‘Phone a Friend’ comes in handy when Chick’s Picks prognosticates high school football games

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Thursday, September 30, 2021 | 11:38 AM


Welcome to Week 5.

As part of her ongoing effort to be more transparent to her loyal supporters, Chick’s Picks decided to give her fans an inside look at one of the many skills that go into her prognosticating each week.

Many moons ago, the popular game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” dubbed the “Phone a Friend” lifeline. By choosing this option, contestants who needed assistance with an answer could reach out to a friend for help in making their critical decision.

The phone a friend lifeline eventually progressed into the world of prognosticating, as well. Nowadays, all WPIAL football prognosticators rely on this lifeline regularly. After all, the crystal ball has never been 100% reliable.

Chick’s Picks is very fortunate to have a very elite group of friends available for her phone a friend lifeline. These friends are all alumni of various Pennsylvania high schools with prestigious football programs. Additionally, this group also attended prognosticating school with Chick’s Picks, majoring in high school football, of course.

Each member of this group brings a particular skill set for Chick’s Picks to choose from, depending on the challenge brought forth by that particular game’s prediction. For example, one friend holds the title of head coach at a top high school football program in Texas.

A few others have children that are current or future WPIAL football stars. Another friend offers basic, yet reliable wisdom, such as, “The team will run the ball.” Others have vast databases of high school football facts that could give legendary WPIAL statistician Deuce Skurcenski a run for the money.

While this elite group can also be a bit critical of Chick’s Picks when her predictions don’t lean their way, she is forever grateful for their decades of friendship, shared love of football, and endless prognosticating support.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 44-16 (73%) record, bringing her season total to 222-85 (72%). Here are this week’s big games:

WPIAL Class 6A

No. 4 North Allegheny Tigers (3-2) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (5-0)

The Blue Devils look to defend their perfect record when they host the Tigers in a Class 6A showdown Friday night. Mt. Lebanon is coming off of a 48-14 rout of Hempfield last week, while North Allegheny fell to Central Catholic, 24-7. The Blue Devils’ balanced offensive attack is led by quarterback Joey Daniels, who has thrown for 750 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Eli Heidenreich has been on the receiving end of 468 yards and eight scores. Alex Tecza leads all Mt. Lebanon rushers with 540 yards and six touchdowns. The Tigers have found success with a two-quarterback rotation which includes senior Tanner Potts and sophomore Logan Kushner. The Blue Devils boast the top defense in Class 6A, allowing only 34 points in their first five games. When these two met last season, North Allegheny edged Mt. Lebanon, 14-11. Chick’s Picks likes the Blue Devils to get their revenge this time around…Mt. Lebanon over North Allegheny.

WPIAL Class 5A

No. 3 South Fayette Lions (4-1) at No. 1 Moon Tigers (5-0)

South Fayette hits the road to take on Moon in Allegheny Six Conference action Friday night. Last week, the Lions rolled over Latrobe, 35-7, while the Tigers topped Fox Chapel, 42-28. South Fayette’s only loss this season came to Thomas Jefferson, 27-0, in Week 2. Landon Lutz captains the Lions offense, passing for 717 yards and nine touchdowns. Nate Deans leads the ground game with 545 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Moon’s potent offense, averaging nearly 34 points per game, is led by quarterback Tyler McGowan and top target Taite Beachy. Ian Foster and Dylan Sleva are the Tigers’ top rushers. When these two met last season, the Lions came away with a 28-13 victory. Chick’s Picks predicts that the top-ranked Tigers remain perfect in this one…Moon over South Fayette.

WPIAL Class 4A

Greensburg Salem Golden Lions (4-1) at No. 5 Hampton Talbots (5-0)

Hampton hosts Greensburg Salem in a battle between Greater Allegheny Conference powers Friday night. The Golden Lions are coming off of a 35-14 victory over Indiana last week, while the Talbots topped Highlands, 27-7. Greensburg Salem quarterback Hayden Teska ranks among the best in the WPIAL, passing for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cody Rubrecht has been Teska’s top target, racking up 503 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Hampton’s offense, averaging 36.2 points per game, relies heavily on the running game. Christian Liberto and Brock Borgo have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. When these two met last season, Hampton rolled to an easy 42-9 victory. Greensburg Salem finished the season with a 1-6 record. Chick’s Picks predicts an upset for the much-improved Golden Lions…Greensburg Salem over Hampton.

WPIAL Class 3A

Keystone Oaks Golden Eagles (2-3) at No. 3 Avonworth Antelopes (4-1)

The Antelopes welcome the Golden Eagles in a Northwestern Six Conference showdown Friday night. Avonworth held off South Side last week, 12-7. The Antelopes’ only loss this season came to Class 2A No. 1 Sto-Rox, 19-16. Keystone Oaks fell to Montour, 28-21. This marked the third consecutive loss for the Golden Eagles, after falling to Steel Valley and Chartiers Valley. Despite the losing streak, Keystone Oaks boasts one of the top passers in the WPIAL in Nick Buckley, who has thrown for 1,067 yards and six touchdowns. Quinn Kenny and Owen Minford have combined for more than 600 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The Antelopes are led by senior running back Ian Syam, who has rushed for 556 yards and 10 touchdowns. When these two met last season, Keystone Oaks knocked off Avonworth, 20-13. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Antelopes get one back this time around…Avonworth over Keystone Oaks.

