Allied News Sports Staff
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
Nine Mercer County area high school football teams will enter the District 10 playoffs this coming weekend, four in Class A, four in AA and Slippery Rock in AAA.
The Class A tournament opens Friday night, with all games at 7 p.m. The schedule shows:
Region 1 champ West Middlesex (8-2) taking on Iroquois (3-7) at Wilmington High; Farrell (5-4) facing Mercyhurst Prep (8-2) at Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium; Lakeview (6-4) tangling with Region 2 champ Eisenhower (8-2) at Warren High; and Sharpsville (8-1) meeting Cochranton (6-3) at Slippery Rock U.
On Saturday, the four Class AA squads are in action. In 1 p.m. clashes, Greenville (5-5) will meet Region 4 winner Corry (8-2) at Gen. McLane High School, and Wilmington (7-2) faces off against Fairview (6-3) at Grove City High. Set for 7 p.m. contests are: Region 3 top seed Grove City (8-1) vs. North East (7-3) at Slippery Rock U., and Hickory (8-1) vs. Northwestern (7-3) at Edinboro U.
Grove City, Hickory and Wilmington tied for the Region 3-AA crown, but Grove City was named top seed because of a tie-breaker system with Wilmington the 2nd seed and Hickory No. 3.
In the Class AAA tournament, Slippery Rock received a first round bye this weekend.
Last weekend, the playoff bound Grove City Eagles were off. Meanwhile, Mercer closed out the regular season while Lakeview and Slippery Rock warmed up for the playoffs with wins.
Following are game reports:
ä Reynolds 27, Mercer 14 — Mercer took a page from the Greenville offense Friday night and attacked Reynolds through the air.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs (3-7), it didn’t yield the same results as Mercer fell to the Raiders 27-14 Friday night.
“We did (attempt to throw on Reynolds),” Mercer coach Pat McClearn said. “It was tough there at the end when they knew we had to pass. In the beginning, we tried to run enough so that when we wanted to throw, we could throw. That’s a good team over there. That’s a football team that probably should be in the Class AA playoffs, but Greenville came back and got them at the end.
“Jerry’s doing a good job with them. It was tough. We did a good job of coming down, but they’re big up front. They run well.”
Trailing 13-0 at the start of the second half, Mercer came out throwing and found a modicom of success.
Sophomore quarterback Logan Clarke threw for 149 of his 175 yards in the second half, including touchdown passes of 8 and 34 yards to Evan Nan and T.J. Peters, respectively.
“They did have some success, but we changed some things up on the field,” Reynolds coach Jerry Pacifico said. “The kids responded to that. When we needed to, the kids did a good job and shut them down. We finally got a pass rush at the end, which helped a lot.”
The Raiders responded with a pair of fourth quarter scores — an 11-yard aerial from Clayton Stoyer to Levi Stoyer and a Mike Millero 52-yard run — escape another demoralizing loss.
“We let them score a couple touchdowns and got down 14-13 (in the third quarter),” Pacifico said. “I told them ‘That’s it. We have to start running the ball (more effectively) and scoring.’ That’s what we did. They never quit.
“I told the kids after the Greenville game that we have to go out and finish positive. We played Hickory pretty well. This week was all about the seniors. Everything we did was for them. I’m going to miss them.”
The Raiders did pretty well on the ground against Mercer, rushing for 315 yards -- including 225 yards from Mike Millero and 90 yards from Kellen Gursky.
“Millero gets all the yards and don’t get me wrong, he’s a good back, but Gursky is as good as we’ve seen coming out of the backfield,” McClearn said. “I know he played on the line before, but he’s exactly what you want out of a fullback. He’s hardnosed. He barely has any paint left on his helmet.”
“Kellen Gursky and Mike Millero are two great backs,” Pacifico said. “I wish I had them back for another year. At times, we did the job up front and other times, we didn’t do so well. The kids were banged up on the offensive line and we were trying to piece things together. In the end, they came together, opened up some holes and we were able to get our backs down the field.”
Despite the 3-7 final record, McClearn was pleased with his players.
“Our kids have (never given up) all year,” the Mercer mentor said. “They’re going to fight until there’s no time left on the clock. It’s not even something that I question anymore. We hit a lull in the middle of the season, because of (the Mustangs have become accustomed to winning). They put too much pressure on themselves. I was really proud of how we finished up.
“Our seniors played their butts off. They went out on their shields. I can’t ask anything more of them. It’s a tribute to seniors (how the Mustangs played at the end of the season). The leadership that we got from Austin Slagle, Evan Nan and Nate Brest. We’re going to miss those kids. They were my captains. They gave us all the leadership I could’ve asked for and more. I wish we could’ve gotten better results as the season wore on. They showed up every Monday regardless of what happened on Friday and worked towards that next Friday.”
With so many young players returning for the 2013 season, there is hope for the Mustangs -- as long as they’re willing to work in the offseason.
“I think it was key for them to have some success,” McClearn said. “We do have a lot of guys coming back. I told them they have to get in the weight room in the offseason, because we have to get bigger and stronger. We played a lot of younger guys and they won’t have the excuse of being underclassmen next year.”
Notes: Austin Slagle recovered a fumble for Mercer. … Millero had a 33-yard touchdown on the Raiders’ first drive, while the Stoyers hooked up for a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter. … Clarke completed 11-of-28 passes, including 6 to Nan for 84 yards and 3 to Peters for 73 yards. … Mercer had just 197 yards of offense. … Reynolds had more first downs 14-10. … Both teams were whistled for 5 penalties and both lost a pair of fumbles. — By Corey J. Corbin, Allied News Sports Correspondent.
ä Lakeview 56, Iroquois 0 — At Iroquois in a battle of playoff-bound teams, there was no doubt in this one.
The Sailors of Coach Dan York warmed up for the District 10 Class A tournament openers next Friday by rocking the northerners. Lakeview will take on Eisenhower, while Iroquois will face West Middlesex at sites to be determined.
For the Sailors, running back Blake Reddick scored 4 touchdowns on runs of 53, 7, 33 and 50 yards. He finished the night with 183 yards on 13 carries. Nate Kokowski rushed for 103 yards on 9 carries and scored a pair of TDs on runs of 1 and 2 yards.
The other touchdowns were tallied by Zach Bigley on a 55-yard run and Brandon Rice on a 10-yard fumble return. Brandon Persch and Marquis Spence also recovered fumbles, while Clayton Miller had an interception and returned it 32 yards.
Lakeview finished the regular season at 6-4, while Iroquois fell to 3-7.
ä Slippery Rock 17, DuBois 15 — At DuBois, the Rockets of coach Brendan Hathaway closed out the season in style, edging DuBois to clinch the Region 5-AAA title and earn a bye in the first round of the D-10 playoffs.
The Rockets finished the season at 9-1 and perfect at 6-0 in the region. DuBois is 8-1, 5-1.
DuBois scored first when Tyler Fleegeer notched a 15-yard fumble return, but the PAT kicks blocked.
In the second period, Slippery Rock got on the board when Cole McCandless booted a 15-yard field goal. The later in the period, Rockets Frank Conlon broke loose for a 94-yard TD sprint and McCandless kicked the PAT for a 10-6 lead. But with one-second to go before half, DuBois kicker Josh Haynes nailed a 36-yard field goal to cut the margin to one point at intermission.
SR tallied another TD in the third period when Chris Reeseman returned a punt 90 yards. McCandless was perfect on the PAT.
Garret Brown scored for DuBois early in the fourth period, but the Rockets defense stopped a two-point run attempt which turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.
Conlon led the Rockets with 141 yards on 9 carries.