Chick’s Picks recalibrates for WPIAL finals, semifinals

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 | 4:50 PM


Welcome to Week 12 of the high school football season.

By the time we reach this point of the season each year, Chick’s Picks’ crystal ball is running out of gas. As much more prognosticating power is required to accurately predict postseason games, needless to say, the crystal ball is overworked.

Despite her best efforts, Chick’s Picks was unable to get a clear reading from her trusty prognosticating device when attempting to make this week’s predictions. Running short on time, she decided to take her into the local mechanic for a checkup.

Thankfully, the skilled technician came up with a quick diagnosis. Since not all of this week’s games were being played at the end of the Highway to Heinz, the crystal ball was requiring a calibration to get things back on track. After a quick tune-up and reset of her GPS, Chick’s Picks’ trusty crystal ball was ready to finish her semifinal and championship predictions strong.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 12-2 (86%) record, bringing her season total to 535-143 (79%). Here are this week’s big games:

CLASS 6A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 2 Pine-Richland Rams (10-1) vs. No. 1 Central Catholic Vikings (10-1)

The Rams take on the Vikings for WPIAL Class 6A gold in the Championship Saturday grand finale. In last week’s semifinals, Pine-Richland routed North Allegheny, 49-14, while Central Catholic knocked off Mt. Lebanon, 31-14. The Rams boast one of the WPIAL’s top passers in Cole Spencer, who has thrown for 2,832 yards and 35 touchdowns this season. Spencer’s prime target, Eli Jochem, has been on the receiving end of 984 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Vikings’ balanced offensive attack is led by 1,000-yard passer Dom Pieto. Eddy Tillman has rushed for 1,702 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Vikings’ only loss came to North Allegheny, 11-10, in Week 2. Pine-Richland’s high-powered offense is averaging 40.7 points per game — a touchdown more per game than Central. Both defenses are holding opponents to 10 points per game. The Vikings are seeking their seventh WPIAL title, with the most recent coming in 2016. The Rams are looking to defend last year’s WPIAL championship, bringing home their third straight and fifth overall. When these two met during the regular season, Central Catholic handed Pine-Richland its only loss of the season, 29-7. Chick’s Picks predicts it would be a tall task for the Vikings to knock off the Rams twice in one season. … Pine-Richland over Central Catholic.

CLASS 5A SEMIFINALS

No. 5 Peters Township Indians (11-1) vs. No. 1 Penn-Trafford Warriors (11-1)

Peters Township takes on Penn-Trafford in a Class 5A semifinal Friday night at West Mifflin. The Indians are coming off of a 33-7 victory over Moon, while the Warriors rolled over Upper St. Clair, 31-7. Logan Pfeuffer leads the Peters Township passing attack with 1,865 yards and 21 scores. Ryan Magiske heads up the backfield with 1,207 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Penn-Trafford quarterback Gabe Dunlap has thrown for 1,611 yards and 17 touchdowns. After the Warriors lost standout running back Caleb Lisbon to a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, Dunlap has stepped up his ground game, as well, rushing for 1,092 yards and 12 scores. These two met in last year’s WPIAL playoffs, when the Indians edged the Warriors, 38-35. Chick’s Picks predicts revenge for the Warriors in this year’s edition. … Penn-Trafford over Peters Township.

CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 3 Belle Vernon Leopards (10-1) vs. No. 1 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (12-0)

Belle Vernon takes on Thomas Jefferson for WPIAL Class 4A gold Saturday afternoon. In last week’s semifinals, the Leopards upset South Fayette, 41-30, while the Jaguars blanked Blackhawk, 49-0. Belle Vernon’s only loss this season came when these two met in Week 2, as TJ rolled to a 34-7 victory. The Leopards are led by Jared Hartman’s 1,745 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. Belle Vernon’s 1,000-yard rusher Larry Calloway has found paydirt 18 times this season. Shane Stump heads the TJ passing attack with 2,149 yards and 31 scores. Running back Dylan Mallozzi has rushed for 1,205 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Leopards are seeking their second WPIAL title, with the first coming in 1995. The Jaguars have claimed gold eight times, with the most recent coming in 2017. Both teams are averaging more than 48 points per game. TJ’s stingy defense has allowed only 40 points in 12 games. Chick’s Picks predicts that defense wins championship number nine for the Jaguars. … Thomas Jefferson over Belle Vernon.

CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 2 Aliquippa Quips (11-1) vs. No. 1 Central Valley Warriors (11-1)

The Quips and the Warriors face off for WPIAL Class 3A bragging rights Saturday afternoon. Aliquippa is coming off of a 21-7 semifinal victory over South Park last week, while Central Valley rolled over Derry, 42-7. Vaughn Morris leads Aliquippa’s balanced offensive attack with 1,109 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Antonio Quinn captains the backfield with 1,188 rushing yards and 13 scores. Central Valley’s Ameer Dudley has thrown for 1,647 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jaylen Guy has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and found paydirt 11 times this season. The Warriors are looking to bring home WPIAL gold for the third time. The Quips are seeking their second straight championship and 18th overall. Central Valley’s only loss this season came to Class 4A’s top-ranked Thomas Jefferson, 28-3, in Week 6. Aliquippa’s only loss came to Central Valley, 45-6, in Week 9. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Quips won’t lose twice this season. … Aliquippa over Central Valley.

CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

No. 5 Brentwood Spartans (10-2) vs. No. 1 Washington Little Prexies (12-0)

The Spartans take on the undefeated Little Prexies in Class 2A semifinal action Friday night at Chartiers Valley. In last week’s quarterfinals, Brentwood blanked Neshannock, 20-0, while Washington shutout Freedom, 28-0. The Spartans’ duo of John Milcic and Aden Wardzinski lead a Brentwood offense averaging 24 points per game. Milcic has passed for 1,603 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushed for another 775 yards and eight scores. Wardzinski has been on the receiving end of 561 yards and rushed for a team-high 1,012 yards and 14 scores. Dual-threat quarterback Zack Swartz leads the Little Prexies with 1,702 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, along with a team-best 985 rushing yards and 24 scores. Washington is averaging 44.3 points per game — 20 points more per game than Brentwood. The Spartans’ stingy defense, however, is allowing less than 10 points per game. Chick’s Picks predicts a ticket to the title game for the postseason veteran Little Prexies. … Washington over Brentwood.

CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 3 Sto-Rox Vikings (11-1) vs. No. 1 Clairton Bears (10-2)

Sto-Rox battles Clairton for WPIAL Class A gold in the Championship Saturday opening act. The Vikings punched their ticket to Heinz Field with a 24-7 victory over West Greene in last week’s semifinals, while the Bears blanked Cornell, 39-0. Sto-Rox’s only loss this season came to Laurel in Week 8, 23-15. Clairton got off to what some considered a slow start this season, going 0-2 against Aliquippa and McGuffey. Since then, however, the Bears have gone 10-0 and outscored opponents, 399-56. The Vikings boast the WPIAL’s top passer in Eric Wilson, who has thrown for 3,022 yards and 27 touchdowns. Versatile Bears’ quarterback Brendan Parsons has passed for 1,684 yards and 19 touchdowns, and rushed for 905 yards and 11 scores. Do-it-all Kenlein Ogletree, one of Parsons’ favorite targets, has 768 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns and 47 PATs. Sto-Rox owns two WPIAL titles, with the most recent coming in 1987. Clairton is seeking its 14th championship, and its first since 2016. Chick’s Picks predicts the many offensive weapons of the Bears will be too much for the Vikings. … Clairton over Sto-Rox.

In other semifinal action:

CLASS 5A semifinals

Gateway over McKeesport

CLASS 2A semifinals

Avonworth over Riverside

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