Chick’s Picks’ crystal ball is better for picking HS football games than finding missing eagles

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Thursday, October 7, 2021 | 3:04 PM


Welcome to Week 6.

All eyes in Pittsburgh this week were on Kodiak, the eagle that escaped from the National Aviary. Kodiak is a Steller’s sea eagle — the largest in existence in terms of weight. Aviary officials were on the lookout for nine days, searching for the 20-pound bird with a wingspan of 6 feet.

A few days into their search, aviary officials reached out to Chick’s Picks for her assistance using her crystal ball to try to pinpoint Kody’s whereabouts. Remembering a time when she, herself, was a defiant teenager looking to run away from home for a few days, Chick’s Picks was happy to help in the search for the 16-year-old bird.

Unfortunately, the crystal ball was just as foggy in its search for Kodiak as it has been throughout this football season’s predictions. Chick’s Picks could only identify an arrow pointing north, but was unable to give aviary officials much more detail than that.

Chick’s Picks was delighted to hear that aviary officials recovered Kodiak over the weekend using “professional falconry techniques and equipment,” such as the crystal ball, of course. She can only hope that her key prognosticating tool improves its performance in the high school football realm this week, as well.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 41-18 (69%) record, bringing her season total to 263-103 (72%). Here are this week’s big games:

WPIAL Class 6A

No. 1 Central Catholic Vikings (5-1) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (6-0)

The top-ranked Vikings take on the No. 2 Blue Devils in a Class 6A showdown Friday night. Central is coming off of a 35-0 rout of Seneca Valley last week, while Mt. Lebanon rolled over North Allegheny, 51-20. Sophomore quarterback Payton Wehner captains the Vikings offense, throwing for 736 yards and seven touchdowns. Gannon Carothers leads Central’s ground attack with 660 rushing yards and eight scores. Mt. Lebanon boasts a high-powered offense averaging nearly 39 points per game, led by the one-two punch of quarterback Joey Daniels and running back Alex Tecza. Daniels, a senior, has thrown for more than 900 yards and 14 touchdowns. Tecza leads the Blue Devils with 746 rushing yards and nine scores, including more than 200 yards in the win over North Allegheny last week. When these two met in the regular season last year, Mt. Lebanon edged Central Catholic, 37-30. Then, the Vikings got revenge in the WPIAL semifinals with a 35-0 victory, before going on to win the district title. Central’s only loss this season came to Imhotep Charter — a top team in PIAA rankings — 12-6. Chick’s Picks predicts a low-scoring slugfest with the win going to the visitors…Central Catholic over Mt. Lebanon.

WPIAL Class 5A

No. 3 Gateway Gators (4-2) at No. 5 Penn-Trafford Warriors (4-2)

Penn-Trafford hosts Gateway in a battle between Big East Conference teams Friday night. Last week, the Warriors topped Woodland Hills, 27-6, while the Gators shut down Latrobe, 53-7. Senior quarterback Carter Green can be a dual threat for Penn-Trafford, throwing for 442 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for another 613 yards and eight scores. Cade Yacamelli, a Division I prospect, leads the Warriors’ ground game with 708 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Gateway’s sophomore standout quarterback Brad Birch leads the WPIAL with 1,453 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. Patrick Body, Brett Birch and Jaquon Reynolds have combined for more than 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Gators. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Gators’ high-powered offense will be too much for a Warriors defense allowing 17.2 points per game…Gateway over Penn-Trafford.

WPIAL Class 4A

No. 2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (3-1) at Laurel Highlands Mustangs (5-1)

The Jaguars travel to take on the upstart Mustangs in a Big Eight Conference showdown Friday night. TJ did not play last week after falling to Belle Vernon, 28-21, in Week 4. Laurel Highlands fell to that same Belle Vernon squad last week, 56-14. Quarterback Joe Lekse heads the Jaguars’ offense, throwing for 316 yards, and rushing for another 324 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Conner Murga has rushed for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Prolific junior quarterback Rodney Gallagher leads the Mustangs with 789 passing yards and 11 touchdowns, and a team-best 520 rushing yards and nine scores. Laurel Highlands is averaging 35 points per game. TJ is allowing less than 13 points per game. When these two met last season, the Jaguars blanked the Mustangs, 58-0. Laurel Highlands went on to finish the season with a 2-5 record. Chick’s Picks predicts a closer contest from the much-improved Mustangs, but a victory nonetheless for the Jaguars…TJ over Laurel Highlands.

WPIAL Class 3A

East Allegheny Wildcats (2-4) at Freeport Yellowjackets (2-3)

Freeport hosts East Allegheny in Allegheny Seven Conference action Friday night. The Yellowjackets picked up their second win of the season last week, 33-6 over Valley. The Wildcats are looking to get back on track after two consecutive losses — to Deer Lakes last week, 9-7, and to North Catholic, 31-14, in Week 4. Quarterback Ben Lane leads the Freeport offense, throwing for 232 passing yards and two touchdowns and rushing for a team-high 266 yards and three scores. East Allegheny also boasts a dual-threat quarterback in Michael Smith, who has thrown for 409 yards and a team-leading 142 rushing yards. Both the Yellowjackets and the Wildcats are averaging around 17 points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts a key conference win for the home team in this one…Freeport over East Allegheny.

