Hickory battled Grove City on Saturday and Greenville faced Wilmington for the right to advance to next weekend’s District 10 Class AA title game.
The Hornets rolled past the Eagles, 35-13, Saturday afternoon at Slippery Rock University while the Hounds edged the Trojans, 10-9, in a double-overtime thriller at SRU Saturday night.
Following are staff reports:
ä Hickory 35, Grove City 13 — When the Hickory Hornets won the battle of defending District 10 champions the City of Hermitage apparently decided to hold a parade in their honor.
“It wasn’t for us,” said Hickory coach Bill Brest with a laugh, shortly after the victory over the Eagles at Slippery Rock University’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium Saturday afternoon. “But it would have been nice.”
Actually the parade Saturday night was the annual Hermitage Light Up Night event. But earlier in the afternoon the Hornets lit up the scoreboard with explosive plays that vaulted the Red and Black into the District 10 title game for a third straight season.
Last year Hickory won the D-10 Class AA crown, while Grove City prevailed in Class AAA. But since the Eagles of coach Jeff Bell dropped to AA this season, it set up the rare meeting of champions.
“The District 10 finals are our expectations every year,” said a happy Brest, whose team lost the finale to Sharon in 2010, before winning last year over Gen. McLane to notch the school’s first D-10 title since 1989 when the Hornets went on to win the state title.
“We’ll be practicing on Thanksgiving for a third straight season and that’s our goal,” said Brest, who still didn’t know who their finals opponent would be since Wilmington and Greenville played a night game at SRU.
“We’ll be ready for which ever team wins,” said Brest. “But it’s still a great day for Mercer County sports. Region 3 is a real bear.”
Still, the Hornets could very well be the dominant bear, although they lost to Wilmington during the season and tied with Grove City and Wilmington for the region crown.
Hickory has big-play potential from running back DeShawn Coleman on every play, but they have a few others guys that can produce as well. That showed on the first offensive play of the game when junior quarterback Matt Voytik faked a pitch to Coleman, then sprinted past Grove City defenders on a 62-yard touchdown burst. Jordan Wombacker, returning after a hip injury, booted his first of five extra points.
“We felt Voytik was due for a breakout game,” said Brest. “He was a little nervous in his first playoff game last week. But he read the option right, saw green grass and took off.”
Hickory added another TD midway through the second period on a 5-yard run by Coleman and the 14-0 lead held up through halftime.
In the third period, Grove City came out and marched 61 yards on only 5 plays, sparked by a 43-yard sprint by Foster Reznor, and quarterback Jared Graham went the final 4 yards. But the point after missed.
Still Grove City was back in the game. Well, at least for a short time.
On Hickory’s next possession, speedster Coleman broke loose for a 60-yard run that dampened the hopes of the Eagle faithful.
“That play was big,” said Brest. “We answered when we had to after Grove City scored. DeShawn can turn any play that looks like a two-yard gain into an 80-yarder.”
That run took a little bit of the spirit out of the Eagles. “That was a backbreaker,” admitted GC coach Bell.
Hickory scored twice in the final frame on a 75-yard run by Coleman and a 5-yard tally by Mike Palumbo. Grove City scored late in the contest on a 3-yard run by Reznor and a PAT kick by Dylan Motta.
Coleman ran for 194 yards on 14 carries, while Voytik had 102 on 6 totes. In all the Hornets rolled up an impressive 395 yards on the ground. Of course the offensive line plays a key role in that statistic.
“Coach (Bill) Sham has that young line playing well together,” said Brest, lauding the up-front crew of Joe Hines, Dauton Linton, Jaylan Sharper, Alonzo Scott, Dylan Brenneman and Calvin Pryts, with others also filling in during the contest.
“My hat’s off to Hickory,” said Bell. “They are a great team. But our kids played hard and I’m proud of them. We moved the ball and had some scoring chances, but we didn’t get points off them.”
Brest credited his defense for those key stops in Hickory territory: “Coaches (Walt) Nogay and (Neil) Gargano had the defense well prepared. Our kids bend, but don’t break.”
That defense was led by Hines, Palumbo, Austin Aikens, Sharper, Pryts, Nardone, Linton, DeQuan Lewis, Anthony Cannone, Coleman, Dionte Pope, Davon Tindall and more.
“It was a total team effort,” said Brest. “The coaching staff and players.”
Brest’s only lament was that the team had a few other scoring efforts that didn’t come through. “The bigger the game, you don’t want those kind of mistakes to come back an haunt you.”
But if Hickory reduces those mistakes and keeps playing well down the road, who knows — maybe there will be a parade for them after all!
Notes: Grove City went for fake punts twice, succeeding on one and missing on the other. Each team fumbled once and Grove City’s Kyle Trinch had an interception. The game was mostly a ground contest, with Grove City picking up 264 yards with the rush. ... Grove City finishes the season 9-2. Bell will say goodbye to a solid group of seniors who were in the D-10 AAA finals the last three seasons. “We’ve only lost 4 or 5 games in the past few years which is a tribute to the seniors the kids before them,” said Bell. But they also return a solid group of young players to make another run at region and district honors. — By Lynn Saternow, Herald sports editor.
ä Wilmington 10, Greenville 9 (2 OT) — At Slippery Rock University’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, the Greyhounds and Trojans morphed into the Chicago Bears.
