(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK ELEVEN FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Nine of the area's 12 local teams will be in action this weekend as the first full weekend of District 10 playoff competition begins. Reynolds and West Middlesex broke the seal on the postseason last week with quarterfinal wins in Class 1A.
This week, Farrell joins them in the 1A semifinals, while Greenville, Sharpsville and Wilmington all received byes into the 2A semifinals. Class 3A competition opens Saturday night with Grove City, Sharon and Slippery Rock all playing quarterfinal games.
Three of the seven games on this week's card are regular season rematches. The Slippery Rock-Harbor Creek game is a rematch of the 2017 Class 3A quarterfinals.
CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS
Farrell vs. Reynolds -- at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
Three weeks ago, Farrell captured the region title with a 54-8 victory at Reynolds. Friday night, undefeated Farrell will again face the surging Raiders -- this time in the district semifinals. Farrell had a quarterfinal round bye last week while Reynolds put together one of its top performances of 2018 in a 36-0 win over Maplewood in the D-10 quarterfinals.
Farrell closed out the regular season two weeks ago with a 46-0 home win over Greenville. The Steelers put up 46 first-half points while improving to 9-0 overall. Defensively, Farrell posted its fourth shutout of the season, which is the most for the Steelers in the regular season since Farrell had five shutouts in 10 games eight years ago. Farrell allows only 6.8 points per game, tops in the county.
Senior tailback Christian Lewis, Farrell's career rushing leader, ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Greenville. Lewis averages a county-best 13.1 yards per carry and also shares the area lead with 20 rushing touchdowns. Lewis leads the area in yards per game (150.1) and is second in total rushing yardage with 1,351 yards.
Senior quarterback Kyi Wright directs the area's highest-scoring offense, a unit that averages 52.6 points per game, along with a county-best 10.4 yards per play. Wright leads the county in yards per pass attempt (12.3), passer rating (242.5) and total touchdowns (27). He has thrown a county-best 19 touchdown passes while being intercepted only once. Wright has 1,097 passing yards and 402 rushing yards.
Senior wide receiver Jourdan Townsend caught his 49th career touchdown pass in the win over Greenville, pulling him into a tie for first place in District 10 history in that category. Townsend has 16 touchdown catches this year, six behind his D-10 record of 22 last season. Overall, Townsend has 49 receptions for 851 yards. He ranks second locally in both categories.
Reynolds held Maplewood to 23 offensive yards and forced four turnovers in last week's quarterfinal victory over Maplewood. The Reynolds defense also recorded a safety to open the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, Reynolds amassed 395 rushing yards and 20 total first downs. Sophomore Jordan DeCarmen ran for 147 yards and one touchdown while senior Tyrese Baker ran for 127 yards and three scores. Fullback Cole Toy added 62 rushing yards and quarterback Sean O'Hara picked up 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
DeCarmen ranks seventh in the county in rushing yards (842) and eighth in yards per game (84.2). Baker has 760 yards and a team-best 8.0 yards per carry average. Both men have nine total touchdowns this year. O'Hara's 543 rushing yards rank second among area quarterbacks.
Farrell has outscored opponents 355-12 in the first half this season. The Steelers led the first meeting with Reynolds 48-0 at halftime. Townsend, Lewis and Brian Hilton, Jr. all caught touchdown passes from Wright. Wright finished 8 of 11 for 124 yards. Lewis ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns while Townsend caught five passes for 81 yards. Fullback/linebacker Tymir Green ran for one touchdown and also returned a fumble for a score.
The winner will face either West Middlesex or Union City in next week's District 10 title game.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
West Middlesex vs. Union City -- at Meadville, 7:00 p.m.
Two of District 10's top rushing attacks will square off Friday night at Meadville's Bender Field when West Middlesex meets Region 2 champion Union City. West Middlesex advanced to the semifinals with a 48-20 win over Cochranton. Meanwhile, Union City received a bye into the semifinals. However, the Bears played a Week 10 regular season game and thumped Class 3A playoff qualifier Girard, 44-21, in Union City.
Friday night's game features three backs who have rushed for 1,300 yards this season. West Middlesex senior fullback Clayton Parrish leads Mercer County with 1,371 yards and has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in each of the last three seasons. Parrish (3,756 career yards) continues to close in on Eric Lucich's career record of 3,798 yards, set in 2014.
Parrish's 233 rushing yards last week marked the highest total by a county running back this season. That's the highest total since Sharpsville's Bobby Besser ran for 304 yards against Sharon October 22, 2016.
