(Statistical Information Courtesy of The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK TWELVE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Five playoff games, including three District 10 championship games, are on this week's card. Of the five games, four are rematches of regular season games. Each of the three District 10 title games are rematches of regular season battles. In Class 1A, West Middlesex meets Farrell on Thursday night. Saturday afternoon, Hickory and Sharon will meet for the 3A title while Meadville meets Grove City in Saturday night's 5A title game.
The respective regular season games between those opponents featured varying levels of competitiveness. West Middlesex defeated Farrell on the final scrimmage play of the game, 21-14, when those teams met in Week Four. That same night, Hickory pulled away in the second half to down Sharon, 42-14, after a tight first half. Meanwhile, in Week Nine, Meadville led 42-0 at halftime on its way to a 48-14 win over Grove City.
Will the winning teams from those initial meetings repeat or will the tables be turned? So far in the 2016 playoffs, the winner of the first meeting is 3-0 in the playoff rematches. The regular season winner is 19-9 in such situations this decade.
CLASS 1A FINAL -- Thursday, November 10
West Middlesex (7-3) vs. Farrell (7-3) -- Hickory High School, 7:00 p.m.
West Middlesex's seven-game win streak began September 16 with a come-from-behind 21-14 home win September 16 over Farrell as Josh Porterfield tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Murray in the closing moments. Farrell led that game 14-0 before Porterfield's 11-yard touchdown pass cut the lead to 14-7 before halftime. Fullback Clayton Parrish tied the game in the fourth quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Farrell grabbed a 14-0 lead on Christian Lewis's 61-yard touchdown run and a 31-yard touchdown strike from Kyi Wright to Jourdan Townsend. Farrell tailback Braxton Chapman left the game early due to an ankle injury that ultimately sidelined him for a month.
Both teams reached the District 10 final by securing wins over Region 1 foes in last week's semifinals. West Middlesex stopped Cambridge Springs at the 3 on the final play of the game last Thursday night to secure a 20-16 victory. Meanwhile, Farrell rolled past Cochranton, 52-16, in the other D-10 semifinal.
Against Cambridge Springs, West Middlesex trailed 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter but rallied for the win. Porterfield threw a 58-yard completion to Parrish on a throwback screen on 4th-and-14, giving West Middlesex a goal-to-go opportunity from the Spa 5. Parrish's two-yard touchdown gave West Middlesex the lead for good.
Parrish ran for 129 yards and Porterfield added 103 yards in West Middlesex's option attack. The Big Reds did not turn over the ball and are plus-14 in turnover margin during their six wins on the field (the Big Reds also received a forfeit from Youngsville).
A sophomore, Parrish leads West Middlesex with 1,053 yards. Porterfield has added 557 rushing yards in his first season as the starting quarterback.
Farrell scored 30 straight points over the second and third quarters last week in the Steelers' semifinal win over Cochranton. Wright and Brandon Chambers both returned interceptions for touchdowns as part of a Farrell defense that forced four turnovers.
Chambers also ran for a 47-yard touchdown and caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Wright. Wright also ran for an 86-yard touchdown while Chapman became Farrell's all-time leading rusher on his 41-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Chapman now has 2,893 career yards after rushing for 122 yards against Cochranton. Chambers led Farrell with 123 yards on the ground.
Townsend added an interception while Tymir Green forced and recovered a fumble. Chapman leads Farrell with 1,266 yards while Chambers has a team-leading 23 catches.
The teams met in the 2014 District 10 Class A semifinals, with West Middlesex earning a 34-6 win. The Big Reds also won that year's regular season clash, 47-20. West Middlesex also downed Farrell in the 2012 D-10 semifinals, 42-0.
Last season, Farrell defeated Sharpsville in the D-10 Class A title game in overtime, 26-20, after falling to the Devils in the regular season. Farrell is 5-0 all-time in District 10 title games (1985, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015). West Middlesex won D-10 titles in 2002, 2003 and 2006. The Big Reds dropped the title game in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Either West Middlesex or Farrell has played in the D-10 title game every year since 2008 but it's their first meeting in the championship round.
The winner will play District 5 champion Conemaugh Township or Meyersdale next week in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. That game will reportedly be held at a D-5 site.
The game can be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
CLASS 2A SEMIFINAL -- Friday, November 11
Wilmington (9-1) vs. Greenville (6-4) -- Hickory High School, 7:00 p.m.
For the first time since the teams' classic 10-9, double-overtime D-10 Class AA semifinal in 2012, Wilmington and Greenville will meet Friday night for a berth in next week's 2A title game. Wilmington blanked Eisenhower, 52-0, last week in the quarterfinals while Greenville held off Seneca, 29-22, in the quarterfinals.
Against Eisenhower, Wilmington's resurgent defense forced five turnovers in recording the Greyhounds' second shutout of the season. Wilmington has allowed a District 10-low 100 points this year as six foes have been held to one touchdown or less.
Cameron Marett ran for 145 yards and Kyle Slicker added 109 yards for Wilmington against Eisenhower.
Spencer DeMedal leads Wilmington with 737 rushing yards this season. Slicker and Marett have each fashioned consecutive 100-yard games. Slicker has 699 rushing yards and Marett owns 628 rushing yards.
Greenville bolted to a 15-0 lead last Friday night against Seneca but needed a late 31-yard touchdown pass from Nate Bell to Ethan Reiser to break a 22-22 tie in the fourth quarter. Bell also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brady Kalchthaler in the first quarter to give Greenville a 7-0 lead. Canyon Eells added a pair of touchdown runs for the Trojans.
Greenville finished with 359 total offensive yards -- 206 rushing and 153 passing. Eells ran for 119 yards on 20 carries while emerging Brady Gentile added 77 yards on 16 carries. Kalchthaler and Ethan Reiser both had three catches.
Eells leads Greenville with 1,142 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Bell has thrown for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns. Reiser is his top target, with 30 receptions for 463 yards and three scores.
Wilmington's first shutout of the season came October 7 against visiting Greenville, 35-0. The Greyhounds built a 35-0 halftime lead while limiting Greenville to 83 total yards. Offensively, Wilmington ran for 203 yards and quarterback Reese Bender went 7 of 11 for 156 yards. Bell did not play due to injury for Greenville as Reiser started at quarterback in his place.
Wilmington is 3-0 all-time in the District 10 playoffs against Greenville. The Greyhounds downed Greenville in the 2000 (16-7) and 2001 (28-7) D-10 Class AAA title games. Wilmington head coach Terry Verrelli now has 297 victories. He is 297-128-3 in 39 years as head coach. Brian Herrick, a 1983 Greenville High grad, is in his 10th season at the helm.
Both programs have experienced a D-10 title drought, relatively speaking. Wilmington last captured a D-10 title in 2009 while Greenville is in pursuit of its first District 10 title since 1999. The winner of Friday's semifinal will play Sharpsville or Iroquois in next week's District 10 championship game.
The game can be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.
CLASS 2A SEMIFINAL -- Friday, November 11
Sharpsville (7-3) vs. Iroquois (10-0) -- Meadville High School, 7:00 p.m.
Iroquois is one win away from playing in the District 10 championship game for the first time since 1995. To get to the championship, the undefeated Braves will have to defeat a program that has played in the D-10 championship game in each of the last five seasons -- Sharpsville.
In last week's quarterfinals, Iroquois outlasted Reynolds 41-24 at Erie's Veterans Memorial Stadium. Tyler Barone, the focal point of Iroquois' Delaware Wing-T offense, ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns while halfback/wide receiver Zach Laniewicz ran for two scores and caught a third touchdown from quarterback Michael Lasher. Iroquois finished with 365 rushing yards.
Barone leads the Braves with 1,714 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns this year. Laniewicz has added 430 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with a team-leading six receptions. Fullback Joe Galvin is second on the Braves' roster with 444 rushing yards.
Lasher started at quarterback in place of junior Tarrell Clark, who missed the game due to injury. Clark also starts at linebacker for Iroquois' aggressive 3-3-5 defense and leads the team with three sacks. His status for Friday night's game remains uncertain.
Sharpsville reached the semifinals with a workmanlike 28-7 decision over Maplewood last Friday night. The Blue Devils' Wing-T ground game piled up 352 rushing yards as Cameron Prebble (196) and Bobby Besser (128) both went over the 100-yard mark and each man scored twice. Senior quarterback Luke Henwood completed 6 of 8 passes for 71 yards.
