Chicks Picks – Week 12 – 2015

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Thursday, November 19, 2015 | 12:47 PM


Welcome to Week 12 of the high school football season.

After a rough week of prognosticating the WPIAL quarterfinals, Chick’s Picks decided that a day of relaxation was in order.  After all, she needed a clear mind (and crystal ball) as we approach this final stop on the Highway to Heinz.

So, Chick’s Picks and her trusty crystal ball headed out to their favorite local spa.  Their spa treatment specialists greeted them and showed them to their appointments.  An hour later, a much more relaxed Chick’s Picks emerged, awaiting the arrival of her crystal ball.  When the specialist arrived, however, Chick’s Picks knew that something was wrong.

The specialist cried, “I know how much your crystal ball means to your prognosticating career.  I was just trying to perform our usual polish and shine treatment, when it all went wrong.”

The specialist went on to explain how Chick’s Picks’ trusty crystal ball had slipped out of her hands, onto the floor, sustaining damage that surely allowed for the escape of critical prognosticating powers.  Chick’s Picks did not panic though, as she recalled a time when The Boss resolved a similar situation earlier this season.

The Boss relies on a special device of his own to communicate with various figures around the WPIAL at key times on Friday nights.  It is transported in a holster, which is just as important as the device itself.  One Friday night, the holster sustained what was thought to be a career ending injury.  Rather than panicking, however, The Boss simply pulled out a roll of duct tape and somehow fixed everything.

Chick’s Picks packed up her wounded crystal ball and headed for MSA Sports World Headquarters.  Notifying The Boss on her way there of the dire situation, he was ready and waiting with his trusty duct tape in hand when Chick’s Picks arrived.  Moments later, the crystal ball was back on one piece thanks to The Boss’s handy patchwork.

“Let this be a wise lesson to you, Chick’s Picks: duct tape fixes everything,” said The Boss.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 12-4 (75%) record, dropping her season total to 524-108 (83%).  Here are this week’s semifinal predictions:

CLASS AAAA SEMIFINALS:

#5 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (10-1) vs. #1 Woodland Hills (11-0)

Central Catholic takes on top-ranked Woodland Hills Friday night at Fox Chapel with a trip to Heinz Field on the line.  In last week’s quarterfinals, the Vikings avenged their only loss of the season, knocking off North Allegheny, 31-17.  The Wolverines remained perfect with a 40-20 win over Bethel Park.  Central Catholic has found success both in the air and on the ground this season.  Standout sophomore quarterback Troy Fisher has thrown for over 1,100 yards, 14 touchdowns, and zero interceptions on the year.  Ronnie Jones surpassed 1,200 rushing yards and found the end zone 17 times.  Woodland Hills boasts an elite backfield duo in Miles Sanders and Jo-El Shaw.  The two have combined for over 2,400 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns this season.  Chick’s Picks heard that the Vikings did not much care for the taste of defeat earlier this season, and predicts that will not experience it again in this one.
Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Woodland Hills.

#3 Pine-Richland (10-1) vs. #2 Penn-Trafford (11-0)

The Rams and the Warriors meet at Penn Hills for the final stop on the Highway to Heinz.  Penn-Trafford took its quarterfinal down to the wire, needing overtime to top McKeesport, 39-32, while Pine-Richland shut down Mount Lebanon, 42-13.  This semifinal will showcase two of the top passers in the WPIAL.  Brett Laffoon leads the Warriors with 2,011 yards and 28 touchdowns on the year.  The Rams’ Phil Jurkovec, though just a sophomore, reached elite status as he surpassed 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards this season.  Pine-Richland’s only loss this season came to fellow WPIAL Class AAAA semifinalist Central Catholic, 35-28, in Week 8.  Chick’s Picks knows that the Warriors survived a scare last week, and predicts that they will use that to rally right to Heinz Field.
Penn-Trafford over Pine-Richland.

CLASS AAA SEMIFINALS:

#4 Mars (10-1) vs. #1 Central Valley (10-1)

Ambridge will be the site where one WPIAL Class AAA championship ticket will be punched Friday night, when Mars takes on top-ranked Central Valley.  The Planets are coming off of a 35-0 quarterfinal rout of Ringgold, while the Warriors rolled over Hampton, 42-9.  Isaiah Johnson leads Mars with 1,654 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns this season.  Central Valley’s Chris Callaghan is on the brink of a 2,000-yard passing season.  The Warriors only loss this season came in Week 1 to Montour, 17-14.  Since then, Central Valley has won 10 straight, outscored opponents 404-145 and recording two shutouts.  Chick’s Picks predicts that the Warriors will make it win #11 with a trip to Heinz Field to go along with it.
Central Valley over Mars.

