Chick’s Picks won’t be swayed by swag when making predictions
Welcome to Week 10 of the high school football season.
After conference play wrapped up last Friday night, the t-shirts began rolling in. Conference champion t-shirts, that is. Chick’s Picks’ agent spent most of his weekend sorting through the flood of conference champ paraphernalia and letters that had been sent to the prognosticator from across the WPIAL.
Though there was not enough time to go through each shirt and its attached request, the general message was the same -- with the postseason looming, teams were petitioning Chick’s Picks to wear their gear for good luck. One team even compared Chick’s Picks to ESPN legend Lee Corso, who predicts his winners by donning the mascot head during College Gameday on Saturday mornings.
Caught up in the moment, Chick’s Picks had to remind herself that flattery shall get them nowhere.
While Chick’s Picks appreciated the outpouring of admiration from around the WPIAL, she realized she could never let a material object determine the winner -- especially in the postseason. So, she once again put her trust in the hands of her crystal ball, which has been red hot in recent weeks.
Chick’s Picks finished last week with an impressive 52-8 (87 percent) record, upping her season total to 487-135 (78 percent). Here are this week’s big games:
No. 4 Central Catholic (7-3) vs. No. 5 Seneca Valley (7-3)
The Vikings take on the Raiders in a Class 6A quarterfinal showdown at Fox Chapel Friday night. Central Catholic looks to rebound after closing out the regular season with a loss to Mt. Lebanon last week, 17-7. Seneca Valley topped Norwin, 21-13. Eddy Tillman leads the Vikings with 801 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Raiders’ quarterback Gabe Lawson is approaching 1,000 passing yards. When these two met earlier this season in conference play, Central Catholic edged Seneca Valley, 20-14. Chick’s Picks predicts the Vikings will earn a spot in the semifinals. ... Central Catholic over Seneca Valley.
No. 10 Upper St. Clair (8-2) at No. 7 McKeesport (8-2)
The Tigers host the Panthers in Class 5A first-round action Friday night. Both of these teams wrapped up regular season play with losses last week. Gateway rolled over McKeesport, 34-6, while Upper St. Clair fell to Bethel Park, 20-14. Quarterback Konota Gaskins can get it done in the air and on the ground for the Tigers. Gaskins has 689 passing yards and leads the team in rushing with 558 yards. The Panthers’ balanced offensive attack is led by Jason Sweeney, who has thrown for 1,458 yards and 14 touchdowns. Running back Antonio Orsini has rushed for 948 yards and eight scores. McKeesport is averaging 42 points per game, nearly double that of Upper St. Clair. Chick’s Picks predicts that the postseason will go on for the Tigers. ... McKeesport over Upper St. Clair.
No. 6 Beaver (7-3) at No. 3 Belle Vernon (8-1)
Beaver hits the road to take on Belle Vernon in a Class 4A quarterfinal matchup Friday night. Last week, the Bobcats narrowly fell to Blackhawk, 14-13, while the Leopards blanked Ringgold, 55-0. Beaver boasts a 1,000-yard passer in Brodie List. Belle Vernon’s backfield duo of Mason Pascoe and Larry Callaway have combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. The Leopards’ defense is allowing only nine points per game -- half that of the Bobcats. Chick’s Picks predicts that stingy defense will carry the Leopards to the semifinals.... Belle Vernon over Beaver.
No. 5 Elizabeth Forward (8-1) vs. No. 4 Beaver Falls (8-2)
Geneva College is the stage for this Class 3A quarterfinal showdown between the Warriors and the Tigers Friday night. Elizabeth Forward is coming off of a 44-0 rout of Yough last week, while Beaver Falls rolled over Hopewell, 54-6. Zachary Benedek has 14 scores for the Warriors. Tigers’ quarterback Dayin Brickner has proven versatile this season, throwing for 948 yards and 16 touchdowns, and rushing for a team-best 769 yards and 13 touchdowns. Elizabeth Forward is allowing only 13 points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts that postseason experience will pay off for the Tigers. ... Beaver Falls over Elizabeth Forward.
No. 10 Avonworth (7-3) at No. 7 Freedom (9-1)
The Bulldogs host the Antelopes in Class 2A first-round action Friday night. Freedom blanked Western Beaver last week 33-0, while Avonworth fell to top-ranked Shady Side Academy, 28-10. This marked the second straight loss for the Antelopes, who were knocked off by McGuffey in Week 8. The Bulldogs’ balanced offensive attack features quarterback Zack Rosa, who has passed for 1,134 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jake Pail leads the ground game with 723 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Antelopes boast one of the top passers in the WPIAL in Derek Johncour, who has thrown for 2,420 yards and 23 scores. The Freedom defense is allowing only eight points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts that defense will carry the Bulldogs into the quarterfinals. ...Freedom over Avonworth.
No. 6 Imani Christian (7-3) vs. No. 3 Our Lady of Sacred Heart (9-1)
Imani Christian takes on Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in a Class A quarterfinal at Moon Friday night. The Saints are coming off of a 54-0 rout of Chartiers-Houston last week, while the Chargers blanked Cornell, 27-0. This matchup features two of the top quarterbacks in the WPIAL. Imani Christian’s Israel Reed has thrown for 2,682 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Saints possess two 1,000-yard receivers in Rahmon Hart and Dashaun Wright. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart quarterback Tyler Bradley has 2,669 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. The Chargers’ defense has been impressive, as well, allowing less than seven points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts that defense will help the Chargers advance. ... Our Lady of the Sacred Heart over Imani Christian.
Here’s the rest of this week’s predictions:
Canon-McMillan over Mt. Lebanon
Peters Township over Armstrong
Bethel Park over Franklin Regional
West Allegheny over Shaler
Gateway over Kiski Area
Penn-Trafford over North Hills
Penn Hills over Latrobe
Mars over Woodland Hills
Thomas Jefferson over New Castle
South Fayette over Greensburg Salem
Blackhawk over West Mifflin
Derry over Central Valley
North Catholic over Quaker Valley
Aliquippa over Freeport
Steel Valley over Beth-Center
Shady Side Academy over Serra Catholic
Washington over New Brighton
Charleroi over Riverside
Mohawk over Seton LaSalle
Burgettstown over East Allegheny
McGuffey over South Side Beaver
Clairton over California
Jeannette over Monessen
Rochester over West Greene