Chick’s Picks plays a trick before making WPIAL playoff predictions
Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 6:04 PM
Halloween is one of Chick’s Picks’ favorite holidays — mostly for the candy, but also for the costumes. As always, Chick’s Picks puts plenty of effort into her disguise each year.
While the team at the TribLive High School Sports Network consists of lots of exceptional talent, Chick’s Picks knows it must be difficult for other prognosticators to constantly live in her shadow. So, Chick’s Picks decided to dress up as The Birdie – the network’s other in-house prognosticator. After all, as a wise friend once told Chick’s Picks, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Many fans may be surprised to know that Chick’s Picks and The Birdie attended the same prognosticating school. Since then, however, the two have taken different professional predicting paths. While Chick’s Picks only predicts winners of each game, The Birdie takes it one step further, predicting scores as well. Chick’s Picks never had much luck obtaining scores from her crystal ball.
Chick’s Picks showed up to work dressed head to toe in a full suit of yellow feathers — her best attempt at impersonating her counterpart. Strolling through the office as though she had everyone fooled, Chick’s Picks quickly realized that she had forgotten one important detail.
A staff member chuckled, “Chick’s Picks, we know that’s you. The Birdie doesn’t need a crystal ball to make his predictions.”
Chick’s Picks glanced down and saw that she still had her trusty crystal ball in tow — a dead giveaway that she was an imposter Birdie.
So, kudos to you, Birdie. You and your bird brain prove time and time again that no crystal ball is needed to keep up the great prognosticating!
Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 49-11 (82%) record, bringing her season total to 497-137 (78%). Here are this week’s big games:
No. 6 Seneca Valley Raiders (4-6) at No. 4 Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (6-4)
The Blue Devils play host to the Raiders in a Class 6A quarterfinal showdown Friday night. Mt. Lebanon wrapped up regular season play with a loss to top-ranked Central Catholic, 45-7, while Seneca Valley rolled over Norwin, 28-7. The Blue Devils’ balanced offense features quarterback Joey Daniels, who has thrown for 1,195 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year. Mason Vetrone and Visawn Pennix have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and 19 scores. Gabe Lawson heads the Raiders’ passing attack with 1,122 yards and eight touchdowns. When these two met in Week 3, Mt. Lebanon edged Seneca Valley, 26-20. Chick’s Picks predicts that coach Bob Palko gets his first Class 6A playoff victory in this one. … Mt. Lebanon over Seneca Valley.
No. 9 Upper St. Clair Panthers (6-4) at No. 8 North Hills Indians (6-4)
Upper St. Clair hits the road to Martorelli Stadium to take on North Hills in Class 5A first-round action Friday night. The Panthers look to bounce back after a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to Bethel Park last week. The Indians also closed out their regular season with a loss, 21-7 to Penn Hills. Dual-threat quarterback Ethan Dahlem leads Upper St. Clair with 2,077 passing yards and 16 touchdowns and a team-best 762 rushing yards and 11 scores. David Pantelis is Dahlem’s key target, racking up 1,135 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on the year. North Hills features a dynamic running game led by Curtis Foskey, Dylan Pawling, Tom McDonough and Tyler Tomasic, who have combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns this season. The Indians are back in the postseason race for the first time since 2016. Chick’s Picks predicts a short run for the Indians. … Upper St. Clair over North Hills.
No. 6 New Castle Red Hurricane (6-4) at No. 3 Belle Vernon Leopards (8-1)
The Red Hurricane will make the 75-mile trek to The Beach on Friday night to take on the Leopards in a Class 4A quarterfinal showdown. New Castle rolled over Ambridge, 56-7, to wrap up regular season play last week, while Belle Vernon routed Ringgold, 63-6. The multi-dimensional Red Hurricane offense is led by Michael Wells, who has passed for 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. Demetris McKnight heads the ground attack with 1,056 rushing yards and 17 scores. The Leopards boast a 1,300-yard passer in Jared Hartman. Larry Calloway has racked up more than 800 rushing yards and found paydirt 16 times for Belle Vernon. That high-powered offense has helped the Leopards to average more than 44 points per game — a touchdown more per game than the Red Hurricane. Belle Vernon’s stingy defense is allowing less than 10 points per game — half that of New Castle at 20.2 per contest. The Leopards’ only loss this season came to top-ranked TJ, 34-7, in Week 1. Chick’s Picks predicts a trip to the semifinals for the Leopards. … Belle Vernon over New Castle.
