By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
NEW WILMINGTON — West Middlesex will face Sharpsville for a second straight season in the District 10 Class A Championship game. But this year there’s a major difference — the Big Reds come in the favorite and not as an unexpected finalist.
Is there more pressure when you’re No. 1?
“It’s not about pressure, it’s about preparation,” said West Middlesex coach Jason McElhaney, moments after his Big Reds demolished Farrell, 42-0, in the D-10 semis at Wilmington Greyhounds Stadium.
Obviously the Region 1-A champion Big Reds were well prepared for Farrell as they dominated every face of the game in pitching the shutout and holding the Steelers to a minus-6 yards rushing.
“This team is motivated,” said McElhaney, whose club lost to the Blue Devils in last year’s district finale. “They’re focused. The kids do a great job in preparing, in the film room and on the practice field.
“These kids have had a lot of success, not just on the football field,” said McElhaney. “They’ve competed at big levels in track, baseball and other sports. So there’s really no pressure.”
One of those players who has competed a big levels is Luke Patten. The senior speedster ran a leg on the state broze-medal 4X100 relay team last season and Friday night he ran through and away from the Steelers defense to the tune of 165-yards on 18 carries and 3 touchdowns.
Patten, who tallied the first three touchdowns of the game for the Reds on runs of 13, 37 and 22 yards, has been an offensive juggernaut this season in amassing 1,471 yards. Ironically, he was All-State on defense at the linebacker position in 2011.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s offense of defense, I always go as hard as I can on every play,” said Patten. “But I think I like defense better; it’s more fun to run over people on defense.”
“Luke really ran well and the o-line blocked very well,” credited McElhaney to the front group of Dillon Fair, Trevor Harrison, Jared George, Caleb Cathcart, A.J. Barrris and Vince DeStefano. Quarterback Trey Staunch, a 220-pound sophomore standout, even laid some hard blocks on Steeler defenders.
Besides Patten’s three scores, Eric Lucich tallied a 13-yard run late in the first half and with Trey Staunch’s four extra-point kicks, West Middlesex (10-2) led 28-0 at intermission.
Austin Mirizio scored on a 2-yard run with 5:25 left in the third period and Staunch’s PAT boot made the score 35-0 and brought the mercy rule into effect.
The final score of the game came shortly before the end of the third period when Jeremy Jancso picked off a Joe Goudy pass and returned it 36-yard to paydirt. Staunch finished off the scoring with his PAT kick.
“I’m disappointed,” said Farrell coach Jarrett Samuels. “I thought we could do better than that. But we’re really young and West Middlesex is a very good team.”
Maybe even better than “very good” and Big Reds fans are starting to have flashbacks to the 2006 West Middlesex squad that made it all the way to the PIAA championship game.
But there’s a lot of work to do to even think that far ahead and Sharpsville, which defeated the Reds in the D-10 finals last season, awaits next weekend.
When the West Middlesex game ended, Sharpsville was still locked up in a tight battle with Lakeview and McElhaney didn’t know which team he would face, but commented. “All I know is: We’ll be there the night after Thanksgiving.”
NOTES: The tone was set early for West Middlesex Friday night with an opening 14-play drive. Staunch hit some key passes to Sage Pope and Fair on the march. ... Despite the dominating defense of the Big Reds, this marked the first shutout of the season. “I thought we could have had some goose-eggs earlier in the year, but we put in some other guys,” said McElhaney. “Coach Ed Roberson does a great job with the defense.” ... Jancso and Roman Klaric had interceptions for West Middlesex, while Mike Bacchetti recovered a fumble. ... Farrell finished the season 6-5 in the first season back for Coach Samuels after a one-year hiatus. Samuels had taken the team to three straight D-10 titles before stepping down after the 2010 season. Farrell will lose seniors Diallo Lewis, Marshawn Hyman, Goudy, London Pinkins, Jalen Scott, Lance Messett, Ryan Green, Zach Houston, Rasheem Harrison and Mike Williams.
DISTRICT 10 CLASS A SEMIFINALS
FARRELL 0 0 0 0 0
MIDDLESEX 7 21 14 0 42
WM — L. Patten, 13 run (Staunch kick)
WM — L. Patten, 37 run (Staunch kick)
WM — L. Patten, 22 run (Staunch kick)
WM — Lucich, 13 run (Staunch kick)
WM — Mirizio, 2 run (Staunch kick)
WM — Jancso, 36 interception return (Staunch kick)
4 First downs 17
—6 Rushing yards 276
44 Passing yards 74
17-4-2 Att-comp-int 12-7-0
38 Total yards 350
1-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0
8-80 Penalties-yards lost 9-55
Rushing: FARRELL — Burns 7-2, Goudy 2-(-12), Pinkins 1-1, Graham 1-5, Green 7-0, Jackson 1-(-2); WEST MIDDLESEX — L. Patten 18-165, Staunch 10-31, Mirizio 5-12, Lucich 5-51, Trippy 4-12, Thompson 1-5.
Passing: FARRELL — Goudy 17-4-2; WEST MIDDLESEX — Staunch 7-11-0-74, Jancso 1-0-0-0.
Receiving: FARRELL — Hyman 2-43, Pickens 1-4, Burns 1-(-3); WEST MIDDLESEX — Mirizio 2-23, Pope 2-19, Lucich 1-19, Fair 1-13, Jancso 1-0.