Sorry NFL fans, Chick’s Picks’ crystal ball is reserved for H.S. football prognosticating

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Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 12:21 PM


Welcome to Week 8.

As a long-time local celebrity, it is not often that Chick’s Picks is star struck. This past weekend, however, was an exception.

Chick’s Picks was invited to take part in the Steelers halftime celebration honoring recent Hall of Fame inductees. All of her years of fame still did not prepare her for being in the presence of legends such at Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, Alan Faneca and coach Bill Cowher. Nonetheless, Chick’s Picks did her best to keep her cool.

Then, upon the conclusion of the ceremony, Chick’s Picks was summoned to a meeting room where there sat coach Mike Tomlin and his staff.

“Chick’s Picks,” Tomlin said. “We hear you’re the best in the business. We aren’t sure what to expect in this second half, so we’re hoping your crystal ball can shed some light on it for us.”

When Chick’s Picks thought that her hall of fame halftime experience couldn’t have gotten any more exciting, there she was being asked to help game plan with the coaching staff. Chick’s Picks responded, “Sorry Coach, this crystal ball is no good at NFL prognosticating. But I have some insight of my own that I’d be happy to share.”

A blank stare from Tomlin made it clear to Chick’s Picks that he was not interested in her two cents. Neither Chick’s Picks, nor her crystal ball could have predicted what ensued in that second half or overtime. Rest assured, though, the crystal ball is working just fine when it comes to high school predictions.

Chick’s Picks finished last week with a 51-10 (84%) record, bringing her season total to 359-127 (74%). Here are this week’s big games:

WPIAL Class 6A

No. 4 Seneca Valley Raiders (6-2) at No. 1 Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (8-0)

The top-ranked Blue Devils host the Raiders in a Class 6A showdown Friday night. Mt. Lebanon remained perfect with a 35-7 rout of Norwin last week, while Seneca Valley rolled over Baldwin, 49-12. Veteran quarterback Joey Daniels leads the Mt. Lebanon offense, throwing for 1,157 yards and 17 touchdowns. Daniels’ favorite target, Eli Heidenreich, has racked up 710 yards and 13 touchdowns. Alex Tecza heads Blue Devils’ running game with 1,181 rushing yards and 14 scores. Raiders’ quarterback Graham Hancox has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark, and has tossed eight touchdown passes on the year. Luke Lawson and Brandon Ross have combined for 863 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Mt. Lebanon boasts both the top-ranked offense and defense in Class 6A, averaging 37.6 points per game and holding opponents to only 9.4. Both the Raiders and the Blue Devils have solidified their spots in the postseason, but the conference title is still up for grabs. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Blue Devils will be one step closer to staking their claim after this one…Mt. Lebanon over Seneca Valley.

WPIAL Class 5A

Bethel Park Black Hawks (5-3) at No. 1 Moon Tigers (8-0)

The Black Hawks take on the top-ranked Tigers in Allegheny Six Conference action Friday night. Bethel Park is coming off of a 38-8 victory over Peters Township last week, while Moon edged Upper St. Clair, 16-13. Bethel Park quarterback Max Blanc has passed for 1,172 yards and seven scores this season. Troy Volpatti has racked up 803 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns for the Black Hawks. Undefeated Moon is led by quarterback Tyler McGowan, who has thrown for 928 yards and seven touchdowns. Out of the backfield, Dylan Sleva has rushed for 660 yards and six scores. Both Bethel Park and Moon have already clinched playoff spots, but a share of the Allegheny Six Conference title is still up for the taking. When these two met last season, the Tigers ensured that the Black Hawks finish the year winless, handing them a 30-7 defeat. Chick’s Picks predicts a tougher test this time around, but the same result…Moon over Bethel Park.

WPIAL Class 4A

No. 2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (5-1) at No. 4 McKeesport Tigers (7-1)

Big Eight Conference play heats up when the Tigers take on the Jaguars in a battle between Top 5 teams Friday night. Last week, McKeesport routed Laurel Highlands, 42-7, while TJ rolled over Ringgold, 42-6. The Tigers’ only loss this season came to Canisius (N.Y.) in Week 3, 35-14. The Jaguars’ only blemish came to Belle Vernon, 28-21, in a Week 4 thriller. McKeesport relies heavily on the running game, led by Bobbie Boyd — one of the WPIAL’s best — who has rushed for 957 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Dual-threat quarterback Joe Leske leads the TJ offense, throwing for 624 yards and eight touchdowns, and rushing for a team-high 439 yards and 10 scores. Elias Lippencott and Connor Murga round out the running game for the Jaguars, combining for 703 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. McKeesport and TJ boast two of the top defenses in the WPIAL, holding opponents to only 10 points per game. Both the Tigers and the Jaguars have clinched playoff spots, but Big Eight Conference bragging rights are on the line. When these two met last season, McKeesport edged TJ, 20-14. Chick’s Picks predicts revenge for the Jaguars this time around…TJ over McKeesport.

WPIAL Class 3A

No. 2 North Catholic Trojans (8-0) at Freeport Yellowjackets (4-3)

The Yellowjackets host the Trojans in an Allegheny Seven Conference showdown Friday night. Freeport is coming off of a 42-9 victory over Burrell last week. North Catholic remained perfect with a 35-0 rout of Deer Lakes. The win marked the Trojans’ sixth shutout in eight games this season. Dual-threat quarterback Ben Lane leads the Yellowjackets, passing for 352 yards and rushing for a team-best 372 yards and six touchdowns. Joey Prentice captains a well-rounded Trojans offense, throwing for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jack Fennell, Kyle Tipinski and Chase Arrington have combined for 825 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. North Catholic features the top defense in the WPIAL, holding opponents to 31 points (3.9 points per game). Freeport is allowing 17 points per game. Both the Trojans and the Yellowjackets have secured their spots in the postseason. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Trojans, though, will be one step closer to an Allegheny Seven Conference title when this one is in the books…North Catholic over Freeport.

WPIAL Class 2A

Beaver Falls Tigers (4-3) at Neshannock Lancers (7-1)

Beaver Falls travels to take on Neshannock in Midwestern Conference action Friday night. The Tigers rolled over Freedom last week, 41-8, while the Lancers knocked off New Brighton, 40-27. Beaver Falls has been hot as of late, going 4-0 after starting the season 0-3. Jaren Brickner leads the Tigers with 1,327 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Trey Singleton has been Brickner’s favorite target with 433 receiving yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns. Neshannock quarterback Kurt Sommerfield has thrown for 501 yards and seven touchdowns. Peyton Weaver leads the Lancers’ running game with 657 yards and 11 touchdowns. Neshannock also boasts a stingy defense that is allowing only 9.5 points per game. Both the Tigers and the Lancers are headed to the playoffs, but the Midwestern Conference title is still up for grabs. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Tigers continue to roll in this one…Beaver Falls over Neshannock.

WPIAL Class A

No. 5 Rochester Rams (5-2) at Shenango Wildcats (3-4)

The Wildcats host the Rams in a Big Seven Conference battle Friday night. Shenango held off OLSH last week, 14-7, while Rochester fell to No. 3 Cornell, 14-7. The Wildcats’ backfield duo of CJ Miller and Hunter Lively have combined for 1,086 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Sal Laure leads the Rams’ storied running game with 555 yards and eight scores. Rochester is also solid defensively, holding opponents to 8.6 points per game. Shenango has been outscored by its opponents, 134-151. Neither the Wildcats nor the Rams have clinched a playoff spot yet, but the winner of this one will punch their ticket. Chick’s Picks predicts that the Rams will have reason to celebrate when the clock hits zero in this one…Rochester over Shenango.

Here’s a look at the rest of this week’s games:

WPIAL CLASS 6A

Canon-McMillan over Norwin

North Allegheny over Hempfield

Central Catholic over Baldwin

WPIAL CLASS 5A

Allegheny Six Conference

Upper St. Clair over South Fayette

West Allegheny over Peters Township

Big East Conference

Gateway over Connellsville

Penn-Trafford over Franklin Regional

Woodland Hills over Latrobe

Northeast Conference

North Hills over Fox Chapel

Pine-Richland over Kiski Area

Penn Hills over Shaler

WPIAL CLASS 4A

Big Eight Conference

Laurel Highlands over Trinity

Ringgold over West Mifflin

Greater Allegheny Conference

Hampton over Knoch

Highlands over Greensburg Salem

Indiana over Mars

Armstrong over Plum

Parkway Conference

Aliquippa over Blackhawk

Beaver over Montour

New Castle over Chartiers Valley

WPIAL CLASS 3A

Allegheny Seven Conference

Burrell over Derry

East Allegheny over Valley

Interstate Conference

Yough over Brownsville

Elizabeth Forward over Southmoreland

Mt. Pleasant over South Park

Northwestern Six Conference

Central Valley over Avonworth

Keystone Oaks over Hopewell

Quaker Valley over Ambridge

Nonconference

South Allegheny over Deer Lakes

WPIAL CLASS 2A

Allegheny Conference

Ligonier Valley over Shady Side Academy

Steel Valley over Apollo-Ridge

Serra Catholic over Summit Academy

Century Conference

McGuffey over Beth-Center

Chartiers-Houston over Waynesburg

Washington over Frazier (forfeit)

Midwestern Conference

Laurel over Ellwood City

Freedom over Mohawk

New Brighton over Riverside

Three Rivers Conference

South Side over Seton LaSalle

Sto-Rox over Brentwood

Western Beaver over Carlynton

Nonconference

Albert Gallatin over Charleroi

WPIAL CLASS A

Big Seven Conference

Cornell over Fort Cherry

OLSH over Northgate

Burgettstown over Union

Eastern Conference

Clairton over Springdale

Greensburg Central Catholic over Jeannette

Leechburg over Imani Christian

Bishop Canevin over Riverview

Tri-County South Conference

Carmichaels over Avella

California over Monessen

West Greene over Jefferson-Morgan

Mapletown over Bentworth

CITY LEAGUE

Westinghouse over University Prep

Brashear over Allderdice

District 10

Butler over Franklin

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