Chicks Picks – 11/17/2011

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Thursday, November 17, 2011 | 11:18 AM


Welcome to Week 12 of the high school football season. As the season rolls on and we get deeper into the playoffs, it is not unusual for Chick’s Picks to have a bit more difficulty making her predictions.  This week, she dusted off her trusty crystal ball for some additional support.  Chick’s Picks did not let the prized piece out of her sight as she tried to gain a clearer perspective on this week’s winners.

This week, in addition to her prognosticating duties, Chick’s Picks was also responsible for baking the season’s last batch of her almost-famous football cookies.  While in the kitchen, she placed the crystal ball securely on the counter as she carefully crafted the tasty works of art.  Then, the distressing moment took place.

Leaving the football cookies in the oven for just a moment too long, Chick’s Picks immediately caught a whiff of that dreaded overdone smell.  As she reached in the oven to try to salvage the cookies, Chick’s Picks bumped her precious crystal ball just enough to send it tumbling off of the counter.  Chick’s Picks, with time to save only one, relied on her instincts—which, of course were to protect her beloved crystal ball.

Admittedly wiping a drop of sweat from her brow, Chick’s Picks thanked her lucky stars that she would be able to confidently predict this week’s winners.  Chick’s Picks finished last week with an impressive 16-2 (89%) record, bringing her season total to 539-127 (81%).  Follow Chick’s Picks on the Highway to Heinz @ChicksPicksMSA.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA SEMIFINALS:

#1 North Allegheny (11-0) vs. #5 Gateway (9-2) at Fox Chapel

The Tigers will meet the Gators at Fox Chapel Friday night with an opportunity to play for WPIAL gold on the line.  North Allegheny continued its roll through the postseason last week, in a 35-10 romp over Seneca Valley.  Gateway got its revenge over Penn-Trafford, 34-9.  The defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA champs, the Tigers bring an 18-game win streak into the semifinals.  The Gators have already surpassed last season’s success, when they fell to Central Catholic in the quarterfinals.  North Allegheny boasts a high-powered offense, averaging 42.3 points per game—more than any other Quad-A semifinalists.  Gateway’s solid defense has quietly carried it so far this season, allowing only 78 points.  Chick’s Picks knows the Gators are hitting on all cylinders at the right time, but thinks the Tigers’ offense will still be too hot to handle.
North Allegheny over Gateway
 

#2 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (11-0) vs. #3 Upper St. Clair (10-1) at Chartiers Valley

Central Catholic and Upper St. Clair travel to Chartiers Valley to battle for the second Quad-A spot at Heinz Field.  In last week’s quarterfinals, the Vikings stopped Mount Lebanon, 31-14, as the Panthers defeated Erie McDowell, 21-14.  Upper St. Clair boasts one of the top defenses in Class AAAA this year—one that is allowing only 8.1 points per game, and has recorded six shutouts.  Dakota Conwell leads a Panther offense that is potent, as well, averaging 41.1 points per game.  Early reports, however, state that Conwell is questionable Friday night due to an ankle injury.  Central Catholic brings a perfect record into this week, having not lost a game since last year’s semifinals, where it fell to North Allegheny.  Upper St. Clair was ousted in the quarterfinals last year by North Hills—at the very same field it will step foot on Friday night.  Chick’s Picks thinks that the Vikings will capitalize on Conwell’s injury, and punch their ticket for Heinz.
Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Upper St. Clair

WPIAL CLASS AAA SEMIFINALS:

#1 Central Valley (11-0) vs. #5 Montour (9-2) at Ambridge

Two familiar foes meet once again as Central Valley takes on Montour at Ambridge Friday night.  Last week, the Warriors rolled over Ringgold, 44-28, while the Spartans knocked off West Mifflin, 31-7.  This two have already met three times—twice in the regular season, and another in last season’s WPIAL title game, where Central Valley walked away with gold after a 24-7 victory.  Most recently, the Warriors again defeated the Spartans in Week 6 of this year’s regular season, 27-16.  Montour has gelled since then, however, and possesses one of the top quarterbacks in the WPIAL.  Dillon Buechel has thrown 22 touchdown passes in his last six games.  His 175 yards last week pushed him over the 6,000-yard mark, and moved him into 5th place among all quarterbacks in WPIAL history.  Chick’s Picks knows the stats are in favor of the Warriors, but likes the Spartans in an upset special.
Montour over Central Valley
 

#2 Franklin Regional (11-0) vs. #3 Knoch (11-0) at Valley

The Panthers and Knights will meet at Valley Friday night to fight for the right to step foot on Heinz Field.  In last week’s quarterfinals, Franklin Regional silenced any remaining doubters with a 24-21 win over Hopewell.  Knoch also pulled off a convincing win, 31-9 over Thomas Jefferson, ending the Jaguars’ 13-season semifinal streak.  The Knights knocked off another perennial power in West Allegheny in the first round, 28-7.  The Panthers have been impressive on both sides of the ball this season, outscoring opponents 45.4-7.4 on average each game.  RB Dane Brown has rushed for 1,900 yards and 33 touchdowns.  The Knights have found postseason success aside from their biggest regular season threat.  RB Andrew Rumburg-Goodlin has nearly 1,300 yards on the ground, but has yet to score a touchdown in two playoff games. QB Ky Kenyon has stepped up, tossing six touchdown passes so far in the postseason.  Kenyon has over 1,800 yards this season—1,016 in the air and 801 on the ground.  Chick’s Picks knows the Knights have been playing with a special inspiration in recent weeks, and that may just be enough to carry them along the Highway to Heinz.
Knoch over Franklin Regional

