District 10 Region 3 is one of the PIAA’s more competitive Class AA entities, something of which the Mercer County-area can be proud.
However the downside — as illustrated 4 times in the last 5 seasons — is that only one county contingent ultimately survives the district tournament, thereby qualifying for the PIAA playoffs’ meanwhile other legitimate contenders fall by the wayside by Thanksgiving.
Last year Hickory and Wilmington ousted Grove City and Greenville, respectively, in the D-10 semifinals, then the Hornets defeated the Greyhounds for the program’s 2nd straight championship.
With no rest for the weary, a quartet of those squads — all coming off season-opening, non-league wins — will collide tonight in Region 3, where every week seemingly has playoff implications.
(All games begin 7 p.m.)
Greenville (1-0) at Hickory (1-0)
These proud programs have split their last half-dozen meetings, but the Hornets have had the edge the past 3 years, including 2010 (14-10), 2011 (39-6) and a year ago (35-10). Greenville garnered wins in ’09 (41-0), ’08 (37-21) and ’07 (10-6).
One of the 2013 Hornets’ strong suits — speed, owing to its D-10 championship track & field program — has tormented the Trojans during the last 3 years, and Hornet Stadium’s synthetic surface seems well-suited to this year’s edition.
However Trojans’ taskmaster Brian Herrick — similar to Hickory bench boss Bill Brest — is a track & field proponent as it relates to enhancing his Greenville gridders’ speed and stamina, making for an interesting matchup.
A point of interest: Since assuming the starting signal-caller’s berth at the last season’s outset, Matt Voytik has been victorious all but once for the Hornets (opening-round PIAA playoff loss to Richland).
The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM), with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.
Grove City (1-0) at Wilmington (1-0)
While Wilmington’s Terry Verrelli continues to be the caretaker of Mercer County-area’s career coaching wins mark (272), Jeff Bell takes a backseat to no one.
Since guiding Grove City to the ’04 PIAA Class AA championship game, Bell has rung up a 79-23 composite won-lost mark, including a trio of 11-win seasons (2011, 2010, ’04).
According to available Herald archives, Bell is 111-61 in his 17th season.
Last year at Forker Field the Eagles eased to a 19-7 win, blanking the Greyhounds during the game’s final 3 quarters. Ultimately, it was only D-10 titlist Hickory (41-12 regular season; 35-13 D-10 semifinals) that Grove City could not get past.
Grove City clubbed Carrick (34-12) in last week’s opener.
Some area aficionados considered this a rebuilding year in New Wilmington; however that theory’s credibility crumbled approximately 24 minutes into last week’s lidlifter.
After building a 14-10 margin at intermission at Middlesex, the Hounds Hammer defense blanked the Big Reds during the 2nd half en route to a 28-10 win over the 2-time D-10 Class A finalists.
Interestingly, the Greyhounds’ ground game, while potent (122), did not do as much damage as quarterback Cody Llewellyn’s arm (8 of 15, 147 yards, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions).
The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action.
Conneaut Area (1-0) at Lakeview (1-0)
CASH collected a convincing 27-17 conquest of Girard, led by Hunter Merrit’s memorable 26-carry, 305-yard performance that included a pair of 80-yard scoring sprints, as well as a 52-yarder.
Such was the Eagles’ ease on the ground (361 yards, including Elijah Anderton’s 24-carry, 56-yard, 1-TD contribution), Merritt attempted only 4 passes.
Blake Reddick roared to a 10-carry, 260-yard, 5-touchdown performance against helpless Union City in the Sailors’ successful opener. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Linesville-Conneaut Lake-Conneaut Valley confluence.
However Lakeview does not exclusively have to rely on Reddick, as Zach Bigley and Zach VanDusen also had success last week to the Sailors’ 420-yard outburst.
Brookfield (1-0) at Newton Falls (1-0)
Newton Falls annexed a near record by routing Rootstown (55-7) in its opener. According to The (Warren) Tribune-Chronicle, it was the first time the Fallsman finished with 50 or more points since ’04, and they came within a field goal of the single-game school standard (58, versus Cortland-Lakeview, Oct. 8, 1971).
Second-year head coach Joe Culp’s Tigers mauled Rootstown by rushing for 383 yards against the Rovers (435 total), led by Larry Zarlengo’s 116 yards and quarterback Brandon Fuller, who finished with 88 (2 TDs) and Derek Backherms’ 79 (23-yard TD run).
Brookfield’s balanced attack in last week’s win over Springfield Local (30-27) featured 425 total yards almost evenly divided (221 rushing; 204 passing). Augustus Necastro notched scores both throwing and running in his debut as the starter under center for Brookfield bench boss Randy Clark.
Last year at Addison, Brookfield bullied Newton Falls (59-12).
Reynolds (1-0) at Titusville (0-1)
Titusville fell to Franklin, 18-14 — Franklin’s 1st season-opening win since 2010, according to Penny Weichel’s website.
Todd Brown fueled the Rockets with a 12-carry, 92-yard rushing performance, including a 4-yard TD run, and 10-for-22 passing for another 148 yards. The Rockets registered a 351-198 edge in total yards against Franklin, but committed costly miscues — Brown fumbled on a 1st-and-goal situation from the Franklin 5 to commence the 2nd half — and they also were flagged for 94 yards in penalties.
Easton Hogue (15-55) also ran well, while Carter (4-45), Sines (3-39) and Hogue (3-18) were Brown’s aerial targets. Frosh QB Brady Corklin connected on 3 of 8 passes for 44 yards and orchestrated a scoring drive.
The Raiders ruled the Rockets (19-6) a year ago in Transfer, but Titusville could pose a stiffer test tonight at historic Carter Field for Reynolds and new mentor Josh Mull.
Saegertown (0-1) at Sharon (0-1)
While Sharon was shut out in its season-opener, Saegertown was rocked at home by Cambridge Springs, 68-0.
Colton Noble notched a game-high 163 yards rushing for the Spa, which amassed 331 total yards. Noble, after scoring sprints of 62, 22, 26, 13 and 10 yards, told The (Meadville) Tribune, “It was awesome! Definitely surreal! The first two years I played (Saegertown) we got destroyed It’s good to give it back to them for once.”
While playing respectably on defense, Sharon must shore up its offensive line play, which was guilty of yielding 9 quarterback sacks to Farrell. The Tigers turned over the ball 4 times, too.
Perhaps this will serve as the 1st of Tiger taskmaster Jim Wildman’s triumphs in his 2nd stint at Sharon. In Week 2 a year ago, Sharon slugged Saegertown (40-12).
West Middlesex (0-1) at Moniteau (0-1)
Both clubs are coming off season-opening setbacks, but the Big Reds were respectable in their home-field loss to Wilmington, while Moniteau was manhandled by a Sharpsville squad missing 4 regulars.
New head coach Ed Roberson’s Reds could secure his 1st win at the helm, though Moniteau mustered 266 yards against Sharpsville.
A year ago the Big Reds dropped their opener to Wilmington, then righted themselves at Moniteau’s expense (27-8), setting the stage for an 8-game West Middlesex win skein that ended in the District 10 Class A title tilt for the 2nd straight season.
Farrell (1-0) at Kennedy Catholic (0-1), noon
On its preseason roster, Farrell features 15 senior lettermen; Kennedy Catholic, conversely, lists 22 players on its roster.
In recent meetings, Farrell has forged a half-dozen consecutive wins by an aggregate 249-27 margin; however, last year the Steelers scored a slender 6-0 win.
The last time the Golden Eagles’ gridders of Kennedy Catholic captured a win over their backyard neighbors occurred in ’06 (41-0) — Louie Falconi’s finale as Farrell’s head coach.
Sharpsville (1-0) at Mercer (1-0), 7
While Sharpsville secured 28-14 success last season at James McCracken Field, its recent visits to the county seat in this series have been challenging.
In 2011, Sharpsville survived Mercer (34-33); 2 years previously, the Mustangs manhandled the Blue Devils (28-14) at mid-season, only to see Sharpsville stage a semifinals win (10-7) in the D-10 playoffs.
Mercer mentor Pat McClearn’s Mustangs made a statement last week in easing past Eisenhower (41-13): Anything less than a return to the postseason will not be palatable. Logan Clarke contributed 313 yards (158 rushing, 155 throwing, plus 2 TDs) to the Mustangs’ 437-yard total against Eisenhower, while Zane O’Brien tallied a trio of touchdowns.
Last week, it was the same, old Sharpsville: 374 total yards, including 360 rushing, led by Tyler Wansack’s 13-carry, 164-yard, 3-TD performance, including 46- and 65-yard scoring sprints for Sharpsville, the 2-time defending D-10 titlist.
Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.
District 10 Region 3 is one of the PIAA’s more competitive Class AA entities, something of which the Mercer County-area can be proud.
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
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.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
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