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 13
Picker: Week 13 – Overall – Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 9-2 — 216-68 — 0
Andy Shay: 11-0 — 213-71 — 2
Geoff Morrow: 9-2 — 210-74 — 1
Andy Sandrik: 9-2 — 210-74 — 1
WEEK 3 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.
Friday, Nov. 18
PIAA CLASS 6A ROUND OF 16
STATE COLLEGE 57, McDowell 50 (3OT)
Andy Shay: State College 45, McDowell 14: Strictly by the numbers, this could be a shootout. The Trojans have posted more than 500 points this season, and the Little Lions are still unbeaten and full of firepower. McDowell’s weak schedule will show up in this one. State College’s defense has surrendered 21 or more points only once this season and that was to Downingtown East, a District 1 squad that is still playing. If this is a close game, it will be a surprise.
Geoff Morrow: State College 38, McDowell 14: The Trojans and Little Lions have met five times in the playoffs since 2014, with State High winning each, including 42-21 three seasons ago. The Erie crew plays an interesting, multi-state schedule, its only losses to highly ranked PA teams. Alas, State College is a highly ranked PA team.
Andy Sandrik: State College 44, McDowell 22: Just spent a few minutes watching Hudl film on SC freshman RB D’Antae Sheffey. Dude can start and stop on a dime and is just one of many weapons that makes this Little Lions team a special one.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 54, McDowell 21: The Little Lions are battle-tested and firing on all cylinders. That doesn’t bode well for a McDowell squad that hasn’t yet really faced the fire.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS
Manheim Township 42, HEMPFIELD 7
Andy Shay: Manheim Township 24, Hempfield 21: Playoff Revenge Tour continues for the Blue Streaks. Last week it was Cumberland Valley after falling to the Eagles in Week 1. Black Knights edged Township in Week 5. Expect another defensive battle.
Geoff Morrow: Hempfield 20, Manheim Township 17: The Blue Streaks might be the revenge-minded flashy pick, but it’s the Black Knights who’ve someknow charged under the radar despite their No. 1 seed. Hempfield used turnovers to build an early lead back in Week 5, and that defense has been playing pretty darn well recently. Another solid effort, and Hempfield’s first championship berth since 1984 is certainly possible.
Andy Sandrik: Manheim Township 23, Hempfield 17: The Streaks just finished avenging a regular-season loss to Cumberland Valley. And now Man Town has a chance to get back at the Black Knights, who secured a 17-14 win over the Streaks in Week 5.
Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Township 31, Hempfield 24: The Blue Streaks took a punch early from Cumberland Valley and never wavered. Mental makeup is huge in the playoffs, and this crew has the toughness that’s needed.
Harrisburg 44, CENTRAL YORK 7
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 24, Central York 14: Pretty simple difference maker for me in this game is the Cougars’ defense is better than Central York’s D. Panthers’ only path to victory is to try to outscore Harrisburg, because surrendering nearly 24 points a game isn’t a winning defensive formula.
Geoff Morrow: Harrisburg 35, Central York 24: No doubt the Panthers are really good and have perfected winning close games, thanks in large part to intense battles with rival York. But if the Cougars bring their best, they’re the ones who dictate the outcome here. Harrisburg has also been lights out in its three Friday night games this season.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 28, Central York 19: I don’t think this is a game where Central York can just stick to the script and win by putting a thousand points on the board. Harrisburg’s defense is too good for that.
Adam Kulikowski: Central York 31, Harrisburg 28: It took the Cougars a bit to warm up last week against Wilson. Panthers are more equipped to make the Cougars pay for another slow roll off the starting line.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 5A SEMIFINALS
Cocalico 32, SOLANCO 8
Andy Shay: Cocalico 27, Solanco 21: Not a bad loss on the Eagles’ docket among the four they have — including a setback to Solanco by 14 points in Week 2. It has been a magical ride for the Golden Mules, but this is where it ends. Cocalico has won five straight and defensively has made massive progress over the course of the season.
Geoff Morrow: Cocalico 23, Solanco 20: These L-L rivals have split their last four meetings, including the Mules’ 21-7 triumph in the regular season during the Eagles’ 3-4 start to the campaign. While Solanco has remained unscathed, I really like what Cocalico has done after that sluggish first seven weeks. It’s an angry, confident, battle-tested group, and I’m not betting against it.
