Chick’s Picks grateful for another WPIAL football season

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Thursday, November 12, 2020 | 6:17 PM


Another WPIAL football season is nearly in the books. After more than two decades of prognosticating, Chick’s Picks has never seen a season quite like this one.

This season had no Highway to Heinz. This week does not look like a typical championship week at all. Chick’s Picks even had to reach out to The Boss for some assistance with historical WPIAL facts, which has never happened (at least never that she would admit). Overall, not many things about this 2020 season look normal.

Chick’s Picks decided to do some digging into the championships and put together some fun facts about the 12 teams that advanced to the final round of the WPIAL postseason: The No. 1 seed in each classification advanced to their respective championship game. The 12 championship teams had a combined record of 94-6, outscored opponents 4,165-1,314, and collectively own 73 WPIAL titles.

In a year where nothing has been normal, Chick’s Picks would like to send a big thank you to the players, coaches and everyone else that made this season possible for all of us to enjoy. Best of luck this weekend and throughout the PIAA tournament.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with an 11-2 (85%) record, bringing her season total to 330-99 (77%). Here are this week’s championship predictions:

CLASS 5A

No. 3 Peters Township Indians (8-0) vs. No. 1 Pine-Richland Rams (8-0)

The Indians take on the Rams in a battle of undefeateds for WPIAL Class 5A gold. Peters Township made its way to the title game with postseason victories over Woodland Hills, 39-6, in the quarterfinals, and Gateway, 20-19, in the semifinals. Pine-Richland rolled over South Fayette in the quarterfinals, 47-7, before routing Penn-Trafford, 49-14, in the semifinal round. … These two were both WPIAL runners-up last season. The Indians were edged by Gateway, 21-20, in the WPIAL Class 5A title game. The Rams fell to Central Catholic, 10-7, in the WPIAL Class 6A championship before dropping to Class 5A this season. … Logan Pfeuffer heads the Peters Township offense, passing for 1,110 yards and nine scores. Braylon Carrington leads the Indians’ receiving corps with 435 yards and three touchdowns. … Veteran quarterback Cole Spencer, the WPIAL’s top passer, has thrown for 2,066 yards and 27 touchdowns for Pine-Richland. Eli Jochem, Spencer’s key receiver, has caught for 910 yards and 15 touchdowns. The backfield trio of Tristen Taylor, Caden Schweiger, and Jordan Burns add another dimension to this high-powered Rams’ offense, combining for 962 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. … The Rams are averaging 50.5 points per game — nearly double that of the Indians. Both sides boast stingy defenses, though, allowing less than 11 points per contest. Pine-Richland holds four WPIAL championships in three different classifications — none of which are from Class 5A. Peters Township is seeking its first WPIAL championship. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Indians come up empty in this one. … Pine-Richland over Peters Township

CLASS 4A

No. 2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (7-1) vs. No. 1 Aliquippa Quips (9-0)

Top-ranked Aliquippa takes on TJ for WPIAL Class 4A bragging rights Saturday afternoon at North Allegheny. The Quips advanced to their 13th straight WPIAL championship with a 33-25 win over Belle Vernon in last week’s semifinals and a 31-0 rout of Hampton in the quarterfinals. The defending champ Jaguars held off Plum last week, 20-17, after rolling over Mars, 41-6, in the quarterfinals. … Aliquippa was the WPIAL Class 3A runner-up last season, falling just short to Central Valley, 13-12. Due to the PIAA’s competitive balance formula, Aliquippa — Class A by enrollment — was forced to make the jump to Class 4A this season. The Quips have not flinched, though, rolling through their first nine opponents and outscoring them by a 405-107 margin. The Jaguars only loss this season came to McKeesport, 20-14, in the final week of the regular season. … Aliquippa is led by veteran quarterback Vaughn Morris, who has thrown for 1,199 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Antonyo Anderson, Cyair Clark, and Tajier Thorton have been key targets of Morris, combining for nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 14 scores. Vernon Redd adds depth and experience in the Quips backfield, rushing for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. … Jake Pugh captains TJ’s offense, passing for 1,309 yards and 19 touchdowns. Preston Zandier and Ian Hansen have been on the receiving end of more than 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns. Conner Marga and DeRon VanBibber lead the Jaguars’ ground attack, rushing for 1,029 yards and 15 scores. … Defensively, TJ has allowed only 78 points in eight games. That defense will be tested, though, facing an Aliquippa squad that is averaging 45 points per game. TJ claimed its ninth WPIAL title last season with a 41-7 win over Belle Vernon. Aliquippa is seeking its 18th WPIAL title, and its first in Class 4A. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Quips will make history in this one. … Aliquippa over Thomas Jefferson

