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.
Like children playing a game of Musical Chairs or an uninvited dinner guest, someone tonight will be without a seat and headed home unhappy.
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.
GCC tops Thiel in OT to win Mercer County Cup
The Grove City and Thiel College football teams closed out their seasons on Saturday with a thrilling game at Alumni Stadium in Green-ville as Grove City posted a 50-44 overtime win in the 30th annual Mercer County Cup Game.
Quarterback Brian Pell scored on a 13-yard run for the Wolverines (3-5, 5-5) to give GCC the win in OT.
Devils beat WM; will play for 3rd straight D-10 title
Two-time defending District 10 Class A champion Sharpsville is returning to the D-10 title game for a third straight year and Coach Paul Piccirilli has a simple explanation for the team’s success:
“We believe. Kids in Sharpsville believe.”
A lot of people are believing as well after watching the Blue Devils dismantle West Middlesex, 40-3, Friday night at Hickory High Hornets Stadium.
Spence, Sailors roll past Mercer, 52-21
NEW WILMINGTON — Pat McClearn lived Lakeview High football program’s previous gridiron glory days. Unfortunately for him on Friday night he was on the business end of the current Sailors’ resurgence.
McClearn and his Mercer High Mustangs were eliminated by Lakeview from the District 10 Class A semifinals, 52-21.
Long gone basketball league leaves a costly legacy
If you want to mark yourself as a graying old-timer, bring up the American Basketball Association – the professional league that featured large Afros, slam dunk contests, three-point baskets and a red, white and blue basketball.
Oh, yes, it also had a great collection of players - perhaps the best on the globe - who brought athleticism, skill and excitement to a game that had become somewhat stodgy in the more established National Basketball Association.
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- Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley