ProfessorBriggs.com Mercer County H.S. Football Previews For Week 6
Written by: Billy Splain on Thursday, September 27th, 2018
(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs’ archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK SIX FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
The sixth week of the 2018 regular season features six region games among the seven games on the schedule. Eleven of the area’s 12 teams will face league opponents. In Class 3A, Sharon can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Conneaut. In Class 1A, Farrell and Reynolds would each clinch one of the three available Region 1 playoff spots by securing wins Friday night.
The Class 2A race locally could develop more clarity or become muddled, dependent upon this week’s results.
Hickory at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
One of three undefeated teams remaining in District 10 , Grove City will celebrate Homecoming 2018 by hosting one of its oldest rivals in a Region 5 Class 3A battle at Forker Field. Both Grove City and Hickory are coming off Week Five wins. Grove City opened league play with a 33-7 win at Slippery Rock while Hickory captured its first victory of 2018 by downing Greenville in non-conference play, 35-13.
Last week, Grove City faced a deficit for the first time in 2018 as Slippery Rock jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The Eagles answered with 33 unanswered points, sparked by a defense that forced six Slippery Rock turnovers.
Senior quarterback Brady Callahan completed 16 of 20 passes for 281 yards. Senior wide receiver Logan Lutz caught five of Callahan’s completions for 125 yards while senior fullback Tyler Greer caught four passes. Greer also ran for 58 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Grove City (5-0, 1-0) finished the game with 427 offensive yards.
Defensively, the Eagles held Slippery Rock to 183 yards. Grove City leads the area in takeaways (16) and turnover margin (plus-10). The Eagles are second in fewest yards per play allowed (3.7) and third in total defense (158.4).
Callahan has completed 61 of 73 passes this year, good for a county-best 81.3 percent completion rate. He leads qualified passers in the area in yards per attempt (12.4) and his 215.6 passer rating also ranks second. Lutz leads the county with 461 receiving yards while his 25 receptions are second in the area.
Hickory sophomore Michael Henwood made his first start at quarterback last Friday night in the Hornets’ win over Greenville. Henwood threw for 158 yards on 7-of-12 accuracy and also ran for a team-high 69 yards. Overall, Hickory set season highs in rushing yardage (170), total yards (328) and points (35) in last week’s win.
Versatile senior Hayden Gallagher, who started the first four games at quarterback, ran for a touchdown and also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass. Gallagher, who also snaps for place kicks and punts, played tight end before taking over as the starting quarterback late in 2016.
Senior wide receiver Michael Filardi caught four passes for a career-high 111 yards. Defensively, Hickory (1-4, 0-1) held Greenville to 58 yards rushing. That is the lowest total surrendered by the Hornets since the 2016 District 10 Class 3A title game, when Hickory held Sharon to 20 rushing yards.
The Hornets downed Greenville despite a minus-2 turnover margin. For the season, Hickory is 11th out of 12 teams locally in turnover margin at minus-4.
Hickory has won six straight in the series, dating back to 2009. Hickory head coach Bill Brest is 5-0 against Grove City. Hickory is the last local team to defeat Grove City at Forker Field. The Hornets handed Grove City a 42-6 defeat October 23, 2015. Currently, Grove City owns a six-game home winning streak.
The game can be heard on Oldies Z-104 (WWIZ 103.9).
Conneaut at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.
The other Region 5 Class 3A game Friday night will also be a Homecoming game as Sharon (3-2, 2-0) hosts surging Conneaut (4-1, 1-0) in the first-ever meeting between the program. The winner of Friday night’s game will have at least a share of first place and in Sharon’s case, the Tigers would have sole possession of first with a win.
Both teams played narrow, weather-affected games last weekend. Sharon fell at home to backyard rival Sharpsville, 23-21, on Mike Herman’s field goal with nine seconds left. Meanwhile, Conneaut had to wait until Saturday afternoon to play visiting General McLane due to Friday night’s thunderstorms. Conneaut pulled out a 36-35 double-overtime win over McLane as quarterback Kyle Sheets scored a touchdown, then threw the game-winning two-point conversion to running back Peyton Hearn.
Turnovers haunted Sharon last Friday night as the Tigers lost five fumbles and also threw an interception. The Tigers finished with 340 total yards, including 266 passing yards from junior quarterback Lane Voytik. Voytik went 15 for 31 and threw touchdown passes to both Frank Shaffer and Trey Jones. Shaffer caught six passes for 110 yards while Jones (51 yards) and fellow junior C.J. Parchman (81 yards) had four receptions.
Voytik continues to lead Mercer County in passing yards (1,058), touchdown passes (11), completions (81) and attempts (139). He has also been intercepted seven times. Sharon has a county-high 16 turnovers this year. The Tigers own a minus-8 turnover margin this year after being a combined plus-26 over the previous two seasons.
Parchman is third locally with 23 catches and second with 433 receiving yards. His 18.8 yards-per-catch average leads Mercer County. Shaffer is fourth with 19 receptions.
On the ground, senior tailback Jordan Wilson ranks third in the county with 624 rushing yards. He shares the county lead with 88 rushing attempts.
Conneaut produced a pair of 100-yard rushers last Saturday afternoon in the win over General McLane. Hearn ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns while Sheets had 105 yards and three touchdown runs.
Hearn ranks second in District 10 with 908 rushing yards. He has rushed for 10 touchdowns. Hearn ran for 268 yards and five touchdowns at North East in Week Three. In the Region 5 opener at Hickory, Hearn ran for 225 yards in Conneaut’s 26-10 triumph.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Sheets has 13 rushing touchdowns, along with 635 rushing yards. He leads D-10 quarterbacks in rushing yardage. As a team, Conneaut averages 348.4 rushing yards per game. Sheets has also thrown for 335 yards. Tight end Noah Richardson leads the Eagles with 11 receptions for 168 yards.
Conneaut opened the season with a 46-27 home loss to Oil City as the Eagles yielded 460 rushing yards. Head coach Pat Gould is in 14th season as a head coach. He coached at Linesville before being appointed Conneaut coach after consolidation.
In 2012, Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Valley and Linesville High Schools merged into Conneaut High School. It has been 18 years since one of those schools played at Sharon Tiger Stadium. In 2000, Linesville fell to Kennedy Christian, 40-15, in the District 10 Class A semifinals in Sharon.
West Middlesex at Reynolds, 7:00 p.m.
Reynolds (3-2, 1-0) looks to maintain at least a share of first place in Region 1 Class 1A Friday night when the Raiders host West Middlesex (4-1, 0-1) in a pivotal league battle.
While last week’s stormy weather affected all of the local teams in some manner, no team suffered more of an adverse effect than did Reynolds. The Raiders led Maplewood 18-7 in the first quarter before thunderstorms moved through Transfer. After a lengthy delay, Maplewood outscored Reynolds 20-0 over the remainder of the game.
Reynolds held a 386-209 edge in total offense and also recorded a defensive touchdown on Hunter Thompson’s 42-yard interception return for touchdown. The Raiders turned over the ball three times, however, and also committed 11 penalties for 110 yards.
Two Reynolds backs went over the 100-yard mark as Tyrese Baker gained 124 yards and Jordan DeCarmen added 105 yards. Quarterback Sean O’Hara went 6 of 9 for 78 yards, along with a touchdown pass to tight end Chance Westover.
DeCarmen, Baker and O’Hara have formed the area’s most productive three-back trio this year. DeCarmen is fourth in the area with 565 rushing yards while Baker ranks 10th with 438 yards. O’Hara leads local quarterbacks with 320 rushing yards. The Raiders average 323.4 rushing yards per game this season. No team has executed more rushing plays than Reynolds (244) this year.
While Reynolds features several backs in its power spread attack, West Middlesex boasts the area’s second-leading rushing in senior fullback Clayton Parrish. Parrish has rushed for 645 yards and shares the county lead with 10 touchdown runs. He ran for 153 yards in West Middlesex’s 33-0 win last week over Cochranton.
Parrish went over the 3,000-yard mark for his career and now has 3,030 total rushing yards. Eric Lucich (2011-14) holds the school record with 3,798 yards while R.J. Bowers (1989-91) ran for 3,264 yards.
Junior halfback Zeb Rubaker also ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass from Jake Bowen in last week’s win. Bowen also threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Kaz Hoffman. Hoffman leads the Big Reds with 10 catches for 165 yards.
Defensively, the Big Reds held Cochranton to six first downs and 109 offensive yards while recording the team’s second shutout of the season. It’s the first time since 2006 that West Middlesex has posted multiple shutouts in the same season. West Middlesex limits opponents to 3.5 yards per carry, which is fourth-best in the county.
This is the first meeting between the teams since 2015. Reynolds earned a 42-19 home win that season. West Middlesex won the 2014 meeting, 34-6, on the Big Reds’ home turf.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
Mercer at Farrell, 7:00 p.m.
Having outscored its last three opponents 173-6, the Farrell Steelers return to Region 1 action Friday night by hosting Mercer at Paulekas Stadium. Farrell, the state’s No. 1 Class 1A team in the Harrisburg Patriot-News poll, will clinch a playoff berth with a win. Meanwhile, Mercer (2-3, 0-1) can bolster its playoff hopes by winning on the road.
Farrell improved to 5-0 last Friday night with a 63-0 win over visiting Cambridge Springs in a rematch of last year’s District 10 title game. Senior tailback Christian Lewis ran for 213 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Kyi Wright ran for two scores. Farrell finished the night with 473 offensive yards.
Defensively, Anthony Jackson returned both an interception and a fumble for a touchdown. He became the first local player with two non-offensive touchdowns in the same game since Warren Nixon and Ziyon Strickland both achieved the feat for Sharon last year at Lakeview in Week Eight. Nixon returned two fumbles for scores while Strickland returned two punts to the end zone.
Farrell leads the county in scoring defense, allowing 8.2 points per game. The Steelers have allowed only six offensive touchdowns and 41 total points. Individually, Lewis, Wright and senior wide receiver Jourdan Townsend have each outscored the opposition. Townsend has 11 total touchdowns for 68 points. Lewis has scored 10 touchdowns while Wright has accumulated 42 points on six touchdowns and three two-point conversions.
Lewis leads the county with 724 rushing yards while Townsend tops the area with 28 catches. His nine touchdown receptions also lead the area. Wright leads the area with a 217.1 passer rating (NCAA formula). He has 10 touchdown passes and is the only regular starting quarterback to have not thrown an interception this season. Wright has accounted for a county-best 16 total touchdowns.
Mercer scored a season-high 33 points last Friday night in a 44-33 setback to visiting Union City in non-conference action. Mercer took a 20-16 lead early in the second quarter on Aiden Bright’s 69-yard kickoff return for touchdown. However, Union City broke open the game with 28 unanswered points.
Bright led Mercer with 59 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 35 yards. Fellow halfback Brian Shevitz had 53 rushing yards and two scores.
Shevitz leads Mercer with 276 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season. Bright has added 259 yards while fullbacks Andrew Weinel (133) and P.J. Boggs (59) have combined for 192 yards. Shevitz has a team-high 13 catches while Bright has caught 11 passes. Senior split end Zach Previty averages 16 yards per catch on his eight receptions.
Mercer has allowed its last two opponents, Reynolds (304) and Union City (311) to rush for over 300 yards. Over the first three weeks of the season, Mercer held the opposition to 92.7 rushing yards per game. Mercer still ranks seventh locally in total defense, holding opponents to 258.0 yards per game. The Mustangs are tied for third with 11 forced turnovers as well.
Mercer has outscored opponents 32-0 in the fourth quarter this year. Farrell has outscored the opposition 56-0 in the second quarter and 32-0 in the third quarter.
This is the first meeting since 2015, when Farrell picked up a 36-0 win at Mercer. Farrell has won two straight meetings in the series. Mercer’s last win in the series came October 25, 2013 when the Mustangs secured a 26-15 win at Farrell. That marked Mercer’s third straight win in the series.
The two programs competed against each other in District 7’s Tri-County North A from 1986 to 1989 before being reunited earlier this decade in Class A play.
Wilmington at Greenville, 7:00 p.m.
Surging Wilmington (4-1, 1-0) heads north to face Greenville (1-4, 0-1) in a Class 2A clash at Stewart Field. It is a rematch of the 2017 District 10 title game, a game in which Wilmington rallied from a 13-0 hole for a 31-13 win.
Wilmington earned its third consecutive victory last Friday night by rolling to a 55-14 win at Conneaut, Ohio. The “Hounds Hammer” defense short-circuited Conneaut’s explosive offense by holding the Spartans to 15 rushing yards and 119 yards on a mere 26 plays. Safety Cameron Marett helped highlight the effort by returning an interception for a touchdown.
Offensively, Marett ran for a game-high 116 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Robert Pontius added 82 rushing yards and a score. Ethan Susen and Darren Miller also ran for touchdowns in the win. Pontius completed 7 of 9 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns as split end Junior McConahy and fullback Noah Hunt both caught touchdowns. McConahy also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Marett leads the county with 12 touchdowns and 72 total points. His 457 rushing yards rank eighth in the area while Susen leads the area in yards per carry (10.9). Wilmington owns the county’s top scoring offense (49.8), rushing attack (328.4 yards per game), total offense (449.8) and rushing defense (30.0).
Wilmington has outscored its opponents 79-0 in the first quarter this season.
Greenville battled Hickory to a 7-7 halftime tie last Friday night in Hermitage. However, Hickory outscored the Trojans 28-6 in the second half, sending Greenville to defeat. Halfback Brady Gentile ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. He also completed 5 of 7 passes for 59 yards and a score. Blair Paxton caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Gentile shares the county lead with 88 rushing attempts this season. His 461 yards rank seventh locally. Greenville has committed a county-low three turnovers this season.
Wilmington rallied for a 14-6 win in the regular season last year at Greenville. Marett caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Pontius with 2:36 left in the game to give Wilmington a 7-6 lead. Pontius sealed the victory with a 31-yard touchdown run at the 1:09 mark. Pontius led Wilmington with 53 rushing yards. Marett intercepted two passes. Gentile paced Greenville with 44 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts.
In the District 10 title game, Marett’s four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put Wilmington ahead to stay, 17-13. Gentile ran for 61 yards and also had three catches for 66 yards.
Wilmington has won 13 of the last 14 meetings in the series. Greenville prevailed four years ago, 41-21, snapping Wilmington’s nine-game win streak in the series. Greenville’s previous win over Wilmington came September 24, 2004, 20-10.
Sharpsville at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.
Two Class 2A teams coming off harrowing last-second victories last Friday night will meet in Stoneboro this week as Lakeview (1-4, 0-1) hosts Sharpsville (4-1, 1-0). Lakeview broke through last Friday night by pulling out a 23-18 win at Seneca as fullback Jared Alcorn scored on a touchdown run with 15 seconds left. Meanwhile, Sharpsville nipped host Sharon, 23-21, on Mike Herman’s 24-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining.
Alcorn ran for a season-high 77 yards and two scores to help give head coach Bill Hickman his first win. Quarterback Kendall Crocker threw for 54 yards and a touchdown while also adding 36 yards on six rushes. Lane Barber caught three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Hickman’s emphasis on discipline also aided the Sailors, who had only one penalty for five yards in the game. Seneca committed 11 penalties, which cost the Bobcats 75 yards. The victory snapped Lakeview’s 22-game slide.
Sharpsville battled through two lengthy weather delays in outlasting Sharon. The Blue Devils led 20-8 after three periods but struggled in the fourth quarter after the second weather delay.
Senior fullback Kobe Joseph ran for 117 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He also returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Sharpsville its 12-point lead. Senior quarterback Nick Alexander completed 15 of 32 passes for 212 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown strike to Max Messett.
Messett finished with four catches for 55 yards while Luke Levis grabbed four balls for 53 yards. Joseph and Joe Bornes each caught three passes.
Levis leads Sharpsville with 19 catches, which also ranks fourth in the area. His 324 receiving yards are also fourth in the county. Messett has 16 catches, placing him sixth on the county leaderboard.
Alexander ranks second in the county with 946 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. He owns the county’s second-best interception rate (2 in 108 attempts).
Sharpsville has won each of the last three meetings. Lakeview last defeated Sharpsville October 3, 2014, 12-6, at McCracken Field. In 2013, Lakeview earned a 19-13 home win over the Blue Devils. That year, Lakeview blanked Sharpsville in the District 10 Class A title game, 27-0.
Slippery Rock at Titusville, 7:00 p.m.
After dropping consecutive Region 5 games at home to Sharon and Grove City, Slippery Rock (3-2) visits Titusville (2-3) for a non-conference game at historic Colonel John J. Carter Field. Both teams are coming off setbacks against geographic rivals in Class 3A play. Slippery Rock fell to undefeated Grove City, 33-7. Meanwhile, Titusville dropped an 8-6 decision Saturday afternoon at Corry.
Six turnovers plagued Slippery Rock last week in the loss to Grove City. The Rockets had ranked among the area’s leaders in turnover margin at plus-5 until last week. Senior running back Kaleb Kamerer helped lead Slippery Rock with 83 rushing yards on 15 carries. He ranks ninth in the area with 455 rushing yards.
Junior quarterback Vito Pilosi ranks sixth with 397 passing yards and seventh locally with 665 yards of total offense.
Slippery Rock has given up an area-high 697 passing yards this year. However, the Slippery Rock defense has faced more pass attempts (91) than any other area team. The Rockets have allowed only four touchdown passes while sharing the county lead with five interceptions as a team.
Slippery Rock has outscored opponents 69-28 in the second half.
Senior running back Parker Harvey leads Titusville with 538 rushing yards this season. Junior quarterback Boaz LaRocque has thrown for 333 yards and three touchdowns. LaRocque has thrown a touchdown pass in each of the last three games for the Rockets, who are led by first-year head coach Bryan Baldwin. Baldwin is a 1993 Titusville High graduate, who had been an assistant coach for the previous eight seasons.
Titusville opened the season August 24 with a 35-6 win over Saegertown. Titusville held the Panthers to 36 yards of total offense. Titusville also blanked Cochranton, 14-0, in Week Three as Harvey ran for 164 yards on 37 carries. In addition to the loss to Corry, the Rockets also lost to North East (55-21) and Mercyhurst Prep (68-19).
Slippery Rock has won the last four meetings in the series, defeating Titusville in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015. Titusville’s last win over Slippery Rock came October 12, 2007 — a 34-7 win at Carter Field. Titusville won at Slippery Rock in 2006, 27-0.
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