The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


September 7, 2012

High school football preview

GC return to AA in the spotlight


It is not a stretch to suggest Mercer County dominated PIAA Class AA football during the decade of 2000.

Beginning with Grove City High’s school-standard surge to the ’04 title tilt, followed a year later by Reynolds’ record-setting run to the western regional championship game, and culminating in Wilmington’s ’08 commonwealth crown, the county can claim the caliber of success which only a few of its 66 county counterparts can.

That AA dominance could be duplicated in 2012, considering defending District 10 Class AAA champion Grove City has dropped down a rung on the enrollment ladder, joining with Wilmington and reigning D-10 AA kingpin Hickory.

Tonight, the Keystone State — specifically area aficionados — will get a potential postseason precursor as the Eagles entertain Wilmington at Forker Field in the Region 3-AA lidlifter.

Season-opening region rivalries prevail throughout tonight’s slate.

Tonight’s Games

(All games begin 7 p.m.)

Wilmington (1-0) at Grove City (1-0)

The 2011 Eagles edition matched the ’04 contingent’s school single-season standard 11 wins en route to the district championship and a PIAA playoff berth.

Both launching and lending legitimacy to Grove City’s great season was a Week-6, 17-0 whitewashing in New Wilmington. That proved to be the Greyhound gridders’ lone loss until the D-10 tournament semifinals.

It was Grove City’s 2nd straight success in a series otherwise dominated by Wilmington (see related box) in recent annals. Interestingly, one of Wilmington’s 10 District 10 titles came at Grove City’s expense.

Grove City is rated 5th in the latest Pennsylvania Football News poll, while Wilmington is only honorably mentioned, which — publicly — would not resonate with venerable Terry Verrelli. The Greyhounds’ headmaster has his sights set on longer-term ambitions.

Now in his 34th season, Verrelli (263-110-3) continues his climb toward the D-10 career coaching wins mark. And while he’s been at the Hounds’ helm about twice as long as his Grove City counterpart Jeff Bell (102-55), the latter has elevated the Eagles’ program to the elite during his tenure.

The names change, but the uniforms connote competitive clubs on an annual basis for both. Tonight should not detract from that.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN 96.7  (WLLF FM), with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action.

Hickory (1-0) at Greenville (0-1)

Until last season Hickory had not won a District 10 title since 1991 — 21-20 over Greenville. And during the last 2-plus decades the Trojans have tallied an 11-7 edge in the series history.

Following that setback at Sharon High’s Tiger stadium 2-plus decades ago, Greenville gridders won 5 consecutive meetings (1992-2002) before Hickory halted that skein with 3 straight wins (2003-05). Greenville garnered 4 more victories, including a 41-0 rout in ’09.

Tonight Greenville, however, will have to hope Stewart Field’s sod will be somewhat soggy to slow speedster DeShawn Coleman. In last season’s 39-6 Stingers’ success Coleman collected an 18-carry, 240-yard, 2-TD rushing performance.

Hickory stands 6th in this week’s PFN poll.

Greenville’s ground game is no longer its calling card, but ball control might serve the Trojans’ defense well in attempting to contain Coleman & Co.

Mercer (1-0) at Sharpsville (1-0)

Right out of the gate, this could prove to be one of the key contests in the Region 1-A regular season — just as it was last year when the Blue Devils outlasted Mercer 34-33 in the County Seat. Ultimately, the Blue Devils advanced to the PIAA Final Four.

Particularly since Pat McClearn became Mercer’s mentor, this has evolved into a good rivalry. In the ’06 finale, Sharpsville secured a 23-15 in New Wilmington, aborting Mercer’s playoff aspirations.

The Mustangs mustered back-to-back blankings of the Blue Devils in ’07 (14-0) and ’08 (21-0), but Sharpsville salvaged a measure of vindication in ’09 via a 10-7 D-10 playoff victory, negating Mercer’s 28-14 regular-season win. Sharpsville surged to a rout in 2010 (52-0).

Last week, Sharpsville’s speed was too much for Moniteau, while the Blue Devils’ defense yielded just 81 yards. Similarly, the Mustangs stampeded Eisenhower, 369-169.

