Welcome to Week 12 of the high school football season. After a long journey on the Highway to Heinz this season, Chick’s Picks decided to take an early exit and refresh before championship week. Standing in line at a coffee shop for a caffeine fix, Chick’s Picks could not believe her eyes. There he was—legendary WPIAL guru Deuce Skurcenski—enjoying a cup of joe at the very same establishment.
Chick’s Picks thought that this must surely be a sign, and could not pass up the opportunity to seek counsel on this week’s semifinals. As expected, Chick’s Picks endured more than her share of Deuce’s famous one-liners before he got down to the nitty gritty of this week’s matchups. Chick’s Pick’s, in the end, was thankful for Deuce’s advice, knowing it would provide the exact boost that her prognosticating needed at this point in the season.
Quarterfinal upsets plagued Chick’s Picks last week as she finished with a 13-3 (81%) record, bringing her season total to 522-125 (81%). Here are this week’s predictions:
Agree with her picks? Disagree? Chick’s Picks wants to hear from you! Be sure to follow her on Twitter @ChicksPicksMSA. Don’t forget to tweet your scores to us @MSASports or use #MSAScores!
CLASS AAAA SEMIFINALS:
#1 North Allegheny (11-0) vs. #4 Seneca Valley (10-1)
The Tigers travel to North Hills for the second consecutive week to take on the Raiders in a semifinal game at North Hills. North Allegheny knocked off Bethel Park, 42-14, in the quarterfinals, while Seneca Valley stopped Mount Lebanon, 32-13. Both of these teams have proven their game in the air and on the ground. North Allegheny QB Mack Leftwich has passed for over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. RB Alex DiCiantis has rushed for 896 yards and 13 touchdowns. Seneca Valley QB Jordan Brown has thrown for 1,726 yards and 50 touchdowns. RB Forrest Barnes has 1,636 yards and 30 touchdowns. These two met previously this season in Week 3, when the Tigers stunned the Raiders, 45-3. Chick’s Picks knows the Raiders will make it more of a contest this time around, but the Tigers still walk away with the win.
North Allegheny over Seneca Valley
#7 Woodland Hills (9-2) vs. #3 Upper St. Clair (10-1)
Woodland Hills will take on Upper St. Clair for the second time this season in another Class AAAA semifinal Friday night at Baldwin. The Wolverines are coming off a huge 17-14 upset of Gateway in the quarterfinals, while the Panthers blanked Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 49-0. Upper St. Clair recorded five shutouts this season, and has yet to allow a point in the postseason. The Panthers have also been impressive offensively, averaging 35.2 points per game. Woodland Hills is led by QB Cody McClelland’s 1,483 yards and 18 touchdowns. Upper St. Clair’s Pete Coughlin has passed for 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns, and is also the team’s leading rusher with 509 yards and nine touchdowns. When these two met in Week 1, the Panthers came out on top, 31-12. Chick’s Picks knows the Wolverines have proven they can pull the upset, but the Panthers defense will bring home the win.
Upper St. Clair over Woodland Hills
CLASS AAA SEMIFINALS:
#1 Thomas Jefferson (11-0) vs. #4 West Allegheny (10-1)
Thomas Jefferson and West Allegheny will meet at Bethel Park for a chance to play for WPIAL gold next week. Last week, the Jaguars edged Franklin Regional 24-21, as the Indians shut down Montour, 14-2. West Allegheny’s only loss this season came to Central Valley, 28-14, in Week 5. Since then, they have gone (6-0) and outscored opponents 164-19. Thomas Jefferson’s offense is averaging 43 points per game behind QB Joe Carroll’s 1,850 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. West Allegheny’s non-traditional offense is led by QB Tory Delmonico, who leads the team in rushing with 730 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Indians defense has been impressive, allowing only 105 points all season. Chick’s Picks knows the Jaguars are no strangers to postseason victory, but the Indians defense will step up big once again.
West Allegheny over Thomas Jefferson
#7 West Mifflin (10-1) vs. #3 Central Valley (9-2)
The Titans take on the Warriors at North Allegheny in semifinal action Friday night. West Mifflin is coming off a 28-13 win over Mars, while Central Valley routed Hopewell, 49-21. Titans dual-threat QB Derrick Fulmore has thrown for 726 yards and seven touchdowns, and rushed for 754 yards and 14 touchdowns. RB Jim Wheeler ranks among the best in the WPIAL with over 2,000 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. The Warriors have been plagued by key injuries to RB Jordan Whitehead and QB Nathan Climo. RB JaQuan Pennington and backup QB John George have filled in nicely, supporting D1 recruit Robert Foster’s 20 touchdown season. Chick’s Picks knows these two look similar on paper, but the strength of a Parkway Conference regular season schedule will carry the Warriors to Heinz Field.
Central Valley over West Mifflin
CLASS AA SEMIFINALS:
#1 Aliquippa (11-0) vs. #4 Jeannette (10-1)
Peters Township will be the site of a rematch of last year’s WPIAL Class AA championship game when undefeated Aliquippa takes on Jeannette. Last week, the Quips crushed Mt. Pleasant, 43-6, as the Jayhawks routed Beaver, 47-15. Aliquippa has been impressive across the board this season, recording five shutouts and never allowing more than 12 points in a game. The Quips have defeated every opponent by 36 points or more. The backfield duo of Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson has combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 39 touchdowns this season. Jeannette packs a one-two punch of its own with Jordan Edmunds and Shavonta Craft, who have rushed for 1,700 yards and 28 touchdowns. Chick’s Picks loves the tradition between these two, but thinks it will be the Quips who advance to their fifth straight title game.
Aliquippa over Jeannette
#2 South Fayette (11-0) vs. #3 Washington (11-0)
The Lions take on the Little Prexies in a semifinal battle of undefeateds at Chartiers Valley. South Fayette is coming off a 35-21 quarterfinal victory over Beaver Falls. Washington stopped Seton-LaSalle, 33-17. This matchup features the top passer and top rusher in the WPIAL. Lions QB Brett Brumbaugh has thrown for 2,583 yards and 36 touchdowns. Little Prexies RB Shai McKenzie has 2,363 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns on the year. South Fayette’s defense has recorded six shutouts this season. Its 21 points allowed by Beaver Falls last week were the most all season, and more than were allowed in the last five games combined. Chick’s Picks thinks the Little Prexies are firing on all cylinders, just in time to pull the upset over the Lions.
Washington over South Fayette
CLASS A SEMIFINALS:
#1 Clairton (11-0) vs. #13 Neshannock (10-1)
Top-ranked Clairton will face Cinderella-storied Neshannock at Chartiers-Houston Friday night. The Bears remained perfect with a 39-0 shutout of Brentwood last week. The Lancers pulled an upset of Monessen, 24-21. Prior to this season, Neshannock had never won a playoff game. The Lancers are now rewarded with the Bears, who own the nation’s longest current win streak of 58 games. The state record of 59 games is held by Central Bucks West. Division I recruit Tyler Boyd has amassed 1,850 yards and 38 touchdowns for Clairton. Neshannock QB Ernie Burkes has passed for 1,495 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for another 800 yards and 11 touchdowns. Chick’s Picks knows the Lancers will present Clairton its biggest challenge to date, but the battle tested Bears will win out.
Clairton over Neshannock
#2 Sto-Rox (10-1) vs. #6 North Catholic (9-2)
The Vikings will battle the Trojans in a Class A semifinal at Dormont Stadium Friday night. Last week, Sto-Rox defeated Union, 33-8, while North Catholic upset Rochester, 22-15. Vikings do-it-all QB Lenny Williams has been perfect in his passing game, throwing for 1,947 yards, 24 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Williams has also rushed for 996 yards and 11 touchdowns. Young sophomore RB PJ Fulmore has rushed for 1,616 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Trojans this season. The Sto-Rox defense has gotten hot as of late, allowing only 15 points in its last five games, including a 25-0 shutout of Rochester. Chick’s Picks knows the Trojans earned respect with last week’s upset, but the postseason experience of the Vikings will earn them another trip to Heinz Field.
Sto-Rox over North Catholic