Chick’s Picks relies on superpowers for WPIAL playoff picks

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 11:53 AM


Welcome to Week 8 of the high school football season.

Chick’s Picks looks forward to Halloween each year, mostly because she likes candy, but also because she enjoys coming up with creative costumes. This year, Chick’s Picks decided to dress up as Baby Yoda — one of the main characters in the Star Wars spinoff “The Mandalorian.”

You may be asking yourself: why would a grown woman be interested in dressing up as a Star Wars character for Halloween? Well, if you are not familiar with Baby Yoda, Chick’s Picks thinks you owe yourself a quick Google search to learn more. Here are the highlights:

Baby Yoda has several superpowers. First of all, he can levitate. Who doesn’t want to levitate every now and then?

He is also really good at using the Force. Who wouldn’t want to have this talent? It makes for great conversation over Thanksgiving dinner.

Baby Yoda is excellent at lightsaber battles. Chick’s Picks thinks this might come in handy when The Boss gets out of line.

Lastly and most importantly, Baby Yoda’s greatest power is healing. Let’s be honest, we could all use a little bit of that these days.

Chick’s Picks hopes that her Baby Yoda costume inspires her to dig deep for her own superpowers and make her most accurate predictions to date.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 45-11 (80%) record, bringing her season total to 301-93 (76%). Here are this week’s big games:

WPIAL Class 6A

No. 3 Central Catholic (4-2) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (4-2)

Defending WPIAL champion Central Catholic takes on Mt. Lebanon in a WPIAL Class 6A semifinal Friday night. The Vikings are coming off of a 49-6 rout of Baldwin to close out the regular season, while the Blue Devils edged Seneca Valley, 28-27. Central Catholic’s Adam Obrin has thrown for 626 yards on the year. Eddie Tillman leads the Vikings’ ground game with more than 600 rushing yards. Mt. Lebanon features a balanced offense with Joey Daniels at the helm, passing for 913 yards and 14 touchdowns. Eli Heidenreich has been Daniels’ main target with 303 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Alex Tecza has rushed for 465 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Blue Devils. This matchup is a rematch of last year’s WPIAL semifinals, where the Vikings knocked off the Blue Devils, 31-14, to punch their ticket to Heinz Field. When these two met during this year’s regular season, Mt. Lebanon came away with a 37-30 victory. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Vikings avenge that regular season loss and advance to the title game once again…Central Catholic over Mt. Lebanon.

WPIAL Class 5A

No. 5 Upper St. Clair (5-2) at No. 4 Penn-Trafford (5-1)

The Warriors host the Panthers in WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal action Friday night. Penn-Trafford wrapped up the regular season with a 56-7 victory over Franklin Regional last week, while Upper St. Clair held off South Fayette, 36-32. The Warriors’ only loss this season came to No. 3 Peters Township, 24-21, in Week 2. Quarterback Ethan Carr leads Penn-Trafford with 829 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, and has rushed for another 422 yards and six scores. Cade Yacamelli has rushed for 536 yards and eight touchdowns. Upper St. Clair quarterback Ethan Dahlem ranks as one of the best in the WPIAL this season, throwing for 1,472 yards and 14 touchdowns. Dahlem also leads the Panthers in rushing with 371 yards and four scores. Davide Pantelis and Mateo Cepulio have been Dahlem’s favorite targets this season, combining for 845 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The Warriors’ defense is allowing only 13.2 points per game — less than half that of the Panthers at 29.6 points per game. When these two met in last year’s WPIAL quarterfinals, Penn-Trafford advanced to the semifinals with a 31-7 win over Upper St. Clair. Chick’s Picks predicts the same bat time and the same bat channel for the Warriors this time around…Penn-Trafford over Upper St. Clair.

WPIAL Class 4A

No. 6 McKeesport (6-1) at No. 3 Plum (7-0)

The Tigers take on the undefeated Mustangs in a WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal Friday night. McKeesport pulled off a huge upset of top-ranked TJ last week, 20-14, snapping the Jaguars’ 21-game winning streak. Plum remained perfect with a 63-13 rout of Armstrong. The Tigers rely on the ground game, led by Terrance Glenn, who has rushed for 684 yards and eight touchdowns. The Mustangs’ balanced attack is led by quarterback Ryan Huber, who ranks among the best in the WPIAL. Huber has thrown for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns. Reed Martin and Logan Brooks have combined for 746 receiving yards and 14 scores. Eryck Moore heads the ground game with 682 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. After finishing last season with a 3-7 record, Plum advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2015. The Mustangs and Tigers are all too familiar with one another, meeting seven times in the last six seasons. McKeesport, in those matchups, has gone 7-0 and outscored Plum, 298-93. Chick’s Picks knows that this is a Mustangs squad unlike years past, but predicts that it will not be enough to stop a seasoned Tigers team still flying high from last week’s upset…McKeesport over Plum.

