(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK NINE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
The 2018 regular season comes to an end Friday night as all 12 local teams will play non-region games. The week does boast four all-local matchups along with the renewal of some old league rivalries that feature one local team.
Hickory at Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.
Two of the area's most successful programs over the last decade will wrap up the regular season Friday night at New Wilmington as Hickory visits Wilmington. Wilmington seeks a Senior Night win, which would be the Greyhounds' sixth straight overall victory. Meanwhile, Hickory closes out a regular season that has featured a number of close calls and a series of decimating injuries.
Wilmington extended its win streak to five games last week with a 48-14 Region 4 win at Sharpsville. The win clinched the region title for the Greyhounds, who scored the final 34 points of the game. Wilmington's Wing-T offense amassed 544 total yards, including 403 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Senior halfback Cameron Marett charged through the mud at Sharpsville for 190 yards and two touchdowns while senior quarterback Robert Pontius ran for 94 yards and three touchdowns. Marett also caught four passes for 49 yards, giving him 239 yards from scrimmage.
Marett now has 844 rushing yards, good for fifth locally. He averages 9.8 yards per carry. His 19 total touchdowns and 116 points are No. 3 in the area. Pontius ranks second in the area in yards per attempt (11.9) and third in passer rating (193.7). Pontius has thrown nine touchdown passes and rushed for 11 scores.
Wilmington averages a county-best 355.4 rushing yards per game. Wilmington also averages a county-best 10.2 yards per play.
The "Hounds Hammer" defense held Sharpsville to five rushing yards on 16 attempts last week. Wilmington also forced a pair of turnovers. Wilmington leads the area in rushing defense, allowing only 56.8 yards per game and 2.1 yards per carry. Wilmington also has yielded a county-low four rushing touchdowns. Wilmington's pass defense shares the area lead with 10 interceptions.
Hickory's playoff hopes ended last Friday night with a 28-17 setback at Region 5 foe Slippery Rock. The Hornets carried a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter before Slippery Rock rallied. Hickory's running game posted its second-best outing of the season as the Hornets ran for 165 yards. Senior Kuldera Delgros ran for a career-high 62 yards and two touchdowns in his first start at tailback. Sophomore quarterback Michael Henwood led Hickory with 63 rushing yards.
Senior kicker Sam Scarton drilled his sixth field goal of the season last week, a go-ahead 34-yarder late in the third quarter. He leads area kickers with six field goals.
Senior wide receiver Michael Filardi ranks fifth locally with 437 receiving yards. He is sixth in the county in receptions (26) and yards per catch (16.8).
Wilmington earned a 52-0 win at Hickory last year. The Greyhounds held a 461-94 edge in total offense and a 23-4 advantage in first downs. Marett ran for 91 yards to help lead the Greyhounds, who had 378 rushing yards.
Hickory has won six of the last nine meetings in the series. Hickory won the first meeting between the teams as Mercer County Athletic Conference foes in 1994, 19-7, at Wilmington. Wilmington won the next year, 14-6, which began an eight-year win streak in the series for the Greyhounds. Hickory won the 2003 meeting, 19-0, but Wilmington strung together five more consecutive wins over the Hornets. In 2009, Hickory pulled out a 21-14 win at Wilmington.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Sharpsville at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
A rivalry that dates to 1920 will be renewed Friday night when West Middlesex (7-1) hosts Shenango Valley challenger Sharpsville (6-2). Sharpsville has won nine straight meetings with West Middlesex but the surging Big Reds are off to their best start since the 2012 squad won eight of its first nine games.
West Middlesex clinched the No. 2 playoff spot out of Region 1 last week with a 35-0 win at Mercer. The Big Reds amassed 293 rushing yards as a team, led by a 173-yard outing from senior fullback Clayton Parrish. Senior quarterback Jake Bowen added 84 yards and two touchdown runs. Bowen also threw for 74 yards, which included a 60-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Kaz Hoffman.
Defensively, West Middlesex posted its fourth shutout of the season while yielding only 122 offensive yards. The Big Reds rank second in the area in scoring defense, holding opponents to 9.4 points per game. West Middlesex also allows only 3.8 yards per play, the second-lowest figure among the area's 12 teams. Additionally, West Middlesex ranks second locally in pass defense, allowing only 70 yards per game.
Parrish has produced his third straight 1,000-yard season as he now has 1,101 yards in 2018. Parrish (3,486 career yards) continues to close in on Eric Lucich's career record of 3,798 yards.
Bowen has also accounted for over 1,000 yards of total offense and 11 combined touchdowns. A first-year starter at quarterback, Bowen has thrown for 722 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 302 yards and six scores.
