There was a time during Jim Wildman’s initial Tigers’ tenure when Sharon and Greenville competed for District 10 championships almost annually.
Wildman retired following the 2001 season as Mercer County’s career coaching wins leader, only to be subsequently supplanted by Trojans’ taskmaster Bob Stone.
And while Wildman has returned for his 2nd stint at Sharon, Stone’s successor, Brian Herrick, has Greenville’s grid program off to its best start since the year Herrick assumed the helm, ’07.
On the surface it sounds like hyperbole, but this could serve as the biggest showdown between these proud programs since they met 8 times from 1984-95 in postseason play, as they take to the Tiger Stadium turf tonight in a key Region 3-AA tilt.
(All games begin 7 p.m.)
Greenville (2-0, 3-0) at Sharon (2-0, 2-1)
Herrick has had Greenville to the playoffs each of his 6 years as Trojans’ taskmaster. After 5 consecutive opening-round setbacks Greenville got its initial postseason win for him a year ago.
Greenville garnered a 14-7 win last year over Sharon.
This season Greenville gained some momentum with a Week-2 rally from a 21-point halftime deficit at Hickory (22-21).
After a season-opening setback Sharon has scored 125 points in back-to-back blowouts of Saegertown and Titusville. And a Tigers’ triumph tonight would equal the program’s victory output during the past 2 years combined — less than 3 calendar years removed from the 2010 D-10 Class AA championship.
And while this season’s region race appears somewhat unpredictable, a triumph tonight enables either the Trojans or Tigers to take a midseason foothold.
As a footnote, the Tigers twice triumphed over Greenville in 3 D-10 championship games (1985, ’95), while the Trojans tallied one win (’93), as well as in the precursor to the district playoffs — the Keystone Football League vs. Northwest Conference showdown at Tiger Stadium in 1984.
The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM) with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg, and WGRP (940 AM), with Steven G. Folmer and Karl Rupert calling the action.
Hickory (1-1, 2-1) at Grove City (2-0, 3-0)
The Hornets handed the Grovers a pair of losses last year (41-12 regular season in Hermitage; 35-13 in the D-10 semifinals). Ultimately, Hickory would harvest its 2nd straight district championship.
The last Grove City grid squad to get off to a better start to a season was the 2011 edition, which won its first 11 games — and the D-10 AAA title — before bowing to Montour in the PIAA playoffs.
Though the programs have not always met every year, Grove City last garnered a win over Hickory in ’06 (20-6) at Forker Field, site of tonight’s tilt.
Comparative scores can be foolhardy, but here goes: In Week 2, Grove City just got at New Wilmington (17-13) in the closing minutes, while Wilmington was whacked a week ago at Hermitage (42-6).
The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action.
Lakeview (1-0, 3-0) at Mercer (2-0, 3-0)
Mercer missed out on the 2012 playoffs, as Lakeview laid a 28-13 loss on the Mustangs.
That evening in Stoneboro, Blake Reddick rushed for 163 yards and Zach Bigley and Zack VanDusen collaborated on an insurance 30-yard, 4th-period TD toss. Meanwhile, Mercer’s Logan Clarke connected for a pair of scoring strikes.
The ’Steads have secured success in 4 of the last 7 meetings with the Sailors (21-10 in 2011; 35-6 in ’09; 33-8 in ’08; 28-12 in ’07). The last occasion in which Lakeview lost in the County Seat was that ’08 contest, while Lakeview won there in 2010 (7-6).
One of the keys to tonight’s outcome could be determined by which defense best controls Reddick and his Mustangs’ counterpart Zane O’Brien, and which quarterback, Bigley or Clarke, minimizes miscues.
˝ According to available archives, Reddick has rushed for 4,196 career yards, eclipsing the previous Lakeview record (Deke Ison, ’01, 4,008).
Conneaut Area (0-2, 1-2) at West Middlesex (1-0, 2-1)
West Middlesex has won back-to-back games, but this will be a barometer for Coach Ed Roberson’s Reds’ resolve, coming off last week’s emotional win at Farrell (19-14).
