Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 6

Each week we'll take some 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.

(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)

It's the state semifinals. It doesn't get much better than this — who's got what it takes to advance to the finals? Are there any cinderellas left? We're not holding back. Let's pick 'em all.


La Salle (13-1) vs. North Penn (12-2)

Undefeated in-state, La Salle has to be feeling pretty good about this season so far. The Explorers lost only to Bergen Catholic (N.J.) in the second week of the season. Since then, it's been smooth sailing. But it hasn't been the most difficult schedule. North Penn, meanwhile, has navigated a stretch of teams such as Neshaminy, Pennsbury and St. Joseph's Prep. These two teams actually met up in the first week of the season (La Salle cruised, 44-27) but these are two very different teams now than they were then. PREDICTION: La Salle 27, North Penn 21

No. 3 North Allegheny (14-0) vs. Central Dauphin (13-1)

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be a quarterback facing off against the Central Dauphin defense. The Rams have 74.5 sacks this season, led by senior Evan Schwan's 15.5 quarterback takedowns. That'll be one tough task for a North Allegheny team that will throw the ball. Senior Mack Leftwich has 2,149 yards and 19 passing scores this season. But can C-D hang with the Tigers offensively? That's going to be a big question moving forward. Central Dauphin has a punishing defense. North Allegheny is much more balanced. PREDICTION: North Allegheny 17, Central Dauphin 10CLASS AAA

No. 2 Archbishop Wood (12-1) vs. Allentown Central Catholic (9-5)

Since suffering a 20-17 season-opening loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Archbishop Wood has been on a tear. The Vikings have been so good, they've beaten every opponent by an average of nearly 39 points a contest. Now they look for revenge against an Allentown C.C. team that knocked them out of the postseason last year. Allentown C.C. has had its share of lumps this season. The team started 0-2 and was 2-5 at one point before rattling off seven straight victories. The offense has been on fire over the last five games, averaging more than 53 points per game. The question is whether the defense can be stout enough to hold off the nation's No. 26 team in the POWERADE FAB 50. PREDICTION: Archbishop Wood 41, Allentown C.C. 24

Bishop McDevitt (12-2) vs. Montour (12-2)

The new Gatorade State Player of the Year, Noah Spence, is having another spectacular campaign, and it's helped one of the state's most impressive defenses —Bishop McDevitt — march through the state tournament. But facing WPIAL champ Montour will be no easy task. Montour has the state's hottest quarterback (senior Dillon Buechel) and a pretty impressive defense of its own, led by senior linebacker Aaron Reed (130 tackles, four INTs this season). The Crusaders have a quarterback of their own who can throw it around (junior Alec Werner has more than 3,000 passing yards this fall), making this as balanced of a matchup as you'll see all weekend. PREDICTION: Bishop McDevitt 23, Montour 20

Class AA

Lancaster Catholic (14-0) vs. Philadelphia West Catholic (10-3)

The problem for West Catholic this season certainly hasn't been the defense — the Burrs have allowed just 12.15 points per game this fall — but rather the offense, which has posted just 28.8 points a contest. That might seem like a good amount until you consider that their opponent, Lancaster Catholic, has scored an average of 48.3 points a game. Junior Roman Clay and senior Brandon Hollister each have more than 1,400 yards rushing and have combined for 53 rushing touchdowns. That's quite a tandem to have to slow down, even for a defense anchored by senior linebacker T.J. Waters. PREDICTION: Lancaster Catholic 36, West Catholic 20

Tyrone Area (13-1) vs. Aliquippa (14-0)

Last week we told you about Akron recruit Steve Franco, and boy did he come through when his team needed him most — he was 14-for-18 for 216 yards and four touchdown passes, and he also ran for 85 yards and a score, helping his team win going away, 40-28. It'll be a much different test this week. Aliquippa isn't just your typical AA school. Only one team all season has scored more than 14 points on this defense, and only four have scored in double-digits. Tyrone has had a great season. But I don't expect this to be close. PREDICTION: Aliquippa 38, Tyrone Area 17

Class A

Southern Columbia (13-1) vs. Penns Manor (12-1)

If there's one thing Southern Columbia doesn't have much of a problem with, it's scoring points — the team averages nearly 43 points per game. That'll be good against a Penns Manor team that has been awfully stingy this season. Junior QB Danny Ferens runs the show offensively, but not passing — he's thrown for only 625 yards all season. Instead he gets it done on the ground — he has more than 2,000 rushing yards and 27 scores. Defensively there are plenty of playmakers, but junior Cody Bytner might be the most dangerous — he has four INTs this season. You simply cannot throw his way. PREDICTION: Penns Manor 24, Southern Columbia 21

Sharpsville (13-0) vs. Clairton (14-0)

Sharpsville has had a stellar season. The team has posted one of the best defenses in the classification (six shutouts), a number of convincing victories and a few thrillers, such as last week's quarterfinal win over Port Allegany, 35-33. It's been an impressive run. But it would be the upset of the year for Sharpsville to take down a Clairton team that has been simply dominant all year long. This Clairton team could play in Class AAA — it's that talented. It would take a pretty impressive effort to knock off the Bears. PREDICTION: Clairton 44, Sharpsville 14

Previous Record: 34-16