Chick’s Picks pays tribute to biggest fan as WPIAL football season draws to close

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Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 6:15 PM


As the final week of the WPIAL football season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, Chick’s Picks took some time to reflect on all that she has been thankful for this season.

Each year, Chick’s Picks is amazed by all of those that contribute to making high school football so special in the WPIAL — from players to coaches, to bands, cheerleaders and fans. Chick’s Picks is also grateful to work alongside the best in the business — the team at TribLive High School Sports Network — who dedicate so much time and talent to providing the best coverage of high school sports.

Chick’s Picks is most thankful, however, for her biggest fan.

Over the last two decades of prognosticating, Chick’s Picks’ mother, Mama Picks, was her greatest supporter. Throughout the years, Chick’s Picks and Mama Picks would regularly chat about high school football — upcoming games and surprise upsets each Friday night. Mama Picks even earned the respect of The Boss over the years, and that is hard to come by. Chick’s Picks often thought of Mama Picks as the biggest WPIAL football fan she knew — and she knew a lot of them. Mama Picks stuck by Chick’s Picks week in and week out, through good picks and bad.

Unfortunately, Mama Picks passed away just before the start of the season. Surely, Mama Picks quickly claimed her spot as the second biggest WPIAL football fan in heaven — just behind Deuce Skurcenski, of course. Though Chick’s Picks was left with a great void, she was certain that Mama Picks was sending her a little extra help, in addition to her crystal ball, this season — and for that, she is most grateful.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 5-3 (63%) record, bringing her season total to 540-146 (79%). Here are this week’s final games:

CLASS 5A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 5 Peters Township Indians (12-1) vs. No. 2 Gateway Gators (11-2)

Peters Township looks for its first WPIAL championship when it faces off against Gateway in the Class 5A title game at Norwin. The Indians made their way through the postseason with wins over Mars, 47-6, Moon, 33-7, and Penn-Trafford, 28-10. The Gators rolled over Shaler, 35-21, Bethel Park, 17-13, and McKeesport, 14-7. Peters Township’s only blemish this season came to Moon, 21-13, in Week 6 — a loss the Indians then avenged in the playoffs. Gateway fell to Penn-Trafford, 28-7, in Week 1, and then to nationally-ranked Massillon (Ohio), 48-12, in Week 7. Indians quarterback Logan Pfeuffer has thrown for 2,121 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. Ryan Magiske brings depth in the running game with 1,276 rushing yards and 24 scores. Bryson Venanzio captains the Gators offense, throwing for 2,375 yards and 26 touchdowns. Division I prospect Derrick Davis, a threat on both sides of the ball, has a team-best 547 receiving yards, 1,420 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. Both Peters Township and Gateway are averaging 32.9 points per game. The Indians’ defense has allowed only 8.5 points per game. Gateway is deep into the postseason for the fourth consecutive year and is seeking its fifth WPIAL championship. Chick’s Picks predicts that playoff experience will bring home title No. 5 for the Gators. … Gateway over Peters Township.

CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 2 Avonworth Antelopes (13-0) vs. No. 1 Washington Little Prexies (13-0)

The Antelopes take on the Little Prexies in a battle of undefeateds for WPIAL Class 2A gold at Norwin Saturday afternoon. To earn its spot in the title game, Avonworth knocked off postseason opponents Southmoreland, 41-0, New Brighton, 38-13, and Riverside, 41-14. Washington rolled through the playoffs over Shady Side Academy, 21-7, Freedom, 28-0, and Brentwood, 20-14. The Antelopes’ dual-threat offense is led by quarterback Park Penrod, who has thrown for 1,851 yards and 27 touchdowns. Jax Miller heads the rushing attack with 1,939 yards and 25 scores. The Little Prexies rely on dual-threat quarterback Zack Swartz, who has thrown for 1,820 yards and 22 touchdowns, and rushed for a team-high 1,031 yards and 26 scores. Swartz’s favorite target this season is Zahmere Robinson, who has 670 receiving yards, 817 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Washington’s high-powered offense is averaging nearly 43 points per game but will face its toughest test against an Avonworth defense that has allowed only 138 points in 13 games. The Little Prexies are no stranger to title games, with eight WPIAL championships under their belts. The Antelopes are seeking their first since tying Union in 1959. Chick’s Picks predicts that big-game experience will pay off for the Little Prexies in this one. … Washington over Avonworth.

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