(Statistical Information Courtesy of The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK FIVE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
While summer-like weather is predicted for Friday, this week's local high school football games will be the first played after the autumnal equinox brings us into fall. Eleven of the area's 12 teams will play conference games this week while the lone non-league game pits two undefeated teams.
Week Five may not have the marquee appeal of last week, which had two 3-0 vs. 3-0 matchups, the Sharon-Hickory rivalry game and the Farrell-West Middlesex conference opener. However, the seven league games this week all will directly influence the conference and playoff races in Classes 1A, 2A, 3A and 5A.
Reynolds at Sharpsville, 7:00 p.m.
Reynolds and Sharpsville each enter this pivotal Region 2 clash with 3-1 records but are entering Friday night's game from opposite ends. Reynolds scored 64 points last week in a win at Lakeview while Sharpsville yielded 63 points in falling at Wilmington last Friday night.
Although Reynolds is without standout halfback Dylan McDanel due to injury, the Raiders' ground game kicked into top gear last week at Lakeview as Reynolds amassed 309 rushing yards. Damion Gearhart ran for 116 yards while David King (68), Ryan McQuown (58) and quarterback Garrett Daniello (43) also made contributions on the ground. Gearhart has emerged as a senior this year, rushing for 450 yards while averaging 9.0 yards per carry.
Daniello ran for two touchdowns last week and also threw touchdown passes to Gearhart and Tyler Gill. Daniello has again been one of District 10's dual-threat quarterbacks as he has accumulated 576 yards of total offense and seven combined touchdowns. McQuown is the team's leading scorer with 39 points, including four field goals. He has scored via touchdown, field goal, extra point and two-point conversion this season.
Sharpsville surrendered 470 rushing yards last week at Wilmington after allowing only six points over the first three weeks of the season. However, the Blue Devils have been a different team at McCracken Field, where they have won 28 of their last 31 games.
Since the start of 2015, Sharpsville quarterback Luke Henwood has thrown 21 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. This year, Henwood has thrown for six scores without being intercepted. He ran for a season-high 49 yards on eight carries last week. He did not play against Reynolds last year due to sickness. Luke Levis, who currently starts at outside linebacker as a sophomore for Sharpsville, started at quarterback in last year's Reynolds-Sharpsville game.
Sharpsville won last year's meeting in Transfer, 44-20, behind 296 rushing yards. Sharpsville also prevailed at home in 2014, 39-0. The Blue Devils won each of the six meetings between 1998 and 2003. Reynolds' last win over Sharpsville came in 1995, 41-6, as the Raiders opened that season 6-0. The next year, Paul Piccirilli took over as Sharpsville head coach. Reynolds' last win at McCracken Field came in 1994, 35-15.
Both Reynolds and Sharpsville are Class 2A teams and each owns a 2-1 conference record. The top four 2A teams from Region 2 will earn invitations to the District 10 playoffs.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Greenville at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
Both Greenville (2-2, 1-2) and Lakeview (1-3, 1-3) look to remain in Class 2A playoff contention Friday night when the teams meet in Stoneboro. Greenville improved to 2-2 overall last week by rallying for a 16-14 home win over Conneaut (Pa.) in non-conference action. Lakeview, meanwhile, dropped its third straight game with a 64-16 loss at Reynolds.
Over the past three weeks, Greenville has returned to its run-oriented roots after an opening night loss at Hickory. Halfback Canyon Eells has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in each of the last three games for the Trojans, including his 132-yard effort on 33 carries against Conneaut. Eells leads District 10 with 98 rushing attempts. Greenville ran the ball on 53 of its 57 scrimmage plays last week. The Trojans fell behind 14-0 but did not deviate from their game plan as Brady Gentile ran for a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter.
Defensively, Greenville allowed just 183 yards against Conneaut's explosive spread offense.
Tanner Reddick ran for one touchdown and threw a scoring pass to Garrett Gadsby for Lakeview against Reynolds last Friday night. Reddick and Gadsby have split time at quarterback this season with Reddick leading the team with 143 passing yards and three touchdown passes, all to Gadsby. Reddick's 164 rushing yards are second on the team to Cole Richael's 231 yards.
Lakeview is 12-4 in its last 16 home games. Greenville is 13-3 in its last 16 road games but 0-2 away from home this year. Greenville will close the season with three of its final four league games at Stewart Field.
Wilmington at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.
After opening 2016 with three of its first four games at home, Wilmington will play the first of back-to-back road games Friday night at Mercer. Wilmington improved to 4-0 for the first time in five years last Friday by rolling past Sharpsville, 63-21. Wilmington piled up 562 offensive yards and averaged 12.0 yards per scrimmage play.
Wilmington's Wing-T offense produced three 100-yard rushers last week. Fullback-turned-tight end-turned-fullback Kyle Slicker ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns while halfback/part-time quarterback Spencer DeMedal added 103 yards and three touchdowns. Halfback Cameron Marett picked up 100 yards on a half-dozen carries.
The Wilmington defense, despite giving up a season-high 21 points, limited Sharpsville to eight first downs and a 2-for-11 performance on third down. Wilmington limited Sharpsville to 70 yards on 31 plays over the Blue Devils' final seven possessions.
DeMedal ranks second in Mercer County with 13 touchdowns and 78 total points. His 11.0 yards-per-carry average is third-best in the area.
Mercer dropped to 0-4 last week with a 35-0 setback against Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock held Mercer to 32 offensive yards last week.
Mercer's last win over Wilmington came October 21, 1994, 34-21 in New Wilmington. Wilmington won the rematch that year in the District 10 Class AA title game, 27-0. Mercer's last home win over Wilmington came 30 years ago. Greg Scarsella's 25-yard field goal with two seconds left gave Mercer a 10-7 win September 19, 1986. Both teams competed in District 7's Tri-County North A conference then.
Slippery Rock at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
Two of the area's Class 3A teams will meet Friday night at Sharon Tiger Stadium as Sharon (2-2, 2-2) hosts Slippery Rock (1-3, 1-3). Three of Sharon's first four games have been on the road while Slippery Rock has played only one road game through the season's first month.
Sharon had undefeated Hickory on the ropes in the fourth quarter last week before the Hornets broke open the game with three touchdowns en route to a 42-14 win. Sharon's spread offense featured near-perfect balance with 171 rushing yards and 169 passing yards. Quarterback J.P. McComb completed passes to five different receivers, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to Warren Nixon. McComb went 14 of 22 passing.
This season, McComb has completed 52 of 97 passes for 654 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. Ziyon Strickland has caught 23 McComb passes for 406 yards and five scores. Jordan Wilson leads the ground game with 557 rushing yards. Jeremiah Norris, who splits time between slotback and running back, has 180 rushing yards as well as nine receptions for 84 yards.
Slippery Rock gave first-year head coach Larry Wendereusz his first victory last Friday night with a 35-0 home win over Mercer. The Rocket defense allowed just 32 yards, including just four rushing yards. Offensively, quarterback Bailey Mertens ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns and also completed 5 of 8 passing attempts. Seth Slater ran for a game-high 84 yards and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Mertens.
The home team has won each of the last five meetings. Sharon won last year's meeting, 44-0, at Sharon Tiger Stadium. Strickland caught four passes for 149 yards. The Tigers had 235 rushing yards and 235 passing yards against Slippery Rock.
After this week, Slippery Rock, Sharon, Lakeview and Mercer will be the only area teams to have not played a non-conference game. The final regular season game of Jim Wildman's first stint as Sharon head coach came in 2001 in a snowstorm at Slippery Rock. Sharon won that game 37-0.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Grove City at Oil City, 7:00 p.m.
One of District 10's oldest intercounty series will be renewed Friday night as undefeated Grove City visits 0-4 Oil City in a Region 5 battle.
Grove City improved to 4-0 last Friday night with a 60-6 win over Oil City's archrival, Franklin, at Forker Field. The Eagles amassed 541 total yards (282 passing, 259 rushing) while limiting Franklin to 10 rushing yards. Junior Qadir Muhammad caught four passes from quarterback Kameron Patterson, who finished 14 of 15. Logan Lutz caught two touchdown passes while A.J. Turner hauled in a scoring strike as well.
The Eagles' senior-laden offensive line has opened lanes for Grove City's resurgent ground game. Junior fullback Trey Adams leads Grove City with 318 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Twelve of Grove City's 27 total touchdowns have come on the ground.
Under first-year head coach Dan York, Oil City has struggled through the season's first month, falling to Corry (20-0), Franklin (30-20), Conneaut, Ohio (35-12) and DuBois (55-16). Three of the four games have been on the road, however, as Oil City only played Conneaut at The Oil Field. Oil City has won eight of its last 10 home games.
York, a 1975 OCHS graduate and former assistant coach under Paul Stamm, has restored the power running game that characterized the Oilers during the 1990s. Oil City is averaging over 210 rushing yards per game.
York spent 15 seasons as Lakeview's head coach before returning to Oil City last spring. His last game at Lakeview was a 31-12 win over Grove City in the 2015 finale.
Grove City won the last meeting at The Oil Field, 70-2, in 2011. In 2010, 6-0 Grove City handed undefeated Oil City a 35-17 setback. Oil City's last win in the series came in the 1999 season finale, 17-15, at The Oil Field. The teams met every year from 1977 to 1994, with the exception of 1981. Grove City played Brookfield instead in 1981 as part of the first year of the Keystone Football League, which Brookfield originally planned to compete in. Grove City won the first meeting with Oil City, 13-0, in 1919.
Farrell at Union City, 7:00 p.m.
After one week of Region 1 play, it is Union City, not perennial powerhouse Farrell, that is helping to set the pace in the only 1A conference in District 10. Union City opened conference play last week with a 45-8 win over Youngsville while Farrell fell at West Middlesex, 21-14, after jumping out to a 14-0 lead.
Farrell tailback Braxton Chapman, Mercer County's second-leading rusher with 674 yards, missed most of last week's game due to injury. His status is uncertain at best for Friday night's game. Quarterback Kyi Wright led Farrell with 69 rushing yards last week while also throwing for 101 yards on 4-of-8 passing. Defensively, Farrell allowed West Middlesex to execute 64 offensive plays. Farrell had just 25 offensive plays.
Wright has completed 66 percent of his passes (21 of 32) for 422 yards and seven touchdowns.
Union City averages 368.5 rushing yards per game, including 424 yards last Friday night against Youngsville. Four Bears have rushed for over 200 yards this season, led by Gavin Henry's 485 yards. Daulton Kerns (332), Emmett Murphy (276) and Cameron Kesselring (209) all average 7.7 yards per carry or higher.
Union City is in pursuit of its first winning season since the 2009 Bears went 7-4 overall. This is the first meeting since November 12, 2010, when Farrell earned a 33-0 win over Union City in the District 10 Class A quarterfinals at Hickory. That marked Union City's last trip to the postseason.
Farrell last started 0-2 in conference play in 2008. Union City last won its first two league games in 2010.
West Middlesex at Cambridge Springs, 7:00 p.m.
West Middlesex broke through last week by rallying past Farrell, 21-14, at home on a night in which the Big Reds honored the 2006 Class A state runner-up team. While the '06 Big Reds relied on a balanced offensive attack, this year's Big Reds have stuck to the ground. Eighty-four percent (166 of 191) of West Middlesex's offensive plays have been runs this year in the Reds' new triple-option offensive scheme.
Last week, Clayton Parrish ran for a career-high 204 yards on a career-best 34 carries. Quarterback Josh Porterfield threw a pair of touchdown passes to Dustin Murray, who finished with 69 receiving yards on four catches. Murray's 20-yard touchdown catch in the closing seconds gave West Middlesex its first win of the season.
Cambridge Springs dropped to 1-3 overall last week with a 22-18 setback at Cochranton. Spa outgained Cochranton, 331-258, but a minus-2 turnover differential helped doom the Blue Devils.
Offensively, Cambridge Springs averages 408 yards per game, with near-perfect balance (199.5 rushing yards per game, 208.5 passing yards). Quarterback Noah Reisenauer has thrown for 834 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also rushed for 268 yards and a score. Cody Lanning leads Spa with 334 rushing yards.
This is the second time this season that Cambridge Springs has faced a Mercer County foe. Two weeks ago, Cambridge Springs rallied from a 29-8 deficit at Reynolds to take a 30-29 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Reynolds eked out a 32-30 win on Ryan McQuown's game-winning field goal. The Blue Devils amassed 658 total yards of offense. Reisenauer threw for 415 yards and ran for 145 that night.
West Middlesex and Cambridge Springs met in the 2014 and 2015 season openers with West Middlesex pulling out narrow wins in both games. Two years ago at Spa, West Middlesex secured a 28-22 win. Last year, the Big Reds rallied for a 22-20 overtime win over eventual D-10 semifinalist Cambridge Springs.
Westinghouse at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
The area's lone clash of undefeateds will be held in Hermitage Friday night as 4-0 Hickory hosts 3-0 Westinghouse of the Pittsburgh City League.
Hickory pulled away from archrival Sharon last week on its way to earning a 42-14 home win. Senior tailback Chuck Carr scored four of his five touchdowns in the second half to help lift Hickory to victory. He finished with 248 yards on 31 carries. Carr leads District 10 with 828 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. His 17 total touchdowns and 102 points are also tops in northwest Pennsylvania.
Junior wide receiver Will Gruber is tied for fourth in Mercer County with a dozen catches for 305 yards (third-best in the County) and is the top target in Hickory's under-publicized passing game.
Class 2A Westinghouse has opened the season with victories over Greensburg Central Catholic (41-14), Perry Traditional Academy (32-14) and Brashear (21-9). Last week against Brashear, Quame Gaines ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. It marked Westinghouse's first win over Brashear in 15 years.
Westinghouse is in pursuit of its first City League title since 1996. Head coach Monte Robinson is in his 10th season at Westinghouse coach.
Westinghouse is located in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. Prior to the start of this academic year, Westinghouse absorbed approximately 200 students from the nearby Wilkinsburg School District, which closed its middle and high schools.
This is Hickory's first regular season game against a non-District 10 team since October 7, 2011, when the Hornets earned a 42-20 home win over Karns City. Westinghouse is visiting Mercer County for the first time since September 8, 2006, when the Bulldogs fell at Sharon, 44-0.
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