(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK FIVE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Mercer County Statistics
Friday night is the official midpoint of the 2017 high school football regular season as all 12 local teams will play their fifth game of the campaign. Friday night will feature an eight-game card as 11 of the 12 Mercer County area team will play league games.
Oil City at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
Undefeated Grove City (4-0, 3-0) hosts Oil City (1-3, 0-2) in Region 5 play at Forker Field. It is Homecoming for Grove City, which has won three straight in the series.
Grove City is playing at home for just the second time this season. Last Friday, the Eagles played their third road game in four weeks and rolled to a 58-6 win at Franklin. The Eagles defense held Franklin to minus-58 rushing yards and forced three turnovers.
Offensively, junior quarterback Brady Callahan completed 14 of 17 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Junior tight end Carter Chinn caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown while junior slotback Logan Lutz had three catches for 55 yards and a score. Junior Nick Murawski also caught a touchdown pass from Callahan.
Senior fullback Trey Adams ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns. He leads Mercer County with 10 rushing touchdowns. Callahan, meanwhile, leads the county in completion percentage (79.6). Lutz's 526 yards from scrimmage rank first in the area.
As a team, Grove City averages a Mercer County-high 443.5 total yards per game, including 299 rushing yards per game. The Eagles also own the area's top rushing defense, allowing 9.2 yards per game.
Oil City native Dan York is in his second season as head coach at his alma mater. Prior to last season, the 1975 OCHS grad spent 15 years as Lakeview's head coach. His Lakeview teams often featured a power rushing attack and this year's Oil City team is no different. Junior tailback Christian Cole has rushed for 780 yards through the first four games and has gained at least 150 yards in each of the first four games.
Cole carried the ball 50 times for 284 yards in a 26-20 setback September 8 at Conneaut (Ohio). He has 1,023 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
Fullback Matthew Hutchinson has added 161 rushing yards and four scores. Senior quarterback Dylan Chapin has thrown for 508 yards and three touchdowns this season. Junior wide receiver Hunter Haun leads the Oilers with 11 pass receptions for 240 yards, an average of 21.8 yards per catch.
Last week, Oil City dropped a 38-19 decision in Region 5 play to visiting DuBois. Chapin threw for 210 yards on 12-of-20 accuracy. Haun had six receptions for 119 yards while Cole ran for 150 yards.
The Oilers opened the season with a 42-10 win over visiting Corry. In Week Two, Oil City opened league play with a 44-38 loss to archrival Franklin at The Oil Field. Oil City outgained Franklin, 480-464, but the Oilers committed five turnovers and finished the game minus-3 in turnover margin.
York's last win at Lakeview came over Grove City, 31-12, in the 2015 finale. Oil City's last win came at Grove City in Week 10 of the 1994 season, 34-18. The series began in 1919. Grove City won the last meeting at Forker Field in 2010, 35-17, in a matchup of undefeated squads. Overall, Oil City's last win in the series came in 1999, 17-15.
Grove City won last year's meeting at The Oil Field, 61-13. Lutz caught five passes for 125 yards while Qadir Muhammad added four catches for 33 yards.
Sharon at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
A pair of 2-2 squads will meet Friday night in Slippery Rock as the host Rockets celebrate Homecoming. Slippery Rock opens a three-game homestand while Sharon plays the first of four straight road games. This is the final regular season meeting among the area's Class 3A teams as both Sharon and Slippery Rock have played Hickory.
Both teams are coming off conference victories last week. Sharon earned a 27-6 triumph over archrival Hickory. Slippery Rock stormed to a 43-7 win at Mercer. Sharon relied upon stout defense for its second win of the season while a revitalized and balanced offense carried Slippery Rock to victory.
Against Hickory, Sharon intercepted four passes, recorded three sacks and held Hickory scoreless on three possessions inside the Sharon 10-yard line. Niko Augustine, Zach Dignall, Frank Shaffer and Ziyon Strickland all recorded interceptions while Josh Burns, C.J. Malloy and Zach Steines each had sacks.
After throwing the ball more frequently than any other team in Mercer County over the first three weeks of the season, Sharon ran the ball on 34 of its 43 offensive plays. Junior Jordan Wilson ran for 120 yards while Strickland, normally a wide receiver, moved behind Wilson in the I-formation and ran for 71 yards on 13 attempts. Wilson ran for two touchdowns in the first half while Strickland scored twice on touchdown runs in the second half.
As a team, Sharon finished with a season-high 200 rushing yards.
Strickland still leads the county with 23 receptions and ranks third with 240 receiving yards. He needs 100 yards to become District 10's all-time leader in receiving yards. Franklin's Kahlil West owns the mark with 3,201 yards. Sophomore quarterback Lane Voytik ranks second in Mercer County with 723 passing yards.
