Normally, Sharon versus Sharpsville on the football field would be the quintessential Shenango Valley rivalry.
Friday night at James M. McCracken Field, it was Sharon versus Sharpsville ... sort of.
For the record, Sharpsville won the District 10 inter-region regular-season finale, 19-6 under the Pines on Sharpsville’s Senior Night.
Tyrin Peavy produced an 88-yard touchdown return on the game’s opening kickoff to stake Sharpsville to an early lead. Subsequently, Derrick Smith returned an interception 60 yards for Sharpsville’s 2nd score and Greg Popatak produced a 45-yard scoring sprint.
Those sandwiched Sharon’s lone score, Derrick Forrest’s 90-yard return of Peavy’s 2nd-period fumble.
With Sharpsville leading 19-6 at intermission and both programs proceeding toward the postseason, the coaches mutually agreed to allow the clock to continuously turn during the 2nd half.
Sharpsville skipper Paul Piccirilli and Tigers’ taskmaster Jim Wildman had slightly different philosophical takes on how the game was approached. While Sharpsville’s starter played for the better part of the 1st half. among those who did not take the field for Sharon were starting signal-caller Andrew Tomko and Tigers’ tailback Carnell Hawkins.
When asked to assess how his club played, Wildman rhetorically replied,
“You mean our junior varsity team? They played hard.”
Wildman was asked — in the lead-up to the game — if it was discussed by the coaches not to play at all.
“Oh, yeah ... but that wasn’t our choice. Neither one of us wanted to play,” Wildman responded. “The contract, I guess that was signed two years ago that, no matter what ... so they played it last year; we had to play it this year.
“We’ve talked on the phone all week long. What we did in the second half was mutually agreed upon,” Wildman added.
“The reason why, it was our ‘Senior Night,’” Piccirilli explained. “We owe it to all the members of our senior class that participate to be recognized, so that (not playing) wasn’t it.
“We did talk about a running clock from the first quarter on, but we weren’t allowed to do that,” Piccirilli continued. “But the referree said, ‘As soon as the third quarter starts, you guys can do whatever you want,’ so (he and Wildman) both agreed on that.
“Once again (Wildman) did a heckava job trying to get his team in the playoffs as healthy as could be, so I commend him for that. That’s why (Wildman) wins as many games as he does.”
Asked if he was glad the game was played, Wildman’s voice took a testy tone:
“It’s all about the program, Ed, you know? The young kids deserve a chance to play, when they’ve gotten beat up all week. Where’re you comin’ from? I’m not sure. Is that what you mean?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” Wildman continued in response to the question regarding being content that his younger players had the opportunity. “That was our decision going in. Yeah, I’m happy. That was our choice ... I don’t get it ...”
Ultimately, Wildman abruptly concluded the post-game interview by bidding good night and walking away.
In Wildman’s 1st season of his 2nd stint, Sharon (6-4) will return to the D-10 Class AA playoffs for the first time following a 2-year hiatus. Conversely, Piccirilli’s Blue Devils are the defending, 2-time Class A titlists.
“I’m very happy,” Piccirilli assessed. “Defensively, we’ve been that way all year. Hopefully, we can just continue picking up the pace on offense and move it a little bit forward.
“We’re playing the number one seed (Region 2 champion Eisenhower). They’ve gotta have something up there. Their quarterback is a heckava runner/thrower and (another back is a) heck of an athlete ... they have a big line. So if we don’t move the ball, somewhat on offense, we better shut ’em out or we’re not gonna advance.”
Piccirilli produced a sly smile when asked if, as the No. 4 seed, Sharpsville may be overlooked, even though it is the 2-time kingpin.
“I’m hopin’ they’re all looking beyond us. I hope we just sneak in the backdoor and somehow get in(to the PIAA playoffs). But I really don’t think anybody’s gonna look beyond us. They know how tough we play defensively, and anytime we can move the ball and can makes things happen offensively, I think we’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with.
“Nick Henwood pulled a muscle, but this is as healthy as we’ve been, going into the playoffs — I better knock on wood,” Piccirilli concluded.
SHARON 0 6 0 0 6
SHARPSVILLE 13 6 0 0 19
Sv — Peavy, 88 kickoff return (Lutz kick)
Sv — Smith, 60 interception return (kick failed)
Sh — Forrest, 90 fumble return (kick failed)
Sv — Poptatak, 45 run (kick failed)
4 First downs 11
41 Rushing yards 181
0 Passing yards 4
3-0-2 Att-comp-int 2-1-0
41 Total yards 185
1-0 Fumbles-lost 3-2
4-60 Penalties-yards lost 6-55
Rushing: SHARON — Thompson 9-19, Mosley 5-16, Norris 9-7, E.Hawkins 1-1, Williams 2-(-2); SHARPSVILLE — Poptatak 2-57, Keck 7-33, L.Henwood 3-30, Eckles 7-30, BuCher 5-26, Peavy 2-(-1), Rogan-Laird 1-(-3).
Passing: SHARON — Mosley 3-0-2; SHARPSVILLE — L.Henwood 2-1-0, 4.
Receiving: SHARPSVILLE — Szugye 1-4.
Normally, Sharon versus Sharpsville on the football field would be the quintessential Shenango Valley rivalry.
Farrell ousts Uniontown in overtime, 86-72
PENN HILLS — Five decades did nothing to diminish the intensity of the Farrell-Uniontown boys basketball rivalry. What transpired back in the 1960’s reverberated as recently as Tuesday night during the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
And just as it did approximately a half-century ago, Farrell forged past Uniontown, this time 86-72 in overtime at Penn Hills High.
LOCALS ELSEWHERE: Spon, Cianci, Trudo, Giroski in the news
Several former athletes or coaches from Mercer County are making news in sports elsewhere. Following are their stories:
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.
- More Sports Headlines
- Farrell ousts Uniontown in overtime, 86-72