It’s only Week 3 of the scholastic football season, so no need to panic, right?
Don’t try persuading Hickory, Wilmington or Sharpsville into that mind-set. Those proud programs have become accustomed to winning — the Hornets and Blue Devils are the 2-time defending District 10 Class AA and A titlists, respectively, while Wilmington won 9 games and the 2012 Region 3-AA co-championship before bowing to Hickory.
For any Mercer County contingent coming off an opening-week region loss — to borrow some Yogi Berra logic — it’s getting late, early ... perhaps too late for a team to bounce back from an 0-2 region start.
(All games begin 7 p.m.)
Wilmington (0-1, 1-1) at Hickory (0-1, 1-1)
This is an encore of last season’s D-10 Class AA title tilt, but both teams are in a desperate predicament following last week’s losses.
A 21-point margin at intermission dissipated into a 22-21 defeat to Greenville for Hickory. Four turnovers and a pair of missed field-goal attempts proved costly.
“Nobody’s to blame. I’ll take the blame, as always,” Hornets’ headmaster Bill Brest said. “The kids played their hearts out. When we win, it’s them; when we lose, it’s on me, and we’ll find a way to win (this) week.”
Similarly, Wilmington was victimized by a 53-yard scoring strike from Jared Graham to Foster Reznor in the closing minutes — Grove City’s lone pass completion — as the Eagles eased to a 17-13 win in New Wilmington.
Though it’s a small sample size — Hickory has lost just 8 games in Brest’s 4-year tenure — the Hornets have demonstrated the resolve to rally from losses.
“Four years ago this same night, we lost a ‘stinger’ (Sharon, 13-12), but we just bounced back and kept it rollin’. We have no doubt that’ll happen with us because we have faith in these kids and they’re a great group of kids, and they’ll bounce back,” Brest forecasted.
The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.
Grove City (1-0, 2-0) at Reynolds (1-0, 2-0)
This is the biggest gridiron game to take place in Transfer since an ’05 midseason meeting between the Raiders and Wilmington, won that night by the visiting Greyhounds (16-7). However Reynolds rebounded to exact vengeance in the form of a 21-0 D-10 AA championship game win over Wilmington en route to a school single-season standard 11 victories and berth in the PIAA Western Regional title tilt.
Last year at Forker Field Grove City’s Graham got the Raiders for a 35-yard TD toss to Reznor and an 11-yard run as the Eagles eased to a 20-6 win.
After back-to-back blow-outs of winless Maplewood and Titusville, this will serve as the Raiders’ 1st big test under new head coach Josh Mull.
Raiders’ running back Mike Millero manufactured a 251-yard, 3-TD performance against Titusville.
West Middlesex (0-0, 1-1) at Farrell (1-0, 2-0)
In spite of a pair of season-opening shutouts, Coach Jarrett Samuels’ Steelers are still smarting from 38-6 and 42-0 beatdowns administered by Middlesex last year — the latter in the D-10 Class A semifinals by shackling the Steelers’ ground game (minus-6 yards).
Quarterback Trey Staunch managed Middlesex to those wins by orchestrating 733 total yards of offense. While he rushed for only 45, he completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 223 yards and 2 TDs and also booted 10 PATs. It will be interesting to see how Staunch, surrounded by the skill-sets of a new stable of weapons, fares against Tyrone Archie, et al.
Coach Ed Roberson’s Big Reds rebounded from an opening-night loss to Wilmington to become the young season’s 2nd county contingent to manhandle Moniteau, though Middlesex yielded 28 points.
The game will be broadcast on Newstalk 790 (WPIC AM). Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch will call the action.
Sharpsville (0-1, 1-1) vs. Conneaut Area (0-1, 1-1)
The Blue Devils have gone from one extreme — a 35-12 season-opening mauling of Moniteau — to the other, blanked in the County Seat last week by Mercer in the Region 1-A opener.
Though not needing to throw against Moniteau, Sharpsville, nonetheless, has passed for only 49 yards in 2 games. Sharpsville also was bedeviled last week by a trio of turnovers against Mercer, one of which led to the game’s lone score.
CASH’s Eagles have endured their own offensive woes. In a 27-17 season-opening win over Girard, they scored just 6 second-half points; then in last week’s loss at Lakeview (14-2) they managed only a safety. Hunter Merritt has amassed 388 yards rushing in 2 games, including a 26-carry, 305-yard, 3-TD performance to jolt Girard. Elijah Anderton also is an offensive option for CASH.
