Jarrett Samuels referenced it as “redemption.”
If that’s the case, he sure has been making up for lost time since his own Farrell High playing days.
Samuels’ Steelers sacked Sharon signal-caller Andrew Tomko 9 times Friday night, and Farrell forged a 12-0 season-opening win at Tiger Stadium.
The 68th annual Steel Bowl marked Farrell’s 5th consecutive win in the Shenango Valley rivalry, though Sharon continues to maintain a 35-26-7 all-time edge.
Farrell’s front four — Derrick Carter, Tyreke Barnett, Brandon Gavins and Tyrone Archie — spent more time in Sharon’s backfield than Tomko, Carnell Hawkins and Anthony Johnson.
Such was the Steelers’ domination that the one time Tomko gained positive yardage from scrimmage — a 4-yard 2nd-stanza run — he fumbled, and it was recovered by Barnett.
“We knew from the film study that our guys up front could handle them — not taking anything away from Sharon,” Samuels explained. “We have a veteran group, and those guys play our scheme really well.
“We were in ‘attack mode.’ Tyrone was really in ‘attack mode,’” Samuels praised.
“My key was preparation, mental preparation before the game ... get my mind right and get my team right,” related the athletic Archie, tapping his temple for emphasis.
In the 2nd stanza a scoreless stalemate was shattered with 5:54 remaining to intermission.
Seconds after gaining a 1st down owing to a Farrell personal foul, Sharon squandered the opportunity. Tomko’s 1st-down pass was tipped by Gavins, and Tionté Davis sprinted 45 yards for the touchdown.
The Steelers’ 6-0 shutout expanded to 12-0 with 6:43 remaining in the 3rd period. On a 2nd-and-16 play, RayShown Johnson jolted Sharon with a 46-yard TD toss to Austin Pickens streaking down Sharon’s sideline.
It appeared as though Sharon scored with a minute remaining in the frame. On 1st down, Tomko tossed to Dan Vanderslice, who threaded through the Steelers’ secondary to complete a 60-yard pass play. However the Tigers were too aggressive, and a block approximately 20 yards from behind Vanderslice negated the TD.
Two plays into the 4th frame the Tigers took it to Farrell’s 13-yard line. However the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Archie sacked Tomko on 1st down, Tomko’s 2nd-down pass fell incomplete, then his 3rd-down pass into the end zone was pilfered by Alex Meyers.
“Fundamentally, a very poor showing up front,” Tigers’ taskmaster Jim Wildman said. “You have to be able to run-block; if you get behind, you better be able to protect your quarterback, and I’m not sure we did a good job of either one of those.
“But my hat’s off to Farrell — they played hard,” Wildman praised. “The name of this game always is, ‘The team that makes plays always wins,’ and they made two big ones; we didn’t make one.”
Farrell finished by almost shutting out Sharon statistically. The Tigers tallied only 44 total yards on 36 plays from scrimmage. The beleaguered Tomko tossed 2 interceptions and Sharon fumbled 5 times, losing a pair.
“That was our achilles heel last year, our defense,” Samuels said. “That was what we focused on all offseason. Our D-line coaches, before the game knew they had to carry the day, and they did. I’m so proud of my guys on defense!
“Tyrone Archie is a ‘beast.’ He plays hard on every play,” Samuels said in praise of his senior, who shared in a sack and logged another by himself. Gavins garnered a pair, and Davis, Carter, and Jesse Robinson registered solos, while Robinson and Deion Saunders shared another.
“We put the big ‘doughnut’ (zero) up there on the board,” Archie said.
“To come out the first game and get this win against Coach Wildman ... this is for my classmates of ’89, the fall season, this is for you guys,” Samuels said, recalling, “That was a 6-6 tie (against Sharon), so this is redemption.”
Wildman’s return from an 11-year hiatus certainly was not what he envisioned, but he said,
“The kids played with great effort. ... I knew our kids had to play well early, to try and get over the hump of what they’ve lived with over the last four years against Farrell. But I’m not sure we did play well the first part of the game. And the longer that game went on, it was like we were waiting for something to happen, instead of making something happen.
“Certainly, playing Farrell gets your attention,” Wildman said. “l’d like to thing that Farrell’s going to be a better football team because they played us, and I know that these kids in here (Sharon locker room) will be a better football team having played (Farrell). We’ll circle the wagons and work for another week to get better.”
Note: DeWayne Burns burst for a game-high 103 yards on 26 totes for Farrell.
FARRELL 0 6 6 0 12
SHARON 0 0 0 0 0
F — Davis, 45 interception return (kick failed)
F — Pickens, 46 pass from Johnson (pass failed)
13 First downs 6
89 Rushing yards -12
93 Passing yards 56
14-6-0 Att-comp-int 10-4-2
182 Total yards 44
8-75 Fumbles-lost 5-50
3-1 Penalties-yards lost 5-2
Rushing: FARRELL — Burns 26-101, Gavins 3-21, Graham 3-1, Johnson 6-(-5), Guelledge 4-(-29); SHARON — Hawkins 11-38, Johnson 5-13, Tomko 10-(-53).
Passing: FARRELL — Guelledge 7-4-0, 35; Johnson 7-2-0, 58; SHARON — Tomko 10-4-2, 56.
Receiving: FARRELL — Burns 3-35, Pickens 2-53, Graham 1-5; SHARON — Vanderslice 2-43, Mosley 1-8, Austin 1-5.
Jarrett Samuels referenced it as “redemption.”
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.
WM captures 3rd straight D-10 crown
EDINBORO — The West Middlesex Big Reds did it again! For the third straight year, the Big Reds, under the leadership of head coach Chad Mild, the winningest coach in West Middlesex school history, won the District 10 title with a thrilling 55-54 victory over the Fairview Tigers on Friday night at McComb Field House.
Farrell beats East for D-10 Class AAA title
MEADVILLE — Malik Miller was playing with a broken hand, but broke the hearts of East High’s basketball team.
Sophomore sharpshooter Miller mustered 19 markers — tossing in 4 from beyond the arc — helping forge Farrell to the District 10 Class AAA championship, 83-78.
Raiders hold lead at Northwest AA Region Tourney
Reynolds coach Casey Taylor had a simple, but fitting comment after the opening night of the Northwest AA Region Wrestling Championships at Sharon High School Friday:
“So far; so good!”
The defending champion Raiders, who are seeking a 17th region crown in school history, jumped into the team lead with 45 points Friday, heading second place Brookville with 35.
KC beats Ike in 2OT; Raiders fall
The Kennedy Catholic boys advanced to the PIAA Class A playoffs with a thrilling 66-62 double-overtime win against Eisenhower at Edinboro University in the District 10 consolation game on Friday night.
In Class AA, Mercyhurst Prep ended the season of the Reynolds Raiders with a 64-44 win at Slippery Rock University.
Brookfield boys, girls hoops teams ousted
ä Newton Falls 47, Brookfield 45 — At Newton Falls Friday night, coach Bill Kovach’s Warriors (13-10) suffered a tough playoff loss to the Tigers (14-9).
Brookfield led 18-8 at the end of the 1st quarter, but NF cut the lead to 26-22 at halftime. The Tigers outscored Brookfield 16-5 in the 3rd quarter and held off the Warriors in the 4th for the victory.
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