Forty-eight minutes and an overtime period produced only a pair of field goals. However the ‘’Hounds harvested the win on Cody Llewellyn’s 3rd-and-goal 4-yard option keeper and Slavi Pontius’ conversion kick.
“I just saw that I had the edge and (the Trojans) overpursued it,” Llewellyn related. “I decided to cut back, and it was there. I just remember diving, hitting the ground and the ref signalling it was a score.”
Following Llewellyn’s score, the Trojans tallied on Cody Nellis’ 1-yard plunge; however the potential game-tying PAT was wide.
During the initial OT, Casey Eells and Pontius traded 20-yard field goals.
By virtue of the victory Wilmington (9-2) will meet defending District 10 titlist Hickory (10-1) for the Class AA championship next Saturday at 7 p.m. at SRU. The game will be a rematch of a Week-4 regular-season showdown, garnered by the Greyhounds, 35-28, in New Wilmington.
After a Week-9 26-0 shutout of Greenville, the Greyhounds gained only 257 total yards, led by Tyler Donati’s game-high 27-carry, 122-yard rushing performance.
However the Hounds Hammer defense yielded only 130 Trojans’ total yards and a handful of 1st downs.
“Our defense is the key. If you want to be any kind of playoff team you’ve gotta play defense,” Hounds’ headmaster Terry Verrelli related. “And, you know, (the Trojans) did, also, so they’re a great representative of a great playoff team, also.
“But that’s key, playing defense, and I thought we played great defense (Saturday) night.”
Verrelli vaulted to his 271st victory, elevating him to the top of District 10’s career coaching list.
“Obviously, it’s a great,g reat honor. The kids I’’ve had over the years are just these guys (2012 Greyhounds). They work hard every day, and the young ones coming up follow them and they continue to work. I owe it to a lot of people,” the humble Hounds’ headmaster said.
The setback shortcircuited a Cinderella season for Greenville (6-6), which dropped its first 2 tilts of the campaign, then rallied for the program’s 6th straight playoff berth and 1st opening-round win last week against Corry.
However, a heartbroken Brian Herrick, the Trojans’ taskmaster said.
“Once we realized we could play with (the Hounds) and hit with them a little bit, then we played better. It was just effort. I thought they really played well.
“We mixed some things up on defense, and I thought that helped immensely, and they started to believe in each other and the plan. Unfortunately, we just were a point short,” Herrick added.
“We couldn’t find a way to consistently move the ball. We had a couple opportunities for a couple big plays, but just didn’t have them, and that’s a credit to Wilmington and their defense — they’re very good.”
While Wilmington will seek its 11th District 10 title next weekend, Herrick had a handful of seniors to bid adieu, including Jacob Riffe, Jacob Brown, J.J. Hauck, Cole Weaver and Braden Gladysz.
“It’s a testament to the kids and how hard they work. Hopefully the underclassmen will remember this and what the pain’s like. ... (The seniors) are just great kids,” Herrick, haltingly replied, “We’re gonna miss ’em, They’re great.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
DISTRICT 10 CLASS AA
HICKORY 7 7 7 14 35
GROVE CITY0 0 6 7 13
H — Voytik, 62 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Coleman, 5 run (Wombacker kick)
GC — Graham, 4 run (kick failed)
H — Coleman, 60 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Coleman, 75 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Palumbo, 5 run (Wombacker kick)
GC — Reznor, 3 run (Wombacker kick)
HICKORY GROVE CITY
14 First downs 18
395 Rushing yards 264
7 Passing yards 5
8-2-1 Att-comp-int 6-3-0
402 Total yards 269
1-1 Fumbles-lost 2-1
13-113 Penalties-yards lost 6-33
Rushing: HICKORY — Coleman 14-194, Voytik 6-102, Palumbo 5-23, Derloni 1-0, Tindell 4-76; GROVE CITY — Reznor 15-83, Williams 22-78, 11-54, Lucido 10-37, Trinch 1-1.
Passing: HICKORY — Voytik 8-2-1; GROVE CITY — Graham 5-2-0-5, Trinch 1-1-0-0.
Receiving: HICKORY — Pope 1-5, Tindell 1-2; GROVE CITY — Trinch 2-5, Graham 1-0.
GREENVILLE 0 0 0 0 3 6 9
WILMINGTON 0 0 0 0 3 7 10
G — Eells, 20 field goal
W — Pontius, 20 field goal
W — Llewellyn, 4 run (Pontius kick)
G — Nellis, 1 run (kick failed)
5 First downs 16
67 Rushing yards 192
63Passing yards 65
130 Total yards 257
4-25 Penalties-yards lost 4-40
Rushing: GREENVILLE — Nellis 15-38, Black 9-29, Fattman 5-8, Riffe 2-(-7); WILMINGTON — Donati 27-122, Patton 12-44, Bloise 9-22, Llewellyn 4-3..
Passing: GREENVILLE — Riffe 15-4-0, 43; Fattman 1-1-0, 20; WILMINGTON — Llewellyn 15-4-0, 65.
Receiving: GREENVILLE — Houpt 2-28, A.Jones 1-13, M.Jones 1-2 WILMINGTON — Watson 2-40, Bloise 1-15, Patton 1-10.