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Thursday, November 3, 2011
Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 1

By By Christopher Parish

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.

This week, the schedule is in flux as some regions are playoff-ready and others still have scores to settle.

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

Neshaminy (6-3) vs. Pennsbury (7-2)

This is a battle of two teams that were at one point ranked in the POWERADE Pennsylvania Weekly Rankings. Now it's a battle for a playoff spot. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Neshaminy holds the 17th spot in the power-points standings, but only the top 16 get in. So the Redskins need a win to get in — and doing so would likely help them vault into the top 16 even if the other teams around them win as well. But doing so will be no easy task. Pennsbury has one of the state's best players in offensive lineman J.J. Denman, and the Falcons have lost just once — to unbeaten Abington — since a season-opening loss at Easton. PREDICTION: Neshaminy 20, Pennsbury 14

Woodland Hills (6-3) vs. Mt. Lebanon (6-3)

These two teams are remarkably similar in a lot of different ways. Both teams have 6-3 records earned from beating sub-par opponents but not having the firepower to hang with the stronger teams. Both teams lost their final contests. But here's an interesting stat. Woodland Hills is perfect this season on the road (4-0). Is it an anomaly or a sign of things to come? One thing's for sure — Mt. Lebanon won't let them walk all over them at home. Look for a tough, hard-fought game that goes right down to the wire. PREDICTION: Mt. Lebanon 17, Woodland Hills 10

Beaver (7-2) vs. Shady Side (7-2)

The Beaver Bobcats started their season with an impressive 6-0 mark, posting four shutouts and allowing only 13 points in that span. Then things got a little tougher. A loss to unbeaten Aliquippa was a wakeup call, and a final-game loss to Beaver Falls was tough to swallow. But there's plenty of talent on this squad, and they'll give host Shady Side a great game. The Indians had had their hiccups, but when they're right they're one of the best teams in the WPIAL. Since starting 1-2, Shady Side has ripped off six straight wins and enter the postseason as one of the state's hottest teams. That will help in this matchup. PREDICTION: Shady Side 31, Beaver 21

Previous Record: 18-11