ProfessorBriggs.com

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

WEEK THREE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS

Eleven of the area's 12 teams will play this weekend in the third week of the 2021 season. Ten teams will play region games as the Class 3A teams enter league competition after two weeks of non-league action.

Kennedy Catholic is off this week. Kennedy has an open date due to being scheduled to play West Middlesex. COVID-19 issues at Oil City forced the Wilmington-Oil City non-region game to be canceled. Wilmington found a replacement opponent in St. Thomas Aquinas of Louisville, Ohio. However, Aquinas pulled out of the game Wednesday.

Thursday, Wilmington agreed to play Liberty-Benton (Ohio) High School, near Findlay, Ohio. That game will be played Saturday at 7 p.m.

Reportedly, nearby Shenango declined to play Wilmington in spite of the teams both having a common open date Friday night or Saturday. Wilmington had last week off due to having West Middlesex scheduled for Week Two.

FRIDAY NIGHT

Greenville vs. Sharpsville at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: Sharpsville, 39-38-2
Last Greenville Win: September 13, 2019 (20-12)

Last Sharpsville Win: October 30, 2020 (21-0 at Greenville)
First Meeting: October 15, 1910 (Greenville won 17-0)

One of western Pennsylvania's oldest rivalries will be renewed Friday night when Sharpsville plays Greenville at West Middlesex. The game will serve as Homecoming for West Middlesex High School and Sharpsville is the home team. It is the 80th all-time meeting between the programs. The Greenville-Sharpsville series is the most-frequently played active series in Mercer County.

It will be each team's first game away from its home field. Greenville capped a two-game homestand last Friday night by rolling past Lakeview, 49-15. Meanwhile, Sharpsville fell to visiting Slippery Rock, 35-10, in non-conference play Saturday night.

Both teams are 1-1 overall and are essentially tied in the Region 1 standings. However, Greenville has split its two league games while Sharpsville has not yet played a league opponent.

A powerful running game has been the hallmark of Greenville football since the days of antiquity and the Trojans relied upon that formula against Lakeview. The Trojans amassed 440 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in the win. Levi Swartz ran for a career-high 231 yards and five touchdowns while bruising fullback Malachi Hyde added 82 yards and a touchdown.

Swartz now shares the county lead with five rushing touchdowns. He ranks third in the county with 234 rushing yards.

Meanwhile, the Greenville defense forced three turnovers as Mason Dickens, Noah Philson and Brayden Porter all intercepted passes. The win snapped an 10-game slide for the Trojans. Greenville's 49 points marked the most for the Trojans at home since a 50-7 win over visiting Saegertown September 13, 2013.

Sharpsville did not commit a turnover and had only four penalties for 31 yards last week against Slippery Rock. But a 2-for-11 performance on third down helped foil the Blue Devils last week. Sharpsville also played without senior running back Chris Roth due to illness. Roth ran for a team-high 71 yards in Week One against Loudonville, Ohio. He still holds the team lead in rushing yardage.

Junior split end Garen Levis caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Caullin Summers in the fourth quarter against Slippery Rock. Levis leads the Devils with four catches for 94 yards. He currently ranks sixth in the county in yards per catch (23.5).

Junior kicker Liam Campbell drilled a career-long 37-yard field goal to open the scoring against Slippery Rock.

Sharpsville has attempted a county-high 73 rushing plays this year. Greenville ranks second in that category with 70 rushing attempts as a team. Sharpsville owns the county's No. 2 rushing defense, holding opponents to 100.0 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

However, Sharpsville ranks 12th of the 12 local teams in scoring offense (5.5), total offensive yards per game (171.5) and yards per play (3.8).

The teams played three times last season with Sharpsville sweeping the games. Sharpsville won the first meeting at Greenville, 14-12, in Week Two last year. Swartz ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns but Sharpsville stopped a game-tying two-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter to preserve the win.

Three weeks later at McCracken Field, host Sharpsville rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to pick up a 24-14 win. Sharpsville held Greenville to a 1-for-9 effort on third down. The teams then played a third regular season game during the playoffs October 30, with Sharpsville prevailing at Greenville, 21-0.

Those three wins moved Sharpsville ahead of Greenville in the all-time series for the first time since 1984.

Greenville is 0-3 all-time at West Middlesex. The Trojans fell to Sharon in the 1995 District 10 Class AAA title game, 20-6, and also dropped a 29-7 decision to Sharon in the 1992 Class AAA semifinals. West Middlesex defeated visiting Greenville, 12-6, November 5, 1927 in Greenville's lone regular season trip to West Middlesex.

This is the second time that a Greenville-Sharpsville regular season game will be played at neither Greenville nor Sharpsville. Sharpsville defeated Greenville at Sharon, 7-6, November 7, 1931.

Penn High School, the predecessor to the current Greenville High School, hosted Sharpsville in its first Homecoming game, November 8, 1940. Penn High prevailed 20-0. Sharpsville defeated Greenville (Penn High) in the 1947 finale, 20-6, in the final game at Packard Park. Greenville moved to Stewart Field in 1948.

Twice in the 1970s, Sharpsville kept Greenville from an undefeated season. In 1972, an 8-1 Greenville squad suffered its only setback in Week Four by falling to Sharpsville, 14-0.

Six years later, Greenville entered its season finale with Sharpsville at 9-0 but the 7-1 Blue Devils pulled out a 15-14 road win. That year, no Northwest Conference champion was declared due to Sharpsville only being able to schedule six league games instead of the requisite seven. Greenville, Reynolds and Sharpsville tied for the 1978 Mercer County title with 3-1 records.

The game will be broadcast on News/Talk 790 WPIC

Reynolds at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: Reynolds, 23-9
Last Mercer Win: November 1, 2013 (32-28)
Last Reynolds Win: October 9, 2020 (41-0 at Mercer)
First Meeting: September 23, 1960 (Mercer won 55-0)

Two of the area's three Class 1A teams will meet Friday night as Mercer hosts Reynolds in the Mustangs' home opener. Mercer and Reynolds each own wins over the area's other Class 1A squad, Kennedy. Mercer defeated the Golden Eagles in the opener, 45-16, while Reynolds opened its home schedule last week with a 47-14 victory over visiting Kennedy.

The Reynolds rushing attack accumulated 308 total yards and five scores as a pair of backs went over the 100-yard mark. Jalen Wagner ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns while Haydin McLaughlin added 128 yards and two touchdowns, recording his first career 100-yard game. Quarterback Brayden McCloskey completed 4 of 9 passes for 23 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown toss to tight end Nate Miller.

McLaughlin also had an interception while defensive end Mitchell Mason scored a safety by sacking Kennedy quarterback Rayvion Wilbon-Venable in the end zone.

Wagner ranks fourth in the county with 225 rushing yards and McLaughlin owns seventh with 141 yards.

Mercer fell to 1-1 with a 66-0 defeat at Farrell in Week Two. Mercer played without senior quarterback Ethan Wiley, so sophomore Nic Snyder and junior Troy Bachman each saw time under center. Farrell held Mercer to two first downs and forced three Mustang turnovers.

Senior fullback Jake Badger leads Mercer with 88 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Halfback Logan Turton leads Mercer with five receptions.

Of the teams that have played two games this year, Mercer has attempted a county-low 14 passes. Reynolds has 43 passing yards through the first two weeks.

Reynolds has won eight straight games against Mercer. The Raiders swept last year's two meetings, winning 47-0 at home in Week Two, then picking up a 41-0 victory at Mercer in the fifth week of the season. In the rematch, Wagner returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown while McCloskey and McLaughlin each ran for touchdowns in the second half as Reynolds scored 27 points over the final two periods.

Mercer is 5-5 in its last 10 home openers. The Mustangs have won two straight home openers under third-year head coach Jeff Lockard. Reynolds is the last team to defeat Mercer in a home opener as the Raiders picked up a 20-7 win September 14, 2018.

Reynolds played its first-ever varsity football game September 23, 1960 at Mercer. Mercer prevailed 55-0.

Conneaut, Ohio at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: First Meeting

For the first time in 18 years, Grove City will host an opponent from Ohio as the Eagles welcome Conneaut to Forker Field for both teams' Region 3 opener. Although Conneaut is Class 2A by PIAA standards, District 10 placed the Spartans in an all-Class 3A region with Grove City, Hickory, Sharon, Slippery Rock and Titusville.

Three turnovers and a sputtering running game helped Grove City drop to 1-1 overall last Saturday night as the Eagles fell 17-14 at Fort LeBoeuf. Grove City managed only 32 rushing yards on 28 carries.

Sophomore quarterback Hunter Hohman threw for 262 yards on 19-of-32 accuracy. Classmate Gavin Lutz caught 11 balls for 80 yards while senior Anthony Pereira hauled in a 71-yard touchdown strike. Senior running back Curtis Hovis led the ground attack with 42 yards on 15 attempts.

Hovis still leads Mercer County with 255 rushing yards while Hohman leads the area with 494 passing yards. He also leads the area with 36 completions and 62 pass attempts. Lutz has an area-high 17 receptions on the season. Fellow sophomore Joey Hathaway ranks third in the county with 206 receiving yards.

Defensively, Grove City ranks 12th locally in rushing defense, allowing 303.0 yards per game through the season's first two weeks.  

Conneaut will make its road debut after winning two of three home games to start the season. Last week, Conneaut flattened North East, 46-14, as Zack Rice ran for 174 yards and four touchdowns. The Spartans amassed 23 first downs and 426 yards of total offense. Conneaut also finished plus-3 in turnover margin.

Conneaut opened its season August 20 with a 41-6 win over Ashtabula Edgewood (1-2). The next week, 3-0 Medina Buckeye dealt Conneaut a 37-7 setback.

Rice leads Conneaut with 429 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior averages 9.8 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Nathan Koston has completed 22 of 45 passes for 274 yards.

In addition to counting towards the league standings, the game also affects Conneaut's potential playoff positioning. All regular season games in Ohio count toward the playoffs, so a Conneaut win over mid-sized Grove City would boost the Spartans' playoff hopes. Conneaut is Division V in Ohio parlance and a member of OHSAA Region 17.

Grove City last hosted an Ohio team October 3, 2003. That night, the Eagles rallied from a 16-0 deficit to defeat Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, 37-16. Prior to that, Grove City had not hosted an Ohio opponent since a 20-7 loss to visiting Brookfield September 28, 1956. That marked Eugene Forker's final season as Grove City head coach.

Grove City is 17-2 in its last 19 home games. Grove City is 4-3-1 all-time at home against Ohio opponents. Conneaut is 22-7 against Pennsylvania opponents since the start of the 2016 season.

The game will be broadcast on Sports Radio 96.7.

Live Stats available here.

Slippery Rock at Titusville, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: Slippery Rock, 6-2
Last Slippery Rock Win: September 27, 2019 (42-13)
Last Titusville Win: October 12, 2007 (34-7)
First Meeting: October 13, 2006 (Titusville won 27-0 at Slippery Rock)

One of two 2-0 teams in the Mercer County area (along with Farrell), Slippery Rock heads to Crawford County for its conference opener Friday night. Titusville (1-1) will play its third straight home game at newly-renovated Carter Field after out-slugging longtime rival Corry last week, 18-0.

Slippery Rock, meanwhile, has a short week after a 35-10 Saturday night win at Sharpsville. The Rockets limited Sharpsville to 152 total yards on 44 plays, along with a 2-for-11 performance on third down.

Offensively, senior running back Shane Thompson caught a pair of touchdown passes and also ran for a score. He had four receptions for 111 yards and led Slippery Rock with 37 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Thompson leads the area with 280 total scrimmage yards. He also shares the county lead with five touchdowns.

Junior quarterback William Mokel has an area-best five touchdown strikes this season. His 343 passing yards rank fourth in the area. He threw for 206 yards on 12-for-24 passing at Sharpsville. In addition to his two touchdown throws to Thompson, Mokel also connected with John Sabo for a seven-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half.

Junior kicker Nick Kingerski leads the area with 13 kicking points. He is 10 for 10 on conversions and kicked a 43-yard field goal in Week One against Central Clarion.

Titusville quarterback Garrett Knapp threw touchdown passes to Brock Covell and Antonio Malave last Friday night as the Rockets defeated Corry. Lodge Nosko returned a blocked punt six yards for the Rockets' other touchdown of the night. Titusville held Corry to 75 total offensive yards.

Knapp completed 16 of 22 passes for 116 yards against Corry. The Rockets ran for only 24 yards and finished with 140 total yards and 10 first downs. Knapp has thrown for 228 yards this season. Covell has eight catches for 122 yards.

Titusville opened the season with a 41-7 loss to Lakeview. Titusville turned over the ball four times, including two Lakeview defensive touchdowns.

Slippery Rock has won six straight meetings with Titusville. Slippery Rock will play four of its next five games at home, including Region 3 games with Grove City, Hickory and Sharon. 

SATURDAY NIGHT

Hickory at Sharon, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: Sharon, 39-15-1
Last Hickory Win: October 9, 2020 (41-28)
Last Sharon Win: August 31, 2018 (27-24)

First Meeting: September 25, 1959 (Sharon won 45-28)

Separated by a little over two miles, Shenango Valley archrivals Hickory and Sharon meet Saturday night at Sharon Tiger Stadium for the 56th time in program history. Both teams are 1-1 and it is the league opener for each team. Hickory will play its second straight road game while Sharon plays its second straight home game.

While the two teams have plenty of similarities through the first two weeks of the season, Hickory comes off a 35-7 road win at Girard while Sharon looks to rebound from a penalty-filled 21-14 home loss to Pittsburgh's University Prep in Week Two.

Hickory's defense forced four turnovers at Girard and held the Yellow Jackets to 10 total first downs. Senior safety Ramarion Whitehead intercepted two passes while Jackson Pryts also picked off a pass. Defensive end Joey Fazzone recorded two sacks.

Pryts and Whitehead garnered plenty of attention on offensive entering the 2021 season after notable junior seasons last year. But another member of the Hickory receiving corps emerged at Girard as sophomore Keenan Scullin caught six passes for a career-high 213 yards and three touchdowns.

The 213 receiving yards are the most by a Mercer County player since Farrell's Jourdan Townsend had 226 receiving yards November 24, 2017 against Ridgway. It's the highest regular season total since October 14, 2016, when Sharon's Ziyon Strickland gained 215 receiving yards against Lakeview.

Junior quarterback Logan Woods completed 12 of 17 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Whitehead also caught a touchdown pass in the win. Sophomore running back Sean Kennedy led the ground attack with 84 yards and a pair of scores.

Woods ranks third in the county with 393 passing yards. Scullin leads the area with 255 receiving yards and he ranks third with 11 catches. Whitehead ranks fourth with nine receptions.

Sharon trailed University Prep 21-0 late in the fourth quarter before rallying. Junior quarterback Mikey Rodriques ran for a four-yard score with 2:09 left and after a successful onside kick, Cortez Nixon scored on a five-yard run 19 seconds later.

Sharon regained possession in the final minute and drove to the University Prep 27 before an interception ended the comeback.

Ja'on Phillips caught six passes for 100 yards to help lead Sharon, which finished with 192 yards. The Tigers also benefitted from University Prep's 19 accepted penalties, which netted 155 yards.

Phillips leads Sharon with eight catches, 197 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. He also has a team-leading 324 all-purpose yards. Rodriques has thrown for 244 yards and two touchdowns in six quarters of action as the starter.

C'Angelo Harrison intercepted a pass for Sharon but he cannot play Saturday night due to being disqualified after a post-onside kick dust-up against University Prep. Harrison starts at cornerback and wide receiver, and is one of Sharon's top kick returners, having returned a punt for a touchdown in the opener at Corry.

Hickory and Sharon are the only two local teams to have not lost a fumble this season.

Hickory has won three straight meetings. The Hornets swept last year's home-and-home series. Hickory won the first meeting, 48-16, at Sharon in Week Two as the Hornets scored 34 points over the final 13 minutes of the game.

Three weeks later in Hermitage, Hickory led 28-7 at halftime and carried that lead into the fourth quarter. Sharon rallied to tie the game on a pair of short Brett Salsgiver touchdown runs and Phillips's 80-yard punt return for touchdown. Hickory reclaimed the lead on Michael Henwood's two-yard run with 5:20 remaining. Henwood's 46-yard run with 52 seconds left clinched the win.

Phillips also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the first game against Hickory.

Sharon is 21-6 all-time at home against Hickory. Hickory is 3-1 in the District 10 playoffs at Sharon, winning D-10 titles at Tiger Stadium in 1988, 1989 and 1991. Hickory and Sharon first met as league opponents September 24, 1982, when Sharon picked up a 20-7 home win over the Hornets in Keystone Football League play. Sharon went 7-0-1 against Hickory in KFL play.

Hickory begins a three-game homestand in Week Four with a Region 3 game against Conneaut, Ohio. The Hornets also host Titusville before closing league play with consecutive games at Grove City and at Slippery Rock.

The game will be broadcast on Sports Radio 96.7.

