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.
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.
Raiders win 17th region title; 11 locals to Hershey
When Reynolds senior Levi Stoyer came off the mat after his 145-pound championship at the Northwest AA Regional Championships, he wasn’t celebrating his second straight crown. Instead, he turned to head coach Casey Taylor and said, “I did it for the team.”
And the team needed it!
Stoyer defeated Brookville’s Zach Vroman, 3-0, and sent Reynolds on its way to the school’s 17th region team title Saturday night at Sharon High School. Reynolds finished with 147 points, to Brookville’s 138.
Hickory girls capture 1st district title since 1983
MEADVILLE — Depending upon peoples’ perceptions, 31 years can seem like a lifetime ... but so can 16 minutes.
Hickory High girls’ basketball program’s District 10 drought ended Saturday afternoon as perennial power Villa Maria virtually vanished from the 2nd-half scoreboard.
The Lady Hornets erased a 7-point halftime deficit by yielding just 4 second-half points en route to a 39-24 victory over Villa Maria in the District 10 Class AAA championship game.
KC beats Cochranton for 4th straight D-10 crown
MEADVILLE — Everybody is on April Bocian’s bandwagon — and rightly so. But Tatum Kress helped keep Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball program atop District 10’s Class A competition.
Kress connected for all 14 of her points during the 2nd half Saturday afternoon, keying the Kennedy Catholic to a 49-38 conquest of Cochranton.
McLane rallies to beat Mercer in AA title tilt
In 1986, the Mercer Lady M’s won the school’s first and only girls basketball District 10 title at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House, but in the same gym on Saturday in 2014, the squad in blue wasn’t so lucky.
Mercer led the Gen. McLane Lady Lancers 27-19 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lancers outscored the Lady M’s 19-4 in the final frame to win the Class AA title tilt 38-31.
- More Sports Headlines
- Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title