(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK TWO FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Mercer County Statistics
After a thrilling opening week in which four games were decided by two points or less, the calendar turns to September for Week Two of the 2017 season on the local high school football season.
Sharpsville and Grove City will open their conference schedules in Region 2 and Region 5, respectively, with road games. Nine of the area's 12 teams will play league games Friday night. West Middlesex hosts Wilmington in an inter-region battle while Farrell visits North East in non-conference play.
Greenville at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
This Region 2 matchup is the only local game that pits a pair of 1-0 teams Friday night. The winner could have sole possession of first place in Region 2 at the end of the evening. Each team is coming off a one-point victory in Week One. Greenville edged visiting Hickory, 27-26, while Slippery Rock held off homestanding Reynolds, 13-12.
Greenville trailed Hickory 19-6 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter but quickly tied the game on touchdown runs of 60 and 30 yards by senior halfback Canyon Eells. In the fourth quarter, Adonis Scriven's one-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 26-25. The Trojans then executed a fake extra point and quarterback/holder Nate Bell found tight end Brenden Calvin in the end zone for the go-ahead two-pointer.
Eells ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns while backfield partner Brady Gentile added 103 rushing yards. Defensively, Gentile also intercepted a pass while Yosuke Sugano recorded two quarterback sacks. Sugano, an exchange student from Japan, made his Greenville debut against Hickory.
Slippery Rock stopped a Reynolds two-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter last week to preserve its 13-12 victory. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Shaffer made his first varsity start and completed 9 of 18 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown pass to wide receiver Patrick Shea. Shea finished as Slippery Rock's leading rusher with 42 yards gained on his only attempt.
Both Greenville and Slippery Rock won last week despite being minus-1 in turnover margin. Greenville won the last meeting in Slippery Rock, 27-22, September 11, 2015. This is the fourth straight year that the teams have played in Week Two. Greenville last started 2-0 in 2015 while Slippery Rock last started 2-0 in 2014.
Greenville rolled to a 34-13 win over Slippery Rock last season at Stewart Field. Eells ran for a career-high 290 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. Shea and Kaleb Kamerer accounted for the Slippery Rock touchdowns in last year's tussle.
Reynolds at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
While the Greenville-Slippery Rock game features two 1-0 teams, Reynolds and Sharon meet Friday night at Sharon Tiger Stadium in a clash of 0-1 squads. Sharon, which is playing its second straight home game, dropped a 21-7 decision to visiting Wilmington last Friday night. Meanwhile, Reynolds' second-half rally against visiting Slippery Rock fell short in a 13-12 setback.
For Sharon, sophomore quarterback Lane Voytik made his first scholastic start against Wilmington. Votyik completed 17 of 35 passes for 167 yards as he connected with six different receivers. Classmate Frank Shaffer caught a game-high six passes for 54 yards while senior Ziyon Strickland also had six receptions for a team-leading 57 yards. Strickland now needs 14 catches to surpass Franklin's Kahlil West as D-10's all-time leader in receptions.
Reynolds trailed Slippery Rock 13-0 late in the third quarter but broke through on Austin Carrera's 85-yard touchdown run. With 2:43 left in the game, quarterback Tylir Shannon scored on a one-yard run, cutting the lead to 13-12. Reynolds went for the game-winning two-point conversion but misfired. The Raiders had one final possession but fumbled. Shannon was injured on the play and is likely out for this week's game.
Senior Dalton Daniello will start in Shannon's place. Daniello completed 3 of 7 passes for 59 yards last year. He also caught two passes -- including a touchdown -- in 2016.
Carrera rolled up 181 yards on 18 carries in his first varsity start. He is the county's leading rusher through one week. His 85-yard touchdown run matched the longest play in the county last weekend. Shannon finished the game 9 of 21, having completed three passes each to Tyler Gill, Noah Fuchs and Cole Matthews.
The road team has won the last four matchups in the series. Sharon has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including a 45-10 victory last season at Reynolds. Sharon scored the final 28 points of the game after owning an early 17-0 lead. Jordan Wilson paced the Tigers with 174 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Sharon finished with 261 rushing yards and 152 passing yards, good for a 413-239 edge in total offense.
Sharon will play five of its next six games on the road, with the only home game being the September 15 battle against archrival Hickory. Friday night's game starts a three-game road trip for Reynolds, which visits Cambridge Springs and Lakeview for its next two games.
The game will be heard on 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Hickory at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.
Six days after snapping an overall 18-game slide and a 20-game losing streak in conference play, undefeated Mercer opens its home schedule Saturday night against six-time defending District 10 champion Hickory in Region 2 play.
