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.
At Veterans Memorial Stadium, the Yellow Jackets (10-2) enjoyed their 9th consecutive conquest after a 1-2 season’s start. Conversely, the best Greenville grid campaign in head coach Brian Herrick’s 8-year Trojans’ tenure concluded at 11-1.
However Herrick’s hurtful post-game expression told a tale of Trojans’ turnovers and missed opportunities.
“You can’t do that,” Herrick said regarding 4 Trojans’ turnovers during the 1st half and 11 total penalties for 90 lost yards. “We’ve talked about that. We’ve put ourselves in a hole a lot all year, but managed to dig ourselves out. It just didn’t happen (Saturday) night, and we ran out of time.”
The teams traded 4th frame scores and the lead.
Greenville’s Tyler Fattman flew for a 41-yard scoring sprint with 7:35 remaining, and Matt Jones’ 2-point conversion toss to Luke Houpt gave Greenville a 14-10 lead.
But Girard’s Kel Barnes broke a 26-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Jackets midfield position at their own 43-yard line. A half-dozen plays later quarterback Joe Dunn delivered the eventual game-winner by optioning up the middle and plunging into the end zone to complete a 33-yard touchdown.
In spite of a botched PAT, that gave Girard a 16-14 lead with 3:38 left.
The Yellow Jackets appeared to have secured the win with 2:11 left when Jones’ 3rd- and 4th-down passes fell incomplete at Greenville’s 36. But on a 2nd-and-8 play out of shotgun formation, the center snap sailed over Dunn’s head, and the resulting 21-yard fumble was recovered by Houpt at Girard’s 45 with 2 minutes left.
Trey VanAken’s 18-yard run on a delay-draw got Greenville to Girard’s 27 with 1:41 to play. VanAken’s subsequent 3-yard run and a 5-yard Jones-to-Houpt hook-up had the Trojans at the 16 with 49.5 seconds. But Jones’ final 3 pass attempts – including a 4th-and-13 fade to the right corner intended for Houpt, defensed by Dunn – fell incomplete.
“I don’t know what to say,” the youthful-looking, 30-year-old Funk admitted when asked if his Jackets’ win would be considered an upset. “Mike Zona, our defensive coordinator, he schemed (Greenville) fantastically, and our kids just played hard.”
The win was the 2nd in 6 days for Girard, which edged Sharon (22-19) in an emotional game postponed 2 days by a tragic auto accident involving 4 Sharon football players.
“It’s been kind’ve a surreal week,” Funk admitted. “That Sharon game – it was such a tragedy – but it was neat to see how everybody came together to make that (game) happen. And I was proud of how our kids played. And coming out here (Saturday) night and playing the way they did. Because this isn’t how we play; we’d been putting points on the board. Our kids just played to win, and I’m really proud of ’em.”
Nick Black burst 20 yards, giving Greenville an early 6-0 lead on the Trojans’ game-opening series following a Girard punt. However from that juncture the ’Jackets disjointed and tormented the Trojans.
Girard jolted Matt Jones with 1st-half interceptions by Nason McCall, Brenden Kohan and Cody Dinger. Sandwiching those was Kohan’s recovery of VanAken’s 1st-down fumble at his own 7-yard line with 2:38 remaining in the 1st frame. On the ensuing play Dunn delivered out of the option, and Devin Mason’s conversion kick gave Girard a 7-6 lead with 2:33 remaining in the 1st quarter.
That margin remained at intermission as Greenville’s last half-dozen drives of he half ended in a pair of punts and 4 miscues.
The lone 3rd-quarter score was Mason’s 25-yard field goal with 2:22 left, giving Giard a 10-6 lead.
“It was a great effort by the Girard kids, they played a whale of a game,” Herrick praised. Admitting, “But you can’t turn the ball over four times in a half and have as many 15-yard penalties as we had. It’s unfortunate that happened (Saturday) night.
“Our kicking game put us behind the eight-ball all night … I’m the special teams coach; I didn’t do a good job,” Herrick said, adding,
“I think (the Trojans) had confidence we could come back, but credit (Dunn). We had him tackled for a two-yard gain and he strips it for a touchdown.”
Herrick has to bid adieu to seniors Cody Ingersheim, Houpt, Fattman, Jacob Rickert, VanAken, Randal Peabody, Dominic Chambers, Alex Ho, Sawyer Miller, Mitchell Kalchthaler, Garrett Stell, Pat Kozminski, Justin Reynolds and Gage Guriel.
“I told them I love them. They stuck with the program – we had to throw them in when they were freshmen, a lot had to start and play significant minutes as freshmen because we just didn’t have a lot of depth. I’m extremely proud of them, as I am of all the kids in our program.
“I can’t say enough about the character of our kids,” Herrick concluded. “As many comeback wins as we’ve had the last two years, that says a lot about their character. And they’ll bounce back from this … they’ll bounce back.”
DISTRICT 10 CLASS AA
GREENVILLE 6 0 0 8 14
GIRARD 7 0 3 6 16
GV — Black, 20 run (run failed)
Gir — Dunn, 7 run (Mason kick)
Gir — Mason, 25 FG
GV — Fattman, 41 run (Houpt pass from M. Jones)
Gir — Dunn, 33 run (run failed)
11 First downs 10
178 Rushing yards 98
14 Passing yards 35
16-3-3 Att-comp-int 15-8-1
192 Total yards 133
1-1 Fumbles-lost 3-1
11-90 Penalties-yards lost 7-60
Rushing: GREENVILLE — Fattman 9-64, Black 10-62, VanAken 14-39, Houpt 2-16, M. Jones 1-(-3); GIRARD — Dunn 17-94, Barnes 15-28, Dinger 1-(-3), team 1-(-21).
Passing: GREENVILLE — M. Jones 16-3-3-14; GIRARD — Dunn 15-8-1-35.
Receiving: GREENVILLE — Houpt 2-0, Ingersheim 1-14; GIRARD — Divido 3-11, Dinger 2-21, Barnes 2-3, Little 1-0.
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
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.
- More Sports Headlines
- Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships