This is a highly scientific process picking these games. Well maybe it's not. Some of these teams and players we have seen and some we have not. That's when it gets interesting. Here are my picks, what are yours? Discuss them on the Panther247 message board.
D5-6-8-9 Class AAA
Clearfield (11-0) vs University Prep (6-3) 11/17 @1:00 p.m. Clarion University
**Clearfield junior Christian Lezzer has been one of the most productive athletes in the state. Offensively he has thrown for more than a 1,000 yards and passed for more than a thousand yards. He also has 11 sacks on defense. University Prep has some athletes of its own led by senior quarterback Akil Young who shredded the Somerset defense last week for an astonishing 462 yards.
D5 Class A
Windber (9-2) vs. Berlin (9-1) 11/17 @7:00 P.M. at Berlin
**This is a tough game to call. Windber defeated Berlin 28-20 just 14 days ago at Windber. This time the game is at Berlin, so I'm taking the workhorse Drew Glotfelty and the Mountaineers in this one.
North Star (9-2) vs. Northern Bedford (9-1) 11/16 @ 7:00 P.M. at Northern Bedford
**Northern Bedford is at home and they have been battle tested playing a very tough schedule. They have a very balanced offense, but I think the passing attack will be the difference in this one.
PREDICTION: NORTHERN BEDFORD
D6/D9 Class AAA Championship
Dubois (8-1) vs. State College (8-3) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Mansion Park in Altoona
**Dubois has one of the most prolific offenses in the state in terms of yardage per game. They feature 5-foot-6, 155 pound dynamo Garrett Brown who averages 206.8 yards per game. The Little Lions play a tough schedule. Offensively they feature four players with more than 300 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Pat Irwin has thrown for 1,360 yards and 16 touchdowns, while only tossing five interceptions.**
PREDICTION: STATE COLLEGE
D6 Class AA Semifinals
Forest Hills (8-3) vs. Ligonier Valley (10-1) 11/17 @7:00 P.M. at Ligonier
**Having played against Don Bailey coached teams in the past I know you don't pick against the master, but this Ranger squad is young. Ligonier throws enough to keep you honest, but the Rams will only go as far as the legs of bruising running back Ryan Torrance will take them. I really like Ram tight end Alec Bloom. He doesn't catch many balls (14), but when he does he averages (22.4) yards per catch and has seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-7 and 210-pounds, he is a tough match-up and is deadly in the red zone. Defensively, Stuart Urch has been feasting on opponents quarterbacks all season with (20) sacks. Now, Roger Beitel can't say everyone picked them to lose.
PREDICTION: LIGONIER VALLEY
Richland (11-0) vs. Tyrone (8-3)11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Richland
**This game will feature two very talented junior running backs as Tyrone junior James Oliver has run for 1,849 yards and 26 touchdowns on 223 carries. That is an impressive (8.3) yards per carry. The Rams counter with Tanner Solarczyk who has run for 1,514 yards and 22 touchdowns on 168 carries. Again a very impressive (9.0) yards per carry. Brandon Bailey has done a great job with the Richland program and the scary part is most of their skill players are all back next year. I think this game could go either way.
D6 Class A Semifinals
Bellwood-Antis (10-1) vs. Bishop Guilfoyle (9-2) 11/16 @7:00 P.M.
**John Hayes is a veteran and he makes it no secret that his Blue Devils will try to run the ball down your throat. Guilfoyle has surprised a lot of folks this year, but overall most think the Laurel Highlands is down this season.
Bishop McCort (8-3) vs. Northern Cambria (8-3) 11/17 @7:00 P.M. at Point Stadium in Johnstown
**Last week, I said Northern Cambria could beat anyone in the bracket, but they could also lose to anyone in the bracket. The Crimson Crushers seem to be in a groove right now. The Colts have a potent offense and they find ways to win. Should be an electric crowd for this one.
PREDICTION: BISHOP McCORT
WPIAL D-7 Semifinals
(All games are Friday at 7:30 P.M.)
North Allegheny (11-0) vs. Seneca Valley (10-1) at North Hills
**Don Holl has done a masterful job at Seneca Valley losing only one game. Unfortunately that one game was to North Allegheny (45-3). Seneca Valley is a lot better now than they were in week three, but so are the Tigers. Both teams have a lot of weapons at their disposal, but the Tigers have a few more.
PREDICTION: NORTH ALLEGHENY
Upper St. Clair (10-1) vs. Woodland Hills (9-2) at Baldwin
**George Novak keeps showing why he is one of the most respected coaches to ever coach in the WPIAL. No one gave the Wolverines a shot in these playoffs, but last week they upset Gateway. Wide Receiver Tom Greene is becoming one of the WPIAL's hidden gems. Upper St. Clair is always good and most expected a drop off this year, but Jim Render just seems to reload. This team lost three D-I players from last year, but it hasn't slowed the Panthers down.**
PREDICTION: WOODLAND HILLS
Thomas Jefferson (11-0) vs. West Allegheny (10-1) at Bethel Park
**West Allegheny features a bevy of young backs and a stout defense. They also feature one of the top coaches in the state in Bob Palko. Bill Cherpak has his Jaguars in familiar territory as they try to make it back to Heinz Field. Thomas Jefferson has the more balanced offense and the only teams to score many points on West Allegheny were teams with balance. I expect a low scoring affair here.**
PREDICTION: THOMAS JEFFERSON
Central Valley (9-2) vs. West Mifflin (10-1) at North Allegheny
**I love this West Mifflin offense led by senior quarterback Derrick Fulmore and junior tailback James Wheeler. Wheeler has run for 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns on 242 carries. Central Valley features five-star Robert Foster who thrives on big games. Look for Foster to have a big game and he could be the difference in this one.