Sharpsville’s speed, particularly at cozy James McCracken Field, presents problems for most opposing defenses. And even if the ’Stangs can stymie Sharpsville’s wing-T run game, who will match up with athletic wide-out Tyler Luchey when O-coordinator Lenny Grandy opts to stretch the field?

The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM), with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.

Kennedy Catholic (0-1) at Farrell (1-0)

The Steelers secured a season-opening Steel Bowl win over Sharon in skipper Jarrett Samuels’ return to the sidelines — in spite of a myriad of mistakes. But human nature being what it is, in competitive athletics winning is the perfect antidote to penalties, turnovers and risky play-calling.

But Joe Goudy gunned a pair of TD tosses, one to versatile Dewayne Burns, while newcomer Ray Johnson contributed a different dimension, blending power and open-field elusiveness.

During his previous 4-year foray into Farrell football fortunes, Samuels’ Steelers sprinted past Kennedy by a composite 207-6 margin.

Farrell flew past the Golden Eagles (36-21) last season at Butala Stadium in a game deceptively closer than the final score indicated, owing to KC quarterback Brennan Wassil and speedster Jeffrey Thompkins, both of whom return.

Kennedy Catholic’s last claim to success over the Steelers occurred in ’06 (41-0).

Lakeview (1-0) at Conneaut (1-0)

Sailors’ scatback Blake Reddick roared to a near record in last week’s 30-8 Sailors’ success over Union City. Reddick recorded a 33-carry, 365-yard, 3-touchdown performance that placed him in the top 10 in all-time D-10 history according to the Erie Times-News.

In ’05, former Harbor Creek standout (and Youngstown State placekicker) Stephen Blose burst for a 28-carry, 488-yard outing against Fort LeBoeuf. According to The Times-News, Reddick rests in 9th place.

Conneaut — a confluence of the former Linesville, Conneaut Lake and Conneaut Valley school districts — commenced the campaign rallying from a 16-7 halftime deficit at Girard to post a program-first 36-16 win. According to The (Meadville) Tribune, the Eagles’ Elijah Anderton annexed a game-high 151 yards rushing and a score and quarterback Jon Onderko added 97 yards and a trio of touchdowns, including 25- and 11-yard 2nd-half scoring sprints.

Sharon (0-1) Saegertown (0-1)

The Tigers turned over the ball a half-dozen times, but still took Farrell to double-OT in the annual Steel Bowl.

Quarterback Jesse Rodgers’ grit and 59-yard scoring sprint and Wanya Smith-Austin’s goal line-to-goal line interception return almost enabled Sharon to surge back from a 14-point 2nd-half deficit.

Versatile, athletic quarterbacks may victimize Saegertown. According to The Times-News, Saegertown could not stop Devin Walker, who threw a 42-yard TD toss to Kristofer Silbaugh and also sprinted 45 yards for another score.

Sharon skipper Bob Fromm alternated between the spread and I-formations last week with some success. Cambridge Springs’ Colton Noble notched 143 yards rushing against Saegertown, so perhaps Michael Bonner and Jarrell Lampkins will get more totes for the Tigers.

Titusville (1-0) at Reynolds (1-0)

Following their 44-0 season-opening rout of Maplewood, coach Jerry Pacifico’s Raiders are seeking the program’s 1st 2-0 start since that aforementioned ’05 season. Reynolds won a school single-season standard 11 games that year in advancing to the state’s Final Four.

Reynolds’ run game included the troika of Kellen Gursky, Austin Matthews and Mike Millero, who accounted for 188 yards and a handful of touchdowns.

Titusville toppled Franklin, rallying from a 13-12 halftime deficit and nudging the Knights to that program’s 13th consecutive setback.

According to Penny Weichel’s website, the Rockets rushing game amassed 435 yards, led by Xavier Rose’s 11-carry, 136-yard outing, complemented by Ehrin Lee (19-126) and Jayce Corklin (13-122). Titusville totalled 541 yards as Corklin uncorked a 38-yard 3rd-quarter TD toss to Armand Rickerson for the go-ahead score. Corklin later returned a punt 59 yards for another score.

