D-10 Class 3A rematch: Hornets visit Forker Field to face Eagles

·9 min read

Oct. 15—While Hickory High had the advantage against Grove City during 2020's abbreviated season, tonight will serve as a potential District 10 Class 3A championship rematch. However Hornets' Head Coach Bill Dungee disdains the hype; he's interested only in the moment.

"We have one rival," Dungee began. "But we treat all region opponents with respect and with a sense of urgency because we have to win these games in order to make the playoffs. Grove City has a great program, and they are battling for the region and district crown year in and year out. But our focus is getting a region win and trying to secure another Region (3) championship!"

Forker Field will serve as the venue for the 7 p.m. tilt. Defending D-10 champion Hickory has won 4 consecutive contests by a composite 179-57 margin, while Grove City has garnered 3 straight (115-27 differential) and 4 of its last 5 games.

Tonight's Games

(All games begin 7 p.m.)

Hickory (3-1, 5-2) at

Grove City (3-1, 5-2)

Grove City's ground game and offensive line have been instrumental as the Eagles have erupted for 1,258 total yards in routs of Fairview, Sharon and Titusville.

Curtis Hovis, who surpassed the career 2,000-yard plateau earlier this season, has rushed for 415 yards the last 3 weeks. Hunter Hohman has complemented Hovis, utilizing both his arm and legs. Both are on Dungee's radar and that of Defensive Coordinator Ed Roberson.

"I believe this will be one of the major keys to the game. We've done a good job, pretty much all year, of stopping the run," Dungee began. "But Grove City does some different things with shifts and motions in order to try to create leverage and out-number you at the point of attack. The key is getting aligned correctly and being 'gap sound.'

"(Hohman) has dual-threat capabilities (2 rushing TDs, 13 passing) and that's always tough on a defense," Dungee praised.

But Stingers' signal-caller Logan Woods will take a backseat to no one this season. In the last 4 weeks Woods has woven 15 scoring strikes with only 1 interception. His 1-yard TD toss to Jackson Pryts with a scant second remaining enabled Hickory to survive at previously unbeaten Slippery Rock (27-23) last week. During the current 4-game span Woods has completed 67 of 106 attempts (63.2 percent).

"Yes, Logan has done a great job with his hard work, dedication, and discipline this season, and it has shown with his play on the field," Dungee praised. "(But) I don't think it's necessarily just Jackson Pryts; I think we try to just take the best match-up. When teams double (returning All-Stater Ramarion) Whitehead we are looking for the next best match-ups. Many times that's a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver who runs a 4.61 40(yard dash, in Pryts). At times it's Jackson, but other times it has also been Keenan Scullin, Ty Hollard, or Nash Porada.

"Logan knows to just take what the defense is giving him, because we have a lot of talented weapons at our disposal," Dungee emphasized.

In their 5 wins the Eagles have coerced 17 turnovers, and Dungee acknowledged, "I think winning the turnover battle is always pivotal. We are 4-0 this year winning the turnover battle and 1-2 when we lose the turnover battle. Last week (at Slippery Rock) we put the ball on the ground eight times, and turned it over a total of three times. We were very fortunate to win. We can't have that level of carelessness with the ball and expect to win (tonight)."

Greenville (4-3) at McDonald (2-5)

Another team playing well of late has been Greenville. The Trojans have triumphed in 3 straight — a first since starting the 2017 season 5-0. This week West Middlesex originally was scheduled before entering into a co-op with Sharpsville. Then a replacement opponent subsequently canceled.

"We just lost our game with South Williamsport," lamented Trojans' taskmaster Brian Herrick, who admitted, "Really disappointed for our kids. It was a good match-up for us."

However it was learned late Thursday that Greenville will travel to McDonald, Ohio. McDonald (2-5), a member of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Scarlet Division, was to have met Waterloo, but that game was canceled. In this season's opener Brookfield beat McDonald (35-6). Soon after that game, A.A. Burkey Memorial Stadium received a face-lift, so to speak, as synthetic turf was installed.

Greenville rallied on the road past arch-rival Reynolds last week (35-21) in the programs' first meeting since 2017.

"Really proud of our kids' performance against Reynolds," Herrick reflected. "We felt pretty good at the half, even though we were down 14-7. We had two crucial turnovers in the Red Zone, but we were confident that we could move the football in the second half.

"We got some key stops when we needed them. Our defensive front (Anthony Gentile, Malachi Hyde, Tucker Musser, Logan Leskovac, and Cayden Nellis) has really improved since week one and did a good job in the second half," Herrick praised. (And) Malachi ran really hard in the second half, Jalen Ritzert made some good throws, and Levi Swartz made a couple of great catches.

"Hope to use the momentum of the big win moving forward," Herrick added.