No. 6 South Park Eagles (4-5) at No. 3 North Catholic Trojans (8-1)
J.C. Stone Field is the site of this Class 3A quarterfinal matchup between the Trojans and the Eagles. North Catholic finished the regular season with a 42-21 rout of Deer Lakes last week, while South Park rolled over Quaker Valley, 35-14. The Trojans boast one of the top passers in the WPIAL in Zack Rocco, who has thrown for 1,759 yards and 21 touchdowns. North Catholic’s ground game is solid as well behind Anthony Serventi and Eamon Straub, who have combined for 1,000 rushing yards and 18 scores. South Park’s Rudy Mihoces is approaching 1,000 rushing yards and has found paydirt eight times this season. The Trojans are averaging 34.3 points per game — nearly twice that of the Eagles. South Park has been outscored by opponents, 167-242, on the year. The Eagles return to the playoffs after falling short last season. Chick’s Picks predicts that, unfortunately, that return will be short-lived. … North Catholic over South Park.
No. 10 New Brighton Lions (7-3) at No. 7 Apollo-Ridge Vikings (7-3)
The Lions make the long journey to Owens Field to take on the Vikings in a Class 2A first-round showdown Friday night. Last week, New Brighton closed out the regular season with a 42-34 win over Riverside, while Apollo-Ridge dropped a non-conference contest to Charleroi, 43-33. The Lions are led by quarterback Jackson Hall, who has thrown for 1,648 yards and 19 touchdowns. Hall’s favorite target, Jacob Francona, has been on the receiving end of 903 yards and 13 scores. The Vikings boast one of the top running backs in the WPIAL in Logan Harmon, who rushed for 1,338 yards and 18 touchdowns. Apollo-Ridge is making its first postseason appearance since 2016. Chick’s Picks predicts that the seasoned Lions have the advantage in this one. … New Brighton over Apollo-Ridge.
No. 5 California Trojans (7-3) vs. No. 4 Cornell Raiders (8-1) at West Allegheny
Cornell faces California in a Class A quarterfinal showdown Friday night. The Raiders knocked off OLSH last week, 22-14, to finish out the regular season, while the Trojans trounced Mapletown, 41-6. Cornell quarterback Zaier Harrison ranks among the best in the WPIAL this season, passing for 1,971 yards and 22 touchdowns. Harrison has also rushed for a team-best 590 yards and 14 scores. California’s versatile quarterback Cochise Ryan has more than 700 passing and rushing yards this season. A lingering injury that occurred during the Trojans’ loss to West Greene could impact Ryan’s play. Cornell was 4-5 last season. This year, the Raiders’ only loss came to No. 3 Sto-Rox, 28-25, in Week 3. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Cinderella season continues for the Raiders. … Cornell over California.
North Allegheny over Canon-McMillan
Moon over Franklin Regional
Bethel Park over Kiski Area
Peters Township over Mars
McKeesport over Baldwin
Penn-Trafford over Fox Chapel
Gateway over Shaler
Penn Hills over Latrobe
Thomas Jefferson over Montour
Blackhawk over Greensburg Salem
South Fayette over West Mifflin
Derry over Beaver Falls
Aliquippa over Elizabeth Forward
Central Valley over Mt. Pleasant
Avonworth over Southmoreland
Washington over Shady Side Academy
McGuffey over South Side
Charleroi over Freedom
Neshannock over Serra Catholic
Brentwood over East Allegheny
Burgettstown over Riverside
Jeannette over Sto-Rox
Clairton over OLSH
West Greene over Greensburg Central Catholic