By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
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.