It may be at least one reason why they’re nicknamed the BIG Reds.
With 6-foot-3, 215-pound Trey Staunch orchestrating an offense anchored by 6-5, 325-pound tackle Trevor Harrison, and with 6-7 high-jumper Jeremy Jancso and 14-foot pole-vaulter Luke Patten as options, West Middlesex High’s football team plays big — literally and figuratively.
And the Big Reds remained one of District 10’s elite single-A squads Friday night following their 21-14 Region 1-A win over Sharpsville.
“This one’s huge right now. We hadn’t beaten Sharpsville since two-thousand-six — that’s a l-o-o-o-ng time, my friend,” said Staunch, who stuck Sharpsville for 117 total yards while accounting for 2 touchdowns.
The mid-season showdown was a rematch of last season’s D-10 title tilt, which Sharpsville secured, 21-13, en route to the PIAA Final Four.
“We talked about it last year,” Staunch recalled. “We went to the District 10 championship with these guys, and we knew as soon as we got to the locker room when we came up short, we knew that we had to step up, and this is the year, right here.”
West Middlesex (4-0, 5-1) mustered a 21-0 margin midway through the 3rd quarter before Sharpsville surged back on Bryan Stafford-to-Tyler Luchey scoring strikes of 9 and 25 yards — both of which occurred on 4th-down plays.
However after the 2nd score, with 2:12 remaining, a botched on-side kickoff attempt required the Big Reds only to gain 1 victory-securing 1st down. And on a 2nd-and-12 play-action pass from the Blue Devils’ 47-yard line, Staunch’s 16-yard strike to Eric Lucich filled the bill.
“Eric Lucich, man, he got free, he burned one guy, and I just had to put it on the money, and I did,” said Staunch, who stroked a 10-for-12, 93-yard passing performance.
The Blue Devils dominated the 1st frame, running 17 plays from scrimmage to West Middlesex’s lone 3-and-out series. However a pair of fumbles sabotaged Sharpsville.
“The turnover factor for us is what’s been killing us this year,” said Sharpsville skipper Paul Piccirilli. “When you have the ball eight-and-a-half minutes the first quarter and you come away with nothing, that killed us. Once again, it was two turnovers that turned into two touchdowns, and that’s definitely the biggest difference in the game.”
An air-balled center snap to Stafford on a 3rd-and-7 play from his own 34 was recovered by Middlesex’s Michael Gladysz. Seven plays later Austin Mirizio swept left end from 12 yards out with 8:36 remaining in the 2nd stanza.
On the ensuing kickoff Luchey was stripped and Sage Pope recovered at Sharpsville’s 35-yard line. Though the Big Reds did not cash in on that turnover, it enabled them to play keepaway from Sharpsville’s ball-control offense.
Ultimately West Middlesex coerced a punt. And with Staunch striking Jancso, Dillon Fair and Pope for gains of 17, 11 yards and 10 yards, respectively — the latter on a 4th-and-5 from the 11 — Staunch scored from over the right side with 59 ticks to play. His 2nd PAT moved Middlesex to a 14-0 margin at intermission.
The Big Reds roared to a 21-0 lead with 5:06 remaining in the 3rd quarter after another Sharpsville punt. Staunch’s second 1-yard score culminated a 6-play, 64-yard, 2-minute, 35-second series.
Sharpsville’s wing-T offense is based on a balanced running game, but faced with a 3-score deficit the Blue Devils did not cave. After attempting only 1 first-half pass, Stafford struck West Middlesex for a 10-for-17, 98-yard aerial attack, with Luchey latching on to 7 of those for 77 yards.
“At halftime we told them, ‘Hey, we have nothing to lose. We’re in the playoffs, hopefully we’ll see ’em again, so go out there and just play loose.’ We did and it was a different team,” Piccirilli related. “I think we learned something as a staff with our team, and I’m sure they did because now they know they can compete, and that’s all we ask of the kids.”
The Victory Bell tolled as Middlesex mentor Jason McElhaney mused, “I knew there was going to be an adjustment period. It’s just really difficult for us to simulate — especially with a team that good — it’s really difficult to simulate what they’re gonna do, based on film. The speed of the game’s always gonna be a little bit faster, and they’re good — that’s a good defense. (The Blue Devils) gave us a lot of looks, things we had to adjust to, and the kids finally adjusted and we had a nice, little run there.”
In addition to the humungous Harrison, Jared George, Caleb Cathcart, A.J. Barris, Vince Destefano and tight end Fair (along with fullback Lucich) paved paths for Patten, who produced a game-high 19-carry, 84-yard performance. Collectively, the line for West Middlesex weighs in approximately 1,400 pounds.
After an opening-week 13-10 setback to Wilmington, McElhaney made the move of placing Staunch under center, thereby replacing Jancso, who quarterbacked the Reds to 7 wins and the 2011 D-10 title tilt.
“We just felt like they both make the positions better in their own way,” McElhaney related. “Jeremy going out there, that’s so incredibly unselfish for a guy who is a three-year starter and a thousand-yard passer back-to-back. He went out there and makes us better at receiver, and Trey gives us a little added dimension of running. He’s adapting and growing up real fast and doing a nice job.”
Middlesex may meet Sharpsville (4-1, 5-1) again in about 6 weeks.
“This is a big confidence-builder for us, even though we lost,” Piccirilli said. “We’ve got two tough games in a row, we’re gonna battle for the number-two seed — and sometimes that’s the best seed out of all of ’em — so that’s what we’re goin’ for.”
“It’s possible, you never know. There’s a lot of football to be played, a lot of things that could happen,” a smiling McElhaney mused, adding, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re fortunate enough to get there and we see them on the other side of the field. They’re a tremendous football team, well-coached, and they play hard.
“It’s just great, high school kids going at it (Friday) night, and it’s just fun to watch,” McElhaney concluded.
SHARPSVILLE 0 0 0 14 14
MIDDLESEX 0 14 7 0 21
WM — Mirizio, 12 run (Staunch kick)
WM — Staunch, 1 run (Staunch kick)
WM — Staunch, 1 run (Staunch kick)
S — Luchey, 9 pass from Stafford (Pagliaroli kick)
S — Luchey, 25 pass from Stafford (Pagliaroli kick)
16 First downs 13
135 Rushing yards 125
98 Passing yards 93
18-10-0 Att-comp-int 12-10-0
233 Total yards 208
2-2 Fumbles-lost 2-0
8-55 Penalties-yards lost 5-29
Rushing: SHARPSVILLE — Llewellyn 8-55, Pagliaroli 11-39, Odem 11-35, Stafford 11-16, Williams 1-8; WEST MIDDLESEX — Patten 19-84, Staunch 8-24, Mirizio 1-12, Lucich 2-5, Team 1-(-13).
Passing: SHARPSVILLE — Stafford 18-10-0, 98; WEST MIDDLESEX — Staunch 12-10-0, 93.
Receiving: SHARPSVILLE — Luchey 7-77, Pagliaroli 2-17, Llewellyn 1-4; WEST MIDDLESEX — Jancso 4-38, Pope 2-16, Lucich 1-16, Fair 1-11, Mirizio 1-8, Patten 1-4.
It may be at least one reason why they’re nicknamed the BIG Reds.
Hickory softball ousted by Warren; Reynolds, Sharpsville games postponed
Three District 10 semifinal playoff softball games were on the schedule Thursday, but only one was played due to the scattered storms that passed through western Pa.
Hickory suffered a 10-0, 6-inning loss to Warren in a D-10 Class AAA game at Allegheny College in Meadville. That game had a rain delay, but was able to be completed. The Reynolds vs. Saegertown game at Allegheny College and the Sharpsville vs. Iroquois game at Penn State-Behrend in Erie were postponed.
Playoffs: GC, Hounds win; Reynolds, Sharpsville softball advance
The District 10 playoffs kicked off on Tuesday for 4 area baseball teams and 5 softball squads.
In Class A softball, Reynolds edged West Middlesex, 5-4, in an 8-inning thriller while Sharpsville ousted Rocky Grove, 5-0. In Class AA, Northwestern beat Wilmington, 9-5, and Harbor Creek defeated Mercer, 4-3.
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.
- More Sports Headlines
- Hickory softball ousted by Warren; Reynolds, Sharpsville games postponed