CLASS 3A

No. 3 Elizabeth Forward Warriors (8-0) vs. No. 1 Central Valley Warriors (9-0)

Elizabeth Forward faces off against top-seeded Central Valley for WPIAL Class 3A gold Friday night at North Allegheny. Elizabeth Forward made its way to the title game with a 34-20 quarterfinal victory over Freeport and a 17-0 rout of North Catholic in last week’s semifinals. Central Valley has rolled through the postseason so far with a 56-7 quarterfinal win over East Allegheny and a 70-21 thumping of Keystone Oaks in the semifinals. … Last season, Elizabeth Forward advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to Aliquippa, 27-7, while Central Valley claimed its third WPIAL title with a 13-12 win over the Quips. … Elizabeth Forward relies on the running game, led by DaVontay Brownfield and Nico Mrvos, who have combined for 907 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year. … Ameer Dudley leads Central Valley with 936 passing yards and 15 scores. Landon Alexander heads the Warriors ground game with 947 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Stephon Hall and Myles Walker have added 16 touchdowns apiece for Central Valley. … Elizabeth Forward’s offense is averaging 30.5 points per game — 23 points per game fewer than Central Valley. Both defenses are holding opponents to only nine points per game. Elizabeth Forward is seeking its first WPIAL championship. Chick’s Picks predicts that these Warriors will have to wait until next year for that big win. … Central Valley over Elizabeth Forward

CLASS 2A

No. 3 Sto-Rox Vikings (8-1) vs. No. 1 Beaver Falls Tigers (9-0)

The top-ranked Tigers take on the Vikings for WPIAL Class 2A bragging rights Saturday afternoon at North Hills. Beaver Falls advanced to the title game with a 42-14 quarterfinal victory over Western Beaver and a 50-27 rout of Apollo-Ridge in last week’s semifinals. Sto-Rox edged Laurel in the quarterfinals, 21-20, before knocking off Serra Catholic, 49-38, in the semifinal round. … The Vikings were the WPIAL Class A runners-up last season, falling to Clairton, 41-19, before moving up to Class 2A this season. Sto-Rox’s only loss this season was a forfeit to Carlynton in Week 1. … The Vikings feature the quarterback combo of Josh Jenkins and Austin Jones, who have combined for more than 2,000 passing yards and 19 touchdowns on the year. Jaymont Green-Miller has been a favorite target, racking up 692 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Zay Davis has rushed for 569 yards and eight scores. … Beaver Falls boasts the WPIAL’s top rusher in Josh Hough, who has gained 1,816 yards this season and found the end zone 26 times. Shileak Livingston brings another dimension to the Tigers’ running game with his 972 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. … Beaver Falls is averaging 10 points more per game than Sto-Rox. The Tigers have won four WPIAL championships, with the most recent coming in 2016. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Tigers claim No. 5 in this one. …Beaver Falls over Sto-Rox

CLASS A

No. 3 Jeannette Jayhawks (8-1) vs. No. 1 Clairton Bears (8-0)

Eastern Conference rivals Jeannette and Clairton square off for WPIAL Class A gold on Saturday at North Hills. The Jayhawks cruised through the postseason with a 62-14 win over Avella in the quarterfinals and a 40-13 upset of Rochester in last week’s semifinals. The defending champ Bears knocked off Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 54-20, in the quarterfinals before rolling over Shenango, 55-16, in the semifinals. … When these two met in Week 1, Clairton held off Jeannette, 34-28. Since then, though, the Jayhawks have gone (8-0), outscored opponents 402-75 and recorded three shutouts. … The Bears are led by senior quarterback Jonte Sanders, who has thrown for 1,066 yard and 17 touchdowns. Brooklyn Cannon has been on the receiving end of 560 yards and 11 touchdowns. Clairton also boasts one of the top running backs in the WPIAL in Dontae Sanders. Sanders, who at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds looks more like Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry than a high school senior, has rushed for 1,780 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year. … Jeannette features one of the WPIAL’s top passers in freshman Brad Birch, who has thrown for 1,630 yards and 27 touchdowns in his first varsity season. Big brother Brett Birch and Toby Cline are a few of Brad’s favorite targets, combining for nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. Roberto Smith heads the Jayhawks’ ground game, rushing for 697 yards and 17 scores. … Jeannette has not defeated Clairton since a 21-6 victory in 2018. Last season, the Bears knocked off the Jayhawks, 26-7. The Jayhawks hold nine WPIAL championships, with the most recent coming in 2017. The Bears own 14 WPIAL titles of their own. Chick’s Picks finds it difficult to prognosticate when it comes to two storied programs such as these, but predicts that the Jayhawks will not go down to the Bears twice in one season. … Jeannette over Clairton

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