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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Results: Week 14 Picks and Predictions

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) …


Picker: Week 14 – Overall – Perfect Picks
Adam Kulikowski: 6-1 — 222-69 — 0
Andy Shay: 5-2 — 218-73 — 2
Andy Sandrik: 6-1 — 216-75 — 1
Geoff Morrow: 5-2 — 215-76 — 1


 * 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. 25


BISHOP McDEVITT 40, Manheim Central 0

Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 42, Manheim Central 21: There is a concern of how this Crusaders team responds under pressure in the second half of a game. Through no fault of their own, the schedule hasn’t exactly prepared them for big-game heat like this. The talent, though, is not a question. Barons have been tested on a more consistent basis, and that will matter. In the end, the talent steals the show.

Geoff Morrow: Bishop McDevitt 40, Manheim Central 33: For all the wild district playoff history shared by these two programs – McDevitt is 61-9 all time with 15 championships; Central is 61-15 with 18 championships – there’s limited and unspectacular Crusaders vs. Barons history. They met in both the 2013 and ‘14 playoffs, with McD winning both decisively. I’m guessing this year’s title bout brings actual excitement.

Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 36, Manheim Central 28: The Crusaders have been leaps and bounds better, as expected, than their lesser competition all season. Now that we’re in the deep stages of the playoffs, there should finally be some resistance.

Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 43, Manheim Central 21: The Crusaders have simply been toying with opponents nearly the entire circuit. Barons will need to be absolutely perfect to be within striking distance late.


STATE COLLEGE 28, North Allegheny 7

Andy Shay: North Allegheny 28, State College 20: Switching up the focus in this one from the offensive weapons to the defensive side of the ball. That’s the key to this one from my seat. Think both defenses are capable; just think the Tigers have performed at a high level against better quality overall. Little Lions’ path to victory is to hit some big plays to put NA defense on tilt.

Geoff Morrow: State College 28, North Allegheny 24: Two top-notch teams that have proven again and again they can win in myriad ways. Of the Tigers’ 11 wins, seven have been by two touchdowns or fewer. They’ve not dominated quite like the Little Lions have, though State High has also shown the ability to win close ones – none closer than last week’s three-OT triumph. Home field gets the edge here.

Andy Sandrik: State College 38, North Allegheny 28: Give me the Little Lions in a nail-biter. Tigers QB Logan Kushner is a home-run threat, both with his legs and his arm. 

Adam Kulikowski: State College 41, North Allegheny 30: The Little Lions have been held under 200 yards rushing just three times this season. Can North Allegheny’s tenacious ‘D’ do better?


Cocalico 34, EXETER TOWNSHIP 14

Andy Shay: Exeter Township 31, Cocalico 21: Two of the four teams that bumped off Cocalico during the regular season, Manheim Central and Wyomissing, are still playing. That being said, the two-way challenge presented by Exeter takes a physical and mental toll on a team over the course of 48 minutes. Mistakes against the undefeated Eagles are magnified and usually punished. Cocalico is ready for this challenge, but over 48 minutes, it feels like it comes up just short despite playing well.

Geoff Morrow: Exeter Township 30, Cocalico 23: An interesting matchup because the Lancaster County version of the Eagles has been on an absolute tear since mid-October, while the Berks County Eagles – the defending 5A district champs – haven’t lost all season. Exeter will need to be at or near its best to survive this upstart 12 seed.

Andy Sandrik: Exeter Township 33, Cocalico 25: It’s Birds Night in Reading! Exeter is deservedly the favorite here, but all heavy-handed Cocalico has done is repeatedly KO rock-solid playoff competition. Buckle up.

Adam Kulikowski: Exeter Township 35, Cocalico 24: Cocalico boasts one of the best rushing attacks in the area behind junior Sam Steffey’s 1,700-yard season. But I’ll drop my coin on the bevy of weapons at the Eagles’ disposal: a 1,500 yard rusher, a 1,500-yard passer and a 900-yard receiver.


Wyomissing 21, DANVILLE 19

Andy Shay: Wyomissing 35, Danville 21: The only undefeated Class 3A teams in the state square off in a misplaced quarterfinal. This Ironmen defense has registered eight shutouts this season while Danville’s offense has scored nearly 600 points. Wyomissing presents challenges you don’t see very often or can properly prepare for. The quality of the Spartans’ schedule will show up here.

