Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.
After a brief hiatus, we're ready to get back at it and give you our picks for some of the state's best matchups this week. Let's get to it.
(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)
No. 1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (11-0) vs. No. 6 Upper St. Clair (10-1)
Upper St. Clair's only loss came at the hands of North Allegheny. A win would set up a rematch; a loss means we all get to see the Western PA matchup of the year between No. 1 and No. 3. But don't gloss over this matchup. Upper St. Clair has the talent across the board to match up with the state's top team. Dakota Conwell has been a man possessed and is one of the state's top dual-threat QBs. But he'll face the best defense he's played all year, and the offense isn't bad either, led by QB Perry Hills and WR Anthony Nixon. But we have no fear here at ESPNHS, so I'm picking the upset. PREDICTION: Upper St. Clair 24, Pittsburgh Central Catholic 17
No. 3 North Allegheny (11-0) vs. Gateway (9-2)
Don't take Gateway lightly. The team's two losses were by a combined eight points, and one came against top-ranked Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The defense is stout, the offense is surprisingly potent, and the Gators are playing some of their best football right now (they've beaten their first two playoff opponents by a combined score of 86-21). But North Allegheny is nationally ranked (No. 35 in the POWERADE FAB 50) and has played like a team possessed all year long. For Gateway to come away with the win would be a monumental upset. PREDICTION: North Allegheny 17, Gateway 13
George Washington (8-2) vs. La Salle (10-1)
La Salle is not an explosive team. They don't have a world-beating offense and their defense is solid but unspectacular. But at 10-1, there's no denying that this team has the mental edge in close games. The team's last three wins have been by 11 points or fewer. In playoff games, that advantage can't be put into quantifiable numbers. And since you can expect a close game against George Washington, that could be a big advantage. But all those close games can wear down a team, too. And George Washington is no slouch opponent; the Eagles are tough, athletic and know how to put up points. PREDICTION: La Salle 20, George Washington 17
Previous Record: 21-11