The Eagles escaped with a season-opening win over Girard (27-17), but subsequently dropped consecutive contests to Lakeview (14-2 in Stoneboro), and Sharpsville (19-7). Sharpsville shut down Hunter Merritt to a season-low 66 yards rushing.
Last year Middlesex mustered a 32-7 conquest of Conneaut, and 2 years ago swept Conneaut Valley (42-12) and Linesville (52-15).
The last season before the three school districts (’Valley, Linesville, Conneaut Lake) merged in 2010, the Big Reds routed ’Valley (27-20) and ’Lake (46-14), but lost to Linesville (32-27) in Middlesex.
Reynolds (1-1, 2-1) at Saegertown (0-2, 0-3)
The Raiders rolled in Weeks 1 and 2, then got a rude awakening from Grove City — 23-0 halftime deficit — before Reynolds’ 2nd-half rally came up just shy (37-30).
Raiders’ running machine Mike Millero is on pace for a 2,000-yard season, and encounters a porous Panthers’ defense that has permitted 1,166 total yards in 3 games.
Saegertown snapped a 10-quarter scoreless skid last week at Greenville, though the Panthers were pounded (50-7).
Titusville (0-2, 0-3) at Wilmington (0-2, 1-2)
A good opportunity for the Greyhounds to get back to .500 following last week’s uncharacteristic humbling in Hermitage.
The 42 points permitted to the Hornets were the most a Hounds Hammer defense yielded since Terrelle Pryor-led Jeannette jolted Wilmington (41-21) in the ’07 PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
After falling to Franklin (18-14) in its opener, Titusville has been tattooed by Reynolds (35-14) and Sharon (58-8) the past 2 weeks.
Kennedy Catholic (0-2, 0-3) at Sharpsville (1-1, 2-1)
Sharpsville has won 7 straight and 9 of the last 10 meetings in the series.
Last week the Blue Devils bounced back from their lone loss (6-0 at Mercer) and a 7-0 first-quarter deficit at Linesville to post a 19-7 win over Conneaut Area.
Conversely, Kennedy Catholic, in spite of scoring more points than its first 2 games combined, suffered a setback to Mercer (42-16).
Redbank Valley (2-1) at Farrell (2-1)
This non-conference encounter should serve as a test to determine if the Steelers can bounce back from a disappointing Region 1-A home-field loss to West Middlesex.
Redbank Valley victimized Union (55-34) last week as Mark Strothers sprinted to an unofficial District 9 single-game record 302 yards on 32 carries (d9.com). Strothers’ scoring sprints included 10-, 64-, 13-, 28-, 4- and a pair of 33-yard runs. According to d9.com, Strothers shattered the school’s single-game standard (Skyler Smith, 289, versus Moniteau, ’05). Dave Richards (Clearfield, ’02) is believed to be the last D-9 back to score 7 TDs in a single game.
Reportedly, Strothers suffered 2 knee injuries in the past year.
Redbank Valley’s Bulldogs KO’d Keystone (44-6), but bowed to Brookville (35-21). Strothers’ other outings included 96 yards, 3 TDs (10, 49, 6) against Keystone and 113 yards, 1 TD against Brookville.
Farrell forged 54 points in blanking Redbank Valley last year.
Struthers (3-0) at Brookfield (3-0)
This could be Brookfield’s biggest test of the young season.
Struthers slammed Field (40-7) last week by amassing 435 total yards, led by Gary Muntean’s 8-for-10, 132-yard passing performance that included a 34-yard TD toss to Temeko Holness. Also, Nick Pollifrone ran for 2 TDs and Tyler Chaney an 86-yard scoring sprint on his lone carry.
Holness (3 for 49) and Luke Witkowski (3 for 54) were Muntean’s main targets, according to The (Warren) Tribune-Chronicle).
Struthers stomped Campbell Memorial (39-6) and Cortland-Lakeview (35-14) earlier.
Brookfield was being beaten at Campbell last week (6-0) before Joey Clark concluded a 25-carry, 96-yard rushing performance with a game-winning 15-yard, 4th-quarter TD run in the Warriors’ win (10-6).
A year ago at Struthers the Warriors won, 26-13.
Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.
There was a time during Jim Wildman’s initial Tigers’ tenure when Sharon and Greenville competed for District 10 championships almost annually.
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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