(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK TWO FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Seven games comprise this week's schedule in the Mercer County area. Five of the seven games feature all-local matchups, with one being the Region 5 (Class 3A) opener between longtime rivals Sharon and Hickory. Three of the games feature two 1-0 teams. The Sharon-Hickory clash is the only one in which both teams are 0-1.
Farrell hosts Wilmington in an inter-classification battle of state-ranked teams. Meanwhile, 1-0 Reynolds plays the second of four straight road games as the Raiders head to 1-0 Slippery Rock.
Hickory at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
The 52nd all-time meeting between Sharon and Hickory features a pair of squads that are both looking to bounce back from home losses against local Class 2A foes. Hickory dropped a 17-6 decision to visiting Sharpsville in the opener, while Sharon fell at home to Wilmington, 42-12.
Sharon head coach Jim Wildman enters the game with 249 victories. Hickory looks to avoid being on the wrong side of a coaching milestone for the second straight week as Sharpsville head coach Paul Piccirilli earned his 200th win last week.
In Week One against Sharpsville, Hickory featured balance on offense with 133 rushing yards and 117 passing yards. The Hornets also finished plus-1 in turnover margin. However, Hickory only managed two field goals on three trips inside the Sharpsville 20.
Quarterback Hayden Gallagher threw for 117 yards and also rushed for a team-leading 60 yards for Hickory. Senior tailback Simeon McKinley added 57 yards on eight carries before leaving due to injury. Senior Michael Filardi led Hickory with four receptions for 47 yards.
Junior speedster Hunter Stoots will likely replace McKinley in the backfield this week. Stoots caught a 28-yard screen pass last week. Kicker Sam Scarton, one of District 10's top specialists, booted field goals of 29 and 35 yards in the second quarter to account for Hickory's points.
Defensively, Hickory allowed 268 passing yards against Sharpsville's expanded passing attack. The Hornets will be tested again Friday night by Sharon's pass-oriented offense, which led the county in numerous passing categories last season.
Junior quarterback Lane Voytik completed a county-best 16 passes last week against Wilmington. He finished 16 of 27 for 196 yards and a touchdown. He also had three passes intercepted as Sharon finished the game minus-4 in turnover differential.
Junior C.J. Parchman caught five passes for 107 yards in the opener against Wilmington. His 70-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter opened the scoring for Sharon. Senior Frank Shaffer added four receptions.
Sharon leads the all-time series 38-12-1. Hickory has won seven of the last nine meetings but Sharon earned a 27-6 home win over Hickory last season. Wilson ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns as Sharon executed 34 runs among its 43 offensive plays. Meanwhile, the Sharon defense intercepted Gallagher four times and recorded three sacks.
Sharon has won each of the last two meetings at Tiger Stadium. Sharon pulled out a 35-34 home win September 11, 2015. Hickory last started a season 0-2 in 2007, when the Hornets opened with consecutive setbacks to Western Beaver, Karns City and Sharon. Sharon dropped its first two games in 2014. Prior to that, 1986 marked the last time that a Wildman-coached team opened 0-2.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Wilmington at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
Two state-ranked foes will meet Friday night at Paulekas Stadium when Class 1A state semifinalist Farrell hosts Class 2A finalist Wilmington. Farrell sits atop the Pennlive.com state poll in Class 1A while Wilmington opened the season in the No. 3 spot in the 2A rankings.
Both teams opened the 2018 season with road wins last week. Farrell charged out to a 26-0 lead in the first quarter on its way to a 40-16 win at Pittsburgh City League member University Prep. Wilmington pulled away from host Sharon for a 42-12 Week One victory, giving rookie head coach Brandon Phillian a win in his first game.
Farrell quarterback Kyi Wright played his first snaps since 2016 and helped lead Farrell's offensive outburst by completing 11 of 14 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 46 yards and a score. Fellow senior Christian Lewis ran for 155 yards and two scores while at wide receiver, senior Jourdan Townsend caught nine passes for 146 yards and both of Wright's touchdown strikes.
Defensively, Farrell blanked Class 4A University Prep into the fourth quarter while holding the hosts to 148 offensive yards and seven first downs.
Townsend leads the county in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He has 31 touchdown catches since the start of his sophomore season and 35 for his career.
Wilmington produced similar statistical results in its victory at Sharon. The Greyhounds piled up 400 offensive yards, including 362 on the ground. Senior halfbacks Cameron Marett and Tage Kelliher each ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Kelliher, making his varsity football debut, also caught a 28-yard pass.
Meanwhile, the famed Wilmington "Hounds Hammer" defense forced four turnovers and produced points of its own as Marett returned an interception 40 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown. Wilmington has won 11 straight regular season games and is 19-1 in its last 20 regular season games.
Farrell last lost a home opener to a local team in 2013, when West Middlesex pulled out a 19-14 win at Farrell.
Farrell and Wilmington competed against each other in District 7's Tri-County North A from 1986 to 1991. Wilmington moved up to Class AA in 1992-93, then moved to District 10 prior to the 1994 season. According to Bob Greenburg, Farrell leads the all-time series, 6-5. The teams first met in 1921.
The most famous meeting between the programs came November 26, 1988 at Three Rivers Stadium, when Wilmington downed Farrell, 10-7, in the District 7 Class A championship game. Wilmington kicker Paul Johnson booted a tiebreaking 28-yard field goal with 1:02 left in the game to give the Greyhounds the win.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Grove City at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
One of the county's oldest football series will be renewed Friday night when Greenville opens its home schedule against Grove City. Grove City seeks its third straight 2-0 start while Greenville aims to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2012.
Both teams opened the 2018 season last week with playoff rematches against Erie County opponents. Grove City rolled past visiting Fort LeBoeuf, 48-7, while Greenville dropped a 19-12 decision at Northwestern.
Grove City piled up 450 total yards -- including 316 on the ground -- in its win over Fort LeBoeuf. Senior running back Tyler Greer, who led the county in yards per carry as a junior, ran for a career-high 201 yards and two scores in last week's victory. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass and finished the game with 235 scrimmage yards.
Senior wide receiver Logan Lutz caught six passes for 65 yards, giving him 1,958 career receiving yards. He needs 42 yards to become Mercer County's fourth player with 2,000 career receiving yards, joining Sharon's Ziyon Strickland, current Farrell senior Jourdan Townsend, and Hickory product Andrew Pryts. Lutz's 131 career receptions rank second in county history as well, behind Strickland's 246 catches.
Senior quarterback Brady Callahan improved to 10-0 as a starter in the regular season by completing 12 of 15 passes for 122 yards.
Despite a 155-yard, two-touchdown effort from senior halfback Brady Gentile, Greenville fell in Week One at Northwestern. Gentile has two career 100-yard games in the regular season and both outings have come in season openers. He ran for 103 yards in Greenville's 27-26 win over Hickory in the 2017 lidlifter. His two highest single-game totals have come against Northwestern, as he ran for a career-high 164 yards in the teams' playoff meeting last year.
Junior Jon King made his first varsity start at quarterback for Greenville last week, going 1 for 4. He completed an eight-yard pass to junior wide receiver Blair Paxton, who also made his first start.
Greenville has won three straight meetings with Grove City. Grove City's last win at Stewart Field came six years ago, 19-14, as Foster Reznor scored with 50 seconds left in the game. This is Grove City's 23rd straight game on artificial turf. The Eagles will not play on natural grass this regular season.
Greenville head coach Brian Herrick and Grove City head coach Sam Mowrey are both Grove City College graduates. Both men set athletic records at Grove City College during their respective careers. Herrick played flanker for the football team from 1983 to 1986 and lettered four years as a middle-distance runner for the track and field team. He graduated as Grove City's record-holder in the 800 and 1500 meters. He earned the College's Sportsman of the Year award for 1986-87 and is a 2015 Grove City College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.
Mowrey started at quarterback in 2003 and set a single-season program record with 16 touchdown passes that season.
The game can be heard on Oldies Z-104 (WWIZ 103.9).
Reynolds at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
Reynolds continues its season-opening four-game road trip Friday night by visiting Slippery Rock for a clash of 1-0 teams. The road team has won each of the last two meetings. Reynolds opened 2016 with a 13-7 win at Slippery Rock while the Rockets countered with a 13-12 Week One win at Reynolds last season.
Both teams earned two-touchdown victories in Erie County last week. Reynolds rolled up 432 rushing yards in a 44-28 win at Union City. Meanwhile, 18 miles west on U.S. Route 6, Slippery Rock forced four turnovers in a 27-14 victory at Class 5A General McLane.
Reynolds produced a pair of 100-yard rushers in the win at Union City. Sophomore Jordan DeCarmen ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns while junior quarterback Sean O'Hara added 103 yards. Reynolds' 432 rushing yards are the most by a local team since Wilmington had 433 rushing yards September 22, 2017 against Mercer.
The Reynolds rushing attack will face a stiff test against a Slippery Rock defense that recovered three fumbles and held General McLane's vaunted option offense to 3.9 yards per carry. The Rockets scored on defense as linebacker Vito Pilosi returned one of those fumble recoveries 94 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Pilosi, Slippery Rock's starting quarterback, opened the scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run. Senior running back Kaleb Kamerer added a pair of three-yard touchdown runs in the second half for the Rockets. Kamerer ran for 98 yards on seven attempts while Pilosi finished with 82 yards on 16 attempts.
Slippery Rock held on for a 13-12 victory last year as Reynolds' potential game-winning two-point conversion failed with 2:43 left in regulation. Patrick Shea caught three passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 42-yard run.
Slippery Rock is 5-2 in its last seven home openers but has dropped two straight. The Rockets are in pursuit of their first 2-0 start since 2014. Reynolds last started 2-0 in 2013.
Lakeview at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
After a two-year hiatus, a series that dates back to 1972 will resume Friday night when 1-0 West Middlesex hosts 0-1 Lakeview.
Mark Means made his head coaching debut last Friday night for West Middlesex and the Big Reds used a stout defensive effort to down visiting Eisenhower, 27-2. The Big Reds allowed only 72 yards on 42 offensive plays. Jason Davis opened the scoring for West Middlesex by returning an interception 60 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Offensively, senior running back Clayton Parrish produced his seventh 100-yard outing in the last 10 games, dating back to last season. Parrish ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Jake Bowen made his first start and added 38 rushing yards and a touchdown. He completed 2 of 5 passes for 42 yards.
Week One also featured the head coaching debut of Lakeview's Bill Hickman. After a promising start, the Sailors stumbled in a 56-7 setback against visiting Maplewood. Sophomore running back Lane Barber paced Lakeview's option-based offense with 108 rushing yards, which included a 71-yard touchdown run. Gavin Murdock added 43 rushing yards.
Barber's outing marked the 10th straight year in which a Lakeview back has rushed for 100 yards or more in the season opener.
Prior to the last two seasons, West Middlesex and Lakeview played 12 straight seasons, with the Big Reds winning eight of the 12 meetings. The teams met yearly from 1972 to 1976 as members of the old Tri-County "B" league and then played periodically throughout the 1980s and 1990s as non-league foes.
West Middlesex won the last meeting, 22-16, September 11, 2015. Lakeview's last win in West Middlesex came October 25, 2013, when the Sailors earned a 19-2 win.
Four of West Middlesex's first five games this season are at home. Friday's game marks a stretch of three road games in four weeks for Lakeview.
Mercer at Northwestern, 7:00 p.m.
Twenty-five years ago, Northwestern nipped Mercer in the District 10 Class AA title game, 7-6. This year, the programs finally meet again after a 25-year gap. Both teams enter Friday's game in Albion with 1-0 records. Northwestern held off Greenville, 19-12, while Mercer gave first-year head coach Keith DeGraaf his initial victory last Saturday night with a 21-6 victory at Cochranton.
Mercer did not commit a penalty nor a turnover in its win at Cochranton. Senior quarterback Dylan Hetrick went 6 for 6 passing while engineering Mercer's newly-installed Delaware Wing-T offense. The offense averaged 5.0 yards per carry while accumulating 199 rushing yards. In classic Wing-T style, three different backs scored touchdowns: fullback P.J. Boggs, halfback Aiden Bright and split end-turned-halfback Brian Shevitz.
Bright led the Mustangs with 73 rushing yards while Shevitz added 54 yards. Shevitz also caught two passes while senior split end Zack Previty grabbed four receptions for 46 yards. Shevitz also kicked all three extra points.
Defensively, Mercer held Cochranton to nine first downs and forced two turnovers.
Like Mercer, Northwestern featured a balanced rushing attack in Week One. Quarterback Derek Albert ran for 88 yards and one touchdown while Jeremy Dohanic added 87 yards and two scores for the Wildcats.
Northwestern head coach Mark Brooks is in his second season in Albion. He led the Wildcats to a 5-5 record last season. Northwestern seeks its first 2-0 start since 2013, when the 'Cats opened 6-0. Mercer also last started 2-0 in 2013. The Mustangs won their first four games that year.
Mercer concludes its season-opening three-game road trip next week at Eisenhower. Four of Northwestern's first five games are at home. The lone road game in that stretch is Week Three, at Wilmington.
Sharpsville at Iroquois, 7:00 p.m.
One week after giving head coach Paul Piccirilli his 200th career win, Sharpsville will go for its fifth straight 2-0 start when the Blue Devils visit Iroquois.
Sharpsville opened the season last Friday night with a 17-6 victory at neighborhood rival Hickory. The Sharpsville defense limited Hickory to two field goals while also recording five quarterback sacks in the second half. Senior cornerback Ben Henwood's interception in the red zone ended one Hickory threat while senior end Joe Bornes's strip sack and Aaron Stephenson's recovery in the third quarter set up Sharpsville's final score.
Junior Tristan Besser ran for 58 yards and a touchdown after replacing senior standout Kobe Joseph in the second half. Joseph, who also ran for 58 yards, left the game before halftime due to injury. His status for this week is unknown.
What is known is that rumors about Sharpsville's plans to become more pass-oriented are indeed true. Last Friday night, senior quarterback Nick Alexander threw for 268 yards on 15-of-27 accuracy. Senior tight end-turned-wide receiver Luke Levis caught five passes for 117 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown on the game's first possession. Senior Max Messett, making his varsity debut, also had five receptions for 95 yards.
Senior kicker Mike Herman added a 24-yard field goal, his first career field goal. Herman, who went 36 for 38 on extra points last year, also converted both extra points.
Like Sharpsville, Iroquois faced a backyard rival in the opener. Unlike the Blue Devils, Iroquois opened the season with a defeat as Class 3A Harbor Creek handed the Braves a 55-6 road defeat.
Jeremy Laniewicz led Iroquois with 92 rushing yards and a touchdown while Matthew Tarr ran for 58 yards. The Braves finished with 225 total yards, all on the ground. Iroquois led 6-0 after one quarter but Harbor Creek broke open the game with 34 points in the second quarter.
Sharpsville downed Iroquois in the District 10 Class 2A semifinals November 11, 2016, 41-14, as the Blue Devils pulled away in the second half.
Iroquois has not started a season 0-2 under sixth-year head coach Matt Morgan. The Braves last opened 0-2 in 2012. Iroquois has posted a 25-7 record over the past three seasons.
Iroquois will visit Greenville next week and then trek to Wilmington in Week Seven.