Andy Sandrik: Solanco 28, Cocalico 21: It’s been 11 up, 11 down for the Golden Mules, with one of those wins coming over Cocalico. I think the No. 1 seed survives at least one more week.
Adam Kulikowski: Solanco 21, Cocalico 20: While both teams love to spread the rock around among a number of ball carriers, this 50-50 tilt will be decided by the big men in the trenches.
EXETER TOWNSHIP 21, Northern York 7
Andy Shay: Exeter Township 42, Northern 14: Impressive run by the Polar Bears. Winning by 14 points last week must have felt like an easy win compared to how close Northern games down the stretch played out. Exeter Township is a different beast and something the Polar Bears haven’t seen this season in terms of firepower and pure blunt football force.
Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 40, Northern 20: Absolutely love what the Polar Bears have done this season, even though they’re impossible to predict (which is kind of what makes them so lovable). But this Eagles team is exceptional in various facets, and it would take an awful game by Exeter and a nearly flawless game by Northern for a P-Bears victory.
Andy Sandrik: Exeter Township 33, Northern 21: The Polar Bears will be happy to learn they are heavy underdogs this week, but even if they play at 120%, I’m not sure the pieces are there to hang with the Eagles for four full quarters.
Adam Kulikowski: Exeter Township 35, Northern 23: Polar Bears fought for respect all season — and they got it. But all good rides do eventually come to an end, and this is the stop for the gents in purple and white.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS
BISHOP McDEVITT 47, Twin Valley 3
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 49, Twin Valley 14: Points were plentiful for the Raiders down the stretch and were key to this run to the postseason and a victory over Milton Hershey in the opener. Welcome to the second round. This is your reward.
Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 48, Twin Valley 13: Longtime Middletown coach Brett Myers just directed the Raiders to the program’s first ever District 3 playoff victory last week vs. Milton Hershey, a McD division foe. The reward after the celebration ended is a chance at the Crusaders. This is a mismatch on paper, though it won’t be in terms of heart.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 52, Twin Valley 14: It’s easy to fall in love with McDevitt’s air attack and seemingly unstoppable offense, but the Crusaders have some dangerous cats on the other side of the ball who are allowing less than 10 points per game. Those could very well be the difference makers as McDevitt marches through the postseason.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 55, Twin Valley 7: It’ll be after Thanksgiving before the Crusaders truly get a test. How remarkable is that?
MANHEIM CENTRAL 42, Lampeter-Strasburg 6
Andy Shay: Manheim Central 24, Lampeter-Strasburg 21: Going chalk on this one. The Barons deserve to be the favorite, and I’m not prepared to pick against MC. That said, my football instincts tell me L-S is going to win this game. When it comes to this game, color me a hot mess!
Geoff Morrow: Manheim Central 38, Lampeter-Strasburg 21: The Barons have literally played 75 District 3 playoff games in program history, and this is just the second time facing the Pioneers. Good news for L-S is it won that lone postseason meeting, 25-20 in 2010. Central, though, has won the last four regular-season battles, all by decisive scores.
Andy Sandrik: Lampeter-Strasburg 28, Manheim Central 20: Andy Shay might not trust his football instincts this week, so I’ll trust them instead. L-S is a monster that makes great teams look pedestrian, and that’s a good enough reason for me to take the Pioneers.
Adam Kulikowski: Manheim Central 31, Lampeter-Strasburg 30: This has all the makings of an instant classic. Impact players line both squads. This one won’t be given away by a mistake. So who steps up to be a difference maker in the biggest moment?
PIAA CLASS 2A ROUND OF 16
TRINITY 24, West Catholic 0
Andy Shay: Trinity 49, West Catholic 14: Remember when the Shamrocks were struggling to find their identity and post wins on a consistent basis? They played some really, really tough competition. Looks like that rough stretch served its purpose. T-Rocks are en fuego right now.
Geoff Morrow: Trinity 34, West Catholic 14: The Burrs’ sub-.500 mark was built against larger schools, but this Philly squad has struggled to score against most opponents. Struggling to score is NOT a problem for Trinity, especially lately, as the ‘Rocks have netted 55-plus in three straight games.