PREDICTION: CENTRAL VALLEY
Aliquippa (11-0) vs. Jeannette (10-1) at Peters Township
**Jeannette is an explosive team, but Aliquippa is loaded. The Quips feature one of the best one-two punches in the state with Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson. I'm picking the Quips to win the Class AA state championship. The bad thing is for teams in the WPIAL is that most of the Quips big guns will all be back next year.**
South Fayette (11-0) vs. Washington (11-0) at Chartiers Valley
**This could be the most exciting game in the WPIAL this weekend. South Fayette is led by sophomore quarterback Brett Brumbaugh and senior wide receiver Zach Challingsworth who is headed to Pitt. The Prexies are led by talented junior running back Shai McKenzie. Can the Lions stop the running attack? Can the Prexies wlow down the passing game?
PREDICTION: South Fayette
Clairton (11-0) vs. Neshannock (10-1) at Chartiers-Houston
**If the Bears win this game they will tie the state record for consecutive wins at (59). Neshannock has had a great run, but nobody is beating Da Bears. Tyler Boyd, Terrish Webb, Titus Howard and company in a blowout.
Sto-Rox (10-1) vs. North Catholic (9-2) at Dormont Stadium
**Another game that could be electric , but it won't be. Sto-Rox is on a mission to get back to Heinz Field for a rematch against Clairton. The only way they lose is if they look past North Catholic. Lenny Williams, Brendan Blair and Javelle Kirkland will lead the Vikings to the promise land.**
PIAA Class AAAA Playoffs
D8- Perry (8-2) vs. D10-Erie McDowell (5-5) at Fairview 7:00 P.M.
**McDowell features James Connor who is heading to Pitt and Perry doesn't. if you have ever watched Connor play enough said. McDowell's record is deceptive as they played one of the toughest schedules in the state.**
D9 Class AA Finals
Karns City (8-3) vs. Kane (7-3) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Clarion University
**I know very little about both of these teams, but Kane is a WWE wrestler so I'll give the edge to the Wolves. Although, Karns City has one of the best Mascots the Gremlins.**
D9 Class A Semifinals
Brockway (9-2) vs. Clarion (11-0) 11/17 @6:00 P.M. at Dubois
**Clarion hasn't been tested this year, as they are led by Old Dominion commitment T.J. Armstrong.**
Port Allegany (10-0) vs. Elk County Catholic (8-2) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Bradford
**Port Allegany has put up a ridiculous (534) points this season. The Gators are led by quarterback Matt Bodamer who has put up video game type stats. He has thrown for 2,937 yards and 44 touchdowns. He has an insane completion percentage (74%) and has thrown (226) times. You want more insanity? He has only thrown three picks. The Gators also have a pair of 1,000 yard receivers.
PREDICTION: PORT ALLEGANY
D10 Class AAA Semifinals
General McLane (8-2) vs. Slippery Rock (9-1) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Slippery Rock University
**The Lancers are led by UConn commit Quinn Thompson and junior prospect Brett Kulka.**
PREDICTION: GENERAL McLANE
Warren (9-2) vs. Erie Cathedral Prep (11-0) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Veteran's Stadium in Erie
**This may be the most talented team the Ramblers have had in a very long time led by a pair of Michigan State recruits in quarterback Damion Terry and athlete Delton Williams. Terry has thrown for 2,449 yards and 37 touchdowns. He has also run for 435 yards and nine touchdowns.**
PREDICTION: Erie Cathedral Prep
Class AA Semifinals
Grove City (9-1) vs. Hickory (9-1) 11/17 @1:00 P.M. at Slippery Rock University
**Hickory is led by West Virginia commit DeShawn Coleman who has scored 29 touchdowns this season. He has also run for 1,342 yards. Junior athlete Foster Reznor leads the Eagles who have lost one time this year. Unfortunately that loss was too...Hickory**
Greenville (6-5) vs. Wilmington (8-2) 11/17 @7:00 P.M. at Slippery Rock University
**These two teams already played and Wilmington won handily.**
Class A Semifinals
West Middlesex (9-2) vs. Farrell (6-4) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Wilmington
**These two teams met in week three and West Middlesex won by (33).**
PREDICTION: WEST MIDDLESEX
Lakeview (7-4) vs. Sharpsville (9-1) 11/16 @7:00 P.M. at Grove City
**Another rematch game, Sharpsville won the first contest (42-0).**