All the summer workouts and practices in the heat have led to this – high school football season is officially here.
Reynolds (1A), Farrell (2A), Grove City (3A), Meadville (4A), Cathedral Prep (5A) and McDowell (6A) are your defending District 10 champions, although there are a number of teams in new classifications, specifically in Class 3A., which should make for plenty of intrigue.
Meadville and Corry are now the only two teams in Class 4A, while Class 3A now consists of 15 teams, the largest of any classification in D10 (1A has 11 teams).
As far as Week 1 is concerned most of the action is out of region. There are, however, several intriguing in-region matchups, including Maplewood at Saegertown and Cambridge Springs at Kennedy Catholic in Region 1, Wilmington at Sharpsville in Region 3, and Oil City at Warren and Franklin at Titusville in Region 5.
Without further ado, here’s a look at the Week 1 matchups.
Maplewood at Saegertown
Maplewood has a new head coach in Jason Wargo, who takes over for Bryan Borkovich. The Tigers went 5-4 in the regular season before giving Cochranton (undefeated in the regular season) all they could handle in a 14-12 setback in the Class 1A semifinals. Ben Gilberto returns after rushing for 811 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
Saegertown, meanwhile, went 2-6 last season, falling to Eisenhower 39-0 in the Class 1A quarterfinals. Aaron Shartle rushed for 364 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman last season, while Zach Yoder had 354 yards on the ground as a junior in 2021.
Cambridge Springs at Kennedy Catholic (Saturday)
Expect these two teams to have some success through the air, as both return their quarterbacks and top receivers.
Morgan Applebee emerged as a freshman for the Blue Devils last season, throwing for 430 yards. Ethan Counasse, Van Jones, and Bryce Kania all return to lead a talented group of skill players. Defensively, the Blue Devils gave up more than 21 points just twice last season, including in a 34-20 Class 1A quarterfinal loss to Reynolds.
Kennedy Catholic may be small in numbers, but they have plenty of explosiveness. Junior Simeir Wade returns after hauling in 32 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns a year ago and will take over starting quarterback duties, throwing to the talented trio of Jermaine Dunlap, Nick Ondo and Elijah Smith in the spread offense.
Wilmington at Sharpsville (Saturday)
The Greyhounds went 7-3 last year, with two of those three losses coming to Farrell, including in the Class 2A title game. Sharpsville meanwhile is back after a successful co-op with West Middlesex began a year ago.
The Greyhounds lost 1,000-yard rusher Luke Edwards to graduation, but return quarterback Tuff McConahy who threw for 720 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. This game was won by Wilmington in thrilling fashion last season, 28-27.
Sharpsville also went 7-3 a year ago and would have been a playoff team if not for the PIAA rule not allowing them to participate after the late co-op agreement. Quarterback Caullin Summers returns after throwing for 718 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore, with leading receiver Garen Levis also returning. Defensively, the Blue Devils allowed single-digit points in five of their 10 games in 2021.
Oil City at Warren
A key early Region 4 matchup features a matchup in which Warren rallied from an 18-0 deficit to win 21-18 in 2021.
The Dragons went 5-5 a year ago, falling to General McLane in the Class 4A semis (the Dragons are now 3A). Junior quarterback Eric Dippold returns after throwing for 1,366 yards and 15 touchdowns, as does receiver Cayden Wright and backs Tommy Nyquist (852 yards, seven touchdowns) and Ethan Senz (374 yards, six touchdowns).
Cam Crocker and Ethen Knox are two of the top returners for the Oilers. Knox burst onto the scene a year ago, rushing for 1,825 yards in just eight games with 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. Knox and Crocker finished first and third on the team respectively in tackles last season, with second-leading tackler Kevin Pearsall also returning.
Franklin at Titusville (Saturday)
The Rockets showed steady improvement last season, winning three games, including a 14-8 triumph over Kennedy Catholic in their season finale.
The Knights, meanwhile, were 1-9 a season ago but did show the ability to put up points, including 40 in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Lakeview in their regular season finale. The game represents a key early-season test for both teams.
Cathedral Prep at Archbishop Hoban (OH)
Hoban, a powerhouse out of Akron, already has a game under its belt, a 44-20 win over Football North (Mississauga, Ontario). In that game, University of Buffalo commits Lamar Sterling put up some eye-popping numbers, rushing for 393 yards, 302 of which came in the second half.
Prep is coming off a season in which it reached the PIAA quarterfinals before falling to Imhotep Charter. The Ramblers will have a new look this season under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Krahe, who takes over for Mike Mischler, who guided the Ramblers to five state titles in his tenure. Prep returns 6-4 quarterback Carter Barnes, as well as Suhtaun Lewis and a host of other offensive weapons.
Eisenhower at Cochranton
Both teams are coming off successful 2021 campaigns, with both losing to Reynolds in the playoffs – Eisenhower in the Class 1A semifinals and Cochranton in the title game.
Eisenhower returns most of its starters from that team along both lines as well as at the skill positions. Garrett Jensen, Shawn Pascuzzi, and Keegan Eckstrom will help lead the way for the Knights, who were 7-3 a year ago.
Cochranton, meanwhile, was a senior-laded team in 2021. Still, with the confidence that comes from an unbeaten season a year ago, expect the Cardinals to make plenty of noise once again.
Lakeview at Seneca
The Bobcats return plenty of talent from a season ago, including the likes of Anthony Buscemi, Collin Libra, and quarterback Nolan Seabury.
They will be facing a Lakeview team that went 3-7 a year ago and must replace Gavin Murdock, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in District 10 who eclipsed 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. Mitchell Tingley rushed for 205 yards as a sophomore in 2021.
Mercer at Iroquois
Mercer went 3-6 a year ago and must replace its quarterback and top two receivers. The Mustangs do return a number of starters on the offensive line, however. Look for the combination of Nathan Haines, Daemyin Mattocks, and Carter Addison to step up in the backfield.
Iroquois went 2-6 a year ago with wins over Union City and Kennedy Catholic. First-year coach Nick Copeland will be led by the likes of junior quarterback Christian Krysiak and Andres Gonzales.
Fairview at Mercyhurst Prep
Fairview is coming off a 7-3 season, with one of those losses coming in the playoffs to eventual Class 3A champion Grove City.
Tyler Corbin and Vinny Campoli both return after splitting the quarterback duties a season ago. The headliner in the backfield is senior Jared Gennuso, who rushed for 1,090 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago. Jeremy Frazao is the top returning receiver with 260 yards a year ago. The Tigers will also lean on a defense that gave up 14 points or fewer in five of their wins.
These two teams squared off last season, a 38-14 win for Mercyhurst Prep. The Lakers went 3-6 in 2021. David Bahm threw for 1,484 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior, while Josh Wingenbach had 200 yards receiving.
Northwestern at Girard
After back-to-back region championships, Northwestern is back for more and gets the season rolling against rival Girard. The line is experienced for the Wildcats, but they must replace a talented group of skill players, including D9and10Sports All-District quarterback Ryan Tewell. Ben Campbell is the leading returning rusher with 348 yards for a Wildcat team that went unbeaten in the regular season before falling to Wilmington in the Class 2A semifinals.
The Jackets were 1-8 a year ago, with that win coming over Harbor Creek. The Jackets also played a very difficult schedule against the likes of Karns City, Hickory, Fairview, Fort LeBoeuf, and Slippery Rock.
Union City at Reynolds
Expectations are once again high for Reynolds, the back-to-back D10 Class 1A champions. Senior running back Jalen Wagner is back after rushing for 2,063 yards and 25 touchdowns on his way to all-state honors. Quarterback Bryce McCloskey also returns after throwing for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Raiders also return an experienced line led by Nate Leksell, Alex Winkelvoss, Nate Miller, and Kolton Wilkinson.
They will be facing a Union City team under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Wydro that was 0-7 a year ago. The Bears do return some experience in the backfield, led by Clay Thomas and Owen Kerns.
Farrell vs. North East (at Westminster College)
This game was originally scheduled for Farrell, but the Steelers have to wait for work on their new turf field to be completed. The Steelers must replace all-state running back Anthony Stallworth, but return a ton of talent from last season’s team that went to the state semifinals in Class 2A. Anthony Jackson and Malachi Shepherd return to anchor the offensive line, while junior Kabron Smith takes over at quarterback after throwing for 617 yards and splitting those duties with Trian Holden last season. Dynamic playmaker Kylon Wilson returns after accounting for 23 total touchdowns a year ago, as does LJ Samuels. Expect Brandon Chambers to take over the lead-back duties.
Defensively, the Steelers allowed single-digit points in eight games in 2021, including four shutouts.
North East, meanwhile, will be guided by coach Jovon Johnson, a former Iowa standout who had a brief career in the NFL. The Grapepickers went 3-6 a year ago with wins over Corry, Girard, and Iroquois.
Hubbard (Ohio) at Greenville
Hubbard already had a game under its belt, earning a 28-8 win over East (Reedsville, OH). In that game, Ben Wilcox rushed for 109 yards and a pair of scores for Hubbard.
Veteran coach Brian Herrick returns to lead Greenville, which went 7-4 a year ago. The Trojans return an experienced offensive line, as well as leading receiver Jase Herrick (410 yards, six touchdowns). Nick Solderich is expected to take over at quarterback for the Trojans.
Grove City at Avonworth
Defending District 10 Class 3A champion Grove City opens with a tough WPIAL foe in Avonworth. The Eagles must replace a number of starters on the offensive and defensive lines, but do return plenty of experience at the skill positions. Hunter Hohman, the D9and10Sports Rookie of the Year in 2021, returns after throwing for 2,104 yards and 23 touchdowns while also rushing for 460 yards and six scores. Top receivers Gavin Lutz (630 yards, four touchdowns) and Joey Hathaway (589 yards, six touchdowns) return, as does Anthony Nemec, who figures to beat Grove City’s feature back in 2022.
Avonworth went 9-3 in 2021, falling to North Catholic 7-0 in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals a year ago. Quarterback Nate Harper returns after throwing for 1,147 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
Hickory at Harbor Creek
Coach Bill Dungee’s Hickory Hornets went 7-4 a year ago, welcoming back a number of players at key positions. Sean Kennedy will be key on both sides of the ball for the Hornets after rushing for 584 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Senior quarterback Logan Woods threw for 2,270 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. The Hornets must replace some key pieces up front as well as at receiver, but junior speedster Keenan Scullin returns after accounting for 618 receiving yards last season.
Harbor Creek was hit hard by injuries on its way to a 3-8 record last season and must replace its top three rushers from a year ago.
Sharon at Neshannock
Sharon went 6-4 last season, falling to Hickory in the 3A quarterfinals, 36-20. The Tigers return plenty of talent, however. Senior quarterback Mikey Rodriques threw for 1,560 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021, and also added five scores on the ground. Ja’on Phillips, an All-District 10 selection at receiver, must be replaced, but D’Angelo Harrison and a host of others look to be more than capable. Leading rusher Jayveerh White (604 yards) also returns.
They will be facing a Neshannock team that went 7-4 a year ago, falling to PIAA Class 2A runner-up Serra Catholic, 61-21 in the WPIAL playoffs.
General McLane at Slippery Rock
Slippery Rock fell in the Class 3A title game to Grove City last year, going 7-2 despite numerous game interruptions due to COVID that wasn’t their doing. The Rockets lost plenty of talent, but also return a lot as well. Look for the combination of quarterback William Mokel and receiver John Sabo to be one of the best in D10. Mokel threw for 872 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing time due to injury, while Sabo had 404 yards and seven scores. Look for a combination of Brett Galcik and Maddox Allen in the backfield.
General McLane beat Warren in the Class 4A semifinals before falling to Meadville, going 6-4. The Lancers must replace do-it-all quarterback John Amon, but do return Dylan Sheeder and Magnus Lloyd in the backfield, among others.
Conneaut at Fort LeBoeuf
The Bison went 7-3 a year ago, falling to Grove City 35-31 in the Class 3A semifinals. The Bison put replace dynamic runner Tristin Harris, among others, but don’t expect their traditional rushing attack to miss much of a beat.
Conneaut, meanwhile, will look to reverse its fortunes after going winless a year ago as first-year head coach Josh Blood assumes the reigns.
Meadville at Corry
A matchup of the only two Class 4A teams in District 10 as the Bulldogs travel to Corry to take on the Beavers.
Meadville graduates D9and10Sports District 10 Defensive Player of the Year Griffin Buzzell but returns nearly everyone else from last seasons D10 title team and PIAA quarterfinalists.
Khalon Simmons was one of the top backs in District 10 last season, rushing for 1,882 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Shaler at Butler
It’s been a successful venture into District 10 for Butler, as they continued to make strides with a 5-5 record in 2021, falling to McDowell 40-21 in the 6A title game. The Golden Tornado welcome back Mac Schnur at quarterback. The senior threw for 1,574 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. They also welcome back a trio of backs who all rushed for over 200 yards last season.
They will be facing a Shaler team that went 2-8 in the WPIAL a season ago.
Walsh Jesuit (OH) at McDowell
McDowell opens at home against a formidable foe in Walsh Jesuit (OH) out of Cuyahoga Falls. They opened the season last week with a double-overtime win over Benedictine (OH). Justin Bremner led the Warriors rushing attack with 82 yards and two scores on 24 carries
McDowell returns a talented backfield, led by Artis Simmons, as well as Christian Santiago and Ben Moore. The line is deep and experienced and anchored by junior Cooper Cousins, a four-star recruit and Penn State commit.
West Toronto Prep (Ontario, Canada) at Erie
The Erie Royals open Year 2 of Andre Henderson’s tenure against our neighbors to the North, West Toronto Prep. West Toronto has become a common foe for Erie County schools in recent years. The Royals are looking to improve upon a 3-7 season that saw them beat Harbor Creek, St. Joe’s (NY) and Oil City.