Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week 9 picks

After a string of successful weeks, Kovak's fearless prognostications were humbled with a 4-2 record in Week 8 to make the overall record 36-12, a .750 win percentage.

The final week of the regular season is a big one for many teams. There's a lot of games to pick from, but here is the selected six pack.

Peters Township (4-4) at Canon-McMillan (1-7)
Peters Township opened the Great Southern Conference season with a hard-fought win against Bethel Park. Since then, the Indians have failed to win a game and are in danger of missing the playoffs once again. Considering how many seniors Peters Township returned, that would go down as a serious disappointment.

Canon-McMillan is near the completion of a retooling phase as first-year head coach Tom Sohyda guided an inexperienced group under a new system. The record doesn't show it but the Big Macs are playing better football these days and have a pair of playmakers in Alec Schram and Alex Adams who are capable of breaking through the PT defense.

Peters Township needs to win by nine points to ensure a WPIAL playoffs berth, the team's first at the Class AAA level. The pick says the Indians will need some outside help. Peters Township 28-20.

McKeesport (7-1) at Gateway (5-3)
Only North Allegheny has allowed fewer points in Class AAAA than McKeesport, The dominant Tigers' defense has allowed 55 on the year, 28 came against Penn-Trafford. Gateway doesn't stop opponents like McKeesport but the Gators sure do score more often. Gateway, 17-7.

Upper St. Clair (7-1) at Mt. Lebanon (8-0)
Another border clash in the Great Southern Conference with the victor claiming the coveted crown. The Panthers, unbeaten on the road, shrugged off a shaky offensive performance two weeks ago against Canon-McMillan by putting up 44 on Bethel Park. Mt. Lebanon has rarely looked awe-inspiring but the Blue Devils keep winning. They find a way to win another one. Mt. Lebanon, 22-14.

Hopewell (4-4) at West Allegheny (6-2)
Thursday's game for FSN offers an intriguing showcase. First, there's Hopewell and junior sensation Rushel Shell, who is on pace to break the WPIAL all-time rushing record set by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo. And Shell has been beyond sensational the past three weeks as Hopewell got back into the WPIAL Class AAA playoff picture. West Allegheny, which has been without Wisconsin recruit Mike Caputo since the first half of the first game, continues its workmanlike pace. West Allegheny, 38-26.

Jeannette (7-1) at Greensburg Central Catholic (8-0)
Let's see … Greensburg Central Catholic is the defending WPIAL Class AA champion and the Centurions went to the PIAA title game in 2009. Now, they sit atop the Interstate Conference with an undefeated record and people are doubting them. Well, it's because narrow wins over Mt. Pleasant, Mohawk and East Allegheny have not inspired believers. Jeannette has been in one close game, and the Jayhawks lost that one to Laurel. Maybe the Interstate isn't as sturdy as its reputation suggests. GCC, 17-14.

Chartiers-Houston (7-1) at Fort Cherry (4-4)

The youthful Bucs haven't been 7-1 since 2000, when they beat Clairton in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs before giving eventual state champion Rochester its toughest game in a 7-3 loss in the quarterfinals. These Bucs are the surprise of Class A at this point.

Fort Cherry can finish anywhere from second to fourth in the conference and the Rangers may have played their best game of the season last week in a 42-7 loss at Clairton. Finishing fourth means a likely first-round game at Rochester. C-H can finish fourth if it loses a complicated three-way coin flip with FC and Brentwood. Fort Cherry has more at stake. Fort Cherry, 28-13.

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