WPIAL Class 2A

No. 5 Ligonier Valley Rams (5-0) at Steel Valley Ironmen (4-0)

The Rams travel to Munhall to take on the Ironmen in an Allegheny Conference battle between undefeateds Friday night. Ligonier Valley is coming off of a 62-12 rout of Carrick last week, while Steel Valley rolled over Brentwood, 42-6. The Rams have remained perfect despite an injury-plagued start to the season. Ligonier Valley lost junior quarterback Hayden Sierocky to a broken arm in Week 2. Junior quarterback Broderick Schreyer has filled in nicely since, throwing for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Nick Beitel has rushed for 478 yards and six touchdowns for the Rams. Steel Valley is led by junior quarterback Cruce Brookins, who has thrown for 105 yards, and rushed for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Nijhay Burt has been impressive in the Ironmen backfield, rushing for a team-high 779 yards and 13 touchdowns. Both defenses are allowing less than 10 points per game. When these two met last season, Ligonier Valley edged Steel Valley, 28-26. Chick’s Picks predicts a big road win for the Rams to remain perfect in this one…Ligonier Valley over Steel Valley.

WPIAL Class A

No. 3 Bishop Canevin Crusaders (5-0) at No. 1 Clairton Bears (2-2)

The top-ranked Bears host the undefeated Crusaders in an Eastern Conference showdown Friday night. Last week, Clairton blanked Riverview, 38-0, while Bishop Canevin topped Greensburg Central Catholic, 20-14. The Bears got off to a slow start this season, dropping their first two games to Steel Valley (2A) and Class 2A No. 2 Washington, before rebounding with wins over No. 4 Leechburg and Riverview. Clairton is led by dual-threat junior quarterback Capone Jones. Bishop Canevin has youth at the helm in quarterback Jason Cross, who has thrown for 529 yards and seven touchdowns in this, his sophomore season. Lasae Lacks has been the primary target for Cross, with 307 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Crusaders boast one of the top defenses in the WPIAL, allowing only 32 points in five games. Chick’s Picks predicts a hard-fought close contest with the victory going to the home team…Clairton over Bishop Canevin.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Week 5 slate:

WPIAL CLASS 6A

Canon-McMillan over Hempfield

Baldwin over Norwin

Central Catholic over Seneca Valley

WPIAL CLASS 5A

Allegheny Six Conference

Peters Township over Upper St. Clair

West Allegheny over Bethel Park

Big East Conference

Franklin Regional over Connellsville

Gateway over Latrobe

Penn-Trafford over Woodland Hills

Northeast Conference

North Hills over Kiski Area

Pine-Richland over Penn hills

Shaler over Fox Chapel

WPIAL CLASS 4A

Big Eight Conference

McKeesport over Ringgold

West Mifflin over Trinity

Greater Allegheny Conference

Armstrong over Mars

Indiana over Knoch

Highlands over Plum

Parkway Conference

Aliquippa over Beaver

Chartiers Valley over Blackhawk

New Castle over Montour

WPIAL CLASS 3A

Allegheny Seven Conference

East Allegheny over Deer Lakes

Freeport over Valley

North Catholic over Burrell

Interstate Conference

Mt. Pleasant over Yough

South Allegheny over Brownsville

Elizabeth Forward over South Park

Northwestern Six Conference

Ambridge over Hopewell

Central Valley over Quaker Valley

Nonconference

Southmoreland over Derry

WPIAL CLASS 2A

Allegheny Conference

Serra Catholic over Shady Side Academy

Apollo-Ridge over Summit Academy

Century Conference

Chartiers-Houston over Charleroi

Frazier over Waynesburg

Washington over Beth-Center

Midwestern Conference

Beaver Falls over New Brighton

Laurel over Freedom

Neshannock over Ellwood City

Mohawk over Riverside

Three Rivers Conference

Brentwood over Carlynton

Sto-Rox over South Side

Western Beaver over Seton LaSalle

Nonconference

McGuffey over Linsly School (W.Va.)

WPIAL CLASS A

Big Seven Conference

Fort Cherry over Northgate

Burgettstown over Shenango

Cornell over Union

OLSH over Rochester

Eastern Conference

Springdale over Greensburg Central Catholic

Leechburg over Jeannette

Imani Christian over Riverview

Tri-County South Conference

California over Avella

Carmichaels over West Greene

Bentworth over Jefferson-Morgan

Monessen over Mapletown

INDEPENDENT

Albert Gallatin over Southern Garrett (MD)

Butler over Harbor Creek

CITY LEAGUE

Perry over Allderdice

Westinghouse over University Prep

Nonconference

Brashear over Uniontown

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More Football

WPIAL Class A roundup: Henderson’s 2 TDs carry No. 3 Cornell past No. 5 Rochester
WPIAL Class 2A roundup: Chartiers-Houston edges McGuffey in Century Conference
WPIAL Class 4A roundup: Ringer’s 4th TD helps Beaver top Chartiers Valley in OT
Bethel Park defeats Peters Township to remain perfect in conference
WPIAL Class 6A roundup: Strong 2nd half lifts No. 1 Mt. Lebanon past Norwin

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