WPIAL CLASS AA SEMIFINALS:

#1 Aliquippa (11-0) vs. #5 Greensburg Central Catholic (10-1) at North Hills

Greensburg Central Catholic needed a fourth quarter rally to narrowly escape the quarterfinals with an 18-15 win over Ellwood City.  The reward?  The Quips, who defeated that same Ellwood City squad, 35-9, in Week 6.  The Centurions have exceeded last season’s success, when they were dropped in the first round by Keystone Oaks.  This Friday will be the fourth straight semifinal appearance for the Quips.  Aliquippa, last season, finished as the WPIAL runner-up after falling to South Fayette.  That marked the second consecutive title game loss for the Quips, who were dealt a loss in 2009 to none other than Greensburg Central Catholic, 33-7.  This season, Aliquippa strolled through the regular season, with its closest contest being a 21-12 win over Beaver in Week 7.  Greensburg Central Catholic’s only loss this season came to fellow semifinalist Jeannette.  Chick’s Picks knows the Centurions have many offensive weapons, but, more importantly, knows this is just another day at the office for the Quips.
Aliquippa over Greensburg Central Catholic
 

#2 Jeannette (11-0) vs. #3 Seton-LaSalle (11-0) at Elizabeth Forward

The battle of Class AA undefeateds will kick off at Elizabeth Forward Friday night.  Jeannette found its way to the semifinals with playoff wins over Burrell (46-14) and Shady Side Academy (35-14).  Seton-LaSalle’s postseason run includes victories over East Allegheny (48-12) and South Fayette (21-13).  They Jayhawks will face the toughest runner they have seen this season in the Rebels’ Kevin Hart, who has 1,723 yards and 31 touchdowns.  Seton-LaSalle is far from one dimensional, however, with QB Luke Brumbaugh who has passed for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.  Jeannette relies heavily in its running game, led by QB Demetrious Cox, RB Jordan Edmunds, and RB Shavonta Craft, who have combined for more than 2,300 yards and 47 touchdowns this season.  These two last met in the first round of the 2007 postseason, as the Jayhawks routed the Rebels, 49-7.  Chick’s Picks knows a lot has changed since then, but thinks the end result will be the same.
Jeannette over Seton-LaSalle

WPIAL CLASS A SEMIFINALS:

#1 Clairton (11-0) vs. #4 Rochester (10-1) at West Allegheny

To say that these two are familiar playoff foes would be an understatement.  The Bears and the Rams will meet in the postseason for the sixth consecutive year Friday night in Imperial.  Last week, Clairton stopped Springdale, 34-20, in its closest margin of victory this season.  Rochester played a game of back and forth with Avonworth before prevailing, 26-22.  The only loss for the Rams this season came to fellow semifinalist Sto-Rox, 48-27, in Week 4.  The Bears have been more than impressive on both sides of the ball this season, outscoring opponents 511-38, with 20 of those points allowed coming against Springdale last week.  Clairton and Rochester know each other all too well, particularly when it comes to the playoffs.  This week marks the sixth consecutive postseason meeting between the two.  In the previous five meetings, the Bears have gone 5-0, with three of those games being decided by three points or less.  Rochester is no stranger to the semifinals, advancing to this point 11 of the past 12 seasons.  Chick’s Picks knows the competition gets tougher with each week at this point of the season, but thinks the streak continues.
Clairton over Rochester
 

#2 Sto-Rox (11-0) vs. #3 Bishop Canevin (11-0) at Moon

Sto-Rox squares off with fellow undefeated Bishop Canevin at Moon for the right to continue on the Highway to Heinz.  The Vikings have rolled through the playoffs, outscoring Frazier and Brentwood by a whopping 109-25.  The Crusaders have struggled in comparison, edging Chartiers-Houston and Fort Cherry by a combined two touchdowns, 43-29.  Bishop Canevin boasts one of the top defenses in Class A, allowing only 7.4 points per game.  This will be critical for the Crusaders, who will face a high-powered Viking offense that has scored 70 touchdowns this season.  Last season, Sto-Rox fell to North Catholic, 10-8, in the first round of the playoffs.  Bishop Canevin was ousted in the quarterfinals, 47-0, by eventual champ Clairton.  Crusaders QB Kevin Mechas has nearly 1,400 passing yards this season, and RB Casey McCaffrey has surpassed the 1,100-yard mark.  Sto-Rox sophomore QB Lenny Williams has thrown for 1,981 yards and 29 touchdowns to his trio of receivers that all happen to be D-1 recruits—Marzett Geter, Dontez Ford, and Deaysean Rippey.  RB Josh Beverly is another force for the Vikings, but could be hampered by an injury sustained last week.  Chick’s Picks always appreciates a good defense in big games, but thinks the powerhouse offense the Vikings present will be too much.
Sto-Rox over Bishop Canevin

PITTSBURGH CITY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

University Prep over Allderdice

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