The Big Reds' passing defense will face a stiff test against Sharpsville's wide open passing attack. Sharpsville's 1,798 passing yards as a team rank second locally by two yards to Grove City (1,800). Senior quarterback Nick Alexander has thrown for 1,712 yards and needs 208 yards to break Johnny Napotnik's single-season record set during the Blue Devils' 1997 state championship season.
Alexander ranks second in individual passing yardage and touchdown passes (16). He has three of the most productive pass receivers in the area at his disposal as well. Senior Luke Levis is fourth locally with 35 catches and 515 receiving yards this year while senior Max Messett has caught 22 passes for 429 yards. He missed last week's game 48-14 loss to Wilmington due to injury.
Senior Joe Bornes leads the county in yards per catch, averaging 19.6. A former halfback and tight end, Bornes has 16 catches for 314 yards. Senior fullback Kobe Joseph has added 18 catches out of the backfield. Joseph leads the county in scoring with 21 touchdowns and 126 points. He has rushed for 806 yards and also has 219 receiving yards.
Alexander went 20 of 30 for 240 yards last week against Wilmington. Levis caught eight passes for 92 yards while Joseph had five catches for 92 yards and both of Sharpsville's touchdowns. Wilmington held Sharpsville to five rushing yards.
Kicker Mike Herman went 2 for 2 on extra points last week in his first game back from injury.
Sharpsville opened the 2017 season with a 49-0 home win over West Middlesex. Alexander completed 8 of 13 passes for 189 yards. Parrish ran for 81 yards to lead West Middlesex. Two years ago, Sharpsville earned a 42-6 victory at West Middlesex in the opener.
West Middlesex's last win in the series came October 5, 2012, when the Big Reds pulled out a 21-14 win. Sharpsville defeated West Middlesex in the District 10 title game, 28-0, later that year. Sharpsville defeated West Middlesex in both the regular season and playoffs in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Greenville at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
The Farrell-Greenville series is one of the oldest among local schools, but Friday's matchup is the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 1969. According to Bob Greenburg, Farrell leads the series 18-9-2 since the teams first met in 1917.
Both teams closed their respective region schedules with victories last week. Farrell, the state's top-ranked team in Class 1A, improved to 8-0 with a 54-8 victory at Reynolds. Greenville secured its third overall win of 2018 by downing visiting Lakeview, 40-13 in Region 4 Class 2A action.
Farrell owns a 12-game home win streak and will recognize its highly-decorated senior class Friday night as part of Senior Night activities. A number of seniors rank among the county's statistical leaders in several categories.
Senior tailback Christian Lewis leads the county with 1,131 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He recently became Farrell's career leader with 34 rushing touchdowns. Lewis also ranks second in the area with 20 total touchdowns and 122 points. Lewis averages 11.9 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Kyi Wright has thrown for 1,026 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. He has been intercepted an area-low one time in his 85 pass attempts. Wright leads the county in yards per attempt (12.1) and touchdown passes. The 230-pound Wright has also rushed for 380 yards and seven scores. His 25 combined touchdowns lead Mercer County.
Senior Jourdan Townsend leads the county with 15 touchdown receptions. He has 48 touchdown catches in his career and needs one more to tie Sharon's Ziyon Strickland (2014-17) for the Mercer County and District 10 career records. This season, Townsend has 46 catches for 793 yards. He recently went over the 3,000-yard mark (3,072) for his career.
Akron commit Kobe Hilton anchors Farrell's large, physical and athletic offensive and defensive lines. Farrell's superiority up front has allowed the Steelers to lead the area in scoring defense (7.6), pass defense and total defense. Offensively, Farrell leads the area in scoring average at 53.4 points per game and the Steelers' 10.0 yards per play average ranks second to Wilmington (10.2).
Farrell also leads the area with a plus-10 turnover margin. Senior kicker Brian Hilton, who also doubles at wide receiver and defensive back, has given Farrell its most reliable kicking game in recent years. His 27 extra points rank fourth in the area.
In last week's win at Reynolds, Lewis ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Hilton, Lewis and Townsend all had touchdown catches while linebacker Tymir Green returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Greenville closed its home schedule last week by charging past Lakeview. Senior halfback Brady Gentile ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns while quarterback Jon King ran for one score and threw a 40-yard touchdown strike to Blair Paxton. Defensively, Greenville held Lakeview to 107 total yards of offense.
Gentile has moved into fourth place on Mercer County's rushing list this season with 853 yards.
This matchup features the local teams with the fewest turnovers in 2018. Farrell has only four turnovers this year while Greenville has committed a total of five turnovers. Greenville is plus-6 in turnover margin this year.
Although this is the first regular season meeting in 49 years, the teams have played once since. Greenville defeated Farrell, 7-6, in 1983 in a matchup of the Keystone Football League and Northwest Conference champions. That predated the District 10 playoffs, which began in 1985. Ed Brown's one-yard touchdown run and Doug Dickason's extra point in the third quarter gave Greenville the lead. Winfred Bournes scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter for Farrell.
In 1969, Farrell earned a 14-0 win at Greenville in the fourth week of the season. Quarterback Nick Cannone opened the scoring by throwing a touchdown pass to tackle eligible Randy Crowder. Randy Wright also scored on a one-yard run. That marked the third straight game in which the Night Riders' defense did not allow a point. Farrell finished that season 9-1.
Farrell won the last home meeting with Greenville in 1968, 32-0. Cannone threw two touchdown passes to Paul Samuels while Wright had a 75-yard kickoff return for touchdown. Greenville's last regular season win over Farrell came in 1967, a 9-0 home victory. The Trojans also won at Farrell in 1966, 13-0, in a rainstorm.
Mercer at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
After opening the season with nailbiters in each of the last two seasons, Mercer and Lakeview wrap up the regular season Friday night in Stoneboro. Each of the last two meetings has been decided by two points, with the road team winning each time. Last year, Mercer rallied for a 35-33 win at Lakeview on a Saturday night. Two years ago, Lakeview held off a Mercer comeback for a 24-22 victory to give Johnny Falconi his first win as Sailors' head coach.
Both teams closed their 2018 region schedules last week with setbacks. Mercer fell in Class 1A play to visiting West Middlesex, 35-0. Meanwhile, Lakeview fell 40-13 at Greenville in Class 2A action.
Although Mercer's Delaware Wing-T offense has been primarily run-oriented this season, the Mustangs are one of four teams (joining Grove City, Sharon and Sharpsville) in the area who have three or more players with double-digit reception totals. Sophomore halfback Aidan Bright leads the Mustangs with 18 catches, a figure that ranks ninth locally. Senior halfback Brian Shevitz has 16 receptions. Senior split end Zack Previty leads the team in yards per catch, averaging 14.8 yards on his 11 catches.
Shevitz leads Mercer with 396 rushing yards while Bright ranks second with 354 yards. Quarterback Dylan Hetrick has thrown for 464 yards on 45-of-84 passing this season.
For Lakeview, Logan McFadden ran for 38 yards and a touchdown last week at Greenville while Burton Brocklehurst caught a touchdown pass. Fullback Jared Alcorn led Lakeview with 45 rushing yards. Alcorn leads Lakeview with 178 rushing yards this season while McFadden has 140 yards.
Lakeview is 3-2 in the last five meetings with Mercer, winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2013, Mercer downed the Sailors, 19-8, handing Lakeview its lone regular season loss of the season.
Lakeview has not scored in the first quarter this season. Mercer has blanked its opponents, 32-0, in the fourth quarter. Lakeview has dropped 13 straight home games since a 31-12 win November 6, 2015 over Grove City. After opening the season with three straight road games, Mercer has played five of its last six games at home.
Grove City at Meadville, 7:00 p.m.
Grove City and Meadville played in each of the first two District 10 Class 5A title games, with each team winning one. There will be no postseason rubber game this year as Grove City is in Class 3A and winless Meadville will not be participating in the Class 5A tournament this season.
Grove City closed out its Region 5 schedule last Friday with a 46-14 win over visiting Conneaut at Forker Field. Grove City amassed over 560 offensive yards for the second straight week as the Eagles finished with 562 total yards. Senior quarterback Brady Callahan threw for a career-high 368 yards and five touchdowns on 22-of-31 accuracy in last week's victory. Senior wide receiver Logan Lutz hauled in eight balls for 130 yards and two touchdowns while Landon Hedglin, A.J. Miller and Colby Nelson also had touchdown catches.
Senior fullback Tyler Greer ran for a team-high 81 yards and a touchdown while Nelson finished with 63 rushing yards. Lutz added 53 rushing yards, helping the Eagles finish with 194 total rushing yards.
Greer and Nelson have formed one of the area's top backfield duos this season by combining for 1,434 yards and 23 touchdowns. Greer has 841 yards and 13 scores while Nelson, a junior, has 593 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Callahan now leads the area with 1,750 yards and 1,818 yards of total offense. His 16 touchdown passes rank second in the county. Lutz leads Mercer County with 51 catches for 802 yards. He set Grove City's single-season record with 62 catches last season.
Overall, Grove City leads the county in total offense (474.2 yards per game) and passing yards per game (225.0). Surprisingly, the Eagles also lead the area with 350 rushing attempts as a team. Under the direction of defensive coordinator Brad Trezona, Grove City has forced a county-high 21 turnovers this season.
Meadville remained winless last week with a 27-12 loss at 3-5 DuBois last week. The Bulldogs led 12-6 at halftime but DuBois rallied for the win in the second half. Quarterback Colin Kilburn put Meadville up 6-0 with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Johntae Brown. Winstin Heagy, getting his first extended action at fullback, scored on a touchdown run late in the second quarter to give Meadville its six-point halftime lead.
Kilburn has thrown for 564 yards and nine touchdowns this year. Brown has rushed for 263 yards. He also has 15 catches for 238 yards and six touchdowns. Brown is also Meadville's primary kickoff and punt returner.
Grove City swept both meetings last season. In the regular season finale at Meadville's Bender Field, the Eagles rolled to a 41-14 win. Lutz ran for 222 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. He also caught five passes for 56 yards. Callahan went 14 of 17 for 183 yards.
Three weeks later, Grove City won the D-10 title with a 35-14 win over Meadville at Greenville's Stewart Field. Callahan went 15 of 18 for 213 yards and three touchdowns while Lutz caught 10 passes. He also intercepted a pass.
Grove City has won 17 straight regular season games. Meadville is the last team to defeat the Eagles in the regular season, handing Grove City a 48-14 loss in Week Nine of the 2016 season.
The game can be heard on Oldies Z-104 (WWIZ 103.9).
Slippery Rock at Oil City, 7:00 p.m.
Slippery Rock and Oil City met as league rivals in both Class AA and Class AAA from 2006 to 2013. After a four-year hiatus, the series will be renewed Friday night at The Oil Field. The teams are a combined 16-3, which matches the Sharpsville-West Middlesex game as the best combined record among paired teams on this week's District 10 schedule.
Slippery Rock (6-2) topped visiting Hickory last week in its region finale, 28-17, while Oil City (7-1) closed Region 7 play with a 56-16 win over Fort LeBoeuf.
Throughout the 2018 season, Slippery Rock has coupled an explosive and balanced offense with an opportunistic defense. Those units both played big parts in last week's win. Junior quarterback Vito Pilosi threw for 194 yards and added 103 rushing yards. Meanwhile, senior halfback Kaleb Kamerer ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-clinching 30-yard touchdown on third down in the final minute.
Junior fullback David Duffalo caught five passes for 130 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown on a screen pass.
Defensively, the Rockets forced and recovered a fumble with 2:09 left last week to set up their game-clinching score. The Rockets are No. 3 locally with 18 takeaways this season. Slippery Rock shares the county lead with 10 interceptions.
Pilosi leads area quarterbacks with 626 rushing yards. He is 10th overall in the county in rushing. Kamerer moved into eighth place with 691 yards this season. The emerging Duffalo has rushed for 312 yards and also leads the Rockets with 14 receptions and 258 receiving yards.
Under third-year head coach Dan York, Oil City (7-1) is off to its best start since the Oilers went 11-1 in 1998. York is a 1975 Oil City graduate and spent several years as an assistant coach there before a successful 16-year run as Lakeview head coach. York's Lakeview teams featured powerful rushing attacks out of the I-formation and that formula is again working in the Oil Region.
Senior tailback Christian Cole has rushed for 2,429 yards and 34 touchdowns in eight games this season. He has five games of at least 300 yards and has scored four or more touchdowns in seven of eight games in 2018. Last week against LeBoeuf, Cole ran for 342 yards and eight touchdowns. Cole ran for a season-high 383 yards two weeks ago in a 58-8 win at Meadville.
Lakeview's Blake Reddick set the single-season District 10 rushing record of 2,974 yards in 2013. York guided the 2013 Lakeview team to its first-ever District 10 title.
Cole also finished second in District 10 Class AAA last spring in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.32 seconds. He is not a one-man rushing attack, however. Junior fullback Noah Petro has 501 rushing yards, including 108 yards last week. Sophomore quarterback Holden Stahl has added 438 yards. As a team, Oil City averages 469.6 rushing yards per game.
Slippery Rock has won the last three meetings. Oil City's last win in the series came October 30, 2013, 42-27 at The Oil Field.
Sharon at Fort LeBoeuf, 7:00 p.m.
A pair of 5-3 teams close the regular season Friday night at Carm Bonito Field in Waterford, when Sharon visits Class 4A Fort LeBoeuf.
Sharon held off Pittsburgh City League foe University Prep last Friday, 27-20, at Sharon Tiger Stadium as senior tailback Jordan Wilson ran for 131 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Lane Voytik threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns as Frank Shaffer and Ty Eilam both caught scoring passes. Shaffer finished with four catches for 80 yards while junior wide receiver C.J. Parchman had five receptions.
Defensively, end Warren Nixon returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown, his third defensive touchdown since the start of 2017.
Parchman ranks third locally in receptions (39) and receiving yards (599). Shaffer and Eilam join him in the county's top 10 in receptions. Shaffer is fifth with 29 catches while Eilam's 26 grabs rank seventh. Not surprisingly, Voytik leads the area with 128 pass completions. He also leads the area with 225 attempts and ranks third with 1,619 passing yards.
Wilson needs 33 yards to secure his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. He leads the area with 143 rushing attempts and is third locally with his 967 rushing yards. Wilson could have a big night Friday night against a Fort LeBoeuf defense that allowed 529 rushing yards last week in a 56-16 Region 7 loss to Oil City. Fort LeBoeuf closed its league schedule with a 4-2 record.
Senior Tynan Mazur leads LeBoeuf with 733 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season. He has five 100-yard outings this season. He has emerged in the absence of junior Ben Turi, who rushed for 360 yards in the first four weeks of the season.
Quarterback Cole Dauson has thrown for 522 yards in 2018. Sharon and LeBoeuf have one common opponent, Grove City. Sharon fell at Grove City two weeks ago, 42-9. LeBoeuf opened the season with a 48-7 road loss to the Eagles.
Fort LeBoeuf's last win over Sharon came October 14, 2011, when the Bison earned a 38-36 win at Sharon Tiger Stadium. Sharon won the last meeting in Waterford, 47-8, October 15, 2010.
Sharon has won six straight games against Erie County opponents. The Tigers last fell to an Erie County foe November 11, 2013 -- a 22-19 loss Girard in the District 10 playoffs. The loss to LeBoeuf in 2011 is Sharon's last regular season setback against an Erie County opponent.
Northwestern at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
For the first time since the 2011 opener, Reynolds will meet Northwestern as both teams prepare for the District 10 playoffs. Northwestern (6-2) is Region 3's top entry in the Class 2A playoffs while Reynolds (4-4) is the No. 3 seed from Region 1 in Class 1A.
Reynolds and Northwestern both aim to bounce back from one-sided home losses in region play last week. Reynolds fell to visiting Farrell, 54-8, while Northwestern dropped a 49-0 decision to visiting Conneaut (Ohio).
Reynolds fell behind 28-0 in the first quarter against undefeated Farrell last week. Senior Tyrese Baker led the Raiders with 38 rushing yards on five attempts. For the season, Baker is second on the team with 517 rushing yards, trailing only sophomore Jordan DeCarmen (631). DeCarmen is the ninth-leading rusher in Mercer County.
As a team, Reynolds went over the 2,000-yard mark for the season last week. The Raiders own the area's No. 3 rushing attack, averaging 255.1 yards per game. Defensively, Reynolds ranks fifth in total defense, holding opponents to 205.9 yards per game.
A slow start also doomed Northwestern last week as the Wildcats trailed 21-0 after one quarter. Conneaut, Ohio, held Northwestern to three first downs and forced the Wildcats to turn over the ball three times. Northwestern finished with 69 yards of offense.
Jeremy Dohanic leads Northwestern with 702 rushing yards and a dozen touchdowns. He also leads Northwestern with 11 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterbacks Ryan Tewell (454) and Derek Albert (266) have combined for 720 passing yards and five touchdowns this year.
In addition to last week's shutout, Northwestern did not score until the fourth quarter of its 11-3 win two weeks ago at Lakeview. Kicker Preston Runser kicked a go-ahead 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead in the final period. Runser also kicked a game-winning 28-yard field goal in overtime against Eisenhower, giving Northwestern a 37-34 win.
Both teams have played four Mercer County area teams this year. Northwestern is 3-1 against local teams this year, owning wins over Greenville, Lakeview and Mercer. Reynolds defeated Mercer 20-7 in Region 1 play but did not play longtime rival Greenville this season. The Raiders dropped decisions to area adversaries Farrell, Slippery Rock and West Middlesex, who are a combined 21-3 this year.
Northwestern opened the 2011 season with a 13-6 home win over Reynolds. In 2010, Northwestern won 21-0 at Reynolds. Northwestern also defeated the Raiders in 2008 (16-6) and 2009 (20-13). Reynolds' last win in the series came 11 years ago, 35-6 in Albion, Pa.