Finally, The Leader is perfect
It took eight weeks, but The Leader finally channeled his inner Don Larsen.
(Kids, if that baseball reference is too old for you, just replace it with Seattle's Felix Hernandez and keep reading.)
A perfect Week 8 has given The Leader a sterling winning percentage for the year, but the area's preeminent pigskin prognosticator remembers the words of a former coach who told him:
“You're only as good as your last game.”
That motto could be a good one for many teams this week.
Those that don't have the postseason to look forward to will have one last chance to impress, and going out on a winning note can be a great remedy for a disappointing season.
Just the same, the local playoff-bound teams will want momentum heading toward the WPIAL tournament, and our friends in District 9 will want to close out divisional play on the right note.
The Leader also is focused for this week, and there's no trace of complacency in these picks as he goes for two perfectos in a row.
Kittanning at Shady Side Academy
The Leader suspects most people will take the Indians in this one and with good reason because of Shady Side Academy's outstanding backfield. But Kittanning has found ways to win all season, and if the ‘Cats get ahead early, Shady Side doesn't like to have to throw the ball. Kittanning, 27-21
West Shamokin at Apollo-Ridge
The southeastern quarter of Armstrong County collides for this matchup of playoff teams, and they get to gear up for the postseason with third place in the Eastern Conference on the line. As good as the Wolves have been this year, they also aren't inclined to throw often, but they might need to against the Vikings. Apollo-Ridge, 34-20
Ford City at Valley
The Sabers sprung an upset on the Vikings to end last season, but those were different circumstances. Valley will be stinging after a loss to Kittanning, and the Vikings will want to avoid another year as a fourth-place team entering the playoffs. Valley, 21-10
North Catholic at Leechburg
Both teams in this one lost their starting quarterback last week, so expect more running than normal from two run-heavy teams. The Blue Devils will battle, but the Trojans are unbeaten for a reason. North Catholic, 42-14
Freeport at Summit Academy
The final game in the books in the Allegheny Conference will be a tough one for the Yellowjackets. Summit only had three home conference games on its schedule, and the Knights won the first two convincingly over Ford City and Valley. It's a good thing for the rest of the WPIAL that playoff games aren't held on Saturday afternoons. Summit Academy, 32-14
Clarion-Limestone at Redbank Valley
The Bulldogs can clinch a home playoff game with a win. Clarion-Limestone is in the running to finish second ahead of Redbank, but its two KSAC-Small School wins are its only wins all year. Clarion-Limestone doesn't get to three. Redbank Valley, 38-16
Brookville at Karns City
It's entirely possible these teams meet again in two weeks to open the District 9 playoffs because of Kane's undefeated record. The Gremlins set a tone for that potential rematch in this one. Karns City, 49-34