WPIAL Class 3A

No. 6 Freeport (3-2) at No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0)

Elizabeth Forward plays host to Freeport in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal Friday night. The Yellowjackets are coming off of a 26-14 loss to No. 2 North Catholic last week, while the Warriors remained perfect with a 35-19 win over Southmoreland. Freeport quarterback Ben Lane has passed for 580 yards and rushed for a team-best 325 yards. DaVontay Brownfield leads the Elizabeth Forward running game with 518 yards and eight touchdowns. Nico Mrvos is also an offensive threat for the Warriors with 233 receiving yards, 391 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Elizabeth Forward boasts a stingy defense that is allowing only 8.8 points per game. The Yellowjackets are giving up three times as many at 22.6 points per game. Freeport fell short of the postseason last year. Elizabeth Forward fell to Aliquippa, 27-7, in the quarterfinals. Chick’s Picks predicts a more favorable outcome for the Warriors in this year’s quarterfinals edition…Elizabeth Forward over Freeport.

WPIAL Class 2A

No. 5 Washington (5-2) at No. 4 Apollo-Ridge (5-0)

WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinal action kicks off Friday night when undefeated Apollo-Ridge welcomes Washington. The Vikings closed out the regular season with a 47-14 rout of Steel Valley last week, while the Little Prexies rolled over Frazier, 43-6. Jake Fello captains Apollo-Ridge’s balanced offensive attack, throwing for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns. Klay Fitzroy has been on the receiving end of 515 yards and six scores. Logan Harmon leads the Vikings in rushing with 635 yards and 11 touchdowns. Both Washington and Apollo-Ridge boast stingy defenses, allowing only 10 points per game. The Little Prexies’ only losses this season came to No. 2 McGuffey, 7-6, and to Class 4A Trinity, 41-0. The Vikings have not won a playoff game since 2014. Washington finished last season with a 13-1 record, with its only loss coming in the WPIAL championship, 28-6, to Avonworth. Chick’s Picks predicts that, after this week’s matchup, the Little Prexies will be one step closer to avenging last year’s title game loss…Washington over Apollo-Ridge.

WPIAL Class A

No. 7 Springdale (5-2) at No. 2 Rochester (6-1)

The dark horse Dynamos take on the Rams in WPIAL Class A quarterfinal action Friday night. Springdale fell to Clairton, 45-10, to close out regular season play last week, while Rochester edged Shenango, 13-10. Springdale’s only other loss this season came to No. 3 Jeannette, 34-28. The Rams boast a solid defense that has allowed only 86 points in seven games. That defense will be tested against a complex Dynamos offense that is averaging 37.7 points per game. Legend Ausk is at the helm for Springdale, racking up more than 800 passing yards on the year. Logan Dexter has been the Dynamos’ top receiver and top rusher this season, combining for more than 900 yards. Rochester has found success with its ground game this season behind Denny Robinson, Rashawn Reid and Sal Laure, who have combined for nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. Springdale is making its first playoff appearance since 2017. Chick’s Picks predicts that the perennial power Rams will send them home early…Rochester over Springdale.

Here is the rest of the Week 8 slate:

WPIAL Class 6A

Semifinals

North Allegheny over Seneca Valley

WPIAL Class 5A

Quarterfinals

Peters Township over Woodland Hills

Gateway over Penn Hills

Pine-Richland over South Fayette

WPIAL Class 4A

Quarterfinals

Belle Vernon over Chartiers Valley

Thomas Jefferson over Mars

Aliquippa over Hampton

WPIAL Class 3A

Quarterfinals

North Catholic over Mt. Pleasant

Central Valley over East Allegheny

South Park over Keystone Oaks

WPIAL Class 2A

Quarterfinals

McGuffey over Serra Catholic

Beaver Falls over Western Beaver

Sto-Rox over Laurel

WPIAL Class A

Quarterfinals

Jeannette over Avella

Clairton over OLSH

Shenango over California

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