(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK SEVEN FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Mercer County Statistics
Friday night is the seventh week of action for the 12 Mercer County area high school football program. Six of the eight games on Friday's card will be league games. Last week's games featured several offensive milestones, upsets and defensive gems. Will Week Seven be lucky for some programs Friday night?
Wilmington at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
It's a District 10 playoff rematch Friday night at Stewart Field when 5-1 Greenville hosts undefeated Wilmington. Until last week, it appeared that this would be a clash of undefeated teams but Greenville dropped a 21-0 decision at Sharpsville. Wilmington moved to 6-0 with a 42-3 home win over Reynolds.
Five turnovers helped doom Greenville last week as the Trojans played their first game without senior running back/kicker Canyon Eells (460 rushing yards, 55 points), who will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. The Greenville defense held Sharpsville to 209 yards on 58 plays, an average of only 3.6 yards per play.
Michael Blaney led the Greenville offense with four catches for 74 yards. Sharpsville held Greenville to 45 rushing yards.
Blaney leads Greenville with 17 receptions for 355 yards. He ranks fourth in the area in receiving yards and sixth in receptions. His 20.9 yards per catch average ranks third locally. Blaney leads Greenville with seven total touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Nate Bell has thrown for 638 yards and seven touchdowns, along with seven interceptions. Junior Brady Gentile has rushed for 340 yards and is second on the team with 10 receptions.
Wilmington's string of four consecutive shutouts ended last week but the Hounds Hammer defense still owns a streak of 22 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown. Last week, Wilmington limited Reynolds to four first downs and 93 offensive yards. Offensively, junior quarterback Robert Pontius threw for a season-high 146 yards on 9-of-16 accuracy and also ran for a six-yard touchdown run.
Junior Cameron Marett ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns while senior Bryson Verrelli ran for 59 yards and two scores. He also had three receptions for 33 yards. Verrelli leads Wilmington with 483 rushing yards while Marett has gained 382 yards. Senior fullback Jack Patton has 371 rushing yards. As a team, the Greyhounds average 9.7 yards per carry and 295.5 rushing yards per game. Both of those figures top Mercer County.
Wilmington also leads the area in total defense, having allowed 595 yards in six games (99.2 average). In addition, Wilmington leads the area with a plus-8 turnover margin.
Wilmington has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Greenville, including a 35-8 win in the district semifinals last season. Patton opened the scoring with a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown, one of two defensive scores for Wilmington. Marett ran for 88 yards on five carries. Gentile led Greenville with 64 rushing yards on seven carries. Bell went 10 of 20 for 101 yards, along with three interceptions.
An ankle injury kept Bell out of the teams' regular-season meeting in New Wilmington last season. Wilmington won 35-0 after scoring all 35 points in the first half. The Greyhounds held Greenville to 83 yards.
The teams did not meet in 2014 and 2015. Greenville prevailed three years ago, 41-21, snapping Wilmington's nine-game win streak in the series. Greenville's previous win over Wilmington came September 24, 2004, 20-10
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.
Sharpsville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
For the first time since October 21, 1988, Sharpsville will play a league game at neighboring rival Hickory. Both squads enter Friday night's clash intent on building upon big wins last week. Sharpsville blanked Greenville, 21-0, while Hickory rode the record-setting right arm of junior quarterback Hayden Gallagher in a 41-14 Homecoming win over Lakeview.
A week after turning over the ball six times in a 23-14 loss at Reynolds, Sharpsville shifted from givers to takers in the win over Greenville as the Blue Devils recorded five takeaways. Junior safety Luke Levis recorded two of Sharpsville's four interceptions while the Sharpsville run defense limited Greenville to 45 rushing yards.
Senior running back Bobby Besser paced Sharpsville with 128 rushing yards and two second-half touchdowns while junior Noah McCall added 59 yards and a third-quarter score. Besser leads Sharpsville with 460 yards and seven touchdowns while junior Kobe Joseph has added 304 yards. McCall is averaging 8.0 yards per carry and owns 232 rushing yards. Besser also leads Sharpsville with nine receptions for 167 yards.
Sharpsville (4-2, 3-2) owns Mercer County's second-ranked pass defense, recording a 55.2 defensive efficiency rating (NCAA formula). Hickory will provide a stiff test for that unit Friday night as the Hornets lead the county with 1,193 yards.
Last Friday night, junior quarterback Hayden Gallagher set a county record with 447 passing yards in Hickory's victory over Lakeview. Gallagher completed 21 of 33 passes and finished with a career-high five touchdown passes. Senior Darren Mitchell set career highs with nine receptions for 197 yards and two scores while junior Michael Filardi caught a career-best eight passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Filardi also ran for a touchdown.
Gallagher added 48 rushing yards, giving him what is believed to be a county record for individual total offense with 495 yards. Gallagher leads Mercer County with 1,344 yards of total offense this season.
Hickory (3-3, 3-2) hopes to have senior wide receiver/cornerback Will Gruber back in the lineup after missing the Lakeview game. Gruber leads Hickory with 22 receptions for 419 yards. He also leads the Hornets with six touchdowns.
Last season, Sharpsville jumped out to a 19-7 lead on Hickory but the visiting Hornets rallied for a 56-26 win at McCracken Field. Last year's game marked the first league meeting between the programs in 29 years. Hickory earned a 30-14 home win over Sharpsville on October 21, 1988 in the final season of the Keystone Football League. Hickory and Sharpsville played yearly in the KFL from 1982 to 1988.
Sharpsville's last win over Hickory came September 5, 2009 at McCracken Field, 17-14. Sharpsville's last win at Hickory came October 5, 2001, 19-7. Ron Haywood's 62-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:31 left sealed the Sharpsville victory.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC.
Mercer at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Playoff hopes are at stake in the Class 2A race within Region 2 as Reynolds (2-4, 2-3) hosts Mercer (1-5, 1-5) in Transfer. The game features Mercer County's two leading rushers in Mercer fullback Jimmy Amon and Reynolds halfback Austin Carrera. Amon leads the area with 570 rushing yards while Carrera ranks second with 539 rushing yards.
Both teams' ground games struggled last week in Region 2 setbacks. Wilmington held Reynolds to 67 rushing yards on 30 carries as the Raiders dropped a 42-3 decision. Sharon limited Mercer to 84 rushing yards on 29 attempts, although Amon ran for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Reynolds kicker Jarod Miller kicked a 22-yard field goal last week, marking the second straight game in which he made a field goal. Noah Fuchs caught three passes for 26 yards. Fuchs leads Reynolds with 12 receptions for 99 yards.
Mercer led last year's meeting 2-0 after the first quarter but Reynolds countered with 34 second-half points en route to a 41-2 victory. That win clinched a playoff berth for Reynolds. Amon caught four passes for 40 yards while Brian Shevitz had four catches for a team-high 50 yards. Quarterback Dylan Hetrick completed 13 of 27 passes for 156 yards.
Reynolds has won three straight in the series. Mercer's last win over Reynolds came in 2013, 32-28. Mercer's last win at Reynolds came October 8, 2010, when the Mustangs earned a 33-12 win.
Lakeview at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
A series that dates back to 1966 will be renewed Friday night at Slippery Rock as Lakeview visits the Rockets. Lakeview closes a three-game road trip while Slippery Rock is playing its home finale after having hosted Sharon and Grove City over the last two weeks.
Although Lakeview dropped a 41-14 decision last Friday night at Hickory, the Sailors offense came to life in Hermitage. Lakeview ran for a season-high 321 rushing yards as senior fullback Mitch Hansen ran for a career-high 194 yards and two touchdowns. Hansen's 194-yard effort marked the top performance by a Mercer County back this season.
Hansen, who missed two games, ranks 10th in the county with 417 rushing yards and is the only area back to average over 100 yards per game in 2017.
Slippery Rock returns to Region 2 play after a 28-0 loss to archrival Grove City last week. The Slippery Rock defense held Grove City's powerful ground game to 102 yards on 38 carries, a 2.7 yards-per-carry average. Slippery Rock also forced three turnovers. However, the Rockets turned over the ball four times, allowing Grove City to own a decided edge in field position. Slippery Rock ranks 12th in the area with a minus-10 turnover margin this season.
Sophomore quarterback Vito Pelosi made his first start last week for Slippery Rock. Junior Jacob Shaffer, who started the first five games of the season, also saw action at quarterback against Grove City.
Junior Kaleb Kamerer leads Slippery Rock's balanced rushing attack with 243 rushing yards.
Last year, Slippery Rock pulled out a 19-14 win at Lakeview as each team scored twice in the fourth quarter. The game marked the teams' first meeting as league rivals since 1976.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Lakeview and Slippery Rock met as league rivals in the Tri-County League before Lakeview joined the Crawford County League in 1977. Slippery Rock won the first meeting between the teams, 13-6. That marked Slippery Rock's first-ever victory. Both teams started varsity football that season.
West Middlesex at Cochranton, 7:00 p.m.