WPIAL Class 2A

Mohawk Warriors (4-2) at Beaver Falls Tigers (2-3)

The Tigers take on the Warriors in a Midwestern Conference matchup Friday night. Beaver Falls is coming off of a 39-18 victory over New Brighton last week, while Mohawk blanked Riverside, 37-0. This week’s matchup features two of the WPIAL’s top quarterbacks in Beaver Falls’ Jaren Brickner and Mohawk’s John Voss. Brickner, a junior, has thrown for 927 yards and rushed for a team-high 258 yards and six touchdowns. Voss, in his senior season, has thrown for 899 yards and seven touchdowns. The Tigers are averaging 11 points more per game than the Warriors. When these two met last season, Beaver Falls rolled over Mohawk, 49-14, before going on to claim WPIAL gold. The Warriors have shown much improvement over last season’s 1-6 record. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Tigers still come away with a narrow victory in this one…Beaver Falls over Mohawk.

WPIAL Class A

No. 4 Bishop Canevin Crusaders (5-1) at No. 3 Leechburg Blue Devils (5-1)

The Blue Devils welcome the Crusaders for an Eastern Conference showdown between top five teams Friday night. Last week, Leechburg rolled over Jeannette, 53-7. Bishop Canevin was dealt its first loss of the season, falling to top-ranked Clairton, 28-18. The Blue Devils’ only loss this season came to that same Clairton squad, 48-27, in Week 3. The Crusaders have found success this season with two quarterbacks — Kole Olszewski and Jason Cross — who have combined for 778 passing yards. Leechburg’s offense ranks atop Class A, posting 283 points in six games. Senior quarterback Thomas Burke has thrown for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. Junior Braylan Lovelace leads the Blue Devils’ running attack with 522 yards and 11 scores. Bishop Canevin’s stingy defense is allowing only 10 points per game – less than half that of Leechburg. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Crusaders’ defense will slow down the high-powered Blue Devils enough to pull off the upset…Bishop Canevin over Leechburg.

Here’s a look at the other games for Week 6:

WPIAL CLASS 6A

Hempfield over Baldwin

Seneca Valley over Canon-McMillan

North Allegheny over Norwin

WPIAL CLASS 5A

Allegheny Six Conference

South Fayette over Bethel Park

Moon over Peters Township

Upper St. Clair over West Allegheny

Big East Conference

Latrobe over Connellsville

Franklin Regional over Woodland Hills

Northeast Conference

Kiski Area over Fox Chapel

North Hills over Penn Hills

Pine-Richland over Shaler

WPIAL CLASS 4A

Big Eight Conference

Belle Vernon over Ringgold

McKeesport over West Mifflin

Greater Allegheny Conference

Armstrong over Greensburg Salem

Hampton over Plum

Highlands over Indiana

Knoch over Mars

Parkway Conference

Aliquippa over Chartiers Valley

Blackhawk over Montour

Beaver over New Castle

Nonconference

Clearfield over Trinity

WPIAL CLASS 3A

Allegheny Seven Conference

Deer Lakes over Burrell

Valley over Derry

Interstate Conference

Mt. Pleasant over Brownsville

Elizabeth Forward over South Allegheny

Southmoreland over Yough

Northwestern Six Conference

Avonworth over Ambridge

Central Valley over Keystone Oaks

Quaker Valley over Hopewell

WPIAL CLASS 2A

Allegheny Conference

Serra Catholic over Ligonier Valley (forfeit)

Apollo-Ridge over Shady Side Academy

Steel Valley over Summit Academy

Century Conference

Charleroi over Beth-Center

Chartiers-Houston over Frazier

McGuffey over Waynesburg

Midwestern Conference

Freedom over Ellwood City

Laurel over New Brighton

Neshannock over Riverside

Three Rivers Conference

Sto-Rox over Seton LaSalle (forfeit)

South Side over Carlynton

Western Beaver over Brentwood

Nonconference

North Catholic over South Park

WPIAL CLASS A

Big Seven Conference

Rochester over Fort Cherry

Northgate over Shenango

OLSH over Union

Cornell over Burgettstown

Eastern Conference

Clairton over Imani Christian (forfeit)

Greensburg Central Catholic over Riverview

Springdale over Jeannette

Tri-County South Conference

West Greene over Bentworth

California over Jefferson-Morgan

Mapletown over Avella

Carmichaels over Monessen

CITY LEAGUE

Brashear over University Prep (forfeit)

Nonconference

Steubenville (Ohio) over Allderdice

Westinghouse over Butler

Perry over Carrick

INDEPENDENT

University (W.Va.) over Albert Gallatin

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More Football

WPIAL Class A roundup: Henderson’s 2 TDs carry No. 3 Cornell past No. 5 Rochester
WPIAL Class 2A roundup: Chartiers-Houston edges McGuffey in Century Conference
WPIAL Class 4A roundup: Ringer’s 4th TD helps Beaver top Chartiers Valley in OT
Bethel Park defeats Peters Township to remain perfect in conference
WPIAL Class 6A roundup: Strong 2nd half lifts No. 1 Mt. Lebanon past Norwin

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