Slippery Rock had managed only 13 total points through the first three weeks of the season but several big plays helped lift the Rockets to their highest point total since Week Nine of the 2015 season. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Shaffer threw a career-high three touchdown passes, including an 85-yard strike to Patrick Shea. Hunter Prementine caught a 20-yard touchdown pass, ran for a 31-yard touchdown and also returned a kickoff 75 yards to the end zone.
The Slippery Rock defense ranks in the top half of the area in every major statistical category. Last week, the Rockets held Mercer's potent triple-option offensive attack to 2.5 yards per carry while also recording a safety.
The home team has won each of the last six meetings in the Sharon-Slippery Rock series. Sharon earned a 49-7 win last season at Sharon Tiger Stadium. Strickland caught two touchdown passes, returned a punt for a score and also scored on an interception return.
Sharon leads the all-time series 21-6. Sharon head coach Jim Wildman is 16-1 against Slippery Rock, with the lone loss coming at Slippery Rock in 2014, 28-13. Sharon won the first 15 meetings from 1988 to 2002. However, Slippery Rock defeated Sharon in the District 10 title game in 2002, 17-7. In 2008, Sharon defeated Slippery Rock in the regular season, 17-10, but dropped a 27-10 decision to Slippery Rock in the D-10 title game.
The final regular season game of Wildman's first stint as Sharon head coach came in 2001 in a snowstorm at Slippery Rock. Sharon won that game 37-0. When asked if his power running team, which featured Justin Schweiss at tailback and massive Wade Vogan at fullback, was built for that weather, Wildman quipped, "They might be built for it, but I'm not!"
Sharpsville at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Not only do Sharpsville (3-1, 2-1) and Reynolds (1-3, 1-2) have opposite overall and Region 2 records, they also enter Friday night's clash in Transfer from opposite ends. Reynolds earned a 30-0 win at Lakeview last week while Sharpsville dropped a 35-0 home decision to Wilmington in Week Four.
Reynolds recorded its first road shutout since a 49-0 win over Kennedy Catholic October 12, 2013. The 30-0 win also marked Reynolds' first shutout of a league opponent since a 24-0 win September 30, 2011 at Titusville.
Against Lakeview, the Raiders allowed 66 total yards on 32 offensive plays. On the offensive side, Reynolds accumulated a season-high 403 total yards. Senior halfback Austin Carrera ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns while senior fullback Cole Matthews also scored twice.
Senior quarterback Tylir Shannon returned the lineup after being injured and completed 8 of 15 passes for 98 yards. Sophomore quarterback Bryce McCloskey came on to go 5 of 6 for 37 yards and a touchdown. Noah Fuchs grabbed a career-high five receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Seven players caught passes for Reynolds.
Carrera is third in the county with 404 rushing yards. Defensively, Reynolds is allowing just 239 yards per game. However, the Raiders have allowed a county-high eight touchdown passes this year.
Sharpsville's passing game, led by junior quarterback Nick Alexander, is ranked second among the 12 area teams in pass efficiency rating (204.3). Sharpsville's offense sputtered last week against Wilmington, however, as the Greyhounds limited Sharpsville to 98 offensive yards and six first downs.
Alexander has thrown for 506 yards and five touchdowns this season. Senior halfback Bobby Besser leads Sharpsville in rushing yards (200), receptions (8) and receiving yards (154). Junior split end Luke Levis has five receptions, four of which have gone for touchdowns. Sharpsville has committed a county-low two turnovers this year and leads the area with a plus-6 turnover margin.
Sharpsville pulled out a 32-29 home win over Reynolds last season. Besser ran for 102 yards and caught two passes for 71 yards. Reynolds outgained Sharpsville, 352-323, but committed two turnovers.
Sharpsville the last meeting in Transfer, 44-20, behind 296 rushing yards in 2015. 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. Piccirilli has 196 career wins.
Sharpsville won the first meeting between the teams in 1962, 28-0. Reynolds' first-ever football game in 1960 was a junior varsity game against Sharpsville.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.
Mercer at Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.
Having recorded three consecutive shutouts, Wilmington returns home to host neighboring Mercer in Region 2 play Friday night. Wilmington (4-0, 3-0) shares first place in the conference with Greenville while Mercer (1-3, 1-3) looks to break a three-game slide.
Wilmington blanked host Sharpsville last Friday night, 35-0, as Wilmington chewed up 293 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Senior Bryson Verrelli ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns on six carries, including a 93-yard touchdown run. Fullback Jack Patton added 73 yards on 10 carries for the Greyhounds, who led 21-0 at halftime.