West Middlesex returns to Region 1 play Friday night with a trip to Cochranton. A familiar face awaits the Big Reds as former West Middlesex offensive coordinator Joel Murray is in his first season as Cochranton head coach.
Murray's Cardinals earned their second win of the season last Friday by rolling past Crawford County rival Titusville, 36-13. Cochranton (2-4, 0-1) rolled up 436 rushing yards, including a 305-yard outing from junior running back Curtis Freyermuth. Freyermuth has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last five games and ranks fifth in District 10 with 932 rushing yards.
Cochranton opened Region 1 play September 15 with a 40-12 setback at Cambridge Springs. Freyermuth ran for 116 yards and both Cochranton touchdowns.
West Middlesex dropped to 0-6 overall last week with a 45-7 defeat at Mercyhurst Prep. Junior fullback Clayton Parrish ran for 91 yards and a touchdown while senior quarterback Marshall Murray completed 3 of 6 passes for 57 yards. Parrish has carried the ball a county-high 126 times this season. His 518 rushing yards rank third in Mercer County.
The six teams who have defeated West Middlesex own an aggregate 30-6 record. Wilmington, Cambridge Springs and Mercyhurst are all 6-0 while Sharpsville, Iroquois and Farrell are 4-2 each.
West Middlesex earned a 19-14 home win over Cochranton last season. Parrish ran for 129 yards while current junior Zach Long recorded two quarterback sacks. Freyermuth ran for 67 yards and both Cochranton touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 39 yards.
Last year's game marked the first meeting between the teams since November 7, 2014, when West Middlesex rolled to a 62-0 win in the District 10 Class A quarterfinals. The teams also met in the 2013 quarterfinals, with West Middlesex securing a 46-32 win. Prior to 2016, the last regular season meeting came September 7, 2007 as Region 1-A opponents. West Middlesex earned a 44-0 home win.
The Big Reds also earned league wins over Cochranton in 2004 (43-6), 2005 (18-0) and 2006 (49-6). In 2003, West Middlesex defeated Cochranton for the District 10 Class A title, 7-6, in double overtime.
DuBois at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
Undefeated Grove City looks to continue its charge to the Region 5 title Friday night by hosting DuBois (2-4, 2-2) at Forker Field.
Grove City secured a 28-0 non-conference win last week at archrival Slippery Rock. The Eagle defense forced four turnovers and held Slippery Rock to 80 offensive yards and recorded its first shutout since a 48-0 blanking of Titusville in Week Eight of the 2013 season.
Junior wide receiver Logan Lutz caught 10 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for an eight-yard touchdown. Junior quarterback Brady Callahan completed 16 of 22 passes for 198 yards.
Lutz leads Mercer County with 744 yards from scrimmage. He ranks second on Grove City's roster with 464 rushing yards and has also caught 23 passes for 280 yards. Senior fullback Trey Adams paces Grove City with 491 yards and 14 touchdowns.
DuBois' two-game win streak ended last Friday night with a 28-27 overtime loss at Allderdice. The Beavers trailed 21-0 but rallied to force overtime. Trailing 28-21 in overtime, Matt Miller threw his second touchdown pass of the night to Kyle Hopson. Allderdice blocked the extra point to earn the win, however.
Miller has thrown for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017. He threw for 2,506 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. Hopson has 40 receptions for 659 yards. He caught 101 passes for 1,665 yards in 2016.
Justin Marshall, 35, is in his first season as DuBois head coach. He is a DuBois graduate who played collegiately at Lock Haven.
Grove City piled up 629 total yards in last year's 54-14 win at DuBois. Qadir Muhammad caught five passes for 69 yards while Lutz had four catches for 82 yards in last year's victory. Hopson had nine catches for 84 yards for DuBois. Miller threw for 187 yards on 16-of-25 passing. DuBois committed five turnovers.
DuBois is a Class 4A team that plays in Region 5 but will compete for a playoff spot through District 9. DuBois is in a six-team subregional with Bellefonte (District 6), Johnstown (D-6), Bradford (D-9), Clearfield (D-9) and Somerset (D-6). The top four teams will make the playoffs through a point system.
Fort LeBoeuf at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
A pair of 4-2 squads will meet Friday night at Paulekas Stadium when Farrell hosts Class 5A Fort LeBoeuf in non-conference action. It is the second straight week that Farrell has played a Class 5A team as the Steelers fell at Meadville last week, 36-13. It's also the second consecutive non-conference game for Fort LeBoeuf, which handed previously-undefeated Harbor Creek a 3-0 road defeat last week.
Farrell led 7-0 at halftime last week at Meadville but the Bulldogs outscored Farrell 36-6 in the second half. Farrell's injury-riddled defense allowed 498 rushing yards. Offensively, Farrell gained 329 yards. Junior tailback Christian Lewis ran for 130 yards on 10 carries while junior wide receiver Jourdan Townsend caught five passes for 123 yards and both Farrell touchdowns. Quarterback Isaac Clarke threw for 158 yards and added 40 rushing yards.
Townsend leads Mercer County in receiving yards (687), yards per catch (25.4), touchdown catches (11), total touchdowns (15) and points (96). His 27 catches are second-best in the area. Lewis averages 10.2 yards per carry and is fourth locally with 509 rushing yards.
Clarke has thrown for 1,089 yards and a county-best 15 touchdowns. He leads the area in pass efficiency rating, 237.5.
Fort LeBoeuf snapped a two-game losing skid with last week's win over Harbor Creek. The two setbacks came against Class 6A schools Erie and Erie McDowell, however.
The senior backfield combination of Tyler Scott and Greg Proctor has combined for 886 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season. Scott leads the Bison with 476 yards and six touchdowns while Proctor has added 410 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Brad Waite has added 226 rushing yards.
Junior Cole Dauson has taken over as Fort LeBoeuf's starting quarterback in place of injured senior Corey Shields. Dauson has thrown for 121 yards on 13-of-29 passing in three games. He had been at wide receiver before replacing Shields at quarterback.
Fort LeBoeuf went 8-3 last year and reached the District 10 semifinals before dropping a 27-23 verdict to Grove City. The Bison are a combined 19-9 since the start of 2015.
Although this is the second year of a two-year schedule cycle, these teams did not meet last year. An open date in Week Seven emerged on Farrell's schedule when Youngsville folded its program into a co-op agreement with Warren. The consolidation of Erie East, Erie Central Tech and Erie Strong Vincent into Erie High School created two open dates for LeBoeuf. In Week Two, Fort LeBoeuf played Eisenhower, who had a Week Two open date due to Youngsville's dissolution.
This is Fort LeBoeuf's first regular season game in Mercer County since a 13-10 loss at West Middlesex in Week 10 two years ago. The Bison's last win in Mercer County came October 14, 2011 -- a 38-36 win at Sharon.
Sharon at South Range (Ohio), 7:00 p.m.
Sharon steps out of Region 2 play Friday night to visit undefeated South Range (Ohio). South Range is 6-0 and ranked first in OHSAA Division V Region 17. Both teams are coming off one-sided road wins last week. Sharon earned a 60-7 win at Mercer while South Range rolled to a 34-7 win at Crestview in Columbiana, Ohio.
Sharon amassed 539 yards of offense last week at Mercer. Senior wide receiver Ziyon Strickland became District 10's all-time leader in receiving yards as he caught six passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 3,343 career receiving yards. Strickland already owns D-10 records for career receptions (189) and touchdown catches (42). He leads Mercer County with 31 catches.
Sophomore quarterback Lane Voytik threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns at Mercer. He leads the county with 76 pass completions and 15 touchdown passes. His 1,127 yards rank second in Mercer County. Junior Frank Shaffer leads area tight ends with 17 catches, which is sixth overall in Mercer County.
Over the last three weeks, the Sharon defense has allowed 20 points and forced nine turnovers. Overall, Sharon has a county-best 11 interceptions and 16 total takeaways.
South Range quarterback Aniello Buzzacco threw four touchdown passes in the Raiders' win at Crestview. He finished 8 of 12 for 138 yards. Buzzacco has thrown for 1,050 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Running back Peyton Remish leads the Raiders with 806 rushing yards. Remish opened the season with a 207-yard effort against Springfield Local.
Seven of South Range's 10 games are at home in the Raiders' new facility at the Rominger Sports Complex in Canfield. The Raiders went 9-2 last year under 23rd-year head coach Dan Yeagley (191-62).
South Range is playing as an independent this year. Next year, South Range will begin play in the Northeast 8, along with Girard, Hubbard, Jefferson, Liberty, Niles, Poland and Struthers. South Range is comparable in enrollment to Sharpsville and Greenville. South Range would be Class 2A in Pennsylvania nomenclature. The Raiders will host Sharpsville in Week 10 October 27.
It is Sharon's first game in Ohio since a 19-0 loss at Jefferson in the 2014 season opener. Sharon's last win in Ohio came September 7, 2001, when the Tigers blanked Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 24-0, at Stambaugh Stadium.
This is the third of four consecutive road games for Sharon. The Tigers return to league action in Week Eight at Lakeview. Sharon hosts Sharpsville in Week Nine.