Geoff Morrow: Danville 35, Wyomissing 28: How do you pick this? Picking against the Ironmen feels disrespectful, but how does one argue against the Spartans? For comparison, Wyo has outscored opponents 533-90, and Danville has outscored foes 598-56. They rank 1st and 2nd in the state in Class 3A. I went back and forth, and the reason I landed on the Ironmen isn’t something I need to share because it makes no sense (except in my tofurkey brain).

Andy Sandrik: Wyomissing 36, Danville 30 (OT): Fans of both teams have to be wondering, “Have we finally met our equal?” It sure looks that way on paper.

Adam Kulikowski: Wyomissing 45, Danville 31: Best test the Spartans have faced this season. But the Wyo crew just seems to have a way of dismantling high-octane opponents.


TRINITY 35, Executive Education 17

Andy Shay: Trinity 28, Executive Education 20: Despite seven combined losses, these clubs are in peak form right now, and both rightfully believe they are the better team heading into this one. The T-Rocks have a couple of extra pieces to choose from in terms of weapons, and that will be very important. Don’t forget Trinity was 1-3 and looking for answers. It carries the confidence of a team that hasn’t forgotten climbing out of the early season abyss.

Geoff Morrow: Trinity 30, Executive Education 18: Huge congrats to the Shamrocks on their first district championship in more than a decade, which was followed by a state playoff victory. Now they have a better than average chance to reach the PIAA semifinals. But the Raptors from Allentown won’t make it easy.

Andy Sandrik: Trinity 24, Executive Education 19: The ‘Rocks are on some kind of a roll right now, but can they defeat actual dinosaurs? Raptors won’t make this one easy for Trinity.

Adam Kulikowski: Trinity 27, Executive Education 26: Double E poses a tricky threat to the ‘Rocks with height at receiver and a gunslinger QB who isn’t afraid to test the limits.

Saturday, Nov. 26


HARRISBURG 44, Manheim Township 6

Andy Shay: Harrisburg 33, Manheim Township 21: Can the Blue Streaks make two trips to Severance Field in the same season and come away with two victories? Harrisburg’s defense is in full physical lockdown mode and isn’t surrendering much these days. Now, if this one comes down to MT needing a late-game TD to win the title, the Cougars are in trouble.

Geoff Morrow: Harrisburg 29, Manheim Township 21: Surrendering the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of their Week 2 meeting at Severance Field undoubtedly still stings for the Cougars, so revenge is very much in play here. These are also the most deserving championship teams: battle-tested, tough, versatile, confident and unafraid. It’s just a tremendously tough task winning in Harrisburg twice in one season.

Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 26, Manheim Township 20: Cautiously sticking with the Cougars here, but this is a Streaks team that has ice water running through its veins. Man Town is unbeaten on the road, with one of those wins including a Week 2 victory over Harrisburg.

Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 38, Manheim Township 14: Yes, the Streaks knocked off Harrisburg in Week 2. But that sure seems like ages ago when the Cougars were awaiting the return of their head coach. Expect the Cougars to come out with a little edge in this one.


STEELTON-HIGHSPIRE 42, Northern Lehigh 35

Andy Shay: Steel-High 28, Northern Lehigh 14: Tempering this score a little bit out of respect for the way each squad has played on the defensive side of the ball this season. Each offense is kindling firewood and can be a raging scoring machine at any moment, so it’s a delicate balance. If big plays come early, throw this score out the window.

Geoff Morrow: Steel-High 34, Northern Lehigh 26: The Bulldogs really did a number on a tough Tri-Valley team in the District 11 championship two weeks ago, so I wouldn’t be stunned to see them compete with the explosive Steamrollers. But Steel-High has home-field advantage, a lot more playoff history, and – oh yeah – the ability to seemingly score at will.

Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 44, Northern Lehigh 10: We all knew Steel-High’s offense was going to be lighting it up this fall, but the difference in the postseason just might be the Rollers’ defense, which is now allowing 6.3 points per game in three playoff contests.

Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 38, Northern Lehigh 20: The Rollers are just where we expected them to be. The road gets tougher now starting the Bulldogs, winners of eight straight.

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