Verrelli averages 9.9 yards per carry and is fourth in Mercer County with eight total touchdowns. Fellow halfback Cameron Marett has scored a team-high nine touchdowns. Junior Robert Pontius is 13 of 26 for 232 yards in his first season as Wilmington's starting quarterback.
Although the Wilmington offense has averaged 44.8 points per game, the "Hounds Hammer" defense has headlined Wilmington's success again this year. Wilmington has yielded only seven points in four games this year while also allowing an area-low 110.2 yards per game. Over the last three weeks, Wilmington has allowed zero points and 233 total yards.
Mercer dropped a 43-7 decision to visiting Slippery Rock last week. Senior fullback Jimmy Amon ran for 70 yards and currently ranks second in the county with 446 rushing yards. His 84 rushing attempts are tops in the league.
Wilmington secured a 56-13 win at Mercer in last season's meeting. The Greyhounds led 42-0 at halftime and 56-0 after three quarters. For Mercer, quarterback Dylan Hetrick completed 11 of 17 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a fourth quarter score.
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 won the first meeting in 1960, 20-0. Wilmington's first win over Mercer came by a 19-7 score in 1961.
Lakeview at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
Lakeview opens a three-game road trip Friday night at undefeated Greenville (4-0, 3-0). Greenville returns to Region 2 play after rallying for a 49-27 win at Conneaut (Pa.) in non-conference action last Friday.
Greenville trailed 19-7 before posting 42 straight points in earning the victory. Greenville quarterback Nate Bell threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Blaney caught touchdown passes of 48 and nine yards, respectively, from Bell while fullback Brady Gentile also had two touchdown catches. Gentile led Greenville with four catches for 64 yards and also ran for 78 yards on 13 carries. Blaney clinched the victory with a 69-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
Senior Canyon Eells leads Mercer County with 457 rushing yards. Blaney ranks fifth in receiving yards (191) and sixth in yards per catch (17.4).
Greenville surrendered 445 yards to Conneaut last week, including 300 passing yards. Lakeview, which has been blanked in each of the last two weeks, will look to get its offense back on track Friday night. Senior fullback Mitch Hansen leads the Sailors with 223 rushing yards while versatile senior Garrett Gadsby has scored a team-high four touchdowns, including two on kickoff returns.
Greenville earned a 35-6 win at Lakeview last season as Bell threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
Lakeview will visit Hickory next week while Greenville heads to Sharpsville. Greenville will play three of its final four games on the road.
Union City at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
Farrell plays its second straight home game in Region 1 play Friday night when the Steelers host Union City (1-3) at Paulekas Stadium. Farrell enters the game on a three-game win streak in which the Steelers outscored the opposition by a combined 185-0 margin. Meanwhile, Union City opens its league schedule after back-to-back setbacks against larger Erie County foes.
Farrell opened its Region 1 schedule with a 58-0 win over visiting West Middlesex last Friday night. Farrell produced a pair of 100-yard rushers in compiling a season-high 343 rushing yards. Christian Lewis ran for 190 yards -- the highest total by a Mercer County back this season -- while fellow junior Brandon Chambers added 100 rushing yards on three attempts. His 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter helped Farrell bolt to a quick 12-0 lead.
Chambers also returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter while quarterback Isaac Clarke threw touchdown passes to Jourdan Townsend and Elijah Harper. Clarke went 12 of 14 for 148 yards in the win over West Middlesex.
Clarke leads Mercer County with 821 yards and 12 touchdown passes. He is the only county starting quarterback to not be intercepted this year. Townsend's 454 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches lead the county. Townsend also leads Mercer County with 10 total touchdowns and 64 points. Chambers ranks second locally with 521 scrimmage yards. Farrell leads the county in scoring offense, averaging 52.8 points per game.
Union City's ground-oriented offense amassed 386 yards against Class 5A General McLane last week in a 49-28 setback. Senior quarterback Daulton Kerns ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns on 32 attempts while junior Gavin Henry added 105 yards.
As a team, Union City averages 302 rushing yards per game. Henry leads the team with 512 yards and five touchdowns while Kerns has 475 yards and five scores. Henry ran for 235 yards and three touchdowns in Week Two as Union City handed Maplewood its lone loss of the season, 27-25. Henry ran for 1,032 yards last year while Kerns had 453 rushing yards and seven touchdown runs.
Union City opened the season with a 41-20 loss to undefeated Seneca. In Week Three, Harbor Creek topped the Bears, 42-6. Last year, Farrell earned a 36-6 win at Union City. Lewis ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
Both teams step out of Region 1 play for road games next week. Farrell visits Class 5A Meadville while Union City visits Iroquois.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC.
