(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK FOUR FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Second verse - same as the first. Twelve of the area's 13 teams will have rematches against their respective opening night opponent this weekend as the second half of the 2020 regular season commences.
The local Class 1A and 3A titles could be determined by the weekend's results, or those races could be muddled. In Class 2A, Sharpsville and Greenville look to avenge respective Week One setbacks against Farrell and Wilmington. Lakeview closes its home schedule by hosting Region 4 foe Saegertown in the teams' lone meeting.
Six of the weekend's seven games will be played Friday night. Saturday, Kennedy Catholic celebrates Homecoming 2020 with an 11 a.m. kickoff against Mercer.
West Middlesex at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Reynolds (3-0) celebrates Senior Night by hosting West Middlesex (2-1) in Region 1 Class 1A action in Transfer. The host Raiders could celebrate at least a share of the region title with a win over West Middlesex. A West Middlesex win would forge a tie for first place with two weeks left in the regular season.
Boosted by a school-record 75 points last Friday night in a 75-14 win over visiting Kennedy Catholic, Reynolds leads the county in scoring offense at 49.7 points per game. The Raiders will be facing the area's top statistical defense, though, as West Middlesex holds opponents to 114.0 yards per game. West Middlesex yields only 11.3 points per game, tied with Reynolds for No. 2 in the area.
Reynolds pulled out a 27-20 win at West Middlesex in both teams' season opener September 11. Reynolds senior halfback Cole Toy ran for 201 of the Raiders' 317 yards and scored four touchdowns to help lead the way. Senior fullback Aidan Mull added 67 yards on nine attempts.
West Middlesex senior quarterback Ty Tate posted career-bests in both passing (112) and rushing (91) yardage against Reynolds. He completed 12 of 16 passes, threw for one touchdown and ran for the Big Reds' other two scores.
Tate has completed 23 of 38 (60.5 percent) of his passes this season. He ranks sixth in the county with 258 passing yards and has thrown the most passes in the area without being intercepted this season. Senior split end Chris Smith ranks fourth in the county with 148 receiving yards. Junior fullback Ian Smith ranks second in the area with 51 rushing attempts and seventh with 215 rushing yards. Tate has added 121 rushing yards.
Toy leads the county in rushing and scoring. He has rushed for 454 yards and nine touchdowns this season. His 11.4 yards per carry average ranks second in the area. He's one spot ahead of teammate Jalen Wagner, who averages 11.1 yards per attempt. Senior halfback Dreyvin Livingston (9.3) and Mull (7.9) are also among the county's top 10 in yards per carry.
As a team, Reynolds averages 9.0 yards per attempt. Livingston has 158 rushing yards, Wagner has rushed for 156 yards and Mull has accumulated 142 yards and three touchdowns.
Both teams feature veteran offensive and defensive lines. Senior tackles Rocco John-Daniello and Luke Faber anchor the Reynolds front while seniors Kaleb Turcotte, Nick Kobielus and Nick Gearhart are key pillars for West Middlesex.
Toy ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns on seven attempts in the Week Three win over Kennedy. Wagner added 98 yards. Sophomore quarterback Brayden McCloskey fired a 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Nate Miller.
Senior Quinton Earley opened the game by returning Kennedy's kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Senior cornerback Luca Tofani returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown. Safety Haydin McLaughlin had a 68-yard interception return while Toy and Livingston also picked off passes. The Raiders forced seven turnovers and held Kennedy to 113 offensive yards.
Reynolds leads the county with nine takeaways this year.
Ian Smith, Tate, Colby Johnson and Alex Rea all had touchdown runs in West Middlesex's 35-7 win last week over visiting Mercer. Senior Eddie Lowe opened the second half by returning Mercer's kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. Ian Smith led the Big Reds with 86 rushing yards.
Chris Smith helped pace the defense with a sack, a forced fumble and an interception near the goal line, snuffing out Mercer's best scoring opportunity to that point. Johnson also intercepted a pass.
Reynolds leads the all-time series 13-4. Reynolds is 7-2 all-time at home against the Big Reds. The teams first met October 3, 1964, with Reynolds earning a 27-6 win at West Middlesex.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC. Live stats available here.
Hickory at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
Hickory can clinch at least a tie for the Region 3 Class 3A title Friday night with a victory at Grove City. Conversely, Grove City (2-1) can pull into a first-place tie by knocking off the undefeated Hornets.
Friday night's game features the county's top two passing offenses. Hickory averages 283.3 passing yards per game while Grove City's spread attack averages 212.0 yards per game.
Coming off a 340-yard, six-touchdown effort last Saturday night in a 45-0 win at Slippery Rock, Hickory senior quarterback Michael Henwood leads the county with 805 passing yards and 965 yards of individual total offense. He leads the area with 11 touchdown passes, a 65.8 percent completion mark and 48 completions.
Three Hickory receivers have already reached double figures in receptions. Junior Ramarion Whitehead leads the county with 17 catches. His 274 receiving yards rank second locally. Senior H-back Matt Cannone owns 11 receptions and shares the county lead with four touchdown catches. Meanwhile, senior tight end Rocco Iacino leads the county in yards per catch, averaging 21.8 yards on his 10 receptions. He's third in receiving yards.
The Hornets are far from one-dimensional on offense, however. Junior tailback Clay Wiesen has rushed for 267 yards in his first season. Henwood averages 9.4 yards per carry and has totaled 160 rushing yards this year.
Overall, Hickory leads the county in total offense, averaging 440.7 yards per game. The Hornets are No. 2 in scoring offense at 44.7 points per game. Defensively, Hickory holds opposing quarterbacks to 3.5 yards per pass attempt, second-best in the county. Overall, Hickory's 3-4 alignment limits opposing offenses to 3.1 yards per play, which also ranks second in the area.
Hickory held Slippery Rock to a 1-for-11 effort on third down last week. For the season, opponents are 7 for 37 (19 percent) on third down against the Hickory defense.
Grove City's no-huddle offense will challenge the Hornets, however. The Eagles have executed a county-high 185 offensive plays and average a county-best 19 first downs per game.
Senior quarterback Logan Breese has thrown for 636 yards and seven touchdowns to rank second locally in both categories. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-17 win at Sharon last Saturday night.
Junior wide receiver Anthony Pereira caught seven passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-4 Pereira now leads the county with 310 receiving yards. He and Hickory's Cannone both have four touchdown catches. Pereira is second to Whitehead in receptions, with 16.
Freshman wide receiver Gavin Lutz ranks third in the county with 14 receptions. Senior tight end Zack Martin emerged at Sharon, catching a 67-yard touchdown pass. Martin has seven catches for 131 yards, good for No. 7 on the county leaderboard.
Junior running back Curtis Hovis leads the Eagles with 291 yards and sophomore Anthony Nemec has added 156 yards. Both have rushed for three touchdowns. Hovis leads the county with 66 rushing attempts. He's fifth in individual rushing yardage.
Both Henwood and Breese surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for their respective careers last weekend. Henwood has 3,217 career yards and Breese has totaled 3,047 yards.
Hickory bolted to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter September 11 against visiting Grove City on the way to a 41-21 triumph. Iacino caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He returned an interception 41 yards in the third quarter to help sew up the victory. Henwood also recorded an interception.
As quarterback, Henwood completed 18 of 26 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Whitehead added seven catches for 87 yards. Wiesen debuted with 105 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Breese threw for 156 yards on 15-of-31 accuracy. Lutz caught six passes for 37 yards while Pereira had four receptions for 57 yards. Hovis ran for 74 yards and a touchdown. Hickory outgained the Eagles, 372-229.
Hickory has won eight of the last 10 meetings overall. Hickory leads the series 39-30-3. The teams met every year from 1947 to 2009, often as league foes. The teams met in the season finale every year from 1950 to 1970. Grove City's undefeated teams of 1961 and 1969 both closed the season with home wins over Hickory. The 1961 team defeated Hickory, 19-13, while the 1969 squad secured a 20-14 win over Hickory on Halloween night.
Hickory is 17-16-2 against the Eagles at Forker Field. In 1950, the teams had been scheduled to play in Hickory Township, but the game had to be moved to Grove City due to multiple weather postponements. The teams played to a 7-7 tie November 7 in the 1950 season finale. Hickory began its modern era of football in 1945. The Hornets played at Grove City that year, but not against Grove City. Mercer "hosted" Hickory October 19, 1945, with Hickory claiming a 24-2 win. Mercer's modern era also began that year, incidentally.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Slippery Rock at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
Sharon concludes its home schedule Friday night by hosting Slippery Rock in a rematch from the season opener. Both squads are on a short week after falling at home last Saturday night in Region 3 Class 3A action. Sharon committed three second-half turnovers in allowing Grove City to pull away for a 42-17 win at Tiger Stadium. Meanwhile, Slippery Rock had four turnovers in a 45-0 loss to visiting Hickory.
Slippery Rock earned a 27-7 home win September 11 in the teams' first meeting this season. Sharon took a 7-0 lead on the opening possession of the game when Tyvell Richardson caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brett Salsgiver on fourth down. That capped a 14-play, 78-yard drive that consumed nearly nine minutes.
Sharon twice turned over the ball on downs in Slippery Rock territory in the second half. While Sharon could not finish drives with points, the Rockets scored three second-half touchdowns after pulling into a 7-7 tie by halftime.
Sophomore quarterback William Mokel completed 18 of 23 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to seven different men. Junior Brendan Earl caught four passes for 38 yards and the go-ahead score in the third quarter while junior fullback Shane Thompson also had four catches. Thompson led the Rockets with 89 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Thompson also had a sack while Brett Galcik intercepted a pass.
Mokel ranks third in the area with 450 passing yards and 42 pass completions. Senior wide receiver Ethan Plesakov is tied for eighth in the area with 10 receptions. Thompson's 162 rushing yards puts him 10th in the area while Galcik is 10th with 296 all-purpose yards.
Hickory's defense held Slippery Rock to 104 yards and six first downs last Saturday night. The Rockets went 1 for 11 on third down. Ryan Montgomery caught three passes from Mokel, who finished 4 for 13 passing.
As a team, Sharon ran for 197 yards last week against Grove City. Sophomore fullback Labrae Wilder ran for a career-high 72 yards as a feature back in the Tigers' revamped double-wing set. Salsgiver completed 5 of 13 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown pass. Freshman wide receiver Simier Wade caught three passes for 27 yards and the touchdown. Junior wide receiver Ja'On Phillips scored a five-yard touchdown on a reverse.
Phillips ranks sixth in the area with 11 catches and ninth with 297 all-purpose yards. He had six catches for 69 yards in the opener against Slippery Rock. Salsgiver completed 8 of 23 passes for 90 yards against the Rockets.
Slippery Rock ranks 12th in the area in total defense, allowing 395 yards per game. Sharon is 13th, yielding an average of 403.7 yards. Slippery Rock has only one takeaway this season. The Rockets have been penalized only nine times this season, however.
In the last meeting between the teams at Sharon Tiger Stadium, Sharon pulled out a 14-0 win September 13, 2019. Slippery Rock executed 74 offensive plays, picked up 307 yards and 17 first downs, and did not commit a turnover. But Sharon's defense stiffened and kept Slippery Rock off the scoreboard.
The Tigers have won 25 of the 32 all-time meetings. The teams first met September 9, 1988, with Sharon earning a 34-0 home win in Keystone Football League action. Sharon is 13-1 all-time at home against Slippery Rock. The Rockets' lone win at Sharon came September 17, 2004, when Slippery Rock picked up a 35-14 victory.
Saegertown at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
Two programs looking to return to prominence meet in Region 4 action Friday night when Lakeview hosts Saegertown. While both teams currently are 1-2, each program has taken steps forward after struggling in recent years. Lakeview went to overtime last week against defending District 10 Class 1A runner-up Maplewood while Saegertown snapped a 38-game losing streak in the season opener by defeating Cochranton, 13-6.
Reducing penalties and turnovers have been keys for Lakeview this season. Lakeview has been flagged only 11 times this season and the Sailors own a plus-1 turnover margin.
Now in his second full year as the starter, junior quarterback Gavin Murdock has emerged as one of the area's top dual-threat quarterbacks this year as he ranks ninth in the county with 179 rushing yards. His 255 passing yards rank seventh locally. He ran for 134 yards in last week's 30-22 overtime setback at Maplewood.
Senior Kendall Crocker owns 127 rushing yards and a team-leading three touchdown runs while junior Calogano Wilkins (60 yards, one touchdown) has emerged as a backfield option. Senior wide receiver Hunter Miller paces the Sailors with 10 receptions, good for eighth in the county.
Defensively, Lakeview holds opponents to 3.2 yards per carry, the third-lowest figure in the county. Lakeview ranks fifth in the county in total defense, allowing 202 yards per game. Crocker shares the county lead with two interceptions.
Lakeview led Maplewood 22-8 late in the third quarter before the host Tigers rallied for the win. Crocker and Wilkins both had touchdown runs while Lane Barber returned a punt 52 yards to the end zone. Barber also recorded a safety. He caught four passes for 34 yards.
It marked Lakeview's first overtime game since a 7-6 win at Farrell September 15, 2006. Lakeview is now 1-2 all-time in overtime. The Sailors are believed to be the first Mercer County team to play an overtime game. On September 13, 1985, Lakeview fell at Pymatuning Valley, Ohio, in overtime, 17-14. Pennsylvania did not add overtime until 1995.
Saegertown dropped to 1-2 overall last week with a 42-14 loss at archrival Cambridge Springs. A pair of fumble returns for touchdown helped Cambridge Springs take a 35-6 lead by halftime. Saegertown's Jake Reisinger caught a 60-yard touchdown pass and also ran for a one-yard touchdown. He finished with 51 rushing yards while Jaden Reagle paced the Panthers with 96 yards on 15 attempts.
Reisinger leads Saegertown with 157 rushing yards, six receptions and 105 receiving yards. Reagle has added 155 rushing yards.
Saegertown leads the all-time series 17-12. The teams first met in 1977, with Lakeview earning a 22-12 win at Saegertown. The teams met at Lakeview the next year as Crawford County League foes for the first time, with visiting Saegertown earning a 29-7 win. The teams met yearly from 1980 to 2003 as members of the French Creek Valley Conference.
This is the first meeting at Lakeview since October 18, 2002. That night, Saegertown won 35-6. Five years ago, visiting Saegertown forfeited to Lakeview, October 16, 2015.
Sharpsville at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
Sharpsville concludes a three-game road trip Friday night by visiting one of its oldest rivals, Farrell. A Sharpsville victory would pull the Blue Devils (1-2) into a tie for second place in Region 2 with Farrell (2-1).
Sharpsville dropped to 1-2 last week with a 42-0 defeat at Wilmington. Two lost fumbles on the first three offensive plays helped put Sharpsville in an early hole in New Wilmington. Junior fullback Chris Roth led Sharpsville with 67 rushing yards on 14 carries. Sophomore quarterbacks Stephen Tarnoci and Caullin Summers combined to complete 6 of 15 passes for 50 yards.
While Sharpsville stumbled out of the gate on the road last week, Farrell thundered to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter at Greenville. Junior tailback Anthony Stallworth ran for three touchdowns in the first quarter, helping Farrell to a 21-0 lead. Junior linebacker Taidon Strickland returned an interception 65 yards to the end zone, pushing the lead to 28-0.
In the second quarter, quarterback Trian Holden threw touchdown passes to Brice Butler and Kylon Wilson. Holden went 6 of 9 for 100 yards while starting quarterback Christian Hartley completed three of his five attempts, good for 35 yards. Butler and Wilson both caught three touchdown passes.
Stallworth ran for 175 yards on 10 attempts while Brandon Chambers, Jr., added 75 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Farrell finished with 372 offensive yards.
Stallworth ranks second in the county with eight touchdowns and 48 points. He ranks third locally with 362 rushing yards. Sharpsville's Roth ranks 10th in that category with 162 rushing yards. Sharpsville senior halfback Danny Henwood is fourth with 362 all-purpose yards.
Farrell broke open the first meeting between the teams by scoring 28 second-half points, on the way to a 41-0 victory. Farrell scored on its final two possessions of the second quarter, then scored on three straight possessions in the third quarter.
Strickland caught touchdown passes from both Hartley and Holden. Hartley completed 9 of 11 passes for 174 yards. Stallworth ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Henwood caught three passes for 35 yards to help lead Sharpsville.
Sharpsville is the area's least-penalized team, having been flagged only nine times for 57 yards over the first three games. The Blue Devils are 13th in the area in turnover margin, though, at minus-5.
Since 1921, Sharpsville leads the series 19-18-4. The lone meeting between 1944 and 1982 came October 22, 1977. Farrell won at Sharpsville, 3-0. The teams met each year as members of the KFL from 1982 to 1985.
Wilmington at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
Winners of 19 consecutive regular season games, undefeated Wilmington visits Greenville in Class 2A action Friday night. Wilmington aims for a season sweep of Greenville as the Greyhounds opened the season September 12 with a 48-0 home win over Greenville.
That Week One win marked the first of Wilmington's two shutouts this season. The "Hounds Hammer" defense recorded another whitewash last week as Wilmington blanked visiting Sharpsville, 42-0. Wilmington held Sharpsville to 129 total yards on 47 offensive plays. Cornerback Mason Reed intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble while cornerback Ethan Susen also recovered a Sharpsville fumble.
Offensively, senior quarterback Caelan Bender ran for a pair of 42-yard touchdowns and also threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Reed. All three of Wilmington's starting running backs ran for touchdowns. Halfback Susen scored on an 80-yard sprint. Junior halfback Luke Edwards opened the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run and senior fullback Darren Miller added a 47-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter.
Wilmington leads the county in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 6.7 points per game. Wilmington has not allowed a point in the second half this season. The Greyhounds are second in total defense, allowing 148.0 yards per game. Susen shares the county lead with two interceptions.
Offensively, Wilmington averages a county-best 388 rushing yards per game, along with an area-best 10.1 yards per offensive play. Susen averages a county-best 13.3 yards per carry. He ranks second locally with 373 rushing yards and he leads the area with 485 all-purpose yards. Miller is fourth in rushing with 339 yards and Bender has moved into eighth locally with 188 rushing yards. Bender leads the county quarterbacks in rushing yardage.
Thanks to a county-low one turnover, Wilmington leads the area with a plus-5 turnover margin.
Greenville played without starters Griffin Richardson (OT/DE), Caden Loutzenhiser (OLB), Isaac Sasala (RB/CB) and Levi Swartz (RB) last week against visiting Farrell, according to the Greenville Record-Argus. Sophomore Mason Dickens and freshman Malachi Hyde started in the offensive backfield in place of veterans Sasala and Swartz. Dickens ran for 73 yards and a touchdown while Hyde added 39 yards on 10 attempts.
Senior wide receiver Rufus Byler ranks fifth in the county with 12 receptions and ninth locally with 121 receiving yards.
Miller ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries in Wilmington's opening night win over Greenville. Reed caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from Bender while Susen returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.
Defensively, Wilmington held Greenville to minus-3 rushing yards. Byler caught five passes for Greenville. Junior quarterback Jalen Ritzert made his first start that night and completed 7 of 12 passes for 43 yards.
Greenville has not started 0-4 since 2005. An 0-4 start has happened only two other times in Greenville history: 1927 and 2002.
Wilmington leads the all-time series, 21-5. The teams first met October 16, 1998, with Greenville earning a 14-0 home win. Greenville's last home win over the Greyhounds came October 25, 2013 as the Trojans prevailed 41-21.
Mercer at Kennedy Catholic, 11:00 a.m.
Mercer concludes a three-game road trip Saturday by visiting Kennedy Catholic. Both teams look to rebound from road defeats last week. Turnovers plagued Kennedy in its loss at Reynolds while Mercer's offense struggled in a setback at West Middlesex.
Undefeated Reynolds turned each of Kennedy's seven turnovers into points last Friday night. The Kennedy defense, which ranks second locally with eight takeaways, forced four turnovers. Sophomore cornerback Blaze Campbell closed the scoring for Kennedy with an 83-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Senior Matt Jordan intercepted a pass for the Golden Eagles. He also ran for 54 yards and caught six passes for 52 yards and a score. Sophomore quarterback Nick Ondo threw for 105 yards.
Aidan Bright's two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter accounted for the Mercer scoring last week at West Middlesex. The Big Reds held Mercer to 59 total yards and three first downs. Triston Barr and Austin Carothers both recovered fumbles for Mercer.
Both teams struggled on third down last week. Kennedy converted 1 of 10 third-down opportunities while Mercer went 0 for 6. Mercer ranks 12th locally in third down conversions, one place ahead of Kennedy. The two teams hold those respective spots in the area's total offense rankings.
Ondo shares the county lead in pass attempts, with 73. His 318 passing yards rank fifth in the county. Sophomore wide receiver Dajaun Young sits fourth in the county with 14 receptions while senior wide receiver Sky'Ler Thomas ranks second in yards per catch (19.4). Thomas ranks sixth locally with 136 receiving yards. Jordan leads the team with 63 rushing yards and ranks second with eight catches.
Bright ranks third in the county with 32 points. Junior quarterback Ethan Wiley averages 16.6 yards per completion, No. 4 in the county.
Mercer defeated Kennedy in the September 12 season opener, 46-6. Bright scored on two punt returns and also returned an interceptions for a touchdown. He ran for 53 yards and a touchdown. Junior Logan Turton, who missed the West Middlesex game, ran for a game-high 59 yards. Wiley threw touchdown passes to Turton and senior split end Ryan Winner.
Ondo completed 17 of 29 passes for 202 yards in his varsity debut. He threw an 85-yard touchdown pass to Thomas on a hook-and-lateral play. Young caught 10 balls for 66 yards while Thomas netted 110 yards on four receptions. Campbell intercepted a pass for Kennedy.
Mercer leads the all-time series 15-11. Mercer has won four straight games at Kennedy. Kennedy's last home win over Mercer came in the season opener 22 years ago, September 5, 1998 as the Golden Eagles defeated Mercer, 42-6. Mercer is 7-7 all-time at Butala Stadium, including a 7-6 mark against Kennedy. The Mustangs fell to Hickory at Butala Stadium, 40-34, in overtime September 14, 1996.
Mercer seeks its first road win in league play since a come-from-behind 35-33 win August 26, 2017 at Lakeview.