Professor Briggs Week 5 Mercer County H.S. Football Previews
Written by: Billy Splain on Thursday, September 20th, 2018
(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs’ archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK FIVE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Although fall does not officially begin until Saturday, this Friday night marks the halfway point of the regular season for the 12 football teams in the Mercer County area. Eleven of the 12 teams have played at least one region game this season. This week, Grove City (the 12th team) will open its conference schedule against archrival Slippery Rock in the only local region game.
This week’s nine-game schedule features two other all-local games, as well as several intriguing non-conference games.
Grove City at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
Grove City makes the short trip down State Route 173 Friday night for the Eagles’ only road game in league play. While it is Grove City’s league opener, it is Slippery Rock’s second straight region game at home.
Slippery Rock dropped to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in Region 5 play last Friday night when the Rockets dropped a 30-27 decision to visiting Sharon. Slippery Rock led 13-7 in the second quarter before falling behind by halftime, 21-13. The Rockets pulled to within three points twice (23-20, 30-27) but could not complete the comeback.
Junior quarterback Vito Pilosi completed 9 of 14 passes for 153 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes to David Duffalo, Nathan Hyatt and Jacob Shaffer while Kaleb Kamerer returned a fourth quarter kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
Kamerer is the only area player to have returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this season. Kamerer is seventh locally in rushing with 372 yards. He averages 7.9 yards per carry and has eight total touchdowns. His seven receptions also lead the team.
Pilosi ranks fifth in the area in total offense with 613 yards. He is second among area quarterbacks with 258 rushing yards.
Slippery Rock has outscored opponents 69-22 in the second half, including a 35-7 margin in the fourth quarter. The game-clinching 29-yard touchdown run by Sharon’s Jordan Wilson last week marked the first fourth quarter points surrendered this year by Slippery Rock.
Meanwhile, Grove City rolled out to a 41-0 halftime lead last Friday on its way to a 47-31 win over visiting Brashear at Forker Field. Grove City led 47-7 in the fourth quarter before Brashear scored 24 points against Eagles reserves.
Grove City quarterbacks Brady Callahan and Logan Breese combined to complete all 15 of their pass attempts in the win. Callahan went 11 of 11 for 115 yards while Breese completed all four of his attempts for 34 yards. Ten players caught passes in the win. On the ground, eight backs combined for 284 rushing yards. Sophomore Curtis Hovis led the way with 79 yards while Colby Nelson ran for a pair of touchdowns.
Nelson leads Grove City with eight touchdowns and 48 points this season. His 342 rushing yards rank second on the team to senior Tyler Greer, who has rushed for 459 yards. Greer, who also starts at inside linebacker, left last week’s game with an injury. That may create greater opportunity for Nelson and Hovis.
Callahan is third in the county with 651 passing yards. He leads the area in both completion percentage (81.8) and yards per attempt (11.8). Versatile senior wide receiver Logan Lutz is second in the area with 20 receptions.
Overall, Grove City leads the county in scoring offense (50.8 points per game) and total offense (454.0 yards per game). Both Grove City and Slippery Rock are plus-5 in turnover margin this season.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first league matchup between Grove City and Slippery Rock. In 1988, Slippery Rock’s first year in District 10, the Rockets earned a 27-8 victory over Grove City in a Keystone Football League clash. Grove City’s last league win over Slippery Rock came seven years ago. The teams recently played as non-conference rivals in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
Grove City has won nine of the last 12 meetings and leads the all-time series 21-11. The teams have never alternated winners over a three-year period, as it’s been a series of win streaks for each team. The all-time series is below:
|2017||Grove City, 28-0|
|2016||Grove City, 47-6|
|2015||Slippery Rock, 52-18|
|2014||Slippery Rock, 47-21|
|2013||Slippery Rock, 49-21|
|2012||Grove City, 34-14|
|2011||Grove City, 55-0|
|2010||Grove City, 45-16|
|2007||Grove City, 28-17|
|2006||Grove City, 21-13|
|2005||Grove City, 34-31 (2 OT)|
|2004||Grove City, 24-0|
|2003||Slippery Rock, 33-14|
|2002||Slippery Rock, 7-0|
|2001||Slippery Rock, 34-6|
|2000||Slippery Rock, 60-19|
|1999||Slippery Rock, 37-30|
|1998||Grove City, 41-13|
|1997||Grove City, 22-6|
|1996||Grove City, 13-6|
|1995||Grove City, 26-13|
|1994||Grove City, 22-20|
|1993||Grove City, 36-0|
|1992||Grove City, 34-0|
|1991||Grove City, 41-0|
|1990||Grove City, 13-12|
|1989||Slippery Rock, 21-9|
|1988||Slippery Rock, 27-8|
|1985||Grove City, 27-0|
|1984||Slippery Rock, 22-13|
|1977||Grove City, 7-0|
|1976||Grove City, 29-20|
The game can be heard on Oldies Z-104 (WWIZ 103.9).
Sharpsville at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
Mercer County’s top two passing attacks will meet Friday night at Tiger Stadium when 3-1 Sharon hosts 3-1 Sharpsville.
Sharon owns the area’s top passing offense, averaging exactly 200 yards per game. No team has completed (67) or attempted (109) more passes this year than the Tigers. Meanwhile, Sharpsville’s 10 touchdown passes are tops in the county. The Blue Devils also rank second locally in passing yards per game (190.5).
Both teams relied upon their respective running games last week in securing league victories however. Sharon amassed 241 rushing yards in its 30-27 win at Slippery Rock. Sharpsville gained a season-high 264 rushing yards in a 61-6 victory over Greenville.
Sharon quarterback Lane Voytik leads the county in passing yards (792) and total offense (870 yards). In addition to throwing for 175 yards at Slippery Rock, he also ran for a season-high 60 yards in the win. Only a junior, Voytik currently has 3,499 career passing yards. He needs 151 yards to pass Mike Schneider (1999-2001) for third on Sharon’s career list. Schneider is Sharon’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Senior running back Jordan Wilson ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries last week. He also opened Sharon’s scoring by catching a 30-yard touchdown pass from Voytik. Wilson now leads the county with 549 rushing yards. His 68 carries are also tops in the county.
Sharon also features three receivers who are ranked in the top five locally in receptions. Junior C.J. Parchman is third with 19 catches, although he left last week’s game with an injury. Senior tight end Frank Shaffer and junior wide receiver Ty Eilam are tied for fifth with 13 catches each.
Sharpsville jumped out a 7-0 lead last week against Greenville when Kobe Joseph returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Joseph, who announced this week that he will continue his academic and football careers at Harvard, also ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Quarterback Nick Alexander threw three touchdown passes, including two to senior wide receiver Luke Levis. Senior Max Messett also caught a 25-yard touchdown in the win.
Joseph is second in the county in yards per carry (12.0) and is fourth with 54 total points. Alexander ranks second to Voytik in passing yards (734) and is third in the area with a 170.2 passer rating (NCAA formula). Levis is third in the area with 15 receptions and fourth locally with 271 receiving yards.
Defensively, Sharpsville is the only local team to not allow a touchdown pass this season. The Blue Devils lead the county in pass efficiency defense (59.7), lowest completion percentage allowed (33.3) and yards allowed per game (48.5). While Sharon leads the county in several positive passing stats, the Tigers have also thrown a county-high six interceptions this season.
Sharon’s 100 rushing attempts as a team are the second-fewest among the 12 local teams. Sharpsville is 12th in that category with 91 rush attempts as a team.
Sharon pulled out a 21-20 home win last year in the regular season finale by stopping Sharpsville on a two-point conversion with one minute remaining. Wilson ran for 105 yards and a touchdown for Sharon. Joseph ran for 118 yards and a score for Sharpsville.
Sharpsville had won the previous five meetings with Sharon (2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2016). Sharon won all nine meetings during the 1980s (1981-1989). The teams met as Keystone Football League foes from 1982 to 1988. In 1989, Sharon won a Mercer County Athletic Conference inter-divisional matchup with Sharpsville, 59-0. Sharon also defeated Sharpsville, 42-13, in 1992 and then again in 1993, 54-20.
According to Bob Greenburg, the Sharon-Sharpsville series dates back to 1899. Sharon leads the all-time series 51-15-2.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC.
Greenville at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
Two perennial playoff teams will hope that the start of the second half of the regular season will ignite a turnaround after respective rough starts to the 2018 season. Both Greenville (1-3) and Hickory (0-4) opened conference play last week with setbacks. Greenville fell at Sharpsville, 61-6, while Hickory allowed 18 unanswered points to visiting Conneaut in a 26-10 setback.
For Greenville, senior running back Brady Gentile helped pace the Trojans with 80 rushing yards on 12 attempts, including a 55-yard touchdown run. Gentile is sixth in the area with 397 rushing yards. He also ranks second locally in yards per catch (18.1) and his 145 receiving yards are the most for an area running back this season.
Hickory pulled ahead of Conneaut in the third quarter last week, 10-8, on Sam Scarton’s 50-yard field goal and Hayden Gallagher’s six-yard touchdown run. However, Conneaut scored the final 18 points to earn the Region 5 victory.
Injuries have decimated Hickory’s ground game but the season debut of junior Kameron Fisher may have recharged the rushing attack. Fisher missed the first three games of the season but rushed for 103 yards on 11 carries last week. Fisher’s 100-yard outing marked the first 100-yard rushing effort by a Hickory player since Chuck Carr ran for 189 yards against Sharon in the 2016 Class 3A District 10 title game.
Presently, Hickory ranks 11th locally in rushing offense (93.5 yards per game).
Greenville pulled out a 27-26 home win over Hickory in the 2017 season opener. Gentile ran for 103 yards to help lead Greenville. Gallagher completed 12 of 18 passes for 207 yards.
Maplewood at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
It’s a possible playoff preview Friday night in Transfer as 3-1 Reynolds hosts 3-1 Maplewood. After four weeks, it is finally Reynolds’ home opener for the 2018 season.
No team in Mercer County has rushed more often or for more yardage this season than Reynolds. The Raiders are averaging 327.2 yards per game on the ground and have attempted 188 running plays this season.
Sophomore halfback Jordan DeCarmen is fourth in the area with 460 rushing yards while his 9.7 yards-per-carry average ranks third. Junior quarterback Sean O’Hara leads all area signal-callers with 314 rushing yards while senior halfback Tyrese Baker also has 314 yards.
DeCarmen ran for 123 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 20-7 Region 1 victory at Mercer. Baker added 95 rushing yards and also opened the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown. The Raiders finished with 304 rushing yards.
Reynolds has also excelled at stopping the run. The Raiders allow only 3.3 yards per carry and 107.2 yards per game. The Raiders’ pass defense ranks first in yards per pass attempt (3.9), second in yards per game (50.8) and second in pass efficiency defense (71.8). Overall, Reynolds is No. 3 locally in total defense, holding opponents to 158 yards per game.
Last week, Reynolds held Mercer to three offensive yards in the first half and 78 yards for the game.
Maplewood improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 2 play last week with a 36-0 win at Cambridge Springs. Quarterback J.D. McFadden threw for 131 yards and also ran for 60 yards. Sophomore Kaleb Donor ran for two touchdowns and senior Chevy Blake added a rushing score.
This season, McFadden has completed 20 of 32 passes for 571 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has not been intercepted. He also leads the Tigers with 300 rushing yards. Blake has a team-high five rushing touchdowns and 229 yards on the ground. Donor is third on the team with 130 yards and three touchdowns.
Donor and fellow linebacker Bryan Kelly lead Maplewood with two sacks each.
Maplewood’s lone loss this year came in Week Three, a 41-27 home setback to West Middlesex. That night, the Tigers yielded 461 total yards, 22 first downs and nearly 30 minutes of possession time to West Middlesex.
This is the first meeting between the teams since August 30, 2013, when Reynolds secured a 41-7 home win. Maplewood last defeated Reynolds October 9, 2009, 12-7, in Transfer.
Cambridge Springs at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
It’s a rematch of the 2017 District 10 Class 1A championship game Friday night as undefeated Farrell hosts Cambridge Springs. Farrell (4-0) remains the No. 1 team in Pennsylvania in Class 1A, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Last Friday night, Farrell opened Region 1 play with a 40-0 triumph at previously-undefeated West Middlesex. Farrell bolted to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. Defensively, Farrell held West Middlesex to five first downs and 106 offensive yards. Farrell leads the area in scoring defense (10.2) and takeaways (11) this season.
Offensively, senior quarterback Kyi Wright ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns while also completing 9 of 14 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Senior tailback Christian Lewis ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, marking his fourth straight 100-yard game to open the season. Senior wide receiver Jourdan Townsend caught eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
All three senior standouts rank among the area leaders statistically. Lewis is second with 511 rushing yards while Wright ranks second with 726 total offensive yards. Wright also leads the county with 10 touchdown passes. He is the county’s top-rated passer with a 222.7 rating.
Townsend leads Mercer County in total touchdowns (11), points (68), receptions (25) and receiving yards (361).
Cambridge Springs has been blanked in each of the last two weeks. Last week, the Blue Devils fell to Maplewood, 36-0. Two weeks ago, Mahoning County (Ohio) power Berlin Center Western Reserve earned a 48-0 win at Cambridge Springs.
Cambridge Springs’ lone win came in Week Two when the Blue Devils downed archrival Saegertown, 32-8. Chase Schultz ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns while Jared Taylor added 100 yards and a score.
Farrell swept both meetings with Cambridge Springs in 2017. The Steelers won the D-10 title game, 52-27, after charging to a 46-7 halftime lead. Lewis ran for 225 yards and three touchdowns while Townsend caught two touchdown passes. Townsend also returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Farrell pulled out a 20-13 regular season win October 13 at Paulekas Stadium over the Blue Devils. Both teams averaged less than four yards per play in the game (Farrell 3.9, Spa 3.3). Lewis ran for a game-high 98 yards.
Cochranton at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
Another District 10 playoff rematch will be held Friday night a few miles south of Farrell as West Middlesex hosts Cochranton. Both teams are aiming to rebound from home league losses in Week Four. West Middlesex fell to 3-1 with a 40-0 setback to visiting Farrell. Meanwhile, Union City pulled away from host Cochranton for a 63-36 win. Cochranton surrendered 433 rushing yards in that defeat.
West Middlesex’s multi-dimensional offense will aim to produce similar numbers this week. The Big Reds feature senior fullback Clayton Parrish, who leads the county with nine rushing touchdowns this season. His 492 rushing yards rank third in the county. For his career, Parrish has 2,877 yards and needs 123 yards to become West Middlesex’s third all-time 3,000-yard rusher. Eric Lucich (2011-14) holds the record with 3,798 yards while R.J. Bowers (1989-91) ran for 3,264 yards.
Parrish is also ninth this season in the county with 492 yards of total offense, one spot ahead of teammate Jake Bowen. Bowen has thrown for 312 yards and also rushed for 167 yards. Senior wide receiver Kaz Hoffman has eight catches for 141 yards and a score. He ranks fourth in the area in yards per catch (17.6).
Former West Middlesex offensive coordinator Joel Murray is in his second season as Cochranton head coach. Last week, the Cardinals’ spread attack generated 356 yards and a season-high 36 points. Senior quarterback Kohl Bernarding threw for 157 yards on 8-of-12 passing and also rushed for 53 yards and three scores. Senior running back Curtis Freyermuth ran for a season-high 111 yards.
Bernarding has thrown for 560 yards this season. He threw for 222 yards in a 35-28 setback at Maplewood in Week Two. That night, the Cardinals nearly rallied from a 28-8 halftime deficit.
Garrett Long leads Cochranton with 13 receptions for 177 yards.
West Middlesex topped Cochranton in the opening round of the 2017 playoffs, 16-2, after trailing 2-0 at halftime. Parrish ran for 114 yards and a pair of two-point conversions. Zach Long, who is back at right guard this year, ran for 66 yards in last year’s postseason clash. Defensively, West Middlesex held Cochranton to nine first downs and 110 yards. Bernarding did not play due to injury.
Parrish ran for 220 yards October 6, 2017 in West Middlesex’s 42-8 win at Cochranton. He ran for two touchdowns and also had a 75-yard kickoff return for touchdown. Hoffman caught four passes for 54 yards and a score.
West Middlesex also earned playoff wins over Cochranton in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The Big Reds claimed league wins over Cochranton in 2004 (43-6), 2005 (18-0) and 2006 (49-6). In 2003, West Middlesex defeated Cochranton for the District 10 Class A title, 7-6, in double overtime.
Union City at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.
Mercer and Union City are both Class 1A teams. Both are 2-2 overall. Each team prefers to run the ball. The similarities end there, however. Through the first four weeks of the season, games involving Mercer feature an average of 25.7 total points per game. Mercer ranks third locally in scoring defense, allowing only 12.2 points per game.
Meanwhile, games involving Union City feature an average of 84.3 points per game. The Bears average 35.8 points per game but surrender 48.5 points on average. Last week, Union City pulled away from Cochranton for a 63-36 win.
Mercer opened its Region 1 and home schedules last Friday night with a 20-7 setback against visiting Reynolds. Mercer lost the field position battle throughout the night as the average Mercer drive started at the Mustangs’ 30. Meanwhile, Reynolds started just shy of midfield on average. Mercer also went 1 for 10 on third down.
Senior halfback Brian Shevitz leads Mercer with 223 rushing yards this year. He also leads the team — and county running backs — with nine catches. Sophomore halfback Aiden Bright has 200 rushing yards, along with eight catches. Senior quarterback Dylan Hetrick has completed 61 percent (23 of 38) of his passes this year.
Senior Gavin Henry, a 1,500-yard rusher last year for Union City, ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns last week while Brayden Kinney added 152 rushing yards and two scores. Kinney also caught a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Kinney leads Union City with 507 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Henry, who has missed time with injury, has 346 rushing yards. He missed Union City’s 46-44 overtime win at Eisenhower in Week Two. Kinney stepped into the forefront that night with 338 rushing yards and six touchdowns. His sixth touchdown tied the game at 44 in overtime. He then scored the game-winning two-point conversion.
Union City has won three straight road games, dating back to last season. This is the first meeting between the programs since September 20, 1991, when Mercer won at Union City, 25-0. In 1990, Union City earned a 29-6 win over the Mustangs.
Wilmington at Conneaut (Ohio), 7:00 p.m.
For the first time in six years, Wilmington will head into Ohio as the 3-1 Greyhounds visit 3-1 Conneaut on the shore of Lake Erie. Both teams are coming off one-sided victories in their respective league openers last week. Wilmington blanked visiting Lakeview, 67-0, while Conneaut secured a 46-6 home win over Iroquois.
Wilmington piled up 541 offensive yards while limiting Lakeview to minus-13 yards of total offense last week. Quarterback Robert Pontius completed 7 of 10 passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Cameron Marett caught two touchdown passes and also returned a punt 29 yards for a touchdown.
Marett ranks second in the county with 10 touchdowns and 60 total points. Pontius is third in yards per pass attempt (10.3). Overall, Wilmington is second locally in scoring offense (48.5) and total yards per game (448.2). Wilmington also leads the county with 22 rushing touchdowns. Ten different Greyhounds have rushed for at least one touchdown. Fourteen players have scored a point this year for Wilmington.
The “Hounds Hammer” defense has rounded into form in recent weeks as well. After holding Lakeview to minus-54 rushing yards last week, Wilmington now leads the county in rushing defense (33.8) and fewest yards per carry (1.2).
The Wilmington defense will be challenged by Conneaut’s red-hot offense. The Spartans piled up 494 total yards last week against Iroquois. Halfback Mike Williams ran for 219 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Rylan Davidson added 103 rushing yards and three scores.
Davidson and Williams have both rushed for seven touchdowns this year. Williams leads the team with 493 yards on 42 carries and Davidson has 335 rushing yards. Davidson averages 13.4 yards per carry. Williams ran for 1,489 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017.
Wilmington’s last trip into Ohio came October 29, 2011, when Wilmington walloped Warren John F. Kennedy, 34-6. Wilmington’s last loss in Ohio came September 5, 2003, as Youngstown Ursuline defeated the ‘Hounds, 40-7.
Conneaut began playing a District 10 schedule in 2016. The Spartans are 9-0 at home against Pennsylvania foes in that span. Conneaut’s last home loss to a Pennsylvania opponent came September 22, 2006, when Shady Side Academy claimed a 12-8 win over the homestanding Spartans.
Conneaut is 12-3 against Pennsylvania schools since the start of the 2016 season. The Spartans are Division IV in Ohio nomenclature. Among the teams in Conneaut’s OHSAA region are Girard (Ohio), Hubbard, Lakeview (Ohio), Poland, Ursuline and Struthers. The Spartans will also play Wilmington and Sharpsville later in the season.
Head coach Rocco Dobran is 35-39 in eight seasons at Conneaut. He is 34-20 since the start of the 2013 season.
Lakeview at Seneca, 7:00 p.m.
The first half of the 2018 season has been difficult for both Lakeview and Seneca this season. Each team hopes that Week Five will be the start of a resurgence as the two winless teams meet Friday night in Wattsburg. Lakeview (0-4) has been shut out in each of the last three weeks while small roster size has plagued Seneca (0-3) this year.
Lakeview dropped its league opener last week at Wilmington, 67-0. Meanwhile, Seneca fell at Northwestern, 40-13. Quarterback Wyatt Shaffer ran for 152 yards for Seneca. He ran for one touchdown and also threw a touchdown pass.
Shaffer leads the Bobcats with 181 rushing yards and 162 passing yards. Lane Barber leads Lakeview with 100 rushing yards.
Both teams feature first-year head coaches. Lakeview promoted Bill Hickman to head coach. Scott Bollheimer replaced Dave Frank as head coach after the 2017 season. Bollheimer has coached previously as an assistant coach at General McLane, Fairview, Mercyhurst Prep and his alma mater, Erie McDowell.
Seneca went 9-0 in the regular season last season before falling to Sharpsville in the District 10 playoffs. Seneca went 28-13 over the last four seasons under Frank. Seneca also lost standout quarterback Joey Scarabino and wide receiver Tre Thrower after the 2017 season as both players transferred to Cathedral Prep.
Lakeview looks to stop a 22-game slide Friday night. The longest losing streak in Mercer County football is believed to be 28 games, set by West Middlesex from 1991 to 1994. Lakeview dropped 26 straight games from 1973 to 1976.
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