Andy Sandrik: Trinity 55, West Catholic 20: Now that the Shamrocks are playing teams their own size, they’re averaging 50-plus points per contest in the postseason. Expect that trend to continue against the four-win Burrs.
Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 43, West Catholic 24: The Shamrocks’ ground attack right now is a force to be reckoned with. Their last six games they’ve posted: 200, 306, 231, 297, 288 and 485 yards on the ground. In each of those games, they’ve ripped off runs of at least 43 yards.
PIAA DISTRICT 3 CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIP
WYOMISSING 63, West Perry 7
Andy Shay: Wyomissing 49, West Perry 14: This Mustangs team will go down as one of the Top 5 in their rich program history. And this result will not change that one bit. The Spartans are big, strong, fast and supremely confident. Wyomissing hogs the ball, shortens the game and sucks the life out of the opposition. West Perry has firepower, but in this game that won’t matter.
Geoff Morrow: Wyomissing 42, West Perry 35: The unbeaten Spartans have won eight straight district playoff games and three straight D3 titles. Wyo is a machine. Meanwhile, the Mustangs have scored 108 points in two playoff games, including SIXTY-THREE against previously unbeaten Lancaster Catholic last week. I think this will be closer than most expect.
Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 47, West Perry 24: No matter how many times and different ways I play this out in my mind, the result is still the same. This is one of the best WP teams in history, but these Spartans can bend steel with their bare hands.
Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 55, West Perry 28: This might end up on the Mustangs bulletin board — and if that fuels Bob Boden’s crew to the upset, we’ll pop a root beer in celebration. For all the reasons mentioned by the gents above, this is a big-time test on Wyomissing turf.
PIAA CLASS 1A ROUND OF 16
STEELTON-HIGHSPIRE 37, Windber 7
Andy Shay: Steel-High 35, Windber 14: Rollers have played and beaten better teams this season than Windber. Each squad has double-digit victories, but their paths to that spot have been against vastly different levels of competition. And that will be a factor in this one.
Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 49, Windber 20: Gotta respect what the Ramblers have done this season, including four straight shutouts entering this contest. However, they’ve not faced anything like this Steel-High outfit. That’s why I’m predicting the Rollers score as many points in this game as Windber has allowed to all other opponents combined this season.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 28, Windber 27: I might be accused of making a homer pick, going against Windber, which boasts the state’s third-best scoring defense and sixth-best scoring offense.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 42, Windber 30: These are the moments the Rollers prepped for all season by facing a daunting schedule. Biggest test on tap? Limiting the damage senior Ramblers running back John Shuster inflicts on the ground. This gent has gashed opponents all season, racking up 2,613 stripes and a jaw-dropping 13.2 yards per carry.
PIAA CLASS 4A ROUND OF 16
Meadville 27, Juniata 14
Andy Shay: Meadville 30, Juniata 21: These Bulldogs have too much horsepower for a defense even at the level of the Indians to handle. Don’t forget the Juniata offense isn’t high-powered — getting three touchdowns is a magic number for a good shot at victory. Just feels like a bad matchup for the champs of District 6.
Geoff Morrow: Juniata 33, Meadville 27: The Bulldogs haven’t really been challenged in a while, so who knows what to expect now that they’re facing a tough foe? These teams met last year in this spot, too, with Meadville using a 91-yard rushing TD in the closing minutes to win 34-27. That presents a legit revenge factor, too. Gimme the Indians in what feels like an upset to some, but not so much to me.
Andy Sandrik: Meadville 32, Juniata 24: Let’s assume for a second Juniata’s stalwart defense holds Meadville’s high-octane offense, which averages 51 points per game, to half of what the Bulldogs normally score. That still puts an awful lot of pressure on Juniata’s offense, which has only scored 30-plus three times this season. Adam Kulikowski: Meadville 20, Juniata 10: This has the makings of a defensive grudge match with Meadville yielding just under 10 points per game. How do the Indians find traction on offense? Step 1 will be stopping linebacker/running back Brady Walker, who has 10 sacks and 78 tackles to go along with 1,524 rushing yards.