Mercer rallied for a 35-33 win Saturday night at Lakeview as the Mustangs' revamped option-based offense amassed 304 rushing yards. Senior fullback Jimmy Amon ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries while split end Brian Shevitz put Mercer ahead for good with a 25-yard touchdown run on an end around early in the fourth quarter.
Shevitz's bookend, Zack Previty, caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dylan Hetrick with one second left in the first half, helping Mercer close to within 19-14 by halftime. Wingback Andrew Weinel gave Mercer its first lead, 21-19, with an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, capping a 7-minute, 21-second drive.
Mercer owned a 14-minute edge in time of possession and did not have a negative rushing play in the game. Kicker R.J. Carson went 5 for 5 on extra points in his first varsity game. The Mustangs improved to 5-1 in their last six season openers.
Hickory looks to avoid its first 0-2 overall start since 2007 after the Hornets dropped a 27-26 decision in the season opener at Greenville last Friday night. Junior quarterback Hayden Gallagher, who replaced injured Luke Brennan as starter last week, completed 12 of 18 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Versatile senior Will Gruber caught both touchdown passes and finished with 150 total receiving yards on six catches. Gruber also returned a free kick 77 yards for a touchdown and blocked an extra point. He finished the game with 293 all-purpose yards.
Last season, Hickory scored 42 points in the first quarter on its way to a 70-0 win over Mercer in Hermitage. Gruber opened the scoring with a 66-yard punt return while Chuck Carr ran for five touchdowns and 207 yards. Asher Patton and Kuldero Delgros both returned interceptions for touchdowns to close the Hickory scoring.
This is Hickory's first trip to Mercer since October 22, 2004, when the Hornets earned a 42-7 win in the county seat. According to available records, Mercer has not defeated Hickory since joining District 10 for football in 1989. The teams did not meet between 2006 and 2015.
Gallagher has started five career games at quarterback -- three playoff games and two regular season games. Hickory last started 0-2 in league play in 2008. Hickory head coach Bill Brest is a 1985 Mercer High graduate.
The game will be heard on SportsRadio 96.7.
Sharpsville at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
After opening the 2017 season at home last Friday night with a 49-0 non-conference win over West Middlesex at McCracken Field, Sharpsville opens Region 2 play this week by visiting Lakeview.
Last week, Sharpsville forced four West Middlesex turnovers and held the Big Reds to six first downs in a shutout victory. After leading 7-0 after the first quarter, Sharpsville broke open the game with a 21-point outburst in the second quarter. Cameron Prebble scored on a pair of short touchdown runs while junior quarterback Nick Alexander tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior quarterback-turned-wide receiver Luke Levis.
Alexander completed 8 of 13 passes for 189 yards. Halfback Bobby Besser caught four passes for 101 yards while Prebble had 76 receiving yards on two catches to go along with 71 rushing yards. Defensively, linebacker Kobe Joseph returned a interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The shutout marked Sharpsville first regular season shutout of a non-conference opponent since August 31, 2012, when the Blue Devils blanked Moniteau, 35-0.
Lakeview eliminated any possibility of being shut out very quickly last Saturday night as Garrett Gadsby returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Gadsby also scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs while Mitch Hansen added a 20-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter to give Lakeview a short-lived 33-28 lead. Hansen led Lakeview with 105 rushing yards.
Lakeview scored in all three facets of the game as freshman linebacker Isaac Devault returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
Defensively, Lakeview yielded 304 rushing yards to Mercer's option-oriented offense, although the Sailors finished plus-1 in turnover margin.
Sharpsville earned a 42-0 home win over Lakeview in Week Two last year. Peyton Schell intercepted two passes for the Blue Devils while Joseph returned a first-quarter fumble 15 yards for a touchdown. Joseph also ran for two touchdowns and finished with 98 yards on five carries. Besser added 93 rushing yards.
Sharpsville has won each of the last two meetings. Lakeview last defeated Sharpsville October 3, 2014, 12-6, at McCracken Field. In 2013, Lakeview earned a 19-13 home win over the Blue Devils. That year, Lakeview blanked Sharpsville in the District 10 Class A title game, 27-0.
Sharpsville is in pursuit of its fourth consecutive 2-0 start. Lakeview aims to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2005.
Grove City at Warren, 7:00 p.m.
For the second straight week, Grove City will make a significant road trip as the Eagles head to Warren's War Memorial Stadium for each team's Region 5 opener. Grove City won its fifth consecutive road game, dating back to last season, by rolling to a 35-7 win in Week One at General McLane.
Senior fullback Trey Adams bulled through the McLane defense for 122 yards and two touchdowns while junior Logan Lutz added 68 yards and a score for Grove City, which finished with 280 rushing yards as a team. Junior quarterback Brady Callahan made his first varsity start and completed 9 of 12 passes for 65 yards. He also ran for 49 yards.