#6 Thomas Jefferson (9-2) vs. #7 Franklin Regional (9-2)

Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Regional will meet at Hempfield in a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal Friday night.  In last week’s quarterfinals, the Jaguars knocked off West Allegheny, 14-0, while the Panthers upset undefeated Belle Vernon, 28-7.  TJ got off to a rough start this season, losing its first two games to Ringgold and Belle Vernon.  Since then, though, the Jaguars have won nine consecutive games, outscored opponent 355-48, and recorded five shutouts.  TJ boasts a powerful backfield duo of Quinton Hill and Braden Pahanish, who have combined for over 2,100 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year.  Franklin Regional has rebounded nicely in the playoffs, after dropping an unexpected loss to Gateway in the final week of the regular season.  The Panthers are led by dual threat quarterback Santino Birty, who has passed for 800 yards and leads the team in rushing with 1,104 yards and 19 touchdowns.  Chick’s Picks predicts that, despite the best postseason efforts of the Panthers, the Jaguars will continue to roll.
Thomas Jefferson over Franklin Regional.

CLASS AA SEMIFINALS:

#5 Steel Valley (10-1) vs. #1 South Fayette (11-0)

And they meet again.  This time, though, with postseason life on the line.  Steel Valley faces top-ranked South Fayette Friday night at Peters Township in a rematch of a Week 6 game that left the Ironmen blanked, 37-0, by the Lions.  South Fayette continued its steamroll of opponents last week, with a 54-7 quarterfinal win over Beaver.  Steel Valley knocked off Beaver Falls, 24-18.  The Lions are led by the arm of Drew Saxton, who has thrown for 1,400 yards and 26 touchdowns on the year.  Hunter Hayes brings a strong running game for South Fayette, as well, rushing for 1,220 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.  DeWayne Murray leads the backfield charge for the Ironmen, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and finding paydirt 33 times this season.  Chick’s Picks knows that it will be a challenge to beat the same team twice in one season, but the Lions will get it done.
South Fayette over Steel Valley.

#6 Freeport (10-1) vs. #2 Aliquippa (11-0)

The Yellowjackets take on the Quips at Seneca Valley in a WPIAL Class AA semifinal Friday night.  Freeport made a statement in last week’s quarterfinals, knocking off previously undefeated Washington, 24-14, while Aliquippa rolled over Seton-LaSalle, 46-6.  The Yellowjackets boast a 2,000-yard passer and a 1,000-yard rusher in Ryan Weigold and Ian Miller.  Weigold has been one of the best in the WPIAL this season, throwing for 2,171 yards and 28 touchdowns.  Kaezon Pugh has been tremendous for the Quips this year, despite concussion-like symptoms during this postseason.  Pugh has rushed for 1,600 yards and 28 touchdowns.  Freeport’s only loss this season came to fellow semifinalist Steel Valley, 34-7, in Week 5.  Aliquippa is averaging 47 points per game—13 points more than Freeport.  Chick’s Picks predicts that the postseason veteran Quips will survive and advance.
Aliquippa over Freeport.

CLASS A SEMIFINALS:

#4 Frazier (11-0) vs. #1 Clairton (11-0)

Frazier was not given much love after the WPIAL announced it as the #4 seed in the playoffs.  The Commodores, however, have proved they were deserving of the rank this postseason—particularly after last week’s come-from-behind 14-13 quarterfinal victory over Shenango last week.  A tall task will be had this week, however, as Frazier faces top-ranked Clairton at Elizabeth Forward Friday night.  The Bears advanced to the semifinals with a 46-21 win over Avonworth.  Aaron Matthews has led the way for Clairton this season, passing for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.  The Bears also boast two 1,000-yard rushers in Lamont Wade and Harrison Dreher.  Christopher Pierce captains the Frazier offense, throwing for nearly 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year.  The Commodores defense has been the best in the WPIAL this season, allowing only 76 points.  They will face the top offense in the Bears, posting nearly 60 points per game.  Chick’s Picks predicts that shutting down the Bears will remain an unsolved mystery in this one.
Clairton over Frazier.

#3 Jeannette (10-1) vs. #2 Cardinal Weurl North Catholic (11-0)

The Jayhawks will take on the Trojans at Valley Friday night to punch the final ticket to Heinz Field.  Jeannette is coming off of a 25-15 quarterfinal victory over Neshannock, while Cardinal Weurl North Catholic topped Bishop Canevin, 49-20.  The Jayhawks will likely be without the services of leading rusher Kareem Hall, who suffered an ankle injury against Greensburg Central Catholic in the final week of the regular season.  Quarterback Gio Vonne Sanders has picked up the slack for the Jayhawks, though, passing for 1,400 yards, and rushing for another 700 yards this season.  Trojans’ quarterback Erick Taylor is approaching the 2,000-yard mark, and has thrown for 19 touchdowns on the year.  Cardinal Weurl North Catholic also features a strong defense that has allowed only 87 points all season.  Chick’s Picks predicts that the Jayhawks will continue their rally in the absence of Hall, and advance to the big dance.
Jeannette over CW North Catholic.

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