(Statistical Information Courtesy of The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK TWO FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
While other parts of the Commonwealth claim to be opening the season Friday night, the Mercer County area's 12 teams will be entering Week Two. Nine of the 12 squads will be playing league games while Wilmington will host West Middlesex in a non-conference battle. Farrell hosts North East in non-conference play.
Sharon at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Following a two-year hiatus, Sharon and Reynolds renew their longtime series Friday in Transfer as Sharon plays its second straight road game to start the season. Reynolds opened 2016 with a 13-7 win at Class 3A Slippery Rock while Sharon fell at Wilmington, 30-13.
Last week, Sharon quarterback J.P. McComb completed his first 12 pass attempts while making his first varsity start. He finished 22 of 37 for 241 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to junior wide receiver Ziyon Strickland. Strickland, who had 60 catches in 2015, pulled in 10 passes for 176 yards at Wilmington. Sharon finished the game minus-1 in turnover margin, however, and also set up Wilmington's first touchdown with a bad punt snap.
Reynolds won its fifth straight season opener by edging Slippery Rock. Senior Ryan McQuown kicked field goals of 30 and 37 yards, respectively, in the second half to break a 7-7 halftime tie. Garrett Daniello's three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
The road team has won each of the last three meetings. Sharon secured a 32-7 road win three years ago, while in 2012, Reynolds captured a 21-14 win at Sharon Tiger Stadium. That Reynolds win snapped Sharon's seven-game win streak in the series. Reynolds is looking for its first 2-0 start since 2013 while Sharon aims to avoid the program's second 0-2 start in three seasons. In 2014, Sharon dropped its first two games before rebounding with five straight wins.
Sharon and Lakeview are the two local teams who open the season with consecutive road games.
The game will be heard on 790 WPIC.
Lakeview at Sharpsville, 7:00 p.m.
Two 1-0 squads will meet at Sharpsville's McCracken Field after earning road wins over local rivals last week. Sharpsville rolled to a 42-6 non-conference win last Friday night at West Middlesex as Cameron Prebble ran 44 yards for a touchdown, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Luke Henwood and returned a kickoff 70 yards for a score in the third quarter. Bobby Besser added a 70-yard interception return and added 75 rushing yards.
Lakeview held off a late Mercer rally for a 24-22 win Saturday in Mercer. Like Sharpsville, Lakeview scored on special teams as defensive lineman Aaron Moore returned a Donnie Mouck's blocked punt five yards for a second quarter touchdown. Cole Richael ran for 128 yards on 21 carries while Tanner Reddick paced the defense with three sacks and a forced fumble.
According to Bob Greenburg, Sharpsville leads the all-time series 13-5. Sharpsville won last year's meeting in Stoneboro, 39-6. The Blue Devils forced four turnovers, including two Prebble interceptions. Lakeview won the last meeting between the teams in Sharpsville, 12-6, two years ago.
Sharpsville went 6-0 at home last year and the Blue Devils are 27-3 in their last 30 home games. The Blue Devils have won eight straight home openers. Sharpsville's last loss in a home opener came September 1, 2007 -- a 14-6 loss to South Side Beaver. That year, Sharpsville went 1-5 at home, with the lone victory coming over Lakeview, 33-18. Lakeview is 7-3 in its last 10 road games in Mercer County.
Slippery Rock at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
Greenville (0-1, 0-1) opens its home schedule on Stewart Field at Snyder-Stone Stadium against an opponent that is also looking to bounce back from an opening night setback. Greenville fell at Hickory, 48-14, while Slippery Rock dropped a 13-7 decision to visiting Reynolds. An 0-2 start would not devastate either teams' playoffs hopes but it would certainly raise the degree of difficulty.
Greenville two quarterbacks last week in Brady Kalchthaler and Nate Bell. Kalchthaler started but Bell played extensively, going 5 for 18. Each quarterback threw an interception. Canyon Eells and Adonis Scriven each posted rushing touchdowns in the second half for the Trojans.
Slippery Rock limited Reynolds to one touchdown last week but the Rockets dropped their home and league opener. Bailey Mertens put Slippery Rock on the board with a five-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Prementine in the second quarter.
Greenville pulled out a 27-22 win at Slippery Rock last season as Gage Gladysz scored with 1:21 left for the Trojans. Greenville led 21-7 before Slippery Rock rallied in the fourth quarter. Mertens ran for 104 yards for Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock won the last meeting in Greenville, 14-7, two seasons ago. This is the third straight season that the teams have played in Week Two.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the two teams meeting in the District 10 Class AAA semifinal, won by Greenville 36-19. That marked Slippery Rock's first trip to the District 10 playoffs. Greenville also defeated Slippery Rock in the 1999 D-10 AAA semifinals, 42-23. This year is the 50th anniversary of Slippery Rock High School launching varsity football.
Last season, Greenville played its first "home" game at Grove City's Forker Field due to renovations at Stewart Field.
Greenville's WGRP 940 will carry the game.
Mercer at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
For the first time since 2005, Hickory and Mercer will meet on the gridiron, renewing a series that ran uninterrupted from 1989 to 2005. Hickory held the upper hand in the series, winning each year from 1993 through 2005. The Hornets are playing their second straight home game after opening the 2015 season with a 48-14 home win over Greenville.
Chuck Carr ran for 227 yards and four touchdowns for Hickory while versatile speedster Will Gruber caught a 43-yard touchdown pass and added a 10-yard touchdown run. Kicker Jacob Scarton highlighted Hickory's exemplary special teams by kicking a 46-yard field goal. Meanwhile, Hickory's defense held Greenville to a 5-for-20 passing effort.
It's a short week for Mercer, having dropped a 24-22 home decision Saturday afternoon to Lakeview. The Mustangs entered the season in pursuit of better balance and the opener indicated that Mercer is on track as the County Seaters ran for 100 yards and had 138 passing yards. Nathan Knopp caught three passes for 83 yards to lead Mercer while hard-charging Jimmy Amon paced Mercer on the ground with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Warren at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
Coming off a 34-28 come-from-behind victory at home over General McLane, Grove City hosts Warren in a bid for the Eagles to record their first 2-0 start since 2013. Last week, Grove City scored 20 fourth-quarter points to win its home opener. Kameron Patterson's 11-yard touchdown scamper in the final minute put Grove City ahead to stay.
Patterson threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Sophomore Logan Lutz caught six passes for 106 yards while senior tight end A.J. Turner caught two of Patterson's three touchdown passes. The Eagles did not commit a turnover.
Warren rolled to a 46-8 victory last Saturday over Erie East at Veterans Stadium. The Dragons broke open the game with 27 points in the second quarter. Austyn Cummings ran for four touchdowns while sophomore quarterback Jake Kupchella threw for 91 yards and added a touchdown run. Warren forced three turnovers and held East to 48 total yards of offense. East also had 16 penalties for 95 yards.
Like Grove City, Warren is in pursuit of its first 2-0 start since 2013, when the Dragons won their first four games. That marked the first year as head coach for fourth-year head coach Greg Latimer. Latimer is a Warren native who earned All-America honors in football at Mercyhurst College in 1987.
Grove City had won three straight against Warren until last season's 26-22 setback at Warren's War Memorial Stadium. Patterson ran for 124 yards and also threw for 116 yards and two touchdowns. However, Warren intercepted five Patterson passes. Warren's last win over Grove City came in the 2002 District 10 Class AAA semifinals, 18-9.
The game will be heard on SportsRadio 96.7. Live stats available here.
West Middlesex at Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.
Wilmington plays its second straight home game against a local rival as West Middlesex makes the short trip down State Route 18 Friday night.
Wilmington opened 2016 last Friday night with a 30-13 victory over Sharon in Region 2 action. The Greyhound ground game averaged 8.2 yards per carry and finished with 261 rushing yards against Sharon. Spencer DeMedal, last year's starting quarterback, primarily played halfback in Wilmington's Wing-T offense and ran for 109 yards and four touchdowns.
Wilmington won the field position battle with Sharon as the Greyhounds started drives on average at their own 40, compared to the Sharon 22 for the Tigers.
West Middlesex dropped a 42-6 decision to visiting Sharpsville last Friday night. The Big Reds defense held Sharpsville to just 21 points but two defensive touchdowns and a kickoff return for touchdown helped doom West Middlesex. Quarterback Josh Porterfield scored on a 65-yard run for West Middlesex. Porterfield, in his first start at quarterback, ran for 72 total yards and completed 4 of 9 passes for 32 yards.
The teams have met in each of the last four seasons. Wilmington won non-league matchups in 2012 (13-10) and 2013 (28-10). As league foes, West Middlesex won two years ago (25-21) and then secured a 24-7 triumph last year. In last year's win, West Middlesex held Wilmington to minus-10 rushing yards and forced four turnovers. West Middlesex limited Wilmington to a 1-for-13 performance on third down.
Wilmington's lone score came in the third quarter when reserve quarterback Robert Pontius fired a 47-yard touchdown pass to Colton Marett. Marett led Wilmington with six catches for 87 yards.
North East at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
Coming off a season-opening setback in New Castle last Saturday evening against Neshannock, Farrell looks to bounce back on a short week against North East. Farrell has not started a season 0-2 since 2008, although the Steelers rallied that year to go 12-3, win the District 10 title and reach the state semifinals in Class A.
Last Saturday, Farrell led 8-0 on Braxton Chapman's 54-yard touchdown run but Neshannock scored 42 unanswered points over the next three quarters.
North East fell at home last Friday nigth to Erie County rival Girard, 28-21, as the Grape Pickers allowed a 52-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in regulation. North East played without projected starting quarterback Alex Furmanek due to injury. Running back Brady Conn ran for 80 yards for North East before being sidelined by injury. Brock Conn quarterbacked North East and attempted just two passes.
Farrell is 5-2 in its last seven home openers. This is the second time in three years that Farrell has hosted an Erie County foe in the home opener. Two years ago, the Steelers defeated Erie East at Paulekas Stadium, 55-0.
According to Bob Greenburg, this is the first meeting between Farrell and North East. It is the fourth straight season that North East has played a regular season game in Mercer County. In 2013, North East opened at Greenville. The next year, North East closed the regular season at Reynolds. Last year, North East faced Greenville at Grove City in the season opener.
North East head coach Matt Shesman is in his 23rd season and owns a 123-104-1 mark. He has led North East to 12 District 10 playoff appearances.
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