Warren dropped its season opener to visiting Brookville last Friday night, 54-20, as the Blue Raiders scored the final 26 points of the game after holding a 28-20 halftime lead. Warren surrendered 541 total yards of offense, including 372 passing yards and five passing touchdowns.
Halfback Noah Myers picked up 155 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Warren. Junior quarterback Jake Kupchella completed 9 of 20 pass attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Under first-year head coach Mark Morelli, the Dragons feature a mix of I-formation and spread sets on offense. Against Brookville, Warren opened the game by shifting into a "Victory"-type formation and handing the ball to 270-pound lineman Mason Benjamin, a former Youngsville player. This is the first year that Youngsville players have played for Warren through a co-op agreement. Youngsville and Warren High Schools are both housed under the Warren County School District.
Morelli compiled a 72-66 record as head coach at Ridgway (1997-2007) and Cameron County (2010-12). He also worked as an assistant coach at Ridgway, St. Marys and Cameron County.
Grove City thumped Warren last season at Forker Field, 43-20, in the 2016 Region 5 opener. Grove City led 43-7 at halftime as Lutz caught three first-half touchdown passes and Adams scored on a pair of touchdown runs. Current senior Qadir Muhammad closed Grove City's scoring with a 54-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Warren won the last meeting at War Memorial Stadium, 26-22, in Week Nine of the 2015 season. Grove City has won four of the last five meetings. Grove City will open its home schedule in Week Three against Conneaut (Pa.).
Wilmington at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
Like Grove City, Wilmington is opening the 2017 season with back-to-back road games. Unlike Grove City, the Greyhounds are staying local once again as Wilmington visits neighboring West Middlesex in a non-conference clash.
Wilmington rallied past host Sharon last Friday night, 21-7, as the "Hounds Hammer" defense forced three turnovers and limited Sharon to 10 first downs. Offensively, fullback Jack Patton ran for 114 yards and a score while halfback Cameron Marett ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Robert Pontius made his first start on offense and ran for 58 yards on six carries. He completed 2 of 7 passes while also throwing two interceptions.
However, Pontius also picked off two passes on defense at his cornerback position. The victory gave Class 2A Wilmington a 10-game win streak in season openers.
Class 1A West Middlesex dropped a 49-0 verdict in Week One at Sharpsville. Fullback Clayton Parrish ran for 81 yards on 16 carries for the Big Reds.
Wilmington won last year's meeting with West Middlesex in New Wilmington, 49-6. Wilmington held West Middlesex to 145 yards.
The teams have met in each of the last five seasons. Wilmington won non-league matchups in 2012 (13-10) and 2013 (28-10), along with last year's victory. As conference opponents, West Middlesex won three years ago (25-21) and then secured a 24-7 triumph in the 2015 season.
Wilmington will open its home schedule next week against Lakeview. West Middlesex opens league play in Week Four at Farrell. The Big Reds will host Iroquois in Week Three.
Farrell at North East, 7:00 p.m.
Farrell makes its first-ever visit to North East for a non-conference clash Friday night at Ted Miller Stadium. Farrell looks to even its record at 1-1 while North East seeks its first 2-0 start since 2011, when the Grapepickers started 5-0.
Farrell dropped a 28-26 decision to visiting Neshannock as the Steelers misfired on a game-tying two-point conversion with four minutes remaining. Brandon Chambers ran for 132 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Jourdan Townsend opened the game with an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Isaac Clarke completed 7 of 14 passes for 103 yards in his Farrell debut. Townsend caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Farrell played without junior two-way standout Kyi Wright, who will be out for a significant portion of the season due to a knee injury, according to Bob Greenburg.
North East did not complete a pass in Week One but rolled up 415 rushing yards last Friday night in a 27-6 win at Erie County rival Girard. The Grapepickers produced a pair of 100-yard rushers in Lucas Russell (177) and quarterback Alex Furmanek (101). Dylan Sayers added 83 yards and two scores for North East, which gave first-year head coach Shawn Humes his first win as head coach.
Humes took over as head coach in the offseason after serving as an assistant coach for longtime head coach Matt Shesman. The 'Pickers finished 4-6 last year. Farrell handed North East one of those six setbacks in 2016 when the Steelers secured a 40-12 win at Paulekas Stadium. Chambers caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to pace Farrell, which led 34-0 at halftime.
North East is 4-16 in its last 20 games against Mercer County opponents, owning two wins over both Greenville and Reynolds in that span.
According to available records, Farrell last lost a regular season game in Erie County in in 1982, falling at Erie McDowell, 41-7. North East will open Region 3 play in Week 3 against visiting Maplewood. Farrell visits Carrick next Saturday afternoon before hosting West Middlesex in the Region 1 opener September 15.