SLIPPERY ROCK — Disrespecting a defending district champion?
Whether factual, contrived or a combination of the two, the Hickory High football team felt it had a point to prove during Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game with Wilmington.
“It’s amazing when a number-three seed pulls off three major upsets and becomes the District 10 champion,” related Hickory headmaster Bill Brest, following his Hornets’ 39-7 humbling of the ‘Hounds at Slippery Rock University’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
Hickory, Grove City and Wilmington shared the regular-season Region 3-AA crown, but the Hornets had to ease past the Eagles in the semifinals, then hurdle the ‘Hounds in the title tilt en route to claiming their 2nd consecutive crown.
“We’re the District 10 champs,” Brest said, noting, “We had the longest, hardest row to hoe, but we truly believe: We take it one practice at a time, one game at a time, both our kids and our coaches do, and we’re looking forward to … who knows what’s going to happen in the future?”
By virtue of the victory, Hickory (11-1) will meet Richland (13-0), a 27-0 winner over Forest Hills, next weekend at a site and time to be announced.
The Hornets held a 12-7 margin at intermission, but Matt Voytik vaulted Hickory to a 25-7 lead through 3 periods as the Hornets hammered the Hounds for a pair of scores.
After taking a 15-yard sack on the 2nd half’s opening series, Voytik scrambled 46 yards on 3rd-and-11 just 2 minutes in, hoisting Hickory to an 18-7 edge. Then after the Hornets coerced a punt, Voytik’s 21-yard option keeper set up DeShawn Coleman’s 16-yard sprint, extending his own Hickory High career touchdown record and also surpassed the 4,000-yard career rushing mark.
“We came out with the two-minute and started running the no-huddle offense,” Voytik related. “Third-and-long they gave me the ball and it worked out. Once you get plays like that, you get the momentum, and DeShawn took it all the way, and these guys (center Joe Hines, guards Daulton Linton and Jaylan Sharper, tackles Alonzo Scott and Dylan Brenneman and tight end Calvin Pryts) blocked hard.”
The title tilt contrasted with Wilmington’s 35-28 regular-season win in which the Greyhounds dominated the line of scrimmage.
“We had trouble moving the football,” acknowledged Hounds head coach Terry Verrelli, “and you can’t make those kinds of mistakes (5 lost fumbles) like that against a good football team, no matter who it is. That killed us.”
“First game, we didn’t win the line of scrimmage; (Satur)day night, we felt we were the more physical team on the football field, and we knew our offensive and defensive lines could do it and we did it (Satur)day night,” Brest assessed. “I think we also won in all three facets of the game: Special teams, offense and defense.”
The Hornets tallied twice within a span of only a few seconds at the outset of the 4th frame.
A shanked punt set up Michael Palumbo’s 1st-and-goal 8 yard burst. Then on the ensuing kickoff, DeQuan Lewis lent a 30-yard return of a fumble as the Hornets harvested a 39-7 lead with 10:32 remaining following the 3rd consecutive Jordan Wombacker PAT.
Hickory held a 12-7 halftime lead, though the Hounds harvested a significant edge in time of possession during the 1st half – 18:31 to 5:29. However the Hounds handed the ball over twice, with Joey Hines recovering both for the Hornets. Hines’ initial recovery set up the game’s initial score.
The Stingers sandwiched Wilmington’s lone score on Voytik’s 25-yard, 1st-quarter TD toss to Coleman and Voytik’s 1-yard, 3rd-and-goal plunge. However the Hornets had a pair of missed conversion attempts -- the latter on a Coleman option pass attempt.
After Jimmy Pitzulo recovered a Coleman fumble, Wilmington went 37 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes and 35 seconds, with Tyler Donati driving in from 2 yards out on 4th-and-goal. Slavi Pontius produced the PAT, giving the Greyhounds a 7-6 edge with 8 1⁄2 minutes remaining to intermission.
For Wilmington (9-3), seniors Jake McGhee, Alex Patton, Nic Pugh, Slavi Pontius, Brandon Ryder, Jon Robison, Steve Muscarella, Donati, Jeremy Miller, Jon Yohman, Xavier Coulter, Keith Fulkman, Nasir Watson, Zack McCluskey, Chris Welch and Donnie Watson.
Wilmington was seeking the program’s 11th District 10 title since 1994.
“I’m proud of these guys, and to get this far is a great honor on their part,” Verrelli, the district’s all-time winningest grid coach, related. “It’s not quite acceptable, but I guess that’s the beauty of the beast – people expect it, and the kids expect more of it. They played hard, but you make those kinds of mistakes, you’re not gonna win.
“(The seniors) came through, and to get this far wasn’t an easy chore, you know?” Verrelli rhetorically asked.
“I’m so proud of the kids and I’m so proud of the coaching statf, because they put the time in,” Brest related. “It’s about time, time, time, preparation, and not only during the season, but during the offseason, and we can’t be happier for these boys and these coaches.
“I want to thank God, I want to thank my wife and my kidsk, and I want to thank our school and community,” Brest summarized, adding, “We just hope we can keep this rolling for many weeks to go.”
DISTRICT 10 CLASS AA
WILMINGTON 0 7 0 0 7
HICKORY 6 6 13 14 39
H — Coleman, 25 pass from Voytik (kick failed)
W — Donati, 2 run (Pontius kick)
H — Voytik, 1 run (pass failed)
H — Voytik, 46 run (run failed)
H — Coleman, 17 run (Wombacher kick)
H — Palumbo, 8 run (Wombacher kick)
H — Lewis, 30 fumble return (Wombacher kick)
18 First downs 11
223 Rushing yards 162
15 Passing yards 91
5-2-0 Att-comp-int 6-4-0
238 Total yards 253
5-5 Fumbles-lost 1-1
6-58 Penalties-yards lost 5-35
Rushing: WILMINGTON — Donati 24-104, Patton 16-53, Bloise 13-52, Llewellyn 5-14; HICKORY — Coleman 14-75, Voytik 7-58, Palumbo 7-21, Tindall 1-8, team 2-0.
Passing: WILMINGTON — Llewellyn 4-2-0-15, Patton 1-0-0-0; HICKORY — Voytik 6-4-0-91.
Receiving: WILMINGTON — Miller 1-13, McGhee 1-2; HICKORY — Coleman 2-39, Tindall 1-48, Pope 1-4.
SLIPPERY ROCK — Disrespecting a defending district champion?
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
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.
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