Professor Briggs D10 playoff preview
Written by: Billy Splain on Thursday, November 16th, 2017
(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs’ archives, The Herald, D9Sports.com and Erie Times-News)
WEEK THIRTEEN FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Mercer County Statistics
Five Mercer County teams remain alive as the 13th week of the season commences Friday night. All five squads will be in action, with Greenville and Wilmington squaring off in the District 10 Class 2A playoffs. District 10 champions Farrell (1A) and Sharon (3A) both open state tournament action while D-10 5A kingpin Grove City meets District 6 entry Hollidaysburg in what is considered a sub-regional game to get into the state playoffs.
CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Wilmington vs. Greenville, 7:00 p.m. at Slippery Rock University
Two of the area’s most successful programs over the past 30 years will meet Friday night at Slippery Rock’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium. Defending D-10 champion Wilmington looks for its 10th all-time District 10 title while Greenville guns for its first district title in 18 years.
Both teams defeated local foes in last week’s semifinal round. Wilmington blanked Reynolds, 49-0, at SRU. Meanwhile, Greenville posted 22 fourth-quarter points to rally past Sharpsville, 28-14, at Hickory High School.
Wilmington’s Wing-T offense chewed up 357 rushing yards and six touchdowns last week. Starting running backs Cameron Marett, Jack Patton and Bryson Verrelli all ran for two touchdowns each, with Verrelli leading the team with 127 rushing yards. Marett and Patton both ran for 97 each. Verrelli also caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Robert Pontius.
Verrelli leads Wilmington with 825 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He also leads Wilmington with 15 receptions for 261 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Colton Marett, who did not play against Reynolds due to injury but is expected back this week, has caught 13 balls for 214 yards.
Cameron Marett (779 yards) and Patton (729) have helped Wilmington produce the area’s top rushing attack at 287.9 yards per game.
Greenville trailed Sharpsville, 14-6, entering the fourth quarter but forged a 14-14 tie when Cody Tumpak caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Nate Bell and Brenden Calvin caught a two-point conversion. Brady Gentile broke the tie with a one-yard touchdown run with two minutes left. Calvin then sewed up the win with a 25-yard fumble return for touchdown in the final minute.
Bell finished 16 of 27 for 156 yards. Connor Gilfoyle caught a game-high six passes for 64 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Prior to last Friday’s outburst, Greenville owned a zero scoring margin in the fourth quarter of games (56-56) this season.
Gentile has moved into 10th place in the county with 778 rushing yards. Bell is fifth with 1,261 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes. Senior Michael Blaney leads Greenville with 38 receptions for 650 yards and six touchdowns.
Defensively, Greenville owns the area’s third-ranked run defense as the Trojans allow 122.9 yards per game. Greenville allows 3.8 yards per carry, third-lowest in the area.
Greenville nearly handed Wilmington its first loss of the season October 6 but the visiting Greyhounds scored twice in the final 2:36 to earn a 14-6 win at Stewart Field. Pontius hit Cameron Marett on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 2:36 to give Wilmington the lead. Pontius then sealed the win with a 34-yard touchdown run moments later.
Wilmington finished the game with 201 offensive yards while Greenville had 192. Greenville took a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter on a one-yard Gentile plunge.
This is the fifth all-time playoff meeting between the programs. Wilmington defeated Greenville in the 2000 (16-7) and 2001 (28-7) District 10 Class AAA title games. Five years ago, Wilmington pulled out a 10-9 double-overtime win over Greenville in the D-10 Class AA semifinals. Last year, Wilmington earned a 35-8 win over Greenville in the 2A semifinals.
Wilmington is 11-4 all-time in District 10 title games. Wilmington has defeated nine different schools in the title round. The Greyhounds owns two wins each over Sharon (1997, 2009) and Greenville (2000, 2001).
Greenville owns a 4-6 record in D-10 championship games. Greenville’s most recent title game appearance came in 2014, when the Trojans fell to Hickory in the Class AA title game, 12-7. All six title game defeats have come against local teams (Hickory, Sharon, Wilmington twice each). Greenville has title game wins over Sharon (1993), Corry (1996), Grove City (1997) and General McLane (1999).
The winner will play either Clarion or Chestnut Ridge in the state quarterfinals next weekend. The Clarion-Chestnut Ridge game is Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Windber High School.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.
CLASS 1A PIAA FIRST ROUND
Farrell vs. Northern Bedford, 7:00 p.m. at Slippery Rock High School
For the third straight season, the Farrell Steelers have qualified for the PIAA playoffs. Friday night, the Steelers will welcome a relative greenhorn to the PIAA playoffs when Loysburg-based Northern Bedford County meets Farrell at Slippery Rock High School. The Black Panthers (10-2) are making their first state playoff appearance in 22 years.
Farrell captured its third straight District 10 title last Thursday night when the Steelers rolled past Cambridge Springs, 52-27. Farrell charged out to a 33-0 lead in the first half and led 46-7 at halftime. Farrell amassed 454 total yards on 35 plays, an average of 13.0 yards per play.
