover 14: Another convocation of Eagles flying high right now. Despite its No. 2 seed, I think most view Exeter as the favorite in the whole District 3 Class 5A field.
Andy Sandrik: Exeter Township 35, Dover 10: Keep an eye on Exeter’s Joey Schlaffer. The dude is a 6-foot-6 wrecking ball with some nice hands. He’s also comfortable running the ball, where he averages 22.4 yards per pop, usually after taking a direct snap.
Adam Kulikowski: Exeter Township 41, Dover 7: Eagles have yielded just 11 points per game this season. That’s one stingy defense capable of shutting down the Dover attack.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP
(3) Trinity (7-4) at (1) Annville-Cleona (8-3), 7
Andy Shay: Trinity 28, Annville-Cleona 21: The T-Rocks will have to earn this one and play well. They’ve faced some hammers this season and are playing their best football right now. That attacking defense will set the tone.
Geoff Morrow: Trinity 27, Annville-Cleona 21: There’s some great sports psychology potential here. Both teams probably feel a bit underappreciated, the Shamrocks because of their early season lumps and A-C because – well, it’s the No. 1 seed playing at home, and people keep picking against it. So long as Trinity doesn’t bus into Lebanon County expecting a gift-wrapped trophy, I think the momentum it brings is enough to claim the program’s first title since 2010.
Andy Sandrik: Trinity 28, Annville-Cleona 20: I’ve been underselling Trinity all season. It’s time to acknowledge that the ‘Rocks will be a major threat in this 2A bracket. Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 34, Annville-Cleona 21: I know Annville-Cleona is the No. 1 seed, but to me it feels like the underdog in this tilt.