SHARON – His grandpa’s greatest lesson to Lane Voytik was simple: Humility.
So after Sharon High’s senior signal-caller tossed 2 touchdowns in taking the Tigers to a 14-0 Region 5 triumph over Slippery Rock Friday night, Lane Voytik didn’t thump his chest; he silently took a knee on Tiger Stadium’s midfield sod.
“He was a very humble person. And honestly? I get that through him, through my dad, just through everyone. I just try and be humble, just like him,” Voytik said regarding his grandfather, 1958 Sharon High alumnus Don Voytik.
Based on his 12-for-22, 192-yard, 2-TD passing performance Voytik vaulted former Mercer High standout Logan Clarke in Mercer County annals. Clarke concluded his career with 6,178 yards passing, and Voytik – unofficially – has thrown for 6,269.
“I came out before the game, and I teared up,” Voytik related. “It was an emotional game. I was sad ... it was just different. My whole family’s here – they usually don’t come to the games – it was just a different atmosphere. It was emotional.”
Voytik has tossed 70 career TDs after connecting with Ty Eilam on a 32-yarder in the 2nd stanza, then C.J. Parchman on a 3rd-period 19-yarder. Additionally, diminutive Brady Ortiz orbited for a game-high 103 yards rushing as the Tigers totaled 337 yards.
“We’re gettin’ healthy, we’re gettin’ guys back,” simply summarized Sharon skipper Jason McElhaney. Regarding his squad’s back-to-back wins after an 0-2 start, he related, “I think we’re finding what our run game is now, because early in the year – and this is not a knock on Lane – we expected him to be a big part of the run game (though Voytik sustained a high-ankle sprain in the season-opener at Wilmington).
“We’ve kind’ve had to revamp how we run a little bit, and that takes a little bit of time. So we’re kind’ve finding what that needs to be. ... And listen, nobody runs harder than (number) eleven,” an admiring McElhaney said in praise of Ortiz. “He’s a hundred-and-forty pounds, but he’s tough, man. ... There’s only one (offensive line starter) back, that’s Aaron Allenbaugh. But now these guys’ve got four games under their belt, and they’re playin’ like we thought they were capable of playin’.”
Slippery Rock (0-1, 2-2) was stout in defending Sharon (1-1, 2-2), other than Voytik collaborating with Eilam for 32-, 44-, 35- and 43-yard aerials.
“It was a great feeling. Lane just put the ball spot-on, and I just made plays,” Eilam explained. “Lane and I have been playin’ football together since Midgets, and we always had that ... we always talk about, ‘I got you and you got me.’”
McElhaney said in praise of Slippery Rock Head Coach Wendereusz, “Larry’s teams always play good defense. We always have trouble with that scheme, that three-four, and those guys play hard. But it’s a credit to (Sharon Defensive Coordinator Dave) Bodien and our defensive staff, and those guys just kind’ve hangin’ in. We’re back against the wall a couple times, inside the thirty, inside the twenty, and those guys just kept playin’, and we got out of here with no points (allowed).”
Slippery Rock’s Vito Pilosi produced 85 yards rushing and 143 passing on a 15-for-34 output. The Rockets ran for 156 and amassed 307 total yards – converting half of 8 fourth-down attempts – but on 74 plays (4.1 yards per play).
“I think defensively we played well, and we had our chances offensively – we just didn’t capitalize,” Wendereusz assessed. “We dropped three long touchdown passes and missed a field goal. That’s a good football team (Sharon), and when you have opportunities, you’ve gotta take advantage of ‘em, and we didn’t do that.
“I think we had to do that, I think that’s our mentality,” Wendereusz continued regarding the Rockets’ 4th-down aggressiveness. “We do it defensively and we try and do it offensively. We’re gonna be aggressive, we’re gonna take shots. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, (Friday) night they didn’t work out for us.
“We may not have stretched the field, but I thought we moved the ball well on them,” Wendereusz said. “I think we moved the ball rather well; we just didn’t punch it in. Against a good football team and a good defense like that, when you get opportunities you can’t let ‘em go by.”
Conversely, the Tigers have taken back-to-back tilts at Tiger Stadium, and McElhaney admitted, “Wins feel good. I’m happy for our guys. It isn’t about me and how I feel. But I’m happy that these guys stayed the course, stayed with us, stayed patient, and now we’re back to even.”
“Coach told us, ‘Don’t get down,’ and we were, like, all right, so we just had to keep goin’, keep flowin’ and not step back,” Eilam added.
“I like the direction we’re goin’,” McElhaney continued. “Confidence is such an important thing in any sport and anything you’re doin’, and our guys are playin’ with some confidence right now, feelin’ good, and I like the direction, yep.”
Mature while masking his emotions, Voytik said regarding his grandfather, “Of course we were very close. He used to sit right there, right on that little ledge up there (behind the Donald Bennett Education Center) to watch my games. He’d always come over and talk to me, ask me how I’m doin’, criticize me on what I did wrong, congratulate me on what I did right. He was a great man to have in my life.”
A grinning Voytik, taking the edge off his anguish, added when asked if his grandfather was proud of his performance, “Of course. He was ... probably criticizing me, too.”
SLIP ROCK 0 0 0 0 0
SHARON 0 7 7 0 14
S — Eilam, 32 pass from Voytik (Auchter kick)
S — Parchman, 19 pass from Voytik (Auchter kick)
17 First downs 15
156 Rushing yards 145
151 Passing yards 192
46-16-0 Att-comp-int 22-12-0
307 Total yards 337
1-0 Fumbles-lost 1-0
7-58 Penalties-yards lost 5-45
Rushing: SLIPPERY ROCK— Pilosi 21-81, Hyatt 8-51, Duffalo 10-24; SHARON — Ortiz 14-103, Eilam 1-19, Richardson 4-16, Robinson 3-14.
Passing: SLPPERY ROCK — Pilosi 34-15-0, 143; Mokel 1-1-0, 8; SHARON — Voytk 22-12-0, 192.
Receiving: SLIPPERY ROCK — Plesakov 4-45, Hyatt 4-32, Duffalo 4-28, Earl 2-24, Sabo 2-22; SHARON — Eilam 6-155, Parchman 5-37. Phillips 1-0.