Farrell at Lakeview, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: Farrell, 9-3
Last Farrell Win: September 25, 2015 (Farrell won 49-8 at Lakeview)

Last Lakeview Win: October 4, 2013 (39-10)
First Meeting: September 15, 2006 (Lakeview won 7-6 in OT)

After consecutive games at Titusville and Greenville to begin the season, Lakeview will be the final area team to play a home game. Saturday night, the Sailors (1-1, 0-1) host undefeated Farrell (2-0, 2-0) in Region 1 action.

Lakeview opened Region 1 play last Friday night with a 49-15 setback at Greenville. Meanwhile, Farrell opened its home schedule with a 66-0 triumph over visiting Mercer in a Region 1 tussle.

Lakeview grabbed an 8-0 lead in the first quarter on Gavin Murdock's two-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion. But the Sailors could not counter Greenville's 29-point outburst in the second quarter.

Murdock threw for 236 yards on 14-of-35 passing. He also led the Sailors with 81 rushing yards and two scores. Mitchell Tingley and Karson Cropp each hauled in four receptions. Greenville did intercept three passes, however.

Murdock leads the area with 584 total offensive yards. His 411 passing yards rank second in the county while his 173 rushing yards are the No. 5 total in the area. Murdock's 35 rushing attempts are the second most in the area this season.

Running back Calogano Wilkins leads Lakeview with 129 receiving yards, which is the No. 7 total in the area. He is second locally in yards per catch, averaging 25.8.

The Farrell defense limited Mercer to two first downs and 18 total yards in Week Two. Farrell has not allowed a point and has yielded only 84.0 yards per game through the first two weeks. Opponents average 2.1 yards per play.

In addition to topping the local defensive rankings, Farrell owns Mercer County's most productive offense through the first two weeks of the season. The Steelers average 417.0 yards and 62.0 points per game. Wide receiver/running back Kylon Wilson leads the area with 32 points. He and senior tailback Anthony Stallworth share the team and county lead with five touchdowns.

Stallworth has rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns on only 11 carries this year. He ranks second in the area in rushing yardage. Sophomore Brandon Chambers is 10th in the area in rushing yardage, needing only seven attempts accumulate 114 yards.

Wilson leads the county with four touchdown catches. His 159 receiving yards ranks fifth locally. Quarterbacks Kabron Smith, Trian Holden and Lamont Samuels, Jr., have combined to go 18 of 26 for 275 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. That computes to a passer rating (NCAA formula) of 221.5.

Stallworth ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns against Mercer while Samuels added 45 yards and two scores. Wilson had five catches for 82 yards and three touchdowns. Farrell scored on each of its final nine possessions.

Farrell has won three straight meetings in the series, which began in 2006. Farrell is 3-2 all-time at Lakeview.

Wilmington at Liberty-Benton, Ohio, 7:00 p.m.

Series History: First Meeting

Wilmington returns to action for the first time since August 27 when the Greyhounds make a 200-mile trip Saturday to Liberty-Benton High School in Hancock County, Ohio.

Wilmington opened the season with a 50-0 win over visiting Reynolds as the "Hounds Hammer" defense recorded a shutout and forced three turnovers. Cornerback Cole McCallister returned an interception 10 yards for a touchdown. Offensively, senior fullback Luke Edwards led the Greyhounds with 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns while sophomore Ben Miller added 77 yards.

McCallister also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tuff McConahy, who made his first varsity start. McConahy went 3 of 4 for 42 yards while piloting Wilmington's Wing-T attack.

The victory marked Wilmington's 25th straight home win and 22nd consecutive regular season victory. Wilmington posted its 10th shutout since the start of the 2018 season.

Liberty-Benton is 19-4 over the last three seasons. The Eagles went 9-2 in 2019, then won eight of nine games last year. Last week, Liberty-Benton improved to 2-1 with a 41-6 win over Blanchard Valley Conference rival Arlington in the league opener.

Toby Collert ran for 79 yards and two scores, and also returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown. A blocked punt set up Collert's first touchdown of the night. Quarterback Cameron Garlock completed 6 of 8 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.

Scott Garlock is in the first year of his second stint as the Eagles' head coach. He compiled a 47-12 mark as head coach from 2002 to 2006. The Eagles were selected as the BVC favorite in the preseason coaches poll, according to the Toledo Blade.

COVID-19 issues at BVC member North Baltimore created the schedule opening for Liberty-Benton.

This is Wilmington's first trip to Ohio since a 55-14 win September 21, 2018 at Conneaut, Ohio. The Greyhounds are 3-3 all-time in Ohio.