Like children playing a game of Musical Chairs or an uninvited dinner guest, someone tonight will be without a seat and headed home unhappy.
There are a handful of clubs in Class A — 4 from Mercer County — vying for 4 berths and seeding in the upcoming District 10 football tournament. By approximately 9:30 tonight, there will be players — specifically seniors — and coaches simultaneously lamenting what could’ve been.
In single-A, 2-time defending D-10 titlist Sharpsville is on the bubble for a berth, as is its predecessor as Class A kingpin, Farrell.
In double-A, Greenville, Hickory, Grove City and Sharon all are in, but tonight’s results will dictate the tournament seeding.
But Week 9 in West Middlesex will provide perhaps the most interesting matchup, as the Big Reds welcome Lakeview, with the Region 1-A championship on the line.
(All games begin 7 p.m.)
Lakeview (4-1, 7-1) at West Middlesex (4-1, 5-3)
During the last 3 seasons West Middlesex has laid losses on Lakeview of 41-6, 10-6 and 14-13.
Last year Trey Staunch stuck the Sailors for a 9-for-11, 114-yard passing performance that included a 57-yard scoring strike, offsetting Blake Reddick’s 21-carry, 82-yard, 1-TD rushing effort. Two years ago Reddick rushed for 154 yards on 29 totes, but could not enter the end zone in that Sailors’ setback.
The Big Reds have been bridesmaids each of the last 2 years in Class A, while Lakeview is one of just 2 Mercer County programs never to have won a District 10 gridiron championship.
Last March 1, West Middlesex outlasted Lakeview in 5 overtime periods (71-65) for the D-10 Class AA basketball title. Staunch was stout for winning West Middlesex that night, while Zach VanDusen and Brandon Rice suffered that Sailors’ setback.
First-year Head Coach Ed Roberson’s Reds are somewhat of a surprise in 2013. But not unlike Lakeview last season on the hardwood, this year’s grid edition could be in the midst of a once-in-a-generation season for Sailors’ skipper Dan York.
The game will be broadcast on Sports Radio (WLLF, 96.7 FM) with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.
Sharon (4-2, 5-3) at Grove City (4-2, 5-3)
The 2013 season already has evolved into a memorable Tigers’ tale.
Sharon has surged to 3 wins in its last 4 outings. The Tigers’ trio of losses occurred to Farrell, Greenville and Hickory — teams that are a combined 19-5.
While he was handcuffed by Hickory, “The Hawk” has been flying high during Sharon’s skein, and it would figure Forker Field’s synthetic surface would facilitate flight. Tigers’ tailback Carnell Hawkins has run roughshod during that trio of triumphs, totalling 466 yards (7.39 yards/carry) and 7 TDs. The versatile Hawkins also has an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and caught a scoring strike from Andrew Tomko.
Only undefeated Green-ville and Slippery Rock and once-beaten Hickory have gotten by Grove City, though the Eagles etched only 2 wins in their last handful of games — winless Saegertown and Titusville.
Both Sharon (35-21) and Grove City (17-13) are locks for the D-10 playoffs since both own wins over Wilmington. Even with an upset at Greenville’s Stewart Field, the Greyhounds still can’t hurdle the loser of this contest for the 4th and final berth because the first tie-breaker for district playoffs is head-to-head results.
Last year, Grove City garnered a 49-21 triumph over the Tigers. According to available archives at The Herald, prior to a brief hiatus in the series owing to separate enrollment classifications, the Eagles soared in ’07 (42-36), ’06 (44-25), ’05 (19-6), ’04 (47-0) and ’03 (20-6). Sharon’s last success in the series occurred in ’02 (14-6).
Mercer (3-2, 6-2) at Farrell (2-3, 4-4)
A few weeks ago area aficionados may have anticipated this as a regular-season Region 1-A title tilt.
However Farrell has fallen in its last 3 outings, though, mathematically, Steelers’ skipper Jarrett Samuels harbors hope Farrell can forge a playoff berth with an upset. Prior to their recent skid, the Steelers shocked Sharpsville (7-6).
Meanwhile the Mustangs have mustered back-to-back blowouts, led by prolific passer Logan Clarke who has tossed 10 TDs in back-to-back non-conference wins over Mercyhurst Prep and Keystone.
Mercer and mentor Pat McClearn missed the 2012 postseason, but have made sure that 1-year hiatus was an abberation, not a trend.