Campbell Memorial (1-1) at Brookfield (2-0)

After last week’s transformer malfunction at Addison Field, OHSAA officials had not yet determined where this game will be played, according to Youngstown-area TV station WFMJ sports director Dana Balash.

Led by Jeremy Quinlan and Ryan Mosora, the Warriors have overwhelmed a pair of opponents for an area-best 54 points and 434 yards per game for coach Randy Clark.

The Red Devils defeated perennial playoff staple South Range (29-7) last week after dropping their opener (27-20) at Struthers. During the latter, Campbell came back from a 21-point 3rd-period deficit, according to The (Warren) Tribune-Chronicle.

Campbell QB Brandon Reyes recorded a 21-for-30, 266-yard, 2-TD performance in last week’s win. But the pass-happy Red Devils of coach Mickey Sikora attempted only 13 rushes for 57 yards. In the opening-week loss, Reyes rifled TDs ot 34 and 18 yards, respectively, to speedsters D.J. Harrison and Braylen Wigfall. Reyes passed for 154 yards and rushed for another 50; however, Campbell coughed up 352 yards to Struthers, according to The (Youngstown) Vindicator.

Last season Brookfield bested Campbell Memorial, 26-20 in OT.

Saturday’s Game

Moniteau (0-1) at West Middlesex (0-1)

Though no consolation in losing, the Big Reds’ performance last week in New Wilmington could be a confidence-booster. A unique twist for opposing defensive coordinators is the use of both Trey Staunch and Jeremy Jansco both running and passing the ball.

Coming of a District 9 championship season, Moniteau was manhandled at Sharpsville, though the Warriors were embroiled in an off-field incident that may have hampered their personnel and depth.

The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM), with Jeff Wimer and Scott Clary calling the action.

Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.

Text Only
  • NFL NOTEBOOK: Ex-Sharon star Austin hopes to spark Lions' defense

    THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fighting cancer Racing to fight cancer

    Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
    Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break

    SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
    Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”

    July 20, 2014

  • Sky high Rutters earn spot in national motocross event

    The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
    Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Football scramble Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble

    Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
    The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!

    HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
    The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
    What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).

    July 13, 2014

  • LeBron James Full text of LeBron's essay in SI

    LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team

    Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
    Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oprah lands first interview with Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matthew

    Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, is breaking his silence for the first time since his father's 2012 conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, sitting down with Oprah to tell his story.

    July 8, 2014

  • County champs Little League Tournaments

    Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.

    Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.

    Following are game reports:

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cook The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary

    Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
    During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11

    THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
    Cook, a standout on the Champions Tour and outstanding TV golf analyst, will conduct a clinic at 11 a.m. Monday at the course to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of The First Tee of Sharon program.
    It is open to the public at no charge.

    June 29, 2014

  • Tri-Athletes Hickory honors Tri-Athletes

    Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
    Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the  academic year.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPORTVIEW: Ex-Greenville man to enter Bedford County Hall

    HUGHEY TATE was the greatest baseball player that ever lived — hitting 10,000 home runs and never making an out in 50 years on the diamond.
    OK, that’s not true of course. But that’s the way Hughey would have told it before bursting into laughter.
    Tate, a Greenville man who was as good at spinning a yarn as well as he was in hitting home runs, will be inducted posthumously into the Bedford County (Pa.) Hall of Fame Saturday. Some of his relatives from this area will attend the ceremonies.

    June 22, 2014

  • Trophy time Wilson wins Herald-Tamie Jr. golf crown

    It was a case of family history trumping golfing history!
    Hickory High golfer Billy Colbert had a chance to become only the second player ever to win the Herald-Tam O’Shanter Golf Championship four times. But he missed the final round of the tourney Wednesday along with his brother Colbert to attend his great-grandma’s funeral in Pittsburgh.
    “I kind of wish he was here,” said the 2014 champion Jacob Wilson, a Kennedy Catholic High player who lost in a sudden-death playoff to Colbert last year. “But you play whoever is here. And in golf, you play against yourself too.”

    June 19, 2014 1 Photo

Top 25 (AP Poll)
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter