ProfessorBriggs.com

(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)

WEEK TWELVE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS

Six local teams remain alive in the District 10 playoffs and at least two will advance to next week, thanks to a pair of all-Mercer County area matchups. Friday night features a pair of District 10 title games while the Saturday afternoon schedule has a double feature matinee in Class 3A with two semifinal tussles.

CLASS 1A FINAL
Farrell vs. Maplewood, 7:00 p.m. at Meadville

Farrell will play in its ninth all-time District 10 championship game Friday night when the Steelers (9-2) face Maplewood (10-0) at Meadville's Bender Field. Farrell seeks its fifth straight district title in Class 1A and its eighth district crown in the last 12 seasons. Meanwhile, Maplewood seeks its first-ever District 10 title in football. The Tigers are playing in a championship game for the first time since 1993.

Both teams posted shutout victories last Friday night in the semifinals. Farrell earned a 42-0 victory over West Middlesex while Maplewood blanked Reynolds, 36-0, in the other semifinal game. Farrell recorded its eighth consecutive shutout while holding West Middlesex to 69 offensive yards. Maplewood limited Reynolds to 99 offensive yards as the Tigers chalked up their fifth shutout of 2019.

Farrell leads the Mercer County area in scoring defense, holding opponents to 5.4 points per game. Farrell also holds opposing offenses to a county-low 3.1 yards per play, as well as only 131.1 yards per game. Farrell's 22 takeaways and 14 interceptions both rank second locally. Last Friday, safety Brice Butler intercepted four West Middlesex passes to help the Steelers accrue a plus-5 turnover margin.

The Farrell defense will be tested by Maplewood's explosive and multi-dimensional offense. Maplewood needed only 45 offensive plays to accumulate 488 yards against Reynolds in the semifinals. Senior quarterback J.D. McFadden completed 9 of 12 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, sophomore Jesse McFadden emerged as a weapon in the ground game as he ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns on three carries. He also caught four passes. Junior Kaleb Donor, Maplewood's leading rusher with 1,594 yards this year, added 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts.

J.D. McFadden became Crawford County's all-time leading passer this season and he now has 5,760 career yards and 58 touchdown passes. He needs 240 yards to become District 10's seventh all-time 6,000-yard passer. This year, McFadden has thrown for 1,864 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jesse McFadden leads the Tigers with 34 receptions for 655 yards and six scores. Clay Cox has added 22 receptions for 563 yards, an average of 25.6 yards per catch. He caught an 81-yard touchdown pass on the third play from scrimmage last week.

While Farrell's defense has earned plenty of headlines in 2019, the Steelers' offense has emerged as one of District 10's most dangerous units. Farrell averages a county-best 9.2 yards per play this year. Farrell averages 40.2 points and 378.5 yards per game this season.

Sophomore running back Anthony Stallworth and junior running back Jaden Harrison have combined for 1,662 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns this season. Stallworth has 1,012 yards and 10 scores. He ranks third in the area in rushing yardage and is the first Farrell sophomore to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Harrison, meanwhile, averages 11.6 yards per carry. He has 652 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Harrison has also caught 17 passes. Butler leads Farrell with 19 receptions for 463 yards and eight scores. He is fifth in the county in receiving yards and touchdown catches. Butler averages 24.4 yards per catch, second-best in the area.

Like Maplewood, Farrell features a senior quarterback. But unlike Maplewood's McFadden, Farrell signal-caller Ray Raver waited until the third week of his senior season to take over as the full-time starter. His insertion into the starting lineup sparked the Farrell offense, which misfired at times in August.

Raver leads Mercer County with a 64.3 percent completion rate, as well as an 11.2 yards-per-attempt average. He has thrown for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns while only being intercepted once.

Maplewood is the seventh different team that Farrell has faced in a District 10 title game. Farrell has also played Kennedy Christian (1985), Linesville (2008), Sharpsville (2009, 2015), Mercyhurst Prep (2010), West Middlesex (2016, 2018) and Cambridge Springs (2017).

Maplewood's only D-10 title game appearance came November 13, 1993. That night at General McLane, Eisenhower scored all 15 of its points in a three-minute span during the third quarter on the way to a 15-0 victory. That marked the fourth of Ike's six straight title game appearances (1990-95).

The District 10 champion will face the District 5 champion in the opening round of the state tournament next week. Tussey Mountain and Northern Bedford will play Friday night at Hollidaysburg in the D-5 title game. District 10 will be the "home" district for that PIAA game.

The Farrell-Maplewood game can be heard on 790 WPIC.  

CLASS 2A FINAL
Wilmington vs. Greenville, 7:00 p.m. at Hickory

For the second time in three years, Wilmington faces Greenville for the District 10 Class 2A title. Wilmington received a double bye into the championship game while Greenville outlasted Northwestern, 14-10, in last Saturday's semifinals at Edinboro University.

Wilmington last played October 18, when the Greyhounds rolled to a 43-21 win at Hickory. Wilmington's vaunted Wing-T offense amassed 400 rushing yards, led by a career-high 286 yards from junior halfback Darren Miller. Quarterback Caelan Bender added 64 yards on a dozen carries. He also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Shane Cox.

Bender leads the Mercer County area in yards per completion (21.4) and ranks second in passer rating (204.7). He has thrown 15 touchdown passes and has not been intercepted in his 83 attempts. Miller, meanwhile, ranks third in the area by averaging 108.7 rushing yards per game. He has 978 yards in 11 games. Fellow junior Ethan Susen recently returned from a knee injury and has added 559 yards and six scores.

Senior Junior McConahy leads Wilmington with 25 catches for 517 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Cox has added 10 catches and four touchdown receptions.

Wilmington averages a county-high 43.4 points per game. The 'Hounds have also committed a county-low five turnovers this season.

The 2019 edition of the "Hounds Hammer" defense lines up very favorably, statistics-wise, with some of Wilmington's top all-time units. Wilmington allows 1.8 yards per carry and 7.0 points per game this season. Wilmington also leads the area in total defense, yielding only 129.9 yards per game, including 45.8 rushing yards per game.

Wilmington has outscored opponents 138-0 in the first quarter this year.

Greenville's Isaac Sasala ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner, last Saturday night as the Trojans (6-5) advanced past Northwestern. Sasala also caught a 57-yard pass from quarterback Jon King. Levi Swartz added 64 rushing yards on 12 totes for Greenville.

Meanwhile, the Greenville defense held Northwestern to one touchdown, 77 rushing yards and 183 total yards. Greenville also intercepted two passes. That boosted the Trojans' season turnover margin to a county-high plus-11.

Swartz and Sasala have been two of the area's busiest backs this season. Swartz (614 yards) leads Greenville with 123 attempts while Sasala has gained 548 yards on his 118 attempts. As a team, Greenville averages 41.6 rushing plays per game, the second-highest average in the area.

King has thrown for 393 yards and three touchdowns this year.

Wilmington won the teams' regular-season meeting September 27 in New Wilmington, 45-0. Wilmington held Greenville to 54 offensive yards and three first downs. Offensively, Bender completed 5 of 12 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns. McConahy caught four balls for 152 yards and two scores. Miller ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Wilmington finished with 294 rushing yards.

This is the seventh all-time playoff meeting between the programs, with Wilmington winning the first six. Wilmington defeated Greenville in the 2000 (16-7) and 2001 (28-7) District 10 Class AAA title games. Seven years ago, Wilmington pulled out a 10-9 double-overtime win over Greenville in the D-10 Class AA semifinals. Three years ago, Wilmington earned a 35-8 win over Greenville in the 2A semifinals.

Wilmington is 13-4 all-time in District 10 title games. The Greyhounds have won three straight title game appearances. Greenville's last District 10 title came in 1999, a 42-6 win over General McLane in Class AAA. The Trojans are 4-8 all-time in D-10 title games but have dropped four championship games since the 1999 crown. Three of those losses have been to Wilmington.

The District 10 champion will play the District 5 champion in the opening round of the state tournament next week. Chestnut Ridge and Berlin Brothersvalley will play Friday night at Windber in the D-5 title game. Next week's state playoff game will be a District 5 home game.

The Wilmington-Greenville game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.

CLASS 3A SEMIFINAL
Hickory vs. Grove City, 1:00 p.m. at Wilmington

Six weeks after playing one of the most exciting games in the 2019 Mercer County regular season, Hickory and Grove City will clash again with a berth in the District 10 finals at stake. Hickory handed then-undefeated Grove City its first loss of the season September 27 as the Hornets held on for a 21-19 home win. Grove City seeks its fourth D-10 title game appearance in the last five years while Hickory aims to return to the finals for the first time since 2016.

Hickory (7-3) opened the District 10 playoffs last Saturday night with a 56-0 win over North East in the quarterfinals at Wilmington. Meanwhile, Grove City (8-2) rallied from a 10-point deficit to outlast perennial playoff power Mercyhurst Prep, 28-17.

Hickory junior quarterback Michael Henwood assembled one of the finest postseason passing performances in state history last Saturday night as he completed 17 of 18 passes for 390 yards and six touchdowns. Six different men caught touchdown passes. Kam Fisher led the way with five catches for 75 yards and a score while Ramarion Whitehead gained 111 yards on his three receptions. He also caught a touchdown.

Matt Cannone, Matt Harris, Rocco Iacino and Nathan Richards also had touchdown catches for Hickory. Hickory also generated big plays on the ground as senior running back Hunter Stoots sprinted for a 75-yard touchdown run. He finished with 95 rushing yards. Junior Braelin Stewart, who has taken on an increased offensive role in recent weeks, ran for a career-high 139 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Overall, Hickory finished with 619 total yards. Meanwhile, the Hickory defense posted its first shutout since a 27-0 win over Slippery Rock in Week Three of the 2017 season. It marked Hickory's first postseason shutout since a 28-0 win over Tyrone in the 2014 Class AA state quarterfinals.

Henwood leads the county with 2,204 total offensive yards and 29 combined touchdowns. He has thrown for 1,613 yards and shares the county lead with 22 touchdown passes. Henwood also leads Hickory with 591 rushing yards. Fisher has 419 yards and Stoots has contributed 386 rushing yards.

Whitehead leads the county in yards per catch, averaging 24.9 yards. He ranks third in the area with 723 receiving yards and 29 catches. Cannone has 27 receptions and Richards has hauled in 18 passes. Richards has five touchdown receptions while Cannone has caught four scores.

Hickory's defense ranks third in the area with nine interceptions and fourth locally with 17 takeaways. Hickory's defense has been on the field for 623 offensive plays, nearly 10 percent more than the nearest team (Sharon, 570).

The Hickory defense will be tested by Grove City's up-tempo attack that averages 60.0 plays per game. Grove City leads the county in total offense, averaging 398.7 yards per game. Grove City finished with 422 total yards in last week's win over Mercyhurst Prep. Junior quarterback Logan Breese threw for 289 yards on 10-of-16 passing while senior running back Colby Nelson ran for a score, caught a touchdown pass and threw the game-clinching touchdown pass.

Nelson finished with 130 rushing yards on 30 attempts. His 17-yard touchdown catch with two seconds left in the half gave Grove City a 14-10 lead. Nelson then threw a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zack Martin on fourth-and-goal with 1:35 left in the game to sew up the victory.

Nelson leads the county with 17 touchdowns and 104 total points. He also leads the area with 1,255 rushing yards and 236 attempts. Breese ranks second in the county with 1,869 passing yards. He has completed 63.0 percent of his passes this year.

Senior Jake Reddick leads Mercer County with 842 receiving yards. Reddick's 38 catches rank second in the area. His 83-yard touchdown reception last week ignited Grove City's comeback from a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter.

Grove City has a plus-10 turnover margin on the season. But in the loss at Hickory, the Hornets finished plus-2 in that category. Grove City had a chance to tie the game in the final moments but the Eagles' two-point conversion attempt failed.

Breese completed a season-high 20 passes on 32 attempts for 237 yards. Davieon Say caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown while Reddick caught five balls for 48 yards. Hickory held Grove City to a season-low 122 rushing yards, however, as Nelson had a season-low 48 yards.

Henwood threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-25 passing. Cannone opened the scoring with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Whitehead. Cannone also caught five passes while Richards had four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. Fisher ran for 70 yards on 22 attempts. Henwood picked up 62 rushing yards.

Hickory is 28-6 all-time in the District 10 playoffs while Grove City is 19-13 in D-10 postseason action. The teams previously met once in the playoffs. Seven years ago, Hickory picked up a 35-13 win over Grove City in the Class AA semifinals.

The winner will play Sharon or Harbor Creek in next week's Class 3A title game.

The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7.

CLASS 3A SEMIFINAL
Sharon vs. Harbor Creek, 1:00 p.m. at Meadville

Undefeated Harbor Creek (10-0) stands in the way of Sharon's bid for a fifth consecutive District 10 title game berth. Sharon reached Saturday's semifinals with a 48-14 win over Girard while Harbor Creek held off Slippery Rock, 26-17, in the quarterfinals last week. Saturday's semifinal will pit Sharon's decorated passing attack against Harbor Creek's stingy defense.

Sharon senior quarterback Lane Voytik threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-26 passing against Girard. Four receivers caught at least four passes, led by a five-reception, 140-yard outing for senior Ty Eilam. Eilam caught two touchdown passes. Trey Jones also had five catches, good for 68 yards. Jaon Phillips had four receptions for 90 yards and Marcel Smith-Austin also caught four passes.

All four of those receivers have caught at least 24 passes this year. Eilam leads the county with 44 receptions while his 833 receiving yards ranks seconds. Smith-Austin has caught 29 passes, Jones has 27 and the emerging Phillips has 24 catches.

Voytik leads the county with 2,150 passing yards. He is the first Mercer County quarterback to have three 2,000-yard passing seasons. Voytik has a county-record 7,666 passing yards, which ranks third all-time in District 10 history. He needs 54 yards to pass Erie Prep's Joe Mischler (2014-17) for second place.

While the Sharon passing attack has led the offense, the ground game has provided a solid complement. Senior Brady Ortiz ranks eighth in the county with 718 rushing yards this year. Ortiz averages 9.1 yards per carry. Junior Tyvell Richardson has added 468 rushing yards. Ortiz and Richardson both ran for two touchdowns against Girard.

Slippery Rock gashed Harbor Creek for 332 rushing yards last week but the Huskies forced four turnovers to earn the victory.

Harbor Creek quarterback Casey Smith completed 9 of 10 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Marrick Bauer caught two touchdown passes while Cody Smith caught four passes for 56 yards. Tyler East led the Huskies with 68 rushing yards against Slippery Rock.

For the season, East has rushed for 1,185 yards and 15 touchdowns. Casey Smith has completed 61 of 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice. Cody Smith, his twin brother, has a team-high 22 receptions for 314 yards and eight touchdowns. Bauer has 17 catches for 350 yards and six scores. Ryan Whitman also has eight touchdown receptions, along with a team-high 390 receiving yards. Whitman has caught 14 passes.

Harbor Creek seeks its first District 10 title game appearance since 2007. Harbor Creek defeated Sharon in the quarterfinals that season, 37-0. The Huskies also reached the D-10 title game in 2004. Harbor Creek has never won a D-10 football title. Harbor Creek is 4-10 all-time in the District 10 playoffs. Sharon is 43-15 in D-10 playoff games.

Sharon is 3-1 all-time against Harbor Creek in the playoffs. Sharon earned a 34-7 win in the 1991 Class AAA semifinals at Franklin. In 2006, Sharon blanked Harbor Creek, 14-0, in a Class AA quarterfinal. The next year, Harbor Creek picked up the aforementioned 37-0 win. In 2015, Sharon earned a 59-0 win in the "AA" quarterfinals.

The winner will face Hickory or Grove City in the Class 3A title game next week.

The game can be heard on 790 WPIC.