Sharon (2-1, 5-2) at

Slippery Rock (2-1, 4-1)

Sharon has surged to 4 wins in its last 5 games. Last week the Tigers mauled Ohio's Conneaut (48-21), tallying 428 total yards. For Sharon skipper Jason McElhaney, Jayveerh White went for 121 yards rushing, including 43- and 5-yard scoring sprints; Mikey Rodriques rifled 13 of 20 pass attempts for 199 yards and TD tosses of 35 and 30 to Ja-on Phillips and a 52-yarder to CC Harrison, and Cortez Nixon notched another 86 yards rushing, including a 19-yard TD.

Slippery Rock was a second removed from remaining undefeated; however the Rockets suffered their initial setback of the season (27-23 to Hickory). Slippery Rock was out-gained on the ground (128-27) and overall (287-147) despite coercing a trio of Hickory turnovers.

The Rockets rallied from an early 14-0 hole as Brett Galcik, Ryan Montgomery and William "Zip" Mokel motored 2, 1 and 6 yards, respectively. Also, soccer standout Nick Kingerski kicked a 22-yard field goal; however the Rockets were outscored 14-3 during the 4th frame.

Garrettsville-Garfield (4-0, 8-0) at

Brookfield (3-1, 5-2)

Garfield, rated 11th in this week's OHSAA Division V computer rankings, leads the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Gray Division. The G-Men have outscored opponents, 353-81, including last week's win over Rootstown (34-14). Garfield is led by Anthony Demma's rushing (94 carries, 1,187 yards, 12.6 per-carry, 20 TDs) and receiving (8 catches, 183 yards, 23 per-catch, 3 TDs), while quarterback Brody Swigonski throws just enough (25 of 47, 642 yards, 9 TDs, 2 interceptions) to keep defenses from stacking the box.

Last week the Warriors' win skein was snapped at 4 by LaBrae (28-0). Despite rushing for 201 yards — led by Teandre Craig's team-high 93 and another 78 from Christian Davis — Brookfield was blanked for the first time since Week 4 of the 2017 season (Liberty, 32-0). The Warriors were out-gained 376-231 and committed 2 turnovers.

Reynolds (2-2, 3-3) at

Lakeview (0-5, 1-5)

The Raiders are reeling, losing 2 of the last 3 games while yielding 105 points, including last week to Greenville (35-21). Leading 21-7 through 3 quarters the Raiders were outscored — at home — 28-0 during the game's final 12 minutes. All despite another wonderful Jalen Wagner rushing performance — 19 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs, including a 53-yard scoring sprint.

Lakeview lost at Mercer (20-6) — a 5th straight setback for the Sailors. Since a season-opening rout of Titusville Lakeview has been outscored 199-64 by Greenville, Farrell, Wilmington, Kennedy Catholic and Mercer.

Gavin Murdock manufactured 186 total yards (90 rushing, 96 passing on 7-for-9 accuracy) and tallied Lakeview's lone TD last week in the county seat.

— Another sidelined squad will be Farrell (5-0). Coming off an impressive 54-0 win over Wilmington, the Steelers reportedly had COVID-19 cases. Following the win at New Wilmington Steelers' skipper Amp Pegues already knew Pittsburgh's University Prep had canceled, but he was intending to find an opponent before the recent revelation posted on social media.

Saturday's Games

Sharpsville (2-2, 4-3) at

Mercer (2-3, 3-3), 7 p.m.

In last week's win at Kennedy Catholic (34-6) the Blue Devils' Chris Roth ran roughshod (247 yards, 3 TDs), complemented by Ian Smith (85 yards, 1 TD). Also, Zack Tedrow tallied a 44-yard TD. Led by Braden Scarvel, the Blue Devils' defense yielded just 164 total yards (minus-8 rushing).

Coach Jeff Lockard-led Mercer outlasted Lakeview last week (20-6). Logan Turton tallied twice on a 9-yard run and 5-yard pass from Ethan Wiley. The latter was the 4th frame's lone score and afforded the Mustangs' some insurance. Additionally, Daemyin Mattocks mustered Mercer's 2nd score on a 30-yard sprint. Led by Jake Badger's 23-carry, 153-yard performance Mercer's run-game generated a season-best 265 yards.

Kennedy Catholic (1-4, 1-5) at

Wilmington (4-1, 4-2), 7 p.m.

Last week Wilmington was blanked by Farrell (54-0). According to archives at The Herald, the Greyhounds suffered a 48-0 setback to Southern Columbia in the 2017 PIAA Class 2A championship game — legendary Terry Verrelli's coaching swan song. Wilmington was shut out 3 times during a 6-5 season in 2015 by Hickory (41-0) and Sharpsville twice (40-0, 27-0, the latter in the District 10 playoffs).

But that does not necessarily bode well for Kennedy Catholic, coming off a 34-6 setback to Sharpsville. The Golden Eagles endured a pair of injuries — quarterback Rayvion Wilbon-Venable (right knee) and versatile Blaze Campbell (left ankle). KC Coach John Reay reported Wilbon-Venable "should be good to go," but Campbell will be sidelined by a high-ankle sprain.

In the loss Wilbon-Venable passed for 160 yards, including a trio to Simeir Wade for 103 yards. Wade went high in the end zone to complete a 17-yard TD toss for the lone score against Sharpsville.