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.
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
GCC ousts Mercer in 1st round of PIAAs
The Mercer Lady Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the final quarter of the first round of the state playoffs by the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions, ending their season Friday night 56-31 at Sharon High School.
Senior Lexie Arkwright had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double performance for the Lady M’s. She also snagged three steals. Adelyn Cook and Haylie Glass each added 4 points for Mercer.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
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