Head coach: Ed Roberson (1st season)
2012 record: 10-3 overall, 6-0 Region 1
Opening week opponent: Home vs. Wilmington, Friday at 7 p.m.
Former West Middlesex defensive coordinator Ed Roberson takes the reigns of the West Middlesex football team, replacing his former boss Jason McElhaney, who had led the team since 2007, guiding the Big Reds to a Region 1 title last year, and two straight trips to the D-10 Class A final.
Roberson inherits a decent amount of talent from that team. Foremost on the list is returning junior quarterback Trey Staunch, who was second in the region in passing last season (124 for 205, 1,471 yards, 16 TDs, seven INTs). He’ll have to find some new receivers, though. The Reds graduated first-team WR Sage Pope and second-teamer Jeremy Jancso. Tight end Dillon Fair returns for his senior season, though, grabbing 17 passes for 243 yards and two TDs last year.
The Reds also need to replace their leading rusher, Luke Patten, who picked up more than 1,500 yards last season. Their next leading rusher, junior Eric Lucich, returns after taking 45 hand-offs for 362 yards and three TDs in 2012.
Head coach: Paul Piccirilli (18th season)
2012 record: 11-2 overall, 5-1 Region 1
Opening week opponent: At Moniteau, Friday at 7 p.m.
Sharpsville graduated darn near everybody from last year’s District 10 champion squad. The list of losses includes quarterback Bryan Stafford; the three Wing-T backs in Ross Llewellyn, Derrick Odem and Joey Pagliaroli; their top receiver, Tyler Luchey; tight end Chris Przicina; and first-team all-region linemen Kalen Robertson and Cody Hughes.
So, the Blue Devils are rebuilding. Junior Nick Henwood, who led the Devils’ JV team to an undefeated season last year, will take over at quarterback. Senior Tyler Confer, who moved back to Sharpsville after a handful of years at DuBois, will be the starting fullback. Ben Boucher, a wrestler who hasn’t played football since he was a freshman, is the other starting half back. And Tyler Wansack, who had six carries for 69 yards and a TD with the varsity team last year, will be at the other halfback.
The line returns two players — guard Jacob Llewellyn and P.J. Campoli, who is moving from center to guard. The rest will all be sophomores getting their first real taste of varsity ball.
Head coach: Dan York (14th season)
2012 record: 7-5 overall, 3-3 Region 1
Opening week opponent: At Union City, Friday at 7 p.m.
Lakeview is big on the line, talented in the backfield and experienced throughout. Among the Sailors’ returnees is District 10’s top rusher from last year, senior Blake Reddick. He had 283 carries for 2,091 yards and 17 TDs in 2012. Also back is senior QB Zack Bigley, who can pass (26 for 84, 442 yards, seven TDs, four INTs) and carry the ball (46 takes, 523 yards, six TDs). Bigley’s favorite receiver also returns in senior Zach Van Dusen (16 catches, 300 yards, five TDs).
The only frequently used skill player to graduate was fullback Nate Kokoski. He’s being replaced by promising junior Marquis Spence.
And on the offensive line, the team only graduated one player (tight end Dylan Taylor). Otherwise, everyone is back, including first-team all-region guard Sam Breese.
Simply put, this could be a big year for the Sailors.
Head coach: Jarrett Samuels (6th season)
2012 record: 6-5 overall, 3-3 Region 1
Opening week opponent: At Sharon, Friday at 7 p.m.
Farrell is never short on athletic talent. And that’s once again the case in 2013 as the Steelers bring back a pair of senior double-threats in Dewayne Burns and Malik Graham.
Burns led the Steelers in rushing last season (129 carries, 1,035 yards, 10 TDs) and was one of the team’s top receivers (16 catches, 167 yards, two TDs). Graham was the team’s second-leading rusher (37 carries, 210 yards, one TD) and second-leading receiver (14 catches, 190 yards, one TD).
They will need someone else to get them the ball, however. Quarterback Joe Goudy graduated after passing for 817 yards, eight TDs and eight INTs a year ago. A possible replacement is senior Ray Johnson, who was 2-for-4 for 70 yards and a TD through the air last season, and also had 37 carries for 194 yards and two scores.
Head coach: Pat Gould (9th season)
2012 record: 6-5 overall, 2-4 Region 1
Opening week opponent: Home vs. Girard, Friday at 7 p.m.
Although Conneaut cannot technically win a Region 1 title due to being a Class AAA team forced to play in a Class A league, the Eagles still have the ability to make raise a ruckus against their regular season foes.
That’s due to a pack of talented skill players returning to the squad. Headlining that list is junior running back Elijah Anderton, who carried the ball 215 times for 1,245 yards and 12 TDs a year ago. Also back is leading passer Jon Onderko, a senior, who was 43-for-94 for 454 yards, six TDs and nine INTs. Also returning is Hunter Merritt, who had an outstanding freshman campaign, gaining 882 yards and 11 TDs on 108 carries. Merritt will likely line up at QB this season. In 2012, his role as a passer grew and he ended up completing 12 of 24 passes for 116 yards, three TDs and two INTs.
The Eagles did lose some talent at receiver last year (Tyler Bartlett and Brandon Sherman both graduated). And they graduated a pair of second-team all-region linemen in Dan Grudowski and Darrell Miller. But overall, this second-year program seems to be finding its footing. And that could take the Eagles far.
Head coach: Pat McClearn (9th season)
2012 record: 3-7 overall, 1-5 Region 1
Opening week opponent: Home vs. Eisenhower, Friday ay 7 p.m.
Region 1 teams will not want to overlook Mercer this season. The Mustangs bring back their starting quarterback, junior Logan Clarke (78 for 180, 1,246 yards, 13 TDs, 14 INTs) as well as their leading rusher, senior Luke Leonard (76 carries, 404 yards, two TDs). Plus, senior Zane O’Brien and junior T.J. Peters also return from their skill set.
There are still holes to fill. Leading receiver Evan Nan is gone. And the ’Stangs graduated three seniors from the offensive line, including second-team pick Nate Brest.
However, Mercer didn’t graduate much last year. The team’s problem in 2012 was that it was replacing 21 seniors. Many of those former replacements are now a year older and are looking to turn this team around.
Head coach: Archie D’Onofrio (4th season)
2012 record: 1-9 overall, 1-5 Region 1
Opening week opponent: Home vs. Bradford, Saturday at noon
Graduation didn’t help Kennedy much, taking second-leading rusher and leading receiver Jeff Thompkins. And the team also had some key players transfer out. Quarterback Brennan Wassil left for Hubbard, Ohio. And leading ball-carrier Jake Leipheimer transferred to Reynolds.
So, the Golden Eagles have had to make some adjustments. They’re going to run more of an I package this season, with former WR Jacob Feeney at QB, seniors Paul Fusco and Zach Zehner switching off at tailback and senior Mike McGrath and sophomore Kaliq Ragster sharing duties at fullback.
One bright spot for the team is the return of second-team all-region tight end Sam Crow. Overall, however, the Eagles’ slew of new starters will have to get good in a hurry if the team has any chance of a winning record.
Note: Teams are listed in order of last year’s finish.
Class AA first round filled with highs, lows for locals
It was a day full of highs and lows for the 11 local Class AA wrestlers on the opening day of the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Hershey.
For some, it was business as usual, and for others, the atmosphere of a crowded Giant Center proved to be a little much. By the time the preliminary and Round 1 consolation rounds were finished, eight wrestlers are still alive, with state wrestling experience proving to be invaluable Thursday morning.
Lee, Wheeling stay in hunt for Class AAA state title
A win is a win, and when it comes to the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships, as long as your score reads higher in the end, it really doesn’t matter how you get there.
During the preliminary round of the tournament Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey, the six local qualifiers certainly had mixed results, but in the end, two wrestlers are still in the championship bracket, exactly where they want to be.
Cards look to slow down Vincentian
“The best way to sum it up is,” said Cochranton head coach Scott McCurdy, “it’s like they’re down five and there are 30 seconds to go. Only, they play like that for the entire 32 minutes.”
McCurdy is talking about the Vincentian Academy boys basketball team, which employs a style that’s ... well ... calling it up-tempo just doesn’t seem to suffice.
Lancers get tough draw in opener
One may think that by winning a District 10 title and getting paired up with the seventh seed out of District 7 for the first round of the state playoffs, that said champion would have a pretty choice matchup.
Yet, that’s not how things shook out for the General McLane girls basketball team. The D-10 champion Lady Lancers drew a challenging foe in Neshannock.
’Dogs rout Bison to reach title game
Having defeated Fort LeBoeuf by a grand total of 24-0 in their previous three meetings, the tension wasn’t exactly palpable for the Meadville Bulldogs hockey team as it squared off with the Bison in a Lakeshore Hockey League semfinal game on Thursday night at Erie Insurance Arena.
Calvary wins opener
The Calvary Baptist girls basketball team won its opening game of the National Christian School Athletic Association Tournament on Thursday at Family First Sports Park.
Gators win lacrosse home opener
Allegheny moved to 3-0-0 on the year with its 20-8 win over Washington & Jefferson on Thursday in women’s lacrosse action at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
5 memorable college hoops tourney buzzer beaters
It's March, which means the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. But before March Madness takes hold, the conference tournaments, which get under way this week, often provide their own share of exciting finishes. Here are five memorable buzzer beaters from conference tournament play.
CLASS AA WRESTLING: Local grapplers set sights on state gold
Of the 11 local Class AA wrestlers embarking on wrestling glory at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships, six are making return trips to Hershey, while five grapplers will the view the big stage for the very first time.
CLASS AAA WRESTLING: Lee, McLane duo seek redemption in Hershey
Matching the number from a year ago, the General McLane wrestling team is sending five wrestlers to Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships that begin today at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center.
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