CHICKS PICKS – 09/01/2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011 | 5:47 AM

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2011 high school football season.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of summer, Chick’s Picks decided to try her hand at a newer trend in high school football circles–7-on-7 leagues.  After hearing more about these leagues in recent months, Chick’s Picks decided to field her own team from the MSA Sports Staff in an effort to keep everyone connected during the long off-season.  Since 7-on-7 games are played with no helmets, no pads, and no tackling, Chick’s Picks thought this would be the perfect sport for a roster aged to perfection.

As the self-pronounced coach of the team, Chick’s Picks diligently selected her seven players, including the MSA Sports Network’s own Mike Azadian, Sam Hall, Bobby O, Ken Laird, Paul Paterra, Johnny Lee, and Network head honcho, Don Rebel.  A week into two-a-days, Coach Chick’s could not be happier with her team’s production.  She sent video tapes of her team’s practices to the most prominent 7-on-7 leagues across the country.

Much to her surprise, however, Chick’s Picks received no invitations, but instead, letters of denial.  Responses included reasons such as, “exceeded age limit, lack of necessary physical conditioning.”  So, for this season, Team MSA Sports took it on the chin and decided to stick with the bread and butter–delivering the best and most coverage of WPIAL football.

Here are this week’s big games:

#7 Shaler at #2 Upper St. Clair

Upper St. Clair opens its season hosting Top 10 opponent Shaler Friday night.  The Panthers finished last season with an (8-3) record, and fell to North Hills, 16-14, in the WPIAL quarterfinals.  QB Dakota Conwell, an Elite 11 selection, returns for Upper St. Clair.  The Pitt recruit threw for nearly 2,000 yards last season, and is one of the Panthers’ leading tacklers.  The Titans return the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball.  QB Ryan Mincher is predicted to be the best in the Northern Seven conference.   Shaler will certainly be looking to improve on last year’s (5-4) record.  These two met in Week 1 last season, as well, with the Titans falling, 24-6.  Chick’s Picks thinks this will be two in a row for the Panthers.

Upper St. Clair over Shaler. 

#1 Montour at #7 Chartiers Valley

Emotions will be running high Friday night in Bridgeville as the Colts host the defending WPIAL runner-up Spartans.  When these two met in Week 1 last season, Chartiers Valley’s high-profile QB Wayne Capers, Jr. sustained a season-ending knee injury.  Prior to the injury, however, Capers completed 19/35 passes for 338 yards, and ran 69-yards for a touchdown.  The Colts fell to the Spartans, 35-28.  A Division 1 recruit, Capers is healthy and ready for the season, but will move to WR, where he will play in college.  Montour returns its top four key players from its (12-1) season last year.  QB Dillon Buechel, who passed for nearly 2,000 yards, will again look to connect with his two prime targets–Devin Wilson and Darren Massey.  RB Julian Durden, a member of the MSA Sports Elite 11, rushed for over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last season.  Chick’s Picks loves the Capers storyline here, but thinks the Spartans still come out on top.

Montour over Chartiers Valley.

#10 (AA) South Fayette at #6 (AAA) West Mifflin

After losing the majority of last season’s WPIAL Championship team to graduation, South Fayette will have a tough fight in Week 1, facing Class AAA Top Ten-ranked West Mifflin.  The Lions finished last year’s Cinderella season with a (15-1) record after falling to Philadelphia West Catholic in the PIAA title game.  The Titans returned to the postseason last year for the first time in five seasons, but finishing with a meager (4-6) record and bouncing from the playoffs after a first round loss to Montour.  West Mifflin will need to replace QB Jordan McClung, but will return RB Shamar Greene–an all-conference nominee last season.  The Titans are a pre-season contender for the Big Eight Conference title, along with Thomas Jefferson.  These two also opened last season against one another, with the Lions winning big, 28-6.  Chick’s Picks thinks the tables turn this time around.

West Mifflin over South Fayette.

#6 Bishop Canevin at #10 Avonworth

The Antelopes welcome the Crusaders to kick off the season Friday night.  Avonworth finished last season with a (10-2) record, and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals, where they stumbled upon WPIAL runner-up Rochester.  The Antelopes return the majority of starters from last year’s successful squad, including RB Ricky Lawniczak, who was named all-conference last season.  Avonworth is expected to finish third in the Eastern conference behind Springdale and Bishop Canevin.  The Crusaders have been plagued by graduation since their (9-2) quarterfinal finish a year ago.  RB Casey McCaffrey will be back in the starting lineup to bring experience to a young team.  When these two met in Week 1 of last season, Bishop Canevin escaped with a narrow 21-14 victory.  Chick’s Picks thinks the Antelopes exact revenge this week.

Avonworth over Bishop Canevin.

CLASS AA Interstate Conference:
Mount Pleasant over Charleroi
Jeannette over East Allegheny
Southmoreland over Brownsville
Greensburg Central Catholic over Waynesburg

CLASS AA Midwestern Conference:
Beaver Falls over Mohawk
Ellwood City over Freedom
Aliquippa over Laurel
Beaver over Riverside

CLASS A Eastern Conference:
Springdale over North Catholic
Riverview over Wilkinsburg
Northgate over OLSH

CLASS A Tri-County South Conference:
Beth-Center over Frazier
Monessen over Geibel
Jefferson-Morgan over West Greene
California over Mapletown

Steel Valley over Albert Gallatin
Central Valley over Allderdice
Keystone Oaks over Ambridge
Hopewell over Belle Vernon
Bethel Park over Kiski Area
Knoch over Brashear
Deer Lakes over Brentwood
Burrell over Valley
Canon-McMillan over Trinity
Carmichaels over Leechburg
Latrobe over Derry
Erie Cathedral Prep over Erie McDowell
Ford City over Kittanning
Fox Chapel over Baldwin
Franklin Regional over Plum
Highlands over Freeport
Greensburg Salem over Hempfield
Hampton over Blackhawk
Indiana over Apollo-Ridge
Carlynton over Langley
McGuffey over Laurel Highlands
Mars over Moon
Mount Lebanon over Pine-Richland
Neshannock over West Shamokin
New Brighton over Yough
New Castle over Butler
Seneca Valley over Norwin
Shady Side Academy over Oliver
North Hills over Perry
Penn-Trafford over Peters Township
Ringgold over Elizabeth Forward
Rochester over Serra
Seton-LaSalle over Carrick
Sto-Rox over South Allegheny
West Allegheny over South Park
St. Edward (OH) over Penn Hills
McKeesport over St. Joan of Arc (Ontario)
North Allegheny over State College
Woodland Hills over Thomas Jefferson
Chartiers-Houston over Union
Uniontown over Connellsville
Clairton over Washington
Westinghouse over Bentworth
Shenango over Avella
Burgettstown over South Side
Ft. Cherry over Western Beaver
University Prep over Summit Academy
Archbishop Wood over Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Bishop McDevitt over Gateway

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