The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


December 1, 2013

Hornets advance to semis with win over Central

- — DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.

After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.

“What do they say ... we got the proverbial monkey off our backs,”  said a happy Hornets coach Bill Brest whose team won a playoff game for the first time since 1991.

But it didn’t come easily.

The Hornets had to overcome numerous turnovers to pull out a game they trailed at halftime, 21-14.

“We made some mistakes that are uncharacteristic of our team,” said Brest, regarding 3 lost fumbles and an interception. “We preach taking care of the football. But these kids kept pushing. We’d move the ball and we were relentless on defense. We had great special teams and big plays. I have great faith in our coaches and our kids.”

Central showed it’s offensive prowess right from the start, taking the opening kickoff and marching 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Outstanding quarterback Austin Cunningham hooked up with running back Bradi Moore for a 47-yard pass play for the score. Zach Slagenweit connected on his first of 3 PAT kicks for the day.

Hickory bounced back, however, after Hornet Austin Aikins recovered a fumble at midfield. Six plays later and quarterback Matt Voytik carried the final 10 yards to paydirt and Jordan Wombacker kicked his first of 5 PATs with only 19 seconds left in the first period.

Turnovers proved very costly to Hickory in the second quarter. Center scored midway through the period when  Austin  Conrath recovered a Voytik fumble in the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

But again Hickory bounced right back when Andrew Pryts returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to tie the score. “Pryts was down on himself after missing a couple of assignments (on pass coverge). But he came back with a big play. He grew up a lot today, said Brest.

Later in the frame, Pryts was hit and fumbled on a punt return and the Dragons took control at the Hickory 28. On a fourth down play from the 13, the Cunningham-Moore connection again worked for a TD and a 21-14 margin with only 1:45 left before intermission.

But again Hickory pushed back. With the aid of a couple of 15-yard penalties against Center, the Hornets moved to the 21. On the next play, Voytik broke loose and looked to be headed for a touchdown. However, he was hit and fumbled at the 1-yard line and the loose ball  was recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

The Dragons then took a knee twice to head to halftime.

Turnovers again haunted Hickory early in the second half. With Hickory driving, Cunningham picked off a Voytik pass and returned it to the Hickory 39. Two plays later he threaded the needle between two Hickory defenders to Moore who scored again. The PAT kick missed, but the Dragons still led 27-14.

Still, Voytik came right back on the next series. Starting at the Hickory 25 he connected with Pryts on a 10-yard completion on the first play. A short time later, he again hit Pryts with a bullet and Pryts did the rest on a 65-yard catch-and-run TD. Wombacker’s kick cut the margin to 27-21.

A few plays later, it was a Central mistake that could have proved costly. Hornet Anthony Cannone picked off a Cunningham aerial and returned it to the Hickory 41. However, the Dragons defense rose up and forced a punt that Wombacker drilled to the 2-yard line.

The Hornets defense held and forced a punt from the 10 and Hickory took over at the Central 47.

But the drive stalled and after an exchange of punts, Hickory started at their own 10 with 6:46 to go. On the first play Voytik dropped back and fired downfield to his cousin Pryts, who hauled in the pass at the 50 and out ran everyone for a 90-yard scoring play. Wombacker’s PAT gave Hickory the lead for the first time in the game, 28-27.

Then it was up to the Hornets defense and they came through big time. On the first play, Cunningham was hit after a short gain and injured and was replaced by Noah Benton. Benton was sacked back at the 2. After an incompletion the Dragons punted and Hickory took over at the 38.

The Hornets churned out two big first downs. Then on a third down play, Voytik scored on a naked bootleg of 12-yards and Wombacker’s kick made it 35-27 with 1:19 remaining. “Coach Mac (Jason McElhaney, offensive coordinator) came me and told me about the play. He told Matt to go down if it was covered, but it was open and he took it in.”

On the ensuing kickoff, the Dragons tried a reverse but the swarming Hornets nailed Moore at the 2-yard line. On a fourth down play, Wombacker sacked Cunningham with some help from Zack Cirillo in the end zone for a safety.

Hickory then ran out the clock to move on.

“We have a lot of faith in our quarterback,” said Brest, speaking with a very hoarse voice. “He made mistakes, but he stayed positive. The coaches stayed positive and he stayed positive with the other kids. Our captains Anthony Cannone, Daulton Linton and Matt Voytik led this team to the victory.”

Next up for the Hornets is a tough task, District 7 champion South Fayette, which rolled over Karns City, 57-21, Saturday.