Junior tailback Christian Lewis ran for a county-best 225 yards in the win. He scored on touchdown runs of 63, 78 and 26 yards, respectively. Quarterback Isaac Clarke opened the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run on Farrell’s first possession.
Clarke also threw a pair of touchdown passes to junior Jourdan Townsend. Townsend added a 34-yard interception return for touchdown — his third interception return for touchdown and sixth overall return touchdown this year. Lewis added 58 yards receiving, giving him 283 yards from scrimmage in the game. That’s the highest total by a Mercer County player this season.
Lewis now has 1,073 rushing yards this season and 1,260 total scrimmage yards. Townsend leads the team with 50 catches for a county-best 1,160 yards. His 20 touchdown catches tie the District 10 record and are a Mercer County record. Clarke leads the county with 27 touchdown passes. He also leads the area in yards per attempt (13.1) and pass efficiency rating (239.8). He has thrown for 1,841 yards, completed 67.1 percent of his passes and has been intercepted only once.
Farrell leads the area in scoring offense, averaging 44.8 points per game. As a team, the Steelers average 10.0 yards per play. Farrell has also committed only 10 turnovers this season.
Northern Bedford rallied for a 17-14 win over Windber last Thursday night in the District 5 Class 1A title game. Quarterback Andrew Foor threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Clouse with 2:28 left in the game to put the Panthers ahead. Josh Dasher then blocked Windber’s field goal attempt on the final play of the game, preserving the win.
Foor threw for 155 yards last week on 8-for-15 accuracy. Dasher caught two passes for 86 yards. He also led the Black Panthers with 44 rushing yards on 20 carries.
Foor has thrown for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Dasher went over the 1,000-yard mark rushing last week as he now has 1,022 yards. He has carried the ball 212 times and has five 100-yard outings this year. Clouse leads Northern Bedford with 30 catches for 392 yards and four touchdowns.
The Black Panthers have held 11 of their 12 foes to 14 points or less this year. Northern Bedford is allowing 9.1 points per game under third-year head coach Garry Black (25-11).
Northern Bedford is 1-2 all-time in the PIAA playoffs. In 1992, the Black Panthers fell to Conemaugh Valley, 21-20, in the Class A first round. In 1995, Northern Bedford downed Ferndale, 21-6, in the first round before falling to Smethport in the quarterfinals, 30-8. Farrell then defeated that Smethport team in the state semifinals, 14-0.
This is the first time that Northern Bedford has played a District 10 opponent since the program started in 1957. The school came into existence that year after the merger of Replogle, Smith and Woodbury High Schools. However, Northern Bedford never had its own home field until 2003. America Online (AOL) co-founder Ken Hunstman, a 1970 NBCHS grad, helped pay for a new stadium in 2003.
Farrell is 12-6 all-time in the state playoffs. The Steelers won Class A state titles in 1995 and 1996 while earning state runner-up in both 1990 and 2015. Clairton is the only team in the have defeated Farrell in the western region (2008, 2009, 2010, 2016) playoffs. Farrell is 8-0 in its first state playoff game of each season. Farrell head coach Jarrett Samuels has 99 victories at the helm.
The winner will advance to the state quarterfinals to face the District 9 champion, either Curwensville or Ridgway/Johnsonburg.
CLASS 3A PIAA FIRST ROUND
Sharon vs. Karns City, 7:00 p.m. at Clarion University
Sharon makes its first trip to the PIAA playoffs since 2010 and will face a perennial PIAA playoff participant in Karns City. Karns City is making its sixth straight state playoff appearance and the Gremlins have advanced to the state quarterfinals in each of those seasons.
Sharon captured the District 10 Class 3A title last Saturday afternoon by toppling previously-undefeated Mercyhurst Prep, 21-14, at Meadville High School. Sharon (8-3) held Mercyhurst’s vaunted offense to 232 yards on 55 plays in the championship game. The Tigers preserved the win by stopping Mercyhurst Prep on fourth down inside the 10 in the closing seconds.
Offensively, junior tight end Frank Shaffer caught a pair of touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Lane Voytik. That duo opened the scoring in the second quarter with an eight-yard scoring connection. Shaffer then scored the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass.
Shaffer leads county tight ends with 25 catches this season. Voytik leads Mercer County with 1,889 passing yards and 139 pass completions. Senior wide receiver Ziyon Strickland has a county-high 66 receptions for 933 yards. He is aiming to becoming the first District 10 receiver to have three 1,000-yard seasons. Strickland is D-10’s all-time leader in receptions (222), receiving yards (3,795) and touchdown catches (44).
Strickland caught seven passes for 86 yards against Mercyhurst Prep. Voytik finished the game 16 of 26 for 153 yards.
Head coach Jim Wildman (247-102-7) also guided Sharon to the state playoffs in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Last week, Karns City (7-4) won its 11th District 9 title in 18 seasons under head coach Ed Conto as the Gremlins throttled Punxsutawney, 42-14, at Clarion University. Karns City amassed 324 rushing yards as both Dalton Beham (121) and Clay Garing (114) went over the 100-yard mark. Beham scored four times in the win, which gave Karns City its sixth consecutive district title.
Karns City averages 318 rushing yards per game. Beham leads the team with 1,154 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns. Garing has added 686 yards. Garing is also Karns City’s kicker, accounting for 41 points (38 of 45 on extra points and a 33-yard field goal). Sophomore quarterback Anthony Kamenski has thrown for 767 yards this season.
Conto is 203-125-3 overall as a head coach and 167-51 at Karns City. He also coached at Allegheny-Clarion Valley. Conto recorded his 200th career win September 30 when Karns City topped Keystone, 58-14.
Sharon’s last state playoff win came in 2001, when the Tigers downed Karns City, 20-13, at Hickory High School in the opening round of the Class AA tournament. Sharon also defeated the Gremlins, 14-7, in 2000 at Brookville High School in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs. In 1999, Sharon downed Karns City, 33-9, in the opening round.
Overall, Sharon is 4-0 against District 9 teams in PIAA play. Sharon is 12-8 in the PIAA playoffs while Karns City is 6-12.
The winner will meet the District 6 champion, Huntingdon or Forest Hills, in next week’s state quarterfinals.
The game can be heard on News/Talk 790 WPIC.
CLASS 5A SUB-REGIONAL
Grove City vs. Hollidaysburg, 7:00 p.m. at Penns Manor High School (Clymer, Pa.)
Undefeated Grove City (11-0) makes its first appearance in the PIAA playoffs since 2011 as the Eagles face District 6 representative Hollidaysburg (7-3) in a PIAA subregional game.
Grove City captured its third District 10 title in the playoff era (1985-present) last Saturday night by securing a 35-14 win over Meadville. Junior quarterback Brady Callahan completed 15 of 18 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Two of the touchdown strikes went to senior Qadir Muhammad, who scored on catches of 70 and 41 yards, respectively.
Junior slotback Logan Lutz caught 10 passes for 58 yards and also completed a 31-yard pass to Callahan on Grove City’s second play from scrimmage. He also intercepted a pass while Muhammad forced a fumble that cornerback Nick Murawski recovered.
Hard-charging senior fullback Trey Adams posted 103 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 923 yards this season. Lutz has rushed for 724 yards. Lutz also has a school-record 54 catches for 707 yards and nine touchdowns. Lutz leads the county with 1,431 total scrimmage yards.
Callahan is undefeated as a starting quarterback and leads the county with a 78.4 percent completion rate. He has thrown for 1,646 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Defensively, Grove City did yield a season-high 300 yards to Meadville. However, the Eagles still rank second locally in scoring defense (7.8), total defense (170.7) and takeaways (25) under second-year defensive coordinator Brad Trezona.
Homer DeLattre is in his fifth season as Hollidaysburg head coach after spending 11 seasons at Corry. He led Corry to six winning seasons in his final seven years before returning to his native Central Pennsylvania. DeLattre is a Moshannon Valley High School graduate. He went 1-6 against Grove City as Corry head coach.
This year, Hollidaysburg is 7-3 while playing an independent schedule. The losses came against 6A State College (55-27), 6A Erie McDowell (42-38) and four-time Maryland Class 1A state champion Fort Hill, 42-10.
Grove City and Hollidaysburg have one common opponent this year, DuBois. Grove City blanked the Beavers, 42-0, October 6 at Forker Field. Hollidaysburg went to DuBois in its last game, October 27, and earned a 34-7 win at E.J. Mansell Stadium.
Offensively, Hollidaysburg features a balanced spread attack that averages 200 rushing yards per game. Senior Patrick Young leads the team with 864 yards while junior quarterback Brady Walters has rushed for 607 yards. Young (129) and Walters (127) both ran for over 100 yards against DuBois. Walters has thrown for 1,245 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior Jack Sauserman is his top target, with 28 catches.
Junior linebacker Gus Dellinger leads Hollidaysburg with 110 tackles. Junior defensive end Brock Irvin has seven sacks.
Hollidaysburg did not have a District 6 playoff game as 1-9 Central Mountain opted out of the playoffs. That game would have been played on the first weekend of November. Brashear, the only Class 5A team in the Pittsburgh City League, lost in the City League playoffs. That gave Hollidaysburg another open weekend.
Hollidaysburg is 2-7 all-time in the state playoffs. The Golden Tigers fell last year to D-10 champion Meadville in this round, 76-29. Hollidaysburg’s last PIAA playoff win came in 1995, a 36-22 win over DuBois in the Class AAAA first round. Hollidaysburg’s other PIAA win came in 1993, when the Tigers defeated Brashear, 37-20, in the AAAA tournament.
Grove City is 2-2 all-time in the state playoffs. The Eagles defeated Brookville and Tyrone on their way to the 2004 Class AA state title game, where they fell to Lansdale Catholic. In 2011, Grove City lost to Montour in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
The Grove City-Hollidaysburg winner will play the District 7 champion, either Gateway or Penn-Trafford, next weekend in the state quarterfinals.
The game can be heard on WWIZ Oldies Z-104. Live Stats available here.
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