Chick’s Picks makes sure she doesn’t come up short while making WPIAL playoff predictions

Thursday, November 17, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Each year, at this critical point of the season, Chick’s Picks often finds herself needing a little more inspiration to carry her over the finish line.

Chick’s Picks spent some time this week seeking that extra motivation. After reading about Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak earning his 300th career win last week over Latrobe, Chick’s Picks knew that he would be the perfect person for her to reach out to.

Although the coach was busy preparing for this week’s semifinal matchup against Central Valley, he was happy to take some time to sit down with the celebrity prognosticator. Chick’s Picks and her trusty crystal ball picked Cherpak’s brain on his keys to success. Cherpak looked at her and simply stated, “Listen, Chick’s Picks, the best advice I can give you is to wear shorts all year round.”

Admittedly, Chick’s Picks was expecting a bit more profound advice than this. Though puzzled by this recommendation, Chick’s Picks knew that Cherpak was notorious for sporting shorts in all weather and in every season.

Chick’s Picks pointed out that temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s this weekend — not exactly shorts weather. Cherpak followed up his recommendation sternly, “Chick’s Picks, you have to dig deeper if you want to be a winner.”

So, Chick’s Picks will heed the wise coach’s advice and make her best, very chilly, predictions this week.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 14-6 (70%) record, bringing her season total to 468-148 (76%).

Class 6A championship

1-North Allegheny Tigers (10-1) vs. 3-Central Catholic Vikings (7-4)

The Vikings take on the top-ranked Tigers for WPIAL Class 6A gold Saturday night at Norwin. Central advanced to the title game with a 28-7 semifinal upset of No. 2 Mt. Lebanon last week, while North Allegheny held off Canon-Mac, 7-0. … Vikings’ quarterback Payton Wehner has thrown for 2,248 yards and 16 touchdowns. Elijah Faulkner and Amari Shields have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and nine scores. Logan Kushner captains the Tigers’ offense, throwing for 1,277 yards and 13 touchdowns. Andrew Gavlik has rushed for 810 yards and four scores. … When these two met in Week 3, North Allegheny edged Central, 7-3. The Tigers own four WPIAL championships, with the most recent coming in 2012. The Vikings have claimed WPIAL gold eight times. Chick’s Picks predicts the Vikings will be back in the history books for the first time since 2020 for title No. 9. … Central Catholic over North Allegheny

Class 5A championship

5-Upper St. Clair Panthers (10-2) vs. 2-Pine-Richland Rams (9-3)

The Panthers battle the Rams for the WPIAL Class 5A title Saturday afternoon at Norwin. Upper St. Clair punched its ticket to the title game with a semifinal upset of No. 1 Bethel Park, 17-7, while Pine-Richland knocked off Woodland Hills, 23-12. … The Panthers are led by Jamaal Brown, who has rushed for 1,336 yards and 14 touchdowns. Aidan Besselman has racked up 743 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Versatile Rams quarterback Ryan Palmieri has thrown for 575 yards and three scores and leads his team in rushing with 1,382 yards and 19 touchdowns. … Upper St. Clair is seeking its eighth WPIAL title — the first since 2006. Pine-Richland holds five WPIAL championships, with the most recent coming in 2020. Both teams are averaging 31 points per game. The Panthers are allowing only 11.9 points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Panthers will pull another upset for championship No. 8. … Upper St. Clair over Pine-Richland

Class 4A semifinals

5-McKeesport Tigers (11-1) vs. 1-Aliquippa Quips (10-0)

The undefeated Quips take on the Tigers at Canon-McMillan on Friday night with a trip to Acrisure Stadium on the line. In last week’s quarterfinals, Aliquippa routed Montour, 41-7, while McKeesport upset No. 4 Armstrong, 41-21. … The Quips’ balanced offense is led by quarterback Quentin Goode, who has thrown for 1,586 yards and 17 touchdowns. Tiqwai Hayes heads the ground attack with 1,468 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. … Both Aliquippa and McKeesport are averaging more than 35 points per game, and allowing less than 10. The Tigers’ only loss this season came to fellow semifinalist Thomas Jefferson, 20-10, in Week 9. Chick’s Picks predicts that the storied tradition of the Quips will outlast the Tigers in this one. … Aliquippa over McKeesport

Class 3A semifinals

6-Shady Side Academy Bulldogs (7-4) vs. 2-Avonworth Antelopes (10-1)

Shady Side Academy faces off against Avonworth in a Class 3A semifinal Friday night at Fox Chapel. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 31-17 quarterfinal upset of No. 3 Elizabeth Forward, while the Antelopes rolled over Beaver, 28-7. … The Shady Side Academy backfield duo of Joey Bellinotti and Darrin Haynes has combined for 1,162 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Avonworth boasts a balanced offense behind quarterback Nate Harper, who has thrown for 1,303 yards and 18 touchdowns. Luke Hilyard has racked up 1,241 rushing yards and 14 scores. … The Bulldogs have come on strong after starting the season 1-5. They have since gone 6-0, outscoring opponents 188-53. Chick’s Picks predicts that the postseason experience of the Antelopes will pay off in this one. … Avonworth over Shady Side Academy

Class 2A semifinals

2-Beaver Falls Tigers (10-1) vs. 3-Sto-Rox Vikings (9-2)

The Tigers take on the Vikings in a Class 2A semifinal battle Friday night at Ambridge. In last week’s quarterfinals, Beaver Falls blanked Ligonier Valley, 52-0, while Sto-Rox shut out Keystone Oaks, 50-0. This marked the second straight shutout for the Vikings, who have not allowed a point so far in the postseason. … The Tigers’ versatile offense is captained by quarterback Jaren Brickner, who has thrown for 1,620 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 653 rushing yards and 14 scores. The Vikings have found success through the air behind quarterback Josh Jenkins’ 2,272 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. The Sto-Rox receiving trio of Drevon Miller-Ross, Zay Davis and Jaymont Green-Miller has combined for 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns. … These squads are mirror images of one another on paper, both averaging more than 37 points per game and allowing fewer than nine points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts that the high-powered Vikings’ offense will punch their ticket to Acrisure Stadium with an upset in this one. … Sto-Rox over Beaver Falls

Class A semifinals

10-Union Scotties (9-3) vs. 14-Rochester Rams (7-4)

The Rams square off against the Scotties in a semifinal showdown between Class A cinderellas Friday night at Freedom. Rochester upset No. 6 Fort Cherry in last week’s quarterfinals, 30-14, while Union toppled No. 2 Laurel, 30-28. … The Rams boast a solid running game behind Antonio Laure, who has rushed for 1,234 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Scotties are led by Braylon Thomas, who has thrown for 570 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another 460 yards and five touchdowns. … Both Rochester and Union are averaging 30 points per game. When these two met in Week 6 Big 7 Conference action, the Scotties edged the Rams, 6-0. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Rams get their revenge — and a trip to Acrisure Stadium — this time around. … Rochester over Union

Class 4A

Central Valley over Thomas Jefferson

Class 3A

Belle Vernon over Freeport

Class 2A

Steel Valley over Neshannock

Class A

Bishop Canevin over South Side Beaver

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