Union City features a pair of prolific runners in fullback Gavin Henry and halfback Brayden Kinney. Henry leads the Bears with 1,327 yards and is Union City's all-time leading rusher with 3,957 yards. Henry has seven straight 100-yard games, including a 202-yard effort against undefeated Mercyhurst Prep.
Kinney has 1,308 rushing yards and a team-best 20 rushing touchdowns. He has Union City's top two rushing performances this season. Kinney ran for 338 yards and six touchdowns in a 46-44 overtime win at Eisenhower in Week Two. He then charged through the Maplewood defense for 259 yards and two scores as Union City captured the Region 2 title with a 59-29 win. Kinney has six 100-yard games this season.
Last week, West Middlesex ran for 360 yards as a team while Union City finished with 363 rushing yards. Parrish ran for four touchdowns while quarterback Jake Bowen and halfback Zeb Rubaker also ran for scores. Bowen also completed 4 of 6 attempts for 48 yards and a touchdown. Rubaker had two catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.
A first-year starter under center, Bowen has thrown for 938 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Kaz Hoffman leads the Big Reds with 23 catches for 412 yards and five touchdowns. Rubaker has emerged in recent weeks in the passing game and now has 19 receptions. Parrish has caught nine balls.
Defensively, West Middlesex ranks fourth in the area in scoring defense (13.0) and total defense (191.7). That unit will face a stiff test Friday night. Union City averages 39 points per game and is 7-0 when scoring 30 points or more this season. The Bears average 337.2 rushing yards per game and 7.7 yards per carry.
Henry ran for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Girard while Kinney tallied 155 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Blake Hornaman completed 4 of 6 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Flanker Miles Parker caught a touchdown pass while Henry also had two catches.
Hornaman has completed 31 of 70 (44 percent) of his passes for 593 yards and eight touchdowns. He has been intercepted seven times. Parker leads the Bears with nine catches for 152 yards and four touchdowns.
West Middlesex and Union City met in both 2016 and 2017 as Region 1 opponents. Last season, Union City piled up 408 rushing yards in a 37-8 win October 20, 2017 at West Middlesex. Henry ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Parrish paced West Middlesex with 81 rushing yards. Two years ago, West Middlesex rolled to a 35-8 win at Union City as Parrish gained 104 yards rushing.
West Middlesex is 19-8 all-time in the District 10 playoffs. Union City has never won a playoff game. Union City's three losses this year are to undefeated Mercyhurst Prep, undefeated Farrell and 6-4 Reynolds. Union City's last win on artificial turf came October 10, 2008, when the Bears defeated Harborcreek Youth Services at Mercyhurst University's Tullio Field.
The winner will face Farrell or Reynolds in the District 10 title game next week.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS
Wilmington vs. Greenville -- at Slippery Rock University, 7:00 p.m.
For the second straight year, Wilmington and Greenville will meet in the District 10 Class 2A playoffs at Slippery Rock University. Last year, the teams met in the title game, with Wilmington rallying from a 13-0 deficit for a 31-13 win.
Both Wilmington and Greenville received byes into the semifinals and did not play last week. Wilmington enters the postseason on a seven-game winning streak in which the Greyhounds have outscored opponents 384-60. Wilmington closed the regular season with a 42-0 home win two weeks ago over Hickory as the "Hounds Hammer" defense held Hickory to one net offensive yard.
Senior halfback Cameron Marett ran for 131 yards and a touchdown while also going over the 3,000-yard mark for his career. He also caught two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore halfback Ethan Susen added 69 yards and two scores.
Wilmington's Wing-T offense leads the county in rushing yards per game (351.9) and rushing touchdowns (50). The Greyhounds also leads the area in rushing defense, yielding only 50.3 rushing yards per game and 2.0 yards per attempt.
Marett ranks fourth in the area with 975 rushing yards. He is one of nine Wilmington men who have at least 100 rushing yards on the season. Susen ranks second on the squad with 461 yards while senior quarterback Robert Pontius has gained 376 rushing yards. Senior fullback Noah Hunt adds 331 yards after moving from tight end before the season.
Pontius has completed 64 percent (50 of 78) of his attempts this year for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also the third-ranked quarterback locally with a 198.2 passer rating (NCAA formula). Junior split end Junior McConahy leads Wilmington with 15 catches while Marett (13) and Susen (10) are also in double digits.
Greenville (3-6) dropped a 46-0 verdict at Farrell two weeks ago, snapping the Trojans' two-game win streak. Senior halfback Brady Gentile paced the Trojans with 120 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Gentile is fifth locally with 973 rushing yards this season. He also leads Greenville with 17 pass receptions. Quarterback Jon King has thrown for 357 yards and four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Blair Paxton has a team-leading three touchdown catches and ranks second to Gentile with 10 receptions.
Greenville has committed only six turnovers this season, which is the second-lowest figure in the area. Greenville is plus-5 in turnover margin this year while Wilmington is plus-6. Wilmington won the turnover battle in the teams' September 28 meeting -- a 54-7 Wilmington road win.
Wilmington amassed 429 rushing yards that night as Marett and Pontius both had two rushing touchdowns. Marett led the Greyhounds with 136 yards and Susen gained 79. Pontius finished with 66 yards on six carries. King ran for a Greenville-high 38 yards while Gentile caught seven passes for 24 yards. King's six-yard touchdown pass to Paxton gave Greenville a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Last year, Greenville bolted to a 13-0 lead in the District 10 title game before Wilmington stormed back. Marett's four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put the Greyhounds up 17-13.
This is the sixth all-time playoff meeting between the programs. Wilmington defeated Greenville in the 2000 (16-7) and 2001 (28-7) District 10 Class AAA title games. Six years ago, Wilmington pulled out a 10-9 double-overtime win over Greenville in the D-10 Class AA semifinals. Two years ago, Wilmington earned a 35-8 win over Greenville in the 2A semifinals.
The winner will play Sharpsville or Northwestern in the District 10 title game next week.
Sharpsville vs. Northwestern -- at Fairview, 7:00 p.m.
Two of the first programs to ever win District 10 championships in the playoff era will meet Friday night at Fairview's Keck Field when Sharpsville faces Northwestern. Northwestern won the inaugural Division II District 10 title in 1985, the first year of the playoffs. The next year, Sharpsville won the Division III crown. Over the last 30 years, both programs have been regular participants in the district playoffs but this is the first postseason meeting between Sharpsville and Northwestern.
Sharpsville closed the regular season two weeks ago with a 35-19 win at West Middlesex as the Blue Devils forced five turnovers. Defensive end Drew Gordon returned a fumble for a touchdown to help lead the defensive effort. The Blue Devils held West Middlesex's potent rushing attack to a season-low 42 total yards.
Offensively, Sharpsville produced one of its most balanced outings of the season. Senior fullback Kobe Joseph ran for 136 of Sharpsville's 152 rushing yards on the night. Joseph rushed for three touchdowns and continues to lead the county with 25 touchdowns and 150 points. Quarterback Nick Alexander went 15 of 21 for 138 yards. Senior Joe Bornes caught a season-high six passes for 60 yards while Joseph also caught a touchdown pass.
Kicker Mike Herman went 5 for 5 on extra points in his second game back from injury.
Joseph ranks sixth in the county with 942 rushing yards while Alexander is the area's No. 3 passer with 1,850 yards. He has 17 touchdown passes while having only five of his 213 attempts intercepted. Senior Luke Levis leads Sharpsville with 38 catches for 553 yards and five touchdowns. Bornes and Max Messett both have 22 catches while Joseph has 21 catches out of the backfield.
Sharpsville leads the county with 25 takeaways this season. The Blue Devils hold opposing quarterbacks to a 42.9 percent completion rate, second-lowest in Mercer County.
Sharpsville is the sixth different Mercer County opponent this season for Northwestern. The Wildcats own wins over Greenville, Lakeview and Mercer. Northwestern fell to Wilmington and closed the regular season with a 34-22 loss at Reynolds.
Two weeks ago at Reynolds, Northwestern (6-3) allowed 439 offensive yards and 23 first downs. Jeremy Dohanic led Northwestern with 39 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass for the Wildcats, who opened the season 6-1.
Dohanic leads Northwestern with 741 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Dohanic also leads Northwestern with 13 receptions. Quarterbacks Ryan Tewell (481 yards) and Derek Albert (351) both have played extensively this season.
Northwestern's last playoff win came November 9, 2013, when the Wildcats earned a 28-7 win over Grove City in the D-10 AA quarterfinals at Veterans Stadium in Erie. Northwestern is 7-15 all-time in the playoffs. The Wildcats won the first of their two D-10 titles in 1985. Northwestern won the Division II title that year, then earned a 7-6 win over Mercer in the 1993 Class AA title game.
This season is the 60th anniversary of Northwestern's first season of varsity football. The Wildcats went 3-6 in 1958 after the consolidation of Albion and Springfield High Schools.
Sharpsville is 8-1 all-time against Erie County schools in the playoffs. The lone loss came November 19, 2010, in the Class A semifinals when the Blue Devils fell to Mercyhurst Prep, 56-33.
The winner will face Wilmington or Greenville in next week's championship game.
CLASS 3A QUARTERFINALS -- SATURDAY NIGHT
Grove City vs. Girard -- at Slippery Rock University, 7:00 p.m.
Grove City won District 10 titles in Classes AA and AAA in the old four-class system, then won the Class 5A crown last year. Now, the undefeated Eagles will look to add a 3A trophy to their case when they face surprising Girard (5-5) in the quarterfinals Saturday night at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
Grove City capped a 9-0 regular season two weeks ago with a 56-6 win at Meadville. The Eagles posted 587 offensive yards in the win, which marked Grove City's 12th straight on the road. Senior quarterback Brady Callahan completed 15 of 17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns while junior running back Colby Nelson racked up 126 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Kendel Hollen added a career-high 95 yards in the victory.
Senior wide receiver Logan Lutz pulled in six passes for 104 yards and tight end Carter Chinn had four catches for 42 yards.
Callahan leads Mercer County with 1,970 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and a 76.7 percent completion rate. Lutz leads the area with 57 catches for 906 yards. He set the Grove City single-season record with 62 catches last year. A.J. Turner's 1,016 receiving yards in 2016 are the current record in that category.
Senior fullback Tyler Greer leads the Eagles with 841 rushing yards in eight games while Nelson has 719 yards. Those two have combined for 25 rushing touchdowns, with Greer having 13. Chinn ranks second on the team with 21 catches and leads Grove City in yards per catch (17.2). Greer and senior wide receiver A.J. Miller both have 15 receptions.
The Grove City defense holds opponents to 3.7 yards per play, which ranks second out of the area's 12 teams. The Eagles have forced 23 turnovers and are tied for first in the area with a plus-11 turnover margin.
Under first-year head coach Bill McNally, the Yellow Jackets surpassed their combined win total from the last three seasons (4-25). It is Girard's first trip to the playoffs since 2014.
Girard closed the regular season last week with a 44-21 loss at Union City. Tyler Hawkins led Girard with 91 rushing yards and Corey Russell added 89 yards, along with two touchdowns. Hawkins leads Girard with 748 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while Russell has 457 yards and six scores. Russell leads the team with 10 catches.
Girard has alternated wins and losses over the last six weeks. Girard established itself as a playoff contender in Week Seven with a 47-34 home win over North East. The Jackets piled up 489 offensive yards, including 381 rushing yards. Girard went 3-1 on a four-game homestand at midseason to help rebound from a 1-2 start to the season.
Girard is 4-9 all-time in the D-10 playoffs. The Jackets' all-time playoff wins are against Erie Strong Vincent (2000), Wilmington (2003), Sharon (2013) and Greenville (2013).
Grove City is 14-6 all-time against Erie County foes in the playoffs. Girard is the 12th different Erie County program that Grove City has faced in the playoffs, joining Cathedral Prep, Central Tech, Corry, Erie East, Fairview, Fort LeBoeuf, Harbor Creek, North East, Northwestern, Seneca and Strong Vincent. The Eagles own at least one win over each of those schools.
The winner will face either Slippery Rock or Harbor Creek in the semifinals.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Sharon vs. Fairview -- at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
Grove City is not the only defending District 10 champion in the 3A tournament as 2017 Class 3A kingpin Sharon begins defense of its crown Saturday night against Fairview. This is a rematch of the teams' Week Three meeting, won by visiting Sharon, 63-12.
In its final tuneup for the playoffs two weeks ago, Sharon rolled past Class 4A Fort LeBoeuf, 50-13, in Waterford. Junior quarterback Lane Voytik completed 15 of 18 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns while senior running back Jordan Wilson bulled his way to 188 yards and three touchdowns. Ty Eilam, Trey Jones, C.J. Parchman and Frank Shaffer all caught touchdown passes; Eilam had a career-high seven receptions for 92 yards.
Sharon limited Fort LeBoeuf to 155 offensive yards and only 2.9 yards per play.
After throwing for 2,636 yards last year, Voytik is closing in on another 2,000-yard season as he currently has 1,861 yards. He shares the county lead with 19 touchdown passes and also leads the area in completions (143) and attempts (243). Voytik ranks second locally in passing yardage.
Wilson went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season and now has 1,155 yards this year. Parchman leads Sharon in catches (43) and receiving yards (692). He ranks third locally in both categories. Eilam (33) and Shaffer (30) respectively rank fifth and sixth in the county in catches. Jones has added 16 receptions.
First-year head coach Nathan Liberty has Fairview (5-4) entering the playoffs on a three-game win streak. Fairview earned its fifth overall win two weeks ago with a 52-28 win over Erie County rival Iroquois as the Tigers ran for 492 yards. Chris Mohra led Fairview with 288 rushing yards and five touchdowns while Elijah Larson added 120 yards and two scores.
Mohra leads Fairview with 1,668 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He also has seven receptions. Larson has contributed 472 rushing yards. The 2018 season represented feast or famine for Fairview. In Fairview's five wins, the Tigers scored 208 total points. In the four losses, Fairview generated 19 total points.
Mohra opened the Sharon-Fairview regular season game by returning a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. He also scored on a 63-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. However, Sharon amassed 570 offensive yards and held a 21-6 edge in first downs in the game.
Wilson ran for 172 of Sharon's season-high 305 rushing yards. Parchman caught eight passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Voytik went 21 of 28 for 257 yards and four touchdowns. Sharon's 63 points that night represented the most for the Tigers in a regular season game since a 67-0 win over Saegertown five years ago.
Sharon is 39-15 all-time in the District 10 playoffs. The Tigers are 3-0 against Fairview, earning postseason wins in 2008 (35-7), 2009 (18-17) and 2014 (35-0).
The winner will face Conneaut or Mercyhurst Prep in next week's semifinals.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC.
Slippery Rock vs. Harbor Creek -- at Veterans Stadium, Erie, 7:00 p.m.
One year ago, Slippery Rock outscored Harbor Creek 31-0 in the second half of the teams' District 10 Class 3A quarterfinal at Fairview as the Rockets rolled to a 38-14 victory. Saturday night, surging Harbor Creek will look to return the favor to Slippery Rock at Erie's Veterans Stadium.
Harbor Creek (8-2) enters the playoffs on a five-game winning streak while Slippery Rock (6-3) has won three of its last four games. Slippery Rock had Week Ten off after a 28-10 loss at Oil City. Meanwhile, Harbor Creek blanked Class 1A Cambridge Springs, 40-0.
Slippery Rock features the backfield duo of senior halfback Kaleb Kamerer and junior quarterback Vito Pilosi. Kamerer leads the Rockets with 746 rushing yards while Pilosi leads area quarterbacks with 697 rushing yards. Both players have rushed for 10 touchdowns. Junior running back David Duffalo (19) and Kamerer (13) are Pilosi's favorite targets in the passing game. Pilosi has thrown for 996 yards and 10 touchdowns while only being intercepted twice.
Pilosi ranks fourth in the county with 1,693 yards of total offense. Junior kicker Nathaniel Willison has accounted for 42 points, ranking third on the team in scoring behind Kamerer (78) and Pilosi (66).
First-year head coach Troy Budziszewski has guided the Huskies to their best season since the 2007 team went 12-1 under head coach Dan Budziszewski, Troy's father. Dan Budziszewski spent 32 years as Harbor Creek's head coach from 1982 to 2013.
During the five-game win streak, the Huskies have allowed only 50 points. Last week, Harbor Creek recorded its third shutout of the season while holding Cambridge Springs to 127 offensive yards. Sophomore running back Tyler East paced Harbor Creek with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown while sophomore quarterback Casey Smith went 6 of 12 for 112 yards and a touchdown.
East leads Harbor Creek with 1,244 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He has rushed for over 100 yards in all five games of the win streak, averaging 174.8 yards in that span. Smith has thrown for 663 yards and nine touchdowns. He is 47 of 109 (43 percent) with three interceptions. Sophomore Cody Smith leads the Huskies with 24 catches for 307 yards. He had 31 catches last season as a rookie.
Harbor Creek's 10 games this season have all been played within Erie County this year. Overall, Harbor Creek has played 23 straight games in Erie County, dating back to 2016.
In last year's postseason meeting, then-sophomore Nathan Hyatt caught a 21-yard touchdown pass with 1:57 left in the third quarter to give Slippery Rock a 21-14 lead. Hyatt then recovered a fumble in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.
Slippery Rock is 8-11 all-time in the District 10 playoffs while Harbor Creek owns a 3-9 mark. The Huskies' last playoff win came November 16, 2007 -- a 14-10 win over Grove City in the D-10 Class AA semifinals. Harbor Creek also defeated Sharon in the quarterfinals that year, 37-0. The Huskies' other playoff win came in 2004, a 34-7 decision over Greenville in the D-10 semifinals.
The winner will play Grove City or Girard in the District 10 semifinals next week.