“In 1989 (Hickory’s state championship season when Brest was an assistant coach with the Hornets), they told us we couldn’t beat a great Steel High team. But we did. We know we will be facing a great team next week, but we’ll show up,” Brest said with a smile.

Something he couldn’t say the last two years!

Notes: Pryts, a sophomore, had a monster day with the kickoff return for a touchdown and 5 pass catches for 180 yards. ... While both teams have had solid run game this season, it was mostly passing Saturday that worked well in a dual between Voytik and Cunningham. ... Hickory moved to 12-1 on the season, the most wins for a Hornets team since that 1989 state championship season. Central finished 11-2.


HICKORY     7    7    7    16    37

CENTRAL    7    14    6    0    27

Scoring plays

C - Moore, 47 pass from Cunningham (Slagenweit kick)

H - Voytik, 10 run (Wombacker kick)

C - Conrath fum. Rec. in end zone (Slagenweit kick)

H - Pryts, 85 kickoff ret. (Wombacker kick)

C - Moore, 13 pass from Cunningham (Slagenweit kick)

C - Moore, 38 pass from Cunningham (kick failed)

H - Pryts, 65 pass from Voytik (Wombacker kick)

H - Pryts, 90 pass from Voytik (Wombacker kick)

H - Voytik, 12 run (Wombacker kick)

H - Safety

Team stats


16    First downs    9

92    Rushing yards    48

234    Passing yards    240

14-10-1    Att-comp-int    18-9-1

326    Total yards    288

3-3    Fumbles-lost    3-1

7-45    Penalties-yards lost    6-60

Individual stats

Rushing: HICKORY — Derloni 17-31, Voytik 10-22, Carr 7-35, Pryts 2-6, Team 2-(-2); CENTRAL —  Cunningham 18-47, 4-(-8), Emerich 3-4, Conrath 3-13, Mock 1-(-15), Prokop 1-9, team 2-(-2).

Passing: HICKORY — Voytik 14-9-1-214, 1-1-0-16; CENTRAL — Cunningham 16-8-1-186, Benton 1-0-0-0, Moore 1-1-0-34

Receiving: HICKORY — Pryts 5-180, Cannone 2-36, Derloni 1-3, Voytik 1-16, Carr 1-(-1); CENTRAL — Frederick 3-99, Moore 4-97, Slagenweit 1-34, Heintel 1-6.

Text Only
  • NFL NOTEBOOK: Ex-Sharon star Austin hopes to spark Lions' defense

    THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fighting cancer Racing to fight cancer

    Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
    Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break

    SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
    Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”

    July 20, 2014

  • Sky high Rutters earn spot in national motocross event

    The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
    Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Football scramble Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble

    Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
    The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!

    HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
    The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
    What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).

    July 13, 2014

  • LeBron James Full text of LeBron's essay in SI

    LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team

    Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
    Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oprah lands first interview with Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matthew

    Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, is breaking his silence for the first time since his father's 2012 conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, sitting down with Oprah to tell his story.

    July 8, 2014

  • County champs Little League Tournaments

    Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.

    Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.

    Following are game reports:

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cook The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary

    Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
    During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11

    THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
    Cook, a standout on the Champions Tour and outstanding TV golf analyst, will conduct a clinic at 11 a.m. Monday at the course to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of The First Tee of Sharon program.
    It is open to the public at no charge.

    June 29, 2014

  • Tri-Athletes Hickory honors Tri-Athletes

    Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
    Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the  academic year.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Ex-Greenville man to enter Bedford County Hall

    HUGHEY TATE was the greatest baseball player that ever lived — hitting 10,000 home runs and never making an out in 50 years on the diamond.
    OK, that’s not true of course. But that’s the way Hughey would have told it before bursting into laughter.
    Tate, a Greenville man who was as good at spinning a yarn as well as he was in hitting home runs, will be inducted posthumously into the Bedford County (Pa.) Hall of Fame Saturday. Some of his relatives from this area will attend the ceremonies.

    June 22, 2014

  • Trophy time Wilson wins Herald-Tamie Jr. golf crown

    It was a case of family history trumping golfing history!
    Hickory High golfer Billy Colbert had a chance to become only the second player ever to win the Herald-Tam O’Shanter Golf Championship four times. But he missed the final round of the tourney Wednesday along with his brother Colbert to attend his great-grandma’s funeral in Pittsburgh.
    “I kind of wish he was here,” said the 2014 champion Jacob Wilson, a Kennedy Catholic High player who lost in a sudden-death playoff to Colbert last year. “But you play whoever is here. And in golf, you play against yourself too.”

    June 19, 2014 1 Photo

Top 25 (AP Poll)
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter