Less than 11 months ago Sharpsville High secured its 7th District 10 football championship with a win over West Middlesex.
Not much has changed since that Nov. 25, 2011 evening ... or has it?
As the 2012 regular season’s 2nd half commences, the undefeated Blue Devils are ranked among the state’s best Class A clubs. Meanwhile, West Middlesex’s Big Reds are regarded as a possible successor to Sharpsville’s seat at the throne.
And while no championships will be won tonight, the annual Region 1-A rivalry could serve as a precursor to a D-10 title tilt rematch on the 1-year anniversary of last season’s showdown.
(Games begin 7 p.m.)
Sharpsville (4-0, 5-0) at West Middlesex (3-0, 4-1)
While Sharpsville sustained significant graduation losses from last season’s PIAA Final Four squad, the Big Reds return several standouts, including Jeremy Jancso. Unlike last year, though, Trey Staunch serves as the signal-caller, enabling Jancso’s size and athleticism to be employed as a hybrid receiver/blocker for the Reds. Luke Patten produces 7 yards/carry as the primary ball-carrier.
The Blue Devils’ wing-T offense, orchestrated by Bryan Stafford, is predicated on distributing the ball among Derrick Odem (5.4 yards/carry), Ross Llewellyn (6.2) and Joey Pagliaroli (9.5). In last year’s D-10 championship game, Pagliaroli produced a 63-yard scoring sprint, offsetting Jancso’s 1-yard plunge.
While both exhibit speed, the line of scrimmage may be tonight’s tipping point. Since a season-opening setback at New Wilmington (13-10), West Middlesex has manufactured a 967-220 edge on the ground — outgaining opponents 351.4 to 139.8 in total yards on a nightly norm — owing to paths provided by behemoth Trevor Harrison, Vince Destefano and A.J. Barris. And the Big Reds have turned over the ball only a half-dozen times during their 4-game win skein.
Conversely, led by P.J. Campoli, the Blue Devils’ defense has yielded only 13.4 points and 170 yards/game. Specifically in the 2nd half, Sharpsville has surrerendered only 20 points this season.
Middlesex outmuscled Moniteau (27-8), Farrell (38-6) and Mercer (34-13); similarly, so did Sharpsville, 35-0, 35-13 and 26-13, respectively.
Interestingly, in District 10 annals, since 1997 Mercer County claims 14 Class A crowns (Mercyhurst Prep edged Mercer, 21-19, in ’07), led by Sharpsville (6), West Middlesex (3) and Farrell (3).
In addition to last year, the programs met once previously for the D-10 title, with West Middlesex winning in ’06 (35-13).
The game will be broadcast on NewsTalk 790 (WPIC AM), with Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg calling the action.
Wilmington (3-1, 4-1) at Reynolds (3-1, 4-1)
Wilmington will test Reynolds’ resurgence — and run game.
With the possible exception of Grove City, the Greyhounds’ girth at the line of scrimmage will pose the Raiders’ most formidable foe thus far. Grove City outgained the Greyhounds 235-165 on the ground; otherwise, Wilmington has whipped opponents by an aggregate 1,201-445 differential on the ground.
Conversely, Reynolds — also outgained by Grove City’s ground game 151-135 — has run roughshod over its other 4 foes by a composite 1,173-350 margin. But consider: Wilmington will be Reynolds’ initial opponent with a winning record. The Raiders’ 4 wins have occurred against Maplewood, Titusville, Saegertown, Sharon, clubs with a combined 4-16 ledger.
Since ’05, Wilmington has whipped Reynolds 35-0, 60-7, 64-0, 50-0, 43-0, 37-0 and 16-7; however, during the Raiders’ benchmark season of ’05 en route to the PIAA Final Four Reynolds registered a 21-0 rout in the D-10 Class AA championship game.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN 96.7 (WLLF FM), with Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch calling the action.
Farrell (1-2, 3-2) at Lakeview (3-0, 4-1)
The Steelers’ season has been 1 step forward, 2 steps back, and last week’s setback to Sharpsville illustrated that. Farrell fumbles and Ill-timed penalties prevented a 4th-quarter rally from a 9-point deficit. However Dewayne Burns’ blossomed into a go-to back with 142 yards rushing.
Reportedly, the Steelers’ depth will be bolstered by the return of field-stretching speedster Lance Messett and senior tackle Mike Williams, both of whom had been sidelined by knee injuries.
But Sailors’ speedsters Blake Reddick — the area’s 2nd-leading rusher — Zack VanDusen and Zach Bigley have run roughshod over opponents.
Also, the Steelers’ mystique may no longer have an allure over Lakeview. Since a 7-6 double-OT Sailors’ success in ’06, Stoneboro has seen the Steelers stumble as recently as 2010 (20-0), before vindicating that in that season’s District 10 semifinals (34-7).
Last season the Steelers secured a 40-30 win; however, Reddick ran for 165 yards and 2 TDs and Bigley both rushed for a score and passed for a 78-yard scoring strike to VanDusen. Farrell forged a 40-6 third-quarter lead before the Sailors scored 24 fourth-period points.
Ashtabula-Edgewood (4-2) at Brookfield (6-0)
The War Path continued last week, as the Warriors wrecked Western Reserve Academy (58-23). Brookfield has battered opponents by averaging 47.5 points and 401 yards per game, while the Warriors yield only 12.5 and 198.7, respectively.
Brookfield began the week as the 4th-ranked team in OSHAA’s Division 4, and the Warriors’ Ryan Mosora also became the area’s first 1,000-yard rusher, but the Warriors want more — respect.
Brookfield’s namesake, Edgewood’s Warriors, won 23-12 over a club team from Cleveland (Knights), as Riis Smith ran for 83 yards and 2 TDs on 14 totes. He also hauled in a 36-yard scoring strike from Louie Wisnyai, according to The (Ashtabula) Star-Beacon. Smith also picked off a pair of passes.
A week earlier, Dylan McCaleb carried the leather for largesse against Ledgemont for coach Dom Iarocci, who told The Star-Beacon,
“ ... We’ve got Brookfield. They’re the No. 1 team in the state in their region, and it’s going to take a tough effort to stay with them. We’re a little dinged up, but we will play our hardest.”
Mercer (0-4, 1-4) at Conneaut Area (0-3, 2-3)
During the Steeds’ 4-game skid they have been outscored by a composite 108-53 margin.
Conneaut is coming off a 51-12 conquest of Conneaut ... Ohio. Both Elijah Anderson and Hunter Merritt — a sophomore and freshman, respectively — surpassed the century mark in rushing as the Eagles ended with 316 yards on the ground. Merritt mustered a pair of scoring sprints and added a TD toss while working out of the Wildcat formation, while QB Jon Onderko orchested the offense with 54 yards passing, 72 yards rushing and a TD by both air (to Tyler Bartlett) and ground. Bartless blocked a punt, intercepted a pass and also caught 3 passes for 29 yards including a 15-yard TD off a shovel pass, according to The Star-Beacon.
Grove City (3-1, 4-1) at Saegertown (0-4, 0-5)
Saegertown’s season-long suffering continued last week in New Wilmington (49-6), and it would appear the Panthers are primed for another long night against the ’Grovers.
Last week Grove City got by Greenville (19-14) to regain its swagger. The G-men also were bolstered by the return of one of their walking wounded, Harold Price, who posted 112 yards rushing and a 7-yard TD.
While Grove City gave up 41 points in its lone loss to Hickory, the Eagles eased to their 4 wins by permitting only 27 points in those games. Grove City has given up 68 points this season; Saegertown has scored 37.
Greenville (2-2, 2-3) at Titusville (1-3, 2-3)
Aside from a triumph at Tiger Stadium (35-33), the Rockets’ rough road against area clubs continued last week as Hickory humbled host Titusville (38-0). Reynolds (19-6) and Wilmington (32-7) also rolled the Rockets.
Historically, Greenville has garnered some success at Carter Field, and it appears as though the Trojans have turned the corner after an 0-2 start. The Trojans have taken 2 of 3 tilts, losing last week only to Grove City’s 4th-quarter comeback.
Last week against Grove City fleet Tyler Fattman fashioned an 87-yard kickoff return for the Trojans, who toppled Titusville 28-20 last year, 34-6 in 2010, 42-0 in ’09, and 34-0 in ’08. The ’11 and ‘’09 triumphs took place at Carter Field, site of many a meeting between the former Northwest Conference rivals.
Sharon (1-3, 1-4) at Hickory (3-1, 4-1), 1 p.m.
It seems like light years removed, but less than 2 years ago these teams tangled for the D-10 AA title, with Sharon staking its claim to the crown (14-6).
Since that Saturday afternoon in New Wilmington on Thanksgiving weekend, however, the Tigers have tumbled to 13 losses in the program’s last 16 games, including last year’s 43-7 humbling by the Hornets at Tiger Stadium.