The Steeds have stumped the Steelers, 10-7 and 42-34, the last 2 seasons. Farrell fashioned a 35-0 win in 2010, the last year of Samuels’ initial 4-year stint.
The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM) with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch on mike.
Wilmington (3-3, 5-3) at Greenville (6-0, 8-0)
What this rivalry lacks in longevity it more than compensates in competitiveness.
When they last met the Trojans took the Greyhounds to double-OT in the 2012 D-10 semifinals before bowing (10-9). However Greenville gained on the Greyhounds last season in a 4-week span after suffering a 26-0 shutout setback in Week 9.
Wilmington also won back-to-back D-10 titles (2000-01) at the Trojans’ expense. And including last year’s playoff loss, Wilmington has whipped Greenville 9 consecutive times by an aggregate 279-53 differential.
The last time the Trojans truimphed? In 2004 (20-10) — the next-to-last time a Trojans’ team triumphed 8 times in a season — and the last season a Greyhounds’ grid squad did not qualify for the postseason.
The game will be broadcast on WGRP (940 AM), with Steven G. Folmer and Karl Rupert calling the action.
Hickory (5-1, 7-1) at Reynolds (2-4, 4-4)
The Hornets have set a new scoring standard this season, having hung up 70, 60 and 77 points, respectively, on Titusville, Farrell and Saegertown.
During its current 6-game win skein Hickory has scored 324 points (54/game). Two-time District 10 Class AA titlist Hickory has outscored (394-76, or 49.2 to 9.5) and outgained (3,472 to 1,063, or 434 to 132.8) opponents
Hickory handled Reynolds (28-7) last year as Matt Voytik tossed 4 TD passes as part of a 7-for-10, 195-yard passing performance while the Stingers’ defense limited Reynolds’ Mike Millero to a 17-carry, 64-yard outing.
Kennedy Cath. (0-5, 0-8) at CASH (2-3, 5-3)
Conneaut Area has captured 4 consecutive contests, and with a little help, the Eagles could end up in the postseason.
Hunter Merritt has been a mulch-munching machine for CASH. In last week’s win over Farrell Merritt scorched the Steelers for a 32-carry, 246-yard, 3-TD (15, 6, 74) performance, while Elijah Anderton added 84 yards and 2 TDs on 19 totes.
While Head Coach Archie Donofrio and KC have not quit — trailing 55-0 last week to West Middlesex, the Golden Eagles ended with a pair of 4th-quarter scores — attrition has taken its inexorable toll. The Golden Eagles ended last week’s loss to West Middlesex with only 18 players in uniform.
Last year CASH copped a 24-14 win over Kennedy Catholic as Merritt ran for 2 scores (20 carries, 129 yards) and passed for another, while Anderton added an 8-yard TD run.
Sharpsville (4-4) vs. John F. Kennedy (2-6)
Mollenkopf Stadium, 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils break from Region 1-A play to cross the border into the Buckeye State.
Sharpsville has secured region wins over CASH, Kennedy Catholic and West Middlesex, but suffered setbacks to Mercer, Farrell and Lakeview — teams that are a combined 17-7. Should Farrell fall, the Blue Devils live another day on a tiebreaker.
JFK’s Eagles eased past Garfield Heights-Trinity (33-12) as quarterback Michael Roscoe recorded 314 total yards (229 rushing) and accounted for a trio of TDs. Danté Munno mustered 2 TDs (1 rushing, 1 receiving) for JFK.
Brookfield (6-2) vs. Youngstown Christian School (2-5)
(Poland High), 7
While last season’s success was the culmination of the program’s gradual progress, this year may be more of a surprise for Brookfield bench boss Randy Clark, considering his club’s youth.
The Warriors have won 2 of their last 3, conquering Conneaut (14-8) last week as Joey Clark’s legs and Augustus Necastro’s arm accounted for nearly all of Brookfield’s 209 total yards.
YCS played competitively in a 34-21 loss to undefeated Villa Angela-St. Joseph. According to The (Youngstown) Vindicator, YCS trailed from the outset, but only 20-14 by the break and 28-21 through 3 periods.
According to The Vindicator, the Eagles enjoyed an aggregate 19-5, 2-year postseason skein; however All-Ohio defensive end KaeVon Green and running back Ryan Grier graduated. Head Coach Brian Marrow has been attempting to mold 19 first-year players.
Brookfield belted YCS, 33-7, last year.
Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.