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.
“ ... We just focus on what we’ve gotta do and what Girard will be doing, and how we can be successful on Saturday,” began Brest (41-8), who has Hickory in its 4th consecutive district title tilt.
His Hornets’ last loss in the D-10 tournament occurred in the 2010 championship game. Hickory’s lone loss this season was in week 2 against Greenville. But Brest is concerned with none of that.
“We’re just thrilled to be in the District 10 championship game and having the opportunity to play for a championship,” he said. “This is the fourth time in-a-row and we’re going for a three-peat. I know our guys get sick and tired of hearing it, but ... we just want to be one-and-oh on Saturday by about 3 o’clock.”
That Brest “mantra” has worked well for the Hornets, who have outscored and outgained opponents by respective 49.5 to 9.3 and 416 to 156.6 margins.
Brest stopped shy of saying the loss to Greenville was Hickory’s tipping point, but acknowledged, “The bottom line is, in that week-2 game ...Greenville was the better team that Friday night. But the biggest lesson we learned was how to finish,” he emphasized. “In the few games right after that, we had such strong second halves. But as the season progressed our first halves were so much stronger, too.
“But finishing became our mantra in week three.”
That is appropos for Girard (10-2), as the Yellow Jackets stung both Sharon and Greenville with late rallies to win quarter- and semifinal-round games. After starting the season 1-2, Girard has journeyed to 9 consecutive wins for 4th-year head coach Jim Funk.
“I told the kids, ‘Listen they’re here for a reason — they’re a very good football team — so we have to prepare the right way,’” Brest related. “Actually, they’re a combination of what we were the last several years — multiple-I and spread.”
Brest is impressed with Del Barnes, who has broken the 1,000-yards rushing barrier in back-to-back seasons.
“He’s a scatback — quick, fast, good foortwork, but he’s put together, he’s thick,” Brest praised. “He does run the ball well, but they’re more of an inside-outside, zone-concept team. The Barnes kid does a nice job running the football; he has great vision.
“But,” Brest interjected regarding the ’Jackets, “everything comes down to the quarterback (Joe Dunn). He’s coming in on about five-thousand yards throwing. He does a nice job throwing, so we’ve gotta be smart, secondary-wise ... and also put pressure on him. But you know what he really does well with the ball?" Brest rhetorically asked. “In breaking down film of him, I put all his runs together and the kid can run the football — ‘iso’ ... inside-zone reads ... and he can break tackles and break away. We know he can throw, but we’ve gotta be able to stop the run.
“If we can stop the run and make them one-dimensional,” Brest reasoned, “maybe we can start teeing-off with our pass rush. But (Dunn’s) a very good football player.”
Greenville, disjointed by Girard, committed 4 first-half turnovers. Brest’s PowerPoint presentation for success addressed that:
“Number one, take great care of the football; number two, win the battle of field position; number three, win special teams, and number four, we cannot make mistakes,” he related. “Seeing Girard on film ... those are the four things we’ve gotta do to be successful on Saturday.
“One of our mantras is: Take great care of the football and make great decisions. We emphasize that on the practice field and hope that it carries over to game day.”
Brest characterized his Hornets healthy and focused.
“It’s phenomenal the way they’ve been preparing in the film room, preparing on the grease board, preparing on the field, preparing at home. ... They’re preparing the right way, and our kids are excited about this opportunity,” Brest summarized.
With winning, comes confidence. But also pressure with being the 2-time reigning champion. This is where Brest becomes the buffer.
“I’ve told the kids to just enjoy the moment, enjoy it this week, and let me handle the distractions,” he related. “I want the kids to study, do well in class, focus on their character, and prepare the right way and let the coaches coach. ... Our coaches, it’s unbelievable, their preparation and how they pay attention to detail. We do our best to put the kids in the right positions to be successful.
“I don’t want them distracted at all, but just have a great week.”
Like Barry Sanders scoring then simply handing the ball to an official, Brest wants his Hornets to “act like they’ve been here before. ... you know what we’ve gotta do — finish the right way
“Pressure’s what’s inside the locker room, what’s inside the team room. But there’s no pressure; just preparation,” Brest continued. “We don’t listen to what’s being said outside; we just prepare the right way and have fun.
“These guys are focused and zeroed in right now.”
Note: The game will be simulcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM) and SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action. Air-time, 12:30 p.m.
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory track coaches near finish line
While the Shenango Valley lionizes legendary gridiron greats and hardwood heroes, the sport of track & field at Hickory High has resonated its relevance throughout District 10 and commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For the better part of the last 3 decades that was due, to a great extent, to the efforts of Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak.
More than 200 dual-meet victories combined between the girls’ and boys’ programs, 9 district championships (7 girls, 2 boys), 2 statewide runners-up berths and another pair of 3rd-place finishes, culminating in the Lady Hornets’ 2012 PIAA Class AA championship.
Their collective resumé would be envied by any coach, regardless of sport. Which makes this recent revelation regrettable: Dzuricsko and Slezak simultaneously will step down at this season’s conclusion.
SPORTVIEW: Cavaliers are example of how an owner impacts a team
WHEN LEBRON James vacated Cleveland for South Beach a few years ago, angry Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that the Cavaliers would win an NBA championship before James and the Miami Heat.
How’s that working out, Dan?
Miami is seeking a third straight title this postseason while the Cavaliers are headed for the golf courses. Pretty sad.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
Roundup: Hickory, Mercer, Reynolds, WM baseball teams earn wins
ä Hickory 12, Sharpsville 10 — At the McCullough Run Complex in South Pymatuning Twp., the visiting Hornets improved to 4-0 with the win.
Brady Leunis went 2-for-3 for Hickory with a double and 3 RBI, Tommy Cannon belted a 2-run homer, Noah Orndorff was 2-for-4, Nate Mastrian ripped an RBI-double, Ethan Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a run driven in and Jake Andrzjewski doubled.
Roundup: WM, Wilmington, Mercer softball teams win
ä West Middlesex 11, Grove City 1 (5 inn.) — At the Richard J. Kritz Softball Complex in West Middlesex, Jordyn Allen fired a complete-game 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks as the Ms. Reds (1-1) rebounded from a tough loss to Lakeview on Monday.
Offensively, Allen doubled and ripped 2 singles for WM, Abby McAdams and Aly Andrusky doubled and singled, Macy Siefert collected 4 singles and Hannah Havens, Megan Hazlett and Oivia Slater added 2 singles each.
Hickory girls, Farrell boys win Guerino titles
The Hickory girls and Farrell boys captured championships on Saturday night at the 17th annual Buddy Guerino Underclassmen Basketball Tournament at Sharpsville High School.
The Hickory girls beat Kennedy Catholic, 41-29, for the crown while the Farrell boys topped Mercer, 76-35, for the title.
In the consolation games, Sharpsville defeated Sharon, 35-15, in girls hoops while the Sharon boys beat Hickory, 57-33.
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