The matinee matchup may be detemined simply by how well Sharon can contain DeShawn Coleman and, conversely, how the Hornets handle Sharon signal-caller Jesse Rodgers.
Hornets’ backup quarterback Matt Voytik improved to 3-0 as the starter in last week’s triumph over Titusville, while Mike Nardone nursed his injured ankle.
Union (4-1) at Kennedy Catholic (1-4), 1 p.m.
The Golden Eagles’ lone win has been bracketed by 2 shutout setbacks and a pair of 50-point humblings. Consequently, KC has been outscored 154-51.
Coach Stacey Robinson’s Scotties skewered Laurel (38-19) last week, posting four 40-plus-yard scoring plays, according to The (New Castle) News — Benjamin Young’s 41-yard run, Joe Salmen’s 61-yard toss to Tre Major, and respective 60- and 65-yard punt and interception returns by Wayne Seamans and John Clark. Salmen set up his 3-yard TD run by collaborating with Young on a 47-yard pass play, and the versatile Salmen even kicked a 36-yard field goal. Signal-caller Salmen soft-tossed 8 of 13 attempts for 198 yards and a score.
Since their lone win the Golden Eagles have not scored in 6 straight quarters.
Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.
Less than 11 months ago Sharpsville High secured its 7th District 10 football championship with a win over West Middlesex.
Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title
HARBORCREEK — Hickory High co-head coach Mark Slezak referenced the term “exponential” in explaining the four-fold heart-felt feeling of having a relay team qualify for the PIAA Championships.
That sentiment seemed to summarize Mercer County’s performance during Saturday’s annual District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships.
5 area teams qualify for D-10 baseball playoffs
Five area baseball teams have qualified for the District 10 playoffs — Grove City, Kennedy Catholic, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wilmington.
In the Class A semifinals, Kennedy Catholic faces Cochranton at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern High School. Rocky Grove faces Eisenhower in the other semifinal game.
Hickory, WM boys to collide at D-10 AA Track & Field Championships
For the 2nd time this week, a District 10 track & field team title could be decided by a pair of Mercer County contingents.
Just as Hickory and Grove City girls contested the Class AAA crown Wednesday night, so, too, are the Hickory and West Middlesex boys anticipating vying for Saturday’s AA title.
Roundup: Reynolds baseball tops GC; Sharpsville, Wilmington softball teams win
ä Reynolds 4, Grove City 1 — At Transfer, Neal Engstrom fired a complete-game 3-hitter with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in lifting the Raiders (9-8) past the Eagles (14-6).
Ryan Grace was tagged with the loss for Grove City. He struck out 6 batters, issued no walks and gave up 7 hits in going the distance.
GC girls 3-peat at District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
HARBORCREEK— Some athletes seeded 1st in four events would feel pressure. For Grove City High senior Daniel Jaskowak, it’s an opportunity for name recognition.
“I kind’ve like it. It’s cool, because people know who you are,” related Jaskowak, who won 3 events during Wednesday’s District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory, GC girls collide at D-10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Cliché though that is, it will be borne out today at the annual District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
Hickory High girls — the defending PIAA Class AA titlists — will test the best from the biggest. And the Lady Hornets hope to give as good as they get from the 6-county competition.
Local tune up for districts at Mercer County Invite
There’s a difference between a warm-up and a warning.
If Saturday’s annual track & field invitational is any indication, Mercer County’s contingent issued a warning for the remainder of District 10: This could be a big year in area annals.
Roundup: Grace, GC beat Sharon, 4-0, in 5 innings
With an impending storm blowing in above Johnny Pepe Field time was limited, so Ryan Grace greedily gobbled up putouts.
Grove City High’s Grace gave up only 3 base hits, and the visiting Eagles eased to an abbreviated 4-0, 5-inning win over Sharon Friday afternoon.
HIGH SCHOOL SPRING SPORTS ROUNDUP: County track meet set Saturday at Hickory
The annual Mercer County Track & Field Invitational will be held at Hickory High’s Hornet Stadium Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Competing are all Mercer County teams, Class AAA and AA, as well as Slippery Rock. The meet serves as a warm-up to the District 10 championships set next week at Harbor Creek High.
Roundup: Sharon baseball squad edges Sharpsville, 5-4
It was a tense Tuesday in Tiger-town.
Twenty-four hours removed from a 1-run Region 2-AA loss at New Wilmington, Sharon High’s baseball team could not afford another setback, otherwise its postseason aspirations were alleviated.
Conversely, region pacesetting Sharpsville could have secured the crown with a win, and the Blue Devils dashed to an early 3-0 lead.
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- Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title