Cambridge Springs at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
It's a rematch of the 2016 District 10 Class 1A semifinals Friday night in West Middlesex as the Big Reds host undefeated Cambridge Springs. West Middlesex is looking to break through for its first win of 2017 while Cambridge Springs looks to remain on a collision course with Farrell in Week Eight.
Cambridge Springs opened Region 1 play with a 40-12 home win over Cochranton while West Middlesex fell at Farrell in the league lidlifter, 58-0.
Cambridge Springs chewed up 335 rushing yards last week in the win over its longtime Crawford County rival. Carter Babb ran for 106 yards and two scores while quarterback Noah Reisenauer added 60 rushing yards while also throwing two touchdown passes.
Reisenauer leads Spa with 391 rushing yards. He is averaging 10.3 yards per carry. Reisenauer has also thrown for 361 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with only one interception. Babb has added 292 rushing yards.
In non-conference play, Cambridge Springs owns wins over Titusville (47-13), Saegertown (46-0) and Reynolds (30-12). Like the Cochranton win, the victories over Titusville and Reynolds came at the Blue Devils' Baird Memorial Field.
West Middlesex's four setbacks have come against teams with a combined 12-4 record this year (Wilmington, Sharpsville, Iroquois and Farrell). Turnovers have plagued West Middlesex as the Big Reds have a county-high 10 turnovers this year.
Junior fullback Clayton Parrish leads West Middlesex with 285 rushing yards, which also ranks 9th in the county.
The teams met twice last season, with West Middlesex pulling out a pair of narrow wins. In Week Five last year, West Middlesex forced five turnovers in a 21-18 win at Cambridge Springs. The Blue Devils outgained West Middlesex, 364-231, but could not offset their turnovers and an 0-for-3 performance on two-point conversions. Parrish rumbled for 127 yards for West Middlesex.
In the D-10 semifinals, West Middlesex rallied for a 20-16 victory over Cambridge Springs. Parrish caught a 58-yard screen pass on fourth down late in the game to set up West Middlesex's go-ahead touchdown with 1:53 left. On the final play of the game, Cody Kobielus tackled Spa receiver Cody Lanning at the West Middlesex 3 to preserve the win.
West Middlesex and Cambridge Springs met in the 2014 and 2015 season openers with West Middlesex pulling out narrow wins in both games. Three years ago at Spa, West Middlesex secured a 28-22 win. In 2015, the Big Reds rallied for a 22-20 overtime win.
Hickory at Westinghouse, 7:00 p.m.
Hickory steps out of Region 2 play Friday night to visit Pittsburgh City League member Westinghouse at Cupples Stadium. Hickory (2-2 overall) looks to rebound from a 27-6 setback last Friday night at archrival Sharon.
Hickory entered last week's game as the area's top team in turnover margin. However, Hickory turned over the ball four times and also failed to score on three possessions inside the Sharon 10. Quarterback Hayden Gallagher completed 10 of 20 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Will Gruber caught four passes for 82 yards.
Sharon held Hickory to 85 rushing yards on 39 attempts. In Hickory's two wins this year, the Hornets have rushed for 568 total yards, including 333 in Week Two at Mercer. In Hickory's two setbacks, the Hornets have rushed for 121 total yards on 66 combined attempts.
Simeon McKinley leads Hickory with 212 rushing yards while Vincent Tarver has rushed for 116 yards. Gruber has 96 yards on 10 attempts. He also leads the team with a dozen catches for 277 yards. Gallagher is third in Mercer County with 541 passing yards.
Westinghouse dropped to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the City League last Friday with an 18-7 loss to Brashear. The Bulldogs led 7-0 in the first quarter after a 30-yard touchdown run by Jermaine Rodger. Brashear, which outgained Westinghouse, 275-242, scored the final 18 points of the game. Those 18 points are the only points allowed by Westinghouse this season.
The Bulldogs opened the season with a 61-0 win over Kingsman Academy (D.C.). September 2. Five days later, Westinghouse blanked City League foe Perry, 38-0, at Cupples Stadium. Monte Robinson is in his 11th season as Westinghouse head coach.
Hickory won last year's meeting, 38-22. After holding a 17-6 lead at halftime, Hickory put away the game with 21 straight points. Westinghouse ran for 304 yards and finished with a 376-266 edge in total offense. However, Hickory forced three turnovers and scored on both defense and special teams. Chuck Carr returned a fumble 83 yards for a score while Gruber returned a kickoff 85 yards to the end zone.