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A Sneak Peek at Mercer County Football

Written by: on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

         Over the years, District 10 in general and Mercer County in particular have established a proud tradition for producing outstanding football teams, and the 2008 season should follow in those same footsteps.
     Here is a close-up look at how those teams fare as they prepare for the upcoming 2008 campaign:

REGION 1-A
FARRELL
Head Coach: Jarrett Samuels
Key Returnees: Danny Odem (QB), Malcolm Hailstock (RB), Donte Pinkins (RB), Dion Elam (WR), James Strojier (OL-DL), Terry Perfilio (OL-DL).
Samuels on the Steelers: “You can expect to see us come out and play hard like we did last year and be well-disciplined. One thing we are going to try and do is become more explosive on offense. Last year our defense was one of the best in District 10 and this year we are looking for our offense to get to that point as well.”
Samuels on the Region: “Last year nobody knew about us and we were able to sneak up on everybody. But this year, we have a bullseye on our backs. Linesville is going to be strong, Sharpsville is going to be strong, West Middlesex is going to be strong and I wouldn’t count out Mercer either because they have most of their linemen back. I think it (the region) is going to be very competitive this year. I believe that whoever makes it out of our region has a real good chance of winning the district championship.”
KENNEDY CATHOLIC
Head Coach: Joe Kenneally
Key Returnees: Marlon Davis (senior TB-DB), Matt Luce (senior DE-TE), Richard Ellebie (junior FB-LB), Jay Leipheimer (senior G-LB), Bryan Sundy (senior OT-DT).
Kenneally on the Golden Eagles: “The kids have worked real hard since November in the weight room and I think we are going to come out and surprise some people. We got bigger, we got stronger and we got faster. Hopefully we’ll be able to take it to a few of those people that took it to us last year.”
Kenneally on the Region: “I was at the rules interpretation meeting and found out that West Middlesex has the same numbers as we have, Sharpsville has the same numbers as we have, Conneaut Lake is struggling for numbers so I think it is going to be anybody’s ball game. Every week is going to be a battle. I personally don’t think there is one team that is head-and-shoulders above everyone else.”

LAKEVIEW
Head Coach: Dan Yorks
Key Returnees: Kyle Scott (junior TB-FS), Jordan Damko (senior QB), Nick Paremuha (senior LB-FB), Jake Novak (sophomore LB–FB), Cory King (senior G-T)
Yorks on the Sailors: “We lost some good kids from last year, some of them were two and three-year starters. But we have some talented young kids coming back, but they need to step up their game because they can’t rely on the older kids. Cory (King) is the anchor for everything, but again, the young kids are going to have step up because now it is their turn to play instead of sitting on the sidelines watching.”
Yorks on the Region: “It really perplexes me because Cochranton which is seven miles up the road (from Lakeview), but now they are going to be playing in the North region. Our region has always been a tough region since it was established a few years ago. When you have teams like Farrell, West Middlesex and Sharpsville which are three quality teams, it makes things tough. Linesville is right there as well.”

MERCER
Head Coach: Pat McClearn
Key Returnees: Nick Nan (senior G-DE), Ray Dominguez (senior C-DT), Andrew Erdos (junior QB-LB), Josh McGinnis (senior LB-TE)
McClearn on the Mustangs: “We have a number of kids coming back and most of them are on the front line. Four of our five up front are back and our quarterback also returns which is the good news. The bad news is that we lost both of our running backs and both of our starting receivers so we are going to be young there. We do have some kids who saw some playing time behind Justin (Angermeier) and Mike (Peters), but right now, it is a battle between six kids and we need someone to step up.”
McClearn on the Region: “From top to bottom, the region should be as tough as it has always been. Farrell brings back a lot of guys and they really hit their stride at the end of last year. They (Farrell) have a lot of skilled players coming back and they really gave us a lot of problems last year. West Middlesex has a lot of good players coming back and Jason (McElhaney) does a good job with those kids and Sharpsville played a lot of young kids last year and they always have a good team down there and are hoping to get in there and battle as well. But top to bottom, it is going to be tough and it should be an interesting year.”

SHARPSVILLE
Head Coach: Paul Piccirilli
Key Returnees: Josh Taylor (senior HB), Tom Weisen (senior OG-DT), Matty Totin (QB-LB), Justin Dunlap (DE-TE).
Piccirilli on the Blue Devils: “We have 33 guys and this is the lowest number we had because we only have three seniors and four juniors. Basically, we are going to be a team dominated by sophomores and freshmen. They are talented sophomores and freshmen, but inexperience is going to be our number one obstacle and if guys get hurt, we are going to be to a point where freshmen are going to be your backups. The guys we have came all summer, they have done excellent in the weight room, they understand everything we are trying to do so the quicker we can get the experience we now lack so they can grow as ball players, the quicker we will be OK. It is not out of the realm of the possibility after the third game that we might have six sophomores and a freshman starting. As long as we can stay healthy, I think we are going to be able to give everybody a game.”
Piccirilli on the Region: “I see Farrell and Linesville both being tough. Linesville only lost their big fullback and those two teams should be the top two in our region. If you look at the next six or seven teams we have in our region, it is going to be a real battle among those teams for the remaining two playoff spots. I think anybody has a chance, but of those remaining six or seven teams, I think Mercer has a little more than anybody in that group. I think the rest of us will be fighting for one or possibly two spots.”

WEST MIDDLESEX
Head Coach: Jason McElhaney
Key Returnees: Kyle Wimer (junior QB-S), Kyle Allen (senior HB-S), Logan Mihalcak (junior RB-S), Ryan Chupak (junior TE-DE-PK), Jon Jancso (junior QB-S), Nate Ash (junior FB-LB), Kris Mason (sophomore G-LB)
McElhaney on the Big Reds: “We are going to be in the Wing-T offense for the first year and hopefully we will be able to run play action off of it. If we can do that and play good defense, we should be OK. We don’t have a lot of big name stars here, but we think we have some pretty tough kids and we are going to battle you. We have low numbers, but we are going to get after people, play hard physical football and see what happens.”
McElhaney on the Region: “I think the region is going to wide open this year. You can pick any one of five teams and any of them could possibly win the region. I would have to say that Farrell is probably the favorite with the talent they bring back, Mercer is big up front, Sharpsville is going to be improved and Linesville has a lot of players back. If you want to win this region, you are going to have to come and play every week, but that is how it has been ever since they (District officials) put it together.”

REGION 3-AA

GREENVILLE
Head Coach: Brian Herrick
Key Returnees: Nate Houpt (junior WR), David Holiga (junior QB), R. J. Malson (Junior RB), Tyler Malson (senior RB), Dane Parks (senior T), Andy Bayer (senior WR)
Herrick on the Trojans: “The kids have worked very hard in the off-season. We lost a lot of seniors (20) last year so we don’t have a lot of starters coming back both offensively and defensively. But the younger kids have worked very hard and we had a good junior varsity team last year so we are hoping that those kids can step up and fill the shoes of the guys who are no longer here. I played and coached under former coach (Bob) Stone so we are going to use a lot of the same schemes. We are trying to take the offense that he incorporated and ‘tweak it to fit what our kids can do. So far, they (Greenville’s players) have done a pretty good job with it.”
Herrick on the Region: “I think the league is going to be stronger because of the additions of Oil City, Titusville and Slippery Rock who is supposed to have a good team. We lose a good in Grove City, but I think bringing those three in more than makes up for the loss of Grove City. Every week you are going to have a tough game so you have to be ready to play each week.”

HICKORY
Head Coach: Frank Antuano
Key Returnees: Ryan Voisey (senior QB), Elrico Jones (junior WR), Andrew Walker (RB), Jake Smith (OLB-WR)
Antuano on the Hornets: “Last year was a huge rush for us. I got hired (as head coach) in June and I didn’t even know the names of some of the kids. It was unbelievable. But this year, we feel much more comfortable, we know what we want to do and more importantly, we know our kids. We have a year in with the off-season and I can be myself (as a coach) this year. I played under a great coach at New Castle and I am trying to bring here what I am used to. I am not worried about all of the other things. I just want to concentrate on these kids. They have worked so hard and have done everything we (coaches) have asked them to do. We have a tough schedule to play, but I think we will be fine. I am looking forward to it (the season).”
Antuano on the Region: “Wilmington is loaded. They are loaded again and going to be fantastic. Slippery Rock is coached by Clyde Conti and they should be real good and Titusville was undefeated for a while last season. Oil City has a new coach and they should be real competitive. Then you have Greenville, Sharon, Reynolds, and Grove City. There are no breaks in this region. It is going to be a real tough battle all the way through.”

REYNOLDS
Head Coach: Jerry Pacifico
Key Returnees: Alan Everson (senior WR), Adam Kays (senior SE), Charles Kirk (sr. TB), T. J. Mahlan (senior SE), Will Ringer (senior G), Kris Zeronas (senior T), Greg Baptiste (junior FB), Dalton Farina (junior TB).
Pacifico on the Raiders: “You can expect to see a team that will come our and play hard, never stopping until the final horn sounds. We hope to have a lot of tenacity to get after people. I have stressed to the kids since day one that we are going to be there for four quarters. We are going to play power football like it was played when coach Amato was here.”
Pacifico on the Region: “Double A is always extremely competitive in Mercer County. There are some great coaches in this county. Coach Bobby Fromm at Sharon is going to bring back a lot of good players who are big and talented and coach Verrelli at Wilmington has some monsters out there. There are some real tough teams out there and we are just very excited to be part of the AA scene in Mercer County and even more excited to be able to go out on Friday night’s and play some football.”

SHARON
Head Coach: Bob Fromm
Key Returnees: Todd Rearick (senior QB), Tom Chavara (senior DL), Dustin Norcross (senior TE-DE), Mike Tomko (senior WR-LB), Ronnie Howard (junior WR).
Fromm on the Tigers: “We have a lot of kids coming back who played a lot of football last year and that is always good. I guess what I am trying to say is that we have some depth. We have an experienced offensive line, our quarterback returns for his third year as a starter, but offensively, we have to find a playmaker. William Altman did a heckuva job for us last year, but he is gone. I think Mike Tomko as a wide receiver is a definite candidate, Ronnie Howard is back, Dustin Norcross along with a new kid Lewis Brown. Defensively we are in a new scheme so it is going to be day-by-day, step-by-step, but aggressive defense and smart offense is hopefully what you are going to see.”
Fromm on the Region: “For us, whether it be single A, double A or triple A, it (district 10) is probably one of the toughest districts in the state. Specifically in Mercer County, AA has recently been one of the toughest leagues in the state. Thirteen of the last 15 years, one of the (AA) teams has been in the western final. It is going to be week-by-week. Wilmington is going be good again, I think Hickory is going to be a better ball club, Greenville is going to be a better ball club so I guess that I am saying is that we have no pushovers.”

WILMINGTON
Head Coach: Terry Verrelli
Key Returnees: Carson Sharbaugh (senior SE-TE), Shane Wagner (senior QB-S), Jake DeMedal (junior QB-CB), Sutton Whiting (sophomore RB-Cornerback), Derrick Burns (junior RB-ILB), Dallas Hartman (senior TE-DT), Clint DeRosa (senior two-way tackle), Matt Wagner (senior SE-OLB).
Verrelli on the Greyhounds: “We obviously lost some big-time players, but we also have some good kids coming back. I would say that half of that (last year’s) team was underclassmen and most of our skilled spots were filled by underclassmen. Chris (Burns) is the only skilled player we lost, but we have some good kids who were in there. Derrick (Chris’s brother) picked up a lot of experience and is going to be a key running back for us along with (Sutton) Whiting along with (Chad) Palladino who will also do some running for us. Shane (Wagner) got some experience last year at quarterback and he is a good athlete with a good arm. Add to those guys Cline DeRosa who has been a four-year starter for us on the line and Dallas Hartman is a big tight end. We have some spots to fill, but the kids are energetic and we feel that we can fill the spots that need filled. It just might take a little time to find out who the guys are that can fill those spots.”
Verrelli on the Region: “It (the region) is a battle every year. I don’t know much exact about some of the teams, but I feel that I will find that out during the season. Sharon should have a good football team, and although I don’t know much about Titusville and Oil City, Titusville made the playoffs last year. Slippery Rock and Hickory always competitive. As I said before, I don’t know exactly what they have coming back, but there are some good football teams out there and it is going to be a battle. All you can do is prepare your own team and hope they can play well on any given night.”

REGION 4-AAA

GROVE CITY
Head Coach: Jeff Bell
Key Returnees: Casey Shay (senior RB-LB), Dwayne Martin (senior RB-DB), Jordan Gruber (senior OL-DL), Nick Delligatti (senior OL-LB), Garrett Herald (senior OL-LB), Jason Ferderber (senior TE-DL), Michael Burk (senior QB-DB). NOTE: Burk broke his foot and will miss 4-6 weeks.
Bell on the Eagles: “We have a good senior class so we have some good experienced kids coming back. We have 14 seniors who we are looking toward for some outstanding leadership, but we also have some younger players who are going to play as well. There are some freshmen who are going to get come playing time for us. There are two ways to look at that. It is great that these kids are getting the opportunity to play, but that means that coming into the season, we don’t really have a whole lot of depth. So far, what I have seen, a number of these kids are going to be able to come, play for us and help us out. Our hope is that eventually it will pay off for us in the long run. We have a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball and we are going to have to rely on them to be a little tougher and play better until our offense comes together and starts to jell.”
Bell on the Region: “There will be some teams in our region this year that we haven’t played before. We haven’t played Erie East and Erie Central and we haven’t played Franklin and Warren for some time. We scrimmaged Meadville in the past and we played Corry in each of the past two seasons so we do have some familiarity with some of our opponents. I liked our chances going into the season, but it is going to be a challenge with our inexperience at quarterback and running back. Any time you lose a kid who started for much of the past two years, especially at quarterback, that means the other kids are going to have to prepare that much harder. It is really going to be a challenge for us.”

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