When Hickory and Bedford meet in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals Friday (7 p.m., Windber HIgh School), it promises to be a titanic matchup.
Both teams come in undefeated, Bedford 9-0 and HIckory 8-0, and both have the weapons to make a run at a state title.
The Hornets are coming off a 42-29 win over Grove City in the D-10 Class 3A title game, while Bedford, the District 5 champ, knocked off District 6 champion Central, 28-13.
The Hornets are making their first appearance in the PIAA playoffs since 2016, while Bedford was here just a year ago.
Here’s a look at how the team’s match up.
HIckory Offense (40.5 ppg.)
The Hornets’ offense has an embarrassment of riches, led by a strong offensive line and senior quarterback Michael Henwood.
Henwood has thrown for 1,862 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 857 yards and 13 scores.
Ramarion Whitehead is a true No. 1 receiver, with 51 receptions for 907 yards and eight touchdowns. The Henwood-Whitehead connection was good for a game-sealing touchdown last week in the Hornets’ D-10 title game win over Grove City.
Matt Cannone, Rocco Iacino, Clay Wiesen and Jackson Pryts all have double digits receptions this season as well.
Look for Wiesen (600 yards rushing) and Iacino in the run game as well. Iacino had three touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving) against Grove City.
Bedford Offense (39.6 ppg.)
Bedford boasts a similar offensive attack, led by Mercury Swaim, who, at least statistically, is Henwood’s mirror image.
Swaim has thrown for 1,301 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 877 yards and 15 scores.
Steve Ressler (325 yards) and Elijah Cook (275 yards) also feature in the Bisons’ rushing attack.
Ressler is Swaim’s go-to receiver, hauling in 42 receptions for 693 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also watch out for Greg Edwards, who has 20 receptions for 371 yards and a pair of scores.
Hickory Defense (13.5 ppg.)
The Hornet defense gave up more points and yards than they usually do against GC last week, but made up for it with big plays. Dalton Beatty and Whitehead both had key interceptions that set up points in the first half.
Pryts and Iacino have both racked up over 100 tackles on the season, with Beatty is third on the team with 75.
Beatty also leads the team with four sacks and Cannone and Whitehead have three interceptions each.
Bedford Defense (12.3 ppg.)
Ashton Dull (63 tackles) and Cook (61 tackles) lead a Bisons’ defense that is actually giving up fewer points per game than the Hornets.
Swaim is also a standout on the defensive side of the ball with five sacks
Winner Gets: Central Valley/Elizabeth Forward in Semifinals
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