Defensively, Sharpsville forced three turnovers. Linebacker Luke Levis recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass while Marquis Altman also recorded an interception.
Besser now leads Sharpsville with 1,003 yards while Prebble is second with 720 rushing yards.
Two years ago, Sharpsville earned a 62-35 win over Iroquois in the D-10 Class A quarterfinals. The other playoff meeting between the programs came in the 1998 Class A semifinals, when Sharpsville earned a 46-15 win over the Braves.
Third-year Iroquois head coach Matt Morgan is the last Erie County head coach to win a "small school" (A/AA or 1A/2A/3A) D-10 title as he led Mercyhurst Prep to a 21-19 win over Mercer in the 2007 D-10 Class A title game. Morgan-coached Mercyhurst Prep is the last team to defeat Sharpsville in a D-10 semifinal, 56-33, in 2010.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC.
CLASS 3A FINAL -- Saturday, November 12
Hickory (10-0) vs. Sharon (8-3) -- Wilmington High School, 1:00 p.m.
One of Mercer County's fiercest rivalries will be reignited Saturday afternoon as surging Sharon looks to end Hickory's five-year run of District 10 dominance. Hickory has won five straight D-10 titles, taking the Class AA crown each year from 2011 to 2015. Meanwhile, Sharon aims for its first D-10 championship since downing Hickory in the 2010 Class AA title tilt, 14-6, at Wilmington.
Hickory improved to 10-0 last Saturday afternoon with a 33-10 win over Slippery Rock in the Class 3A semifinals. Senior tailback Chuck Carr became District 10's career rushing leader as his 223-yard performance gave him 6,559 career yards. Carr also ran for four touchdowns, which moved his season total to 43. The D-10 record is 44 touchdowns, set by Greenville's Andy Blatt in 1991.
Sophomore quarterback Hayden Gallagher completed 5 of 10 passes for 68 yards in his second start of the season. Four different Hickory receivers had catches, with Cameron Pica leading the way with two receptions for 16 yards.
Carr has 1,954 rushing yards this season and 40 of his 43 scores have come on the ground. Gallagher is now the second-leading rusher on the season for Hickory with 111 yards. Will Gruber leads Hickory in receptions (25), receiving yards (594) and touchdown catches (6).
Sharon returned to the D-10 title game by rolling past Titusville, 56-24, last Saturday night in the D-10 semifinals at Oil City. Sharon quarterback J.P. McComb threw five touchdown passes and ran for a sixth score in the victory. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 213 yards. Ziyon Strickland hauled in five passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns while Jeremiah Norris, Jayquan Odem and Warren Nixon also had touchdown receptions.
Tailback Jordan Wilson charged through the Titusville defense for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Norris also forced a fumble while Strickland had an interception. Tackle C.J. Malloy had a sack while helping to anchor Sharon's defensive line.
Wilson leads Sharon with 1,278 rushing yards. McComb has 30 touchdown passes this year, which is tied for the single-season Mercer County record. Grove City's Kameron Patterson also has 30 touchdown passes this year. McComb has 2,160 passing yards, which is the second-highest single-season total in Sharon history (Andrew Tomko had 2,701 last year). That total is also No. 6 on Mercer County's single-season passing list.
In the Hickory-Sharon regular season meeting September 16 at Hornet Stadium, Hickory secured the 42-14 win by outscoring Sharon 28-0 in the second half, including a 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter. Carr accounted for all four touchdowns over the final two periods and finished the game with 248 yards on 31 carries. Gruber had six catches for 117 yards.
Wilson led Sharon's balanced offense (171 rushing yards, 169 passing) with 168 rushing yards. McComb threw for 169 yards on 14-of-22 accuracy. Strickland, who missed the second half due to injury, had five catches for 43 yards.
Hickory pulled away from Sharon in last year's D-10 Class AA title game at Wilmington, 32-19, behind a 40-carry, 277-yard effort from Carr. The Hornets defense, under the direction of mastermind David Bodien (a 1998 Sharon grad) held Sharon to a 2-for-13 effort on third down in that game. The Tigers had 48 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Strickland caught a game-high eight passes for 171 yards.
Sharon has won nine D-10 titles under head coach Jim Wildman (239-98-7), who is in his 29th overall season at Sharon. This is the fourth season of his second stint. Wildman owns a 9-6 record in D-10 title games. Overall, Sharon is 10-8 in D-10 title games since 1985. Hickory is 8-1 all-time in the D-10 title game.
The game can be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
CLASS 5A FINAL -- Saturday, November 12
Meadville (9-2) vs. Grove City (10-1) -- Greenville High School, 7:00 p.m.
Riding a nine-game winning streak, Meadville is closing in on its first-ever District 10 title in football. To earn that elusive first title, the Bulldogs will have to repeat a feat they accomplished three weeks ago: defeat Grove City.
Both teams earned hard-fought victories in last week's semifinal round. Meadville rallied from a 20-7 deficit to eliminate archrival Conneaut, 42-20, last Saturday night at Greenville. Meanwhile, Grove City held off Fort LeBoeuf, 27-23, in a Saturday afternoon matinee at Meadville.
Two fourth quarter interceptions helped vault Grove City into the District 10 title game for the first time since 2011. With Grove City clinging to a 21-17 lead, senior linebacker Cordell Sanders returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown. After LeBoeuf cut the lead to 27-23 and had possession near midfield, senior end Billy Briggs intercepted his own deflection to snuff out the Bison's final threat and help seal Grove City's 10th victory.
The aforementioned Patterson threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the win. He now has 2,577 passing yards and needs 125 yards to break Tomko's Mercer County record, set last season. Tight end A.J. Turner caught eight passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns while fullback Trey Adams led the ground game with 84 yards and a score on 22 carries.
Turner has 43 catches for 977 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Sophomore Logan Lutz, who did not play against Fort LeBoeuf due to injury, has 36 receptions for 644 yards. Grove City has 31 rushing touchdowns and 31 passing touchdowns as a team this season.
Meadville picked up 255 of its 371 rushing yards in the second half last week against Conneaut. Three Bulldog backs went over the 100-yard mark as Journey Brown led the way with 133 yards on 17 carries. Antonio Ferraro and Isaiah Manning both had 119 yards. In addition to the traditional traps, sweeps and counters out of their Wing-T offense, the Bulldogs also incorporated the "toss power" that Greenville used with great success in that facility for decades.
Defensively, Meadville yielded 20 points and 296 yards to Conneaut in the first half. However, Meadville allowed only nine offensive yards over the final two quarters.
Brown leads Meadville with 2,012 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns this year. Manning has 1,428 yards and Ferraro (984) needs 16 yards to give Meadville a trio of 1,000-yard backs.
Brown ran for 199 yards and Manning added 191 in the Bulldogs' 48-14 win at Grove City in Week Nine. Meadville scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters en route to a 42-0 halftime lead. Meadville quarterback Kirk Mumau did not attempt a pass but did kick six extra points.
Meadville's defense and wind-swept rain helped short-circuit Grove City's passing game that night. Patterson threw for 121 yards on 13-of-23 passing, including two interceptions. Lutz had eight catches for 88 yards. Adams and Sanders had touchdown runs.
Meadville is 0-3 all-time in District 10 title games. The Bulldogs dropped the 1990 Class AAAA title game to Cathedral Prep, 21-7. Prep also blanked Meadville in the 1991 Class AAAA title game, 13-0. In 1998, Prep downed Meadville, 34-0, in the Class AAAA title clash.
Grove City owns a 2-5 record in District 10 title games. The Eagles won titles in 2004 (Class AA) and 2011 (AAA). Grove City is 0-1 in title games played at Greenville, falling to Wilmington, 21-19, in the 1995 Class AA title games.
Grove City is 1-2 in the championship game when facing an opponent that defeated the Eagles during the regular season. In 1987, Reynolds downed Grove City, 16-8, during the regular season before claiming a 33-7 victory in the Division II title game. In 1995, Wilmington edged Grove City, 7-6, in their regular season battle on Homecoming at Forker Field. Nine years later, Grove City rebounded from a season-opening 34-21 loss at Harbor Creek to defeat the Huskies in the Class AA title game, 33-7.
A victory would give Grove City its 11th win of the season, tying the program record. Grove City also won 11 games in 2004, 2010 and 2011.
The Grove City-Meadville winner plays District 6 representative Hollidaysburg next week in a 5A subregional game as part of the PIAA playoffs.
The game can be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.
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