Saegertown (0-1, 0-2) at Greenville (1-0, 2-0)
Trap game ... trap game ... trap game!
Greenville is coming off that Region 3-AA opening win at Hermitage, rallying from a 21-point halftime deficit; Saegertown has been outscored 130-0 by Cambridge Springs and Sharon.
The Trojans blanked Hickory during the 2nd half, led by Zach Miller Alex Gentile and Justin Reynolds, while the O-line of Andy Jones, Sawyer Miller, Mitchell Kalchthaler, Alex Ho, Reynolds and Gentile afforded time for QB Matt Jones to toss 2 TDs to Luke Houpt.
The game will be broadcast on WGRP (940 AM).h Steven G. Folmer and Karl Rupert will call the action.
Sharon (1-0, 1-1) at Titusville (0-1, 0-2)
Sharon was shut out by Farrell, then scorched Saergertown in its region lidlifter — as Carnell Hawkins enjoyed a career year last Friday night (200 yards on only 5 carries, including a trio of TDs, plus 2 TD receptions from Andrew Tomko) — presenting Tigers’ taskmaster Jim Wildman with the 1st win of his 2nd stint at the helm.
Titusville has been competitive in losses to Frankin (18-14) and Reynolds (35-14), though the Rockets yielded 402 total yards to the Raiders.
Difficult to fathom, but Titusville tallied 14-6 and 35-33 wins the last 2 seasons, both at Tiger Stadium.
Franklin (1-1) at Lakeview (2-0)
When area aficionados speak of the Sailors it’s in terms of Blake Reddick, Zach Bigley, et all. However the stingy Sailors stymied Union City and Conneaut Area, permitting 8 points (1 TD) and 270 total yards in the 2 games — an impressive performance for Coach Dan York’s defensive yeomen.
After the Knights knocked off Titusville in their tri-city lidlifter, DuBois destroyed Franklin (68-14) last week. The Knights were nicked for a school single-game record 622 total yards, according to Penny Weichel’s web site.
However Kyle Uber intercepted 3 passes, enabling him to share the Franklin single-game record. Also, Kyle Ritchey threw for 148 yards on 10 completions to surpass Roland “Bay” Lawrence into 7th place on Franklin’s all-time yards passing charts (1,769), according to Weichel. Ritchey and Khalil West collaborated 4 times for 71 yards, including a 48-yard scoring strike; however, the Knights rushed for only 54 yards.
Brookfield (2-0) at Campbell Memorial (0-2)
The early-season skinny was that they were rebuilding in Brookfield. But the Warriors whipped Springfield Local and Newton Falls for 76 points and 759 total yards, so perhaps it’s dejá vu — 2012 — all over again.
Including a 24-point outburst in the final frame against Springfield, during the last 5 quarters Brookfield has brokered a 70-13 edge. QB Augustus Necastro has tossed a trio of TDs and just 1 interception in 42 attempts, involving a handful of different receivers, while Nate Morrison has emerged as Brookfield’s bell-weather ball carrier.
In last week’s 39-6 setback to South Range, Campbell Memorial mustered only 153 total yards (58 rushing), according to The (Warren) Tribune-Chronicle. Aaron Jackson’s 7-yard run accounted for the Red Devils’ lone TD.
Struthers stunned Campbell, 39-6, in the 2013 opener.
A year ago Brookfield belted Campbell, 58-20.
Mercer (1-0, 2-0) at Kennedy Catholic (0-1, 0-2), noon
The Mustangs made 3 miscues and mounted only 133 total yards last week against Sharpsville, but still posted a 6-0 win.
The Steads’ shutout of Sharpsville, coupled with easing past Eisenhower in the opener, has enabled Mercer to mount a 2-0 mark for the first time since ’08 — a 10-win season that ended in the D-10 semifinals.
Conversely, Kennedy Catholic has tallied 1 touchdown and 174 total yards in 8 quarters.
The game will be broadcast on SportsRadio 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Jeff Wimer and Mike Piddington calling the action.
Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.
It’s only Week 3 of the scholastic football season, so no need to panic, right?
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
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.
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- 5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey