(Statistical Information Courtesy of The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK SIX FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
As the calendar reaches the end of September, Week Six offers a nice blend of important league games, renewed rivalries and intriguing non-conference games. If you like Homecoming games, this is your week as six of the seven games are Homecomings. Greenville is the lone exception; Homecoming will be October 14-15 at G.H.S.
Sharpsville at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
For the first time since 1981, Sharpsville and Greenville will meet as league opponents Friday night at Stone-Snyder Stadium/Stewart Field. Sharpsville (4-1, 3-1 Region 2) looks to keep its league title hopes alive while Greenville (3-2, 2-2) can remain in contention for one of the top Class 2A playoff berths in the District 10 playoffs.
Sharpsville held off resurgent Reynolds last week to earn a 32-29 Homecoming win at McCracken Field. For the second straight game, Bobby Besser scored on Sharpsville's first scrimmage play as he raced 67 yards for a touchdown. He also caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Luke Henwood and finished with 173 yards from scrimmage.
Sharpsville's run defense has allowed 765 yards over the last two weeks and will likely be tested by Greenville's power attack. Greenville halfback Canyon Eells ranks second in Mercer County with 715 rushing yards on a county-high 115 carries.
Prior to last week, Greenville had returned to its traditional run-oriented offensive scheme. At Lakeview, however, Trojan quarterback Nate Bell threw for 271 passing yards and two touchdowns. Connor Gilfoyle, who has often been in the shadow of noted pass catchers Ethan Reiser and Michael Blaney this year, caught four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown against Lakeview. Reiser had three receptions for 72 yards and Blaney caught two balls for 56 yards and a score.
Defensively, Greenville has allowed a total of 331 offensive yards over the last two weeks.
Sharpsville and Greenville met regularly throughout the 1980s in non-league play. Most recently, the teams met in Week 10 in each of the last two years in games that were glorified tuneups for the playoffs for each team. Sharpsville prevailed 34-13 at McCracken Field last year. Greenville won the 2014 meeting, 42-27, in the final game on grass at Stewart Field.
Sharpsville and Greenville competed against each other in the Northwest Conference from 1971 to 1981. Sharpsville began play in the Mercer County-centric Keystone Football League in 1982. The KFL morphed into the Mercer County Athletic Conference in 1989. Greenville joined the MCAC in 2002 but this is the first time that Sharpsville and Greenville have been in the same enrollment classification since then.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Hickory at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
The 5-0 Hickory Hornets are off to their best start since the 1979 team opened 7-0-1. To get to 6-0, Hickory will have to defeat an unfamiliar opponent in Lakeview. It's the first meeting between the programs as region foes.
Hickory stepped out of conference play last week to earn a 38-22 home win over previously-undefeated Westinghouse in Hermitage. The opportunistic Hornets forced three turnovers and recorded two touchdowns via return. Chuck Carr returned a fumble 83 yards for a score while Will Gruber took a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. The versatile Gruber also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Brennan.
Friday night's game is Hickory's first road game in Mercer County this season. The Hornets are 15-2 in their last 17 road games.
Hickory did yield 304 rushing yards last week. Could the Hickory run defense be the solution for a Lakeview ground game that has averaged 2.6 yards per carry over the last three weeks? Lakeview jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Greenville last week when Tanner Reddick scored on a 26-yard touchdown run. However, Greenville scored 35 unanswered points to earn the victory.
Reddick leads Lakeview (1-4, 1-4) with three rushing touchdowns this season. He has also thrown three touchdown passes, all to Garrett Gadsby. Lakeview is one of three Region 2 teams (Mercer and Sharon) that has not played a non-conference game this season.
Friday's game is the middle game of Lakeview's three-game homestand. The Sailors close their home schedule next Friday against Slippery Rock.
Wilmington at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Undefeated Wilmington (5-0, 4-0) looks to maintain at least a share of the Region 2 lead Friday night when the Greyhounds play their second straight road game, this time at Reynolds. It is Homecoming for the host Raiders (3-2, 2-2), who are home for the fourth time in five weeks.
Wilmington stormed out to a 42-0 halftime lead last week at Mercer on the way to a 56-13 triumph. Spencer DeMedal accounted for four touchdowns, including an interception return and kickoff return for touchdown. DeMedal is tied with Hickory's Chuck Carr for the top spot in the area with 17 touchdowns and 102 total points. Cameron Marett, who is averaging over 10 yards per carry this season, also scored twice on touchdown runs.
DeMedal and Reese Bender combined to complete 8 of 9 pass attempts. For the season, that senior duo is 20 of 32 (62.5 percent) for 385 yards and four touchdowns.
Reynolds dropped a hard-fought 32-29 decision at Sharpsville last Friday night. The Raiders piled up 352 offensive yards, including 295 rushing yards. Ryan McQuown, who earned attention for his place-kicking earlier in the season, ran for 151 yards against Sharpsville. Overall, Reynolds averages 278 rushing yards per game. Reynolds is one of three District 10 teams (Union City and Meadville are the others) to have three backs with over 300 rushing yards this year. Damion Gearhart leads the way with 508 yards while quarterback Garrett Daniello (384) and McQuown (317) have exceeded the 300-yard mark.
Three of Reynolds' first five games have been decided by six points or less. There have been only four other games involving Mercer County teams decided by six or fewer points this season.
Wilmington has won 14 straight regular season meetings in the series. Reynolds' last regular season win against Wilmington came in Week Nine of the 2001 season, 7-6, in a snowstorm. Reynolds did blank Wilmington, 21-0, in the 2005 District 10 Class AA title game.
Mercer at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
The Sharon Tigers will play the second of four consecutive home games Friday night when they welcome Mercer to Tiger Stadium for Homecoming. It's the first meeting between the programs since 2005, when Sharon earned a 21-0 home victory over Mercer.
Sharon improved to 3-2 overall and in Region 2 play with a 49-7 win over visiting Slippery Rock last Friday night. The Tigers took advantage of several short fields in the first half and built a 35-0 halftime lead. Ziyon Strickland caught two touchdown passes from J.P. McComb while later scoring on a 46-yard punt return and a 32-yard interception return. McComb also threw a touchdown pass to emerging Jayquan Odem.
Defensively, Sharon yielded only 117 yards and six first downs.
Mercer quarterback Dylan Hetrick threw one touchdown and ran for a second score last week in the Mustangs' home loss to Wilmington.
Mercer's last win over Sharon came September 20, 2003 as the Mustangs rallied late for a 14-7 win. That game, like many others on that weekend, was moved to Saturday the 20th due to bad weather forecasted from Hurricane Isabel. It is believed to the Mercer's only all-time win over Sharon. Mercer's last league road win came October 25, 2013 at Farrell (26-14).
Slippery Rock at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
The 30th all-time meeting between Grove City and Slippery Rock will be held Friday night at Forker Field as undefeated Grove City (5-0) celebrates Homecoming 2016. Friday's meeting is a non-league game between the programs but carries a lot of significance to both programs and both schools.
Grove City remained undefeated last Friday night by rolling past Region 5 foe Oil City, 61-13, at The Oil Field. Quarterback Kameron Patterson threw for 330 yards and a career-high six touchdowns on 16-of-21 accuracy in the victory. Sophomore Logan Lutz caught five balls for 125 yards and two touchdowns while A.J. Turner also had two scoring receptions. Nick Davies and Qadir Muhammad also caught Patterson touchdown passes.
This season, Patterson is 65 of 86 (75.6 percent) for 1,157 yards and 18 touchdowns. He did throw his first interception of the season last week at Oil City. Turner and Lutz each 17 catches this year. Both players have eight touchdown catches, which is the top mark in District 10 this season.
The Eagles are the first area team to surpass the 60-point mark in consecutive weeks since October 11 and October 18, 2013 when Hickory accomplished the feat.
Slippery Rock dropped to 1-4 overall and in Region 2 last Friday night with a 49-7 setback at Sharon. Poor field position affected Slippery Rock throughout the game as the Rockets, on average, began drives at their own 19. The average Sharon drive began at the Slippery Rock 47.
Seth Slater caught three passes for 26 yards in last week's game at Sharon. Slater leads Slippery Rock with 217 rushing yards this season. He also leads the team with seven receptions for 74 yards.
Last year, Slippery Rock rolled past Grove City, 52-18, at Forker Field. Slater ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The Rockets led 17-6 at halftime and broke open the game by outscoring Grove City 35-6 over a 12-minute span covering the third and fourth quarters.
Slippery Rock has won the last three meetings, outscoring Grove City 148-60 in that span. Prior to that, Grove City seven straight games over the Rockets. The teams have never alternated winners over a three-year period as it's been a series of win streaks for each team. The all-time series is below:
|2015||Slippery Rock, 52-18|
|2014||Slippery Rock, 47-21|
|2013||Slippery Rock, 49-21|
|2012||Grove City, 34-14|
|2011||Grove City, 55-0|
|2010||Grove City, 45-16|
|2007||Grove City, 28-17|
|2006||Grove City, 21-13|
|2005||Grove City, 34-31 (2 OT)|
|2004||Grove City, 24-0|
|2003||Slippery Rock, 33-14|
|2002||Slippery Rock, 7-0|
|2001||Slippery Rock, 34-6|
|2000||Slippery Rock, 60-19|
|1999||Slippery Rock, 37-30|
|1998||Grove City, 41-13|
|1997||Grove City, 22-6|
|1996||Grove City, 13-6|
|1995||Grove City, 26-13|
|1994||Grove City, 22-20|
|1993||Grove City, 36-0|
|1992||Grove City, 34-0|
|1991||Grove City, 41-0|
|1990||Grove City, 13-12|
|1989||Slippery Rock, 21-9|
|1988||Slippery Rock, 27-8|
|1985||Grove City, 27-0|
|1977||Grove City, 7-0|
|1976||Grove City, 29-20|
Mercyhurst Prep at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
Resurgent West Middlesex will aim to extend its win streak to three games Friday night when the Big Reds host Class 3A Mercyhurst Prep for Homecoming. West Middlesex (2-3 overall) improved to 2-0 in Region 1 play last Friday by holding on for a 21-18 win at Cambridge Springs. The West Middlesex defense forced four turnovers and stopped Spa on a pair of two-point conversion chances.
Fullback Clayton Parrish (127) and quarterback Joshua Porterfield (80) combined for 207 of West Middlesex's 211 rushing yards. Parrish leads the Big Reds with 479 rushing yards this season while the left-handed Porterfield has total 292 yards and five touchdowns while engineering West Middlesex's option-based offense.
West Middlesex has won eight straight home games against teams from outside the Mercer County area. The last loss came October 29, 2010 against Linesville, 32-27.
Mercyhurst Prep snapped a two-game losing streak in Region 4 play last week with a 41-0 home win over Girard. The Lakers (3-2, 2-2) recorded their second shutout of the season by holding Girard to four rushing yards on 15 attempts. Offensively, Zack Helsley ran for 214 yards and four touchdowns. The Lakers finished with 346 rushing yards and 422 yards of total offense.
Helsley has rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns on 99 attempts. As a freshman in 2015, Helsley ran for 935 yards on 186 carries.
Mercyhurst opened the season with home wins over Eisenhower and Corry before dropping consecutive road games to Titusville and Conneaut (Ohio). The Laker defense is led by junior outside linebacker Jesse Luketa (6-3, 225), who has received offers from Missouri, Pitt, Tulane and Vanderbilt.
Mercyhurst head coach Jeff Root is in his third season at the helm. A 1982 Fairview High graduate, Root spent 24 years as an assistant coach throughout Pennsylvania, including three years under legendary head coach Jim Rankin at North Allegheny.
The Lakers are making their first regular season trip to Mercer County since a 28-26 win at Mercer in 2012. Mercyhurst won the last meeting between the teams, 25-24, September 12, 2009 in Erie. In 2008, West Middlesex won the last game on its home turf, 27-19.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Meadville at Farrell, 7:00 p.m., Saturday
Due to the uncertain status of next week's Youngsville at Farrell game, Farrell has moved Homecoming festivities to Saturday's non-conference clash with Class 5A Meadville at Paulekas Stadium.
Farrell bounced back from a 21-14 setback at West Middlesex two weeks ago by storming past Union City, 36-6, in Erie County. Christian Lewis, filling in for injured Braxton Champman, posted a Chapman-like stat line last week by rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Kyi Wright threw for 113 yards along with touchdown passes to Roy Timmons and Leeshon Pinkins.
Defensively, Farrell forced three fumbles and held Union City's potent offense to 186 total yards. Saturday night, the Farrell defense will face potentially its biggest test of the season as Meadville's Wing-T offense averages 424 rushing yards per game. Halfback Journey Brown leads the Bulldogs (3-2) with 942 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Brown, the defending Class AAA state champion in the 100-meter dash and a 22-foot long jumper, now has 5,178 career yards.
However, Brown is not the only ground threat in the Bulldogs' backfield. Halfback Isaiah Manning averages 12 yards per carry and has 581 rushing yards. Fullback Antonio Ferraro has added 424 yards. Brown is the top receiver with five catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Kirk Mumau, a first-year starter, is 9 for 24 this year for 241 yards.
Last year, Meadville yielded 37.2 points per game but has trimmed nearly a dozen points off of that average by allowing 25.8 per game this year. Head coach Ray Collins is 15-12 in three seasons. He previously served as head coach at Conneaut Lake from 2002 to 2007. Collins worked as an assistant coach at West Middlesex in 2008 and 2009.
Meadville is making its first trip to Mercer County since dropping a 40-13 decision October 1, 2010 at Grove City. Meadville's last win in Mercer County came September 1, 2000 when the Bulldogs edged Grove City, 23-22.
This is the first meeting between Farrell and Meadville in 49 years. In 1967, Farrell went up to Meadville and rolled to a 36-0 victory. Farrell has won five straight home games against non-league opposition. Farrell last lost a non-conference game at home to a non-Mercer County team in the 2005 season opener, when Ellwood City defeated the Steelers, 13-6. That marked Farrell's last year in District 7.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
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