Week Five is upon us and believe it or not, the TIMES NEWS Grid Picks Standings get tighter and tighter.
Eight out of the 10 prognosticators are pretty bunched up to say the least.
In case you haven't heard, there is a new leader and it's none other that Brad Hurley, our Penn State guru. He had a big week and moved one game ahead of the other four guys who were all knotted together. Rod Heckman also had a good week and moved out of the bottom tier a bit.
This week, there are at least seven games that are tossups in my book. So it could wind up being the week that separates the men from the boys.
So here goes:
SHENANDOAH VALLEY AT JIM THORPE - It's Homecoming and the Olympians are still looking for their first win after dropping a heartbreaker to the Panther Valley Panthers last Friday night. The Devils beat Minersville and are 2-2. SV's quarterback Chris Palubinsky has been putting up some record numbers. Another close one... Shenandoah Valley, 27-23.
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN AT PANTHER VALLEY - I was chastised by a former classmate at the Panther Valley-Jim Thorpe game last week for jumping back on the Panthers bandwagon. All those years through thick and thin, you picked against them and don't think we forgot it. Wasn't the "Welcome Back" that I wanted, but maybe I deserved it. Well guess what? It's great to be back ... Panther Valley, 24-14.
MARIAN AT NORTH SCHUYLKILL - Our Schuylkill County spy tells us the Spartans were banged up last week when they lost to Schuylkill Haven. They'll be back near 100 percent tonight when they host the Colts but Stan Dakosty's boys are hungry to stay undefeated ... Marian, 24-13.
TAMAQUA AT ANNVILLE-CLEONA - They'll be bussing fans out of Raider Country tonight down to Annville-Cleona for a non-league contest. Mike Hromyak may be a genius for scheduling this one so close to Hershey so the Raiders get a sniff of playing back there for a PIAA Championship...Tamaqua, 29-7.
NOTRE DAME AT NORTHWESTERN - The Tigers ran into a Southern Lehigh buzz saw last week that was finally healthy for its first win. This week, the Tigers get to face the Crusaders, who have been injured and have come down to earth a little bit. It's Northwestern homecoming, but the winner is ... Notre Dame, 26-7.
NORTHERN LEHIGH AT SALISBURY - Bulldogs had it handed to them at Palisades last week and despite being banged up a bit, should bounce back...NORTHERN LEHIGH, 23-0.
PALMERTON AT PALISADES - Pirates are coming off an upset win over Northern Lehigh and have done it the last couple of weeks without senior QB Kyle Jesiolowski, who hasn't been allowed to practice with the team. The Bombers need to go on the offensive to compliment its big linemen... Palisades, 18-14.
LEHIGHTON AT DIERUFF - Something has to give here and the over under for Shawn McFarland's visit to Yocco's before the game is at 5...Lehighton, 17-14.
PLEASANT VALLEY AT WYOMISSING - Can the Bears handle one of the top teams in Berks County?... Wyomissing, 24-12.
POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST AT EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH - This one could come down to the final play in the Purple Pit. If it does, the winner is...East Stroudsburg South, 21-10.
PEN ARGYL AT SOUTHERN LEHIGH - The Green Knights have been plugging along while the Spartans were getting healthy. Welcome back SL...Southern Lehigh, 29-14.
MAHANOY AREA AT MINERSVILLE - Battlin' Miners dropped a toughie to Shenandoah Valley last week and are seeking their first win. They get it...Minersville, 21-19.
FREEDOM AT NAZARETH - The Eagles come home to try and figure out what went wrong last week. They do...Nazareth, 35-31.
PARKLAND AT WHITEHALL - This one is going to be so close, the winner might not be known until the sun comes up. Brian Gilbert, welcome back...Whitehall, 14-13.
ALLENTOWN CENTRAL CATHOLIC AT NORTHAMPTON - Last year, we might have picked the Vikings. This year, it's...Northampton, 12-8.