REGION 5 PREVIEW

 

2013 CHAMPION: ^Slippery Rock

OTHER PLAYOFF QUALIFIERS: Warren, Oil City and DuBois (Class AAAA)

 

PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS

2012: ^Slippery Rock

2011: ^*Grove City

2010: ^Grove City

2009: ^Grove City

2008: ^Grove City

2007: ^Titusville

2006: ^Titusville

2005: ^*General McLane

2004: ^*Strong Vincent

*=also won district title, ^=no longer in region

 

1. DUBOIS BEAVERS

HEAD COACH: Frank Varischetti

2013 RECORD: 4-2 region (tied second), 6-5 overall (lost 21-41 to Mifflin County in PIAA sub-district semifinals)

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 5 YEARS: 31-22

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 10 YEARS: 53-51

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 7 (2005 and 2008-2013)

DISTRICT TITLES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 0

PIAA FINALS APPEARANCES: 0

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 45.0 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 2

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 3

 

Led by second team all-region quarterback Gabe French (180-for-272, 2720 yards, 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions) and first team all-region receiver Bryson Paulinellie (73 receptions, 1250 yards, 15 touchdowns), both of whom are seniors, DuBois looks to be strong and experienced at the "skill" positions, but inexperienced up front with the loss of four all-region linemen, including first team choice Tyler Fleeger. Seniors Cole Kriner (35 receptions, 417 yards, five touchdowns) and Kevin Foley (12-280-1) and junior Dante Dawson (24-363-5) join Paulinellie to give DuBois a deep group of wideouts, while senior Devin Clark is back as the primary running back, after rushing for 1256 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. While it does feature all new starters, the line also includes three seniors in left tackle Joe Peterson, left guard Robert Zilhaver and center Bransyn Luther and two juniors in right guard Ryan Pasternak and right tackle Dominic Foradora. In their spread offense, the Beavers don't always use a tight end, but when they do, sophomore Nick LaBrasca gets the call.

 

 

DEFENSE

Allowed 25.2 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 3

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 6

 

While the DuBois offense has been consistently strong over the past three seasons, last year was the first time since 2009 that the team's defense allowed opponents to average at least 20 points per game and leading this year's unit is junior outside linebacker Adam Bankovich (70 tackles, one sack, one interception), who was a first all-region pick in 2013. Junior Wes Russell is the other outside linebacker this season with senior Dorian McKay and sophomore Noah Shaffer the inside linebackers. Defensive tackle Fleeger (63 tackles) joined Bankovich as a first team all-region selection last season and this season's line is made up of defensive ends Zilhaver (23 tackles, one sack) and senior Brad Peterson (31 tackles, one sack) and defensive tackles Joe Peterson and senior Justin Monella. In the secondary, Paulinellie (43 tackles, one interception) returns as the free safety and the new cornerbacks are Dawson and senior Marco Desantis.

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

DuBois graduated first team all-region kicker Josh Hnat and second team all-region punter Fleeger and on the eve of its second scrimmage, both spots as well as the kick and punt return duties were unfilled.  

 

 

OUTLOOK

With Slippery Rock now in Class AA, DuBois appears to be the heir apparent to win this region.

 

2. CONNEAUT EAGLES

HEAD COACH: Pat Gould

2013 RECORD: 3-3 Region 1 (tied fourth), 7-4 overall (lost 21-24 to Oil City in district quarterfinals)

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 29.4 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst 7 teams in Region 1: 3

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 6

 

In its first year in Region 5, Conneaut should have one of the most potent one-two rushing attacks around in junior quarterback Hunter Merritt and senior running back Elijah Anderton, both of whom were second team all-region choices in Region 1 last year. Merritt led all District 10 quarterbacks by rushing for 1947 yards and 24 touchdowns and added 506 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions throwing the ball, while Anderton finished the 2013 campaign with 830 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Senior Brennon Miller (13 carries, 134 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore Isaiah Gillette (seven carries, 30 yards) are the other primary halfbacks and the top wide receivers are seniors Justin Ledford (six receptions, 51 yards, one touchdown) and Daniel Holcomb and junior Colt Fairbanks. Taylor Williams led last year's team in all receiving stats (25 receptions, 309 yards, four touchdowns) and shares time at tight end with junior classmate Grant Stevenson (1-23-1) and senior Joey Litwin (3-19-0). Seniors Jake Guitierrez and Brendan Baxter and sophomore Kane Kehl could all see time at the two tackle spots, Chris Richardson is one of the starting guards with either his senior classmate Matt Fabrey or sophomore Aaron Brown the other and senior Scott Williams is the center.

 

 

DEFENSE

Allowed 18.0 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst 7 teams in Region 1: 4

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 3

 

On defense Conneaut was led by three second team all-region selections last year and of that trio, cornerback Miller (33 tackles, two sacks, one interception) is back. Fairbanks and Holcombe are both options to be the other corner, while Ledford, who led last year's team with seven interceptions and also led all returning players with 40.5 tackles, is back at safety with sophomore Connor Mattera (13 tackles, one interception) also looking to see time there.  As many as six players figure to see significant time on the Eagle defensive line and Richardson led the group with 17.5 tackles and four sacks last year. Guitierrez (15.5 tackles, one sack), Baxter, Fabrey, sophomore Sam Firkaly and senior Anthony Harakal are the others in the rotation up front with Merritt (37.5 tackles, three sacks, one interception), Litwin (24 tackles, three sacks, one interception), Stevenson and Anderton the top four outside linebackers and Taylor Williams (24 tackles, four sacks), Scott Williams (10 tackles, one sack), junior Sam Lenhardt and sophomore Aarron Brown the top inside linebackers.  

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Miller is the top option to be both the kicker and punter with Merritt and junior Anthony Tomko others who could fill both spots and Fairbanks, Litwin and Holcombe the top punt/kick returners.

 

 

OUTLOOK

Although this is its first season in a Class AAA region, Conneaut qualified for the Class AAA playoffs both of the past two seasons and went toe-to-toe with its opponent before falling. Therefore, it seems like the Eagles should be ready for this challenge and at least in the mix for a postseason berth.

 

 

 

3. OIL CITY OILERS

HEAD COACH: Matt LaVerde

2013 RECORD: 4-2 region (tied second), 7-5 overall (lost 26-70 to Cathedral Prep in district semifinals)

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 5 YEARS: 30-26

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 10 YEARS: 49-56

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 3 (2009 as Class AA team and 2010, 2012-2013 as Class AAA team)

DISTRICT TITLES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 0

PIAA FINALS APPEARANCES: 0

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 34.8 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 3

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 5

 

Oil City must replace six all-region players, including four first team choices in running back Kevin Daly (241 carries, 1445 yards, 19 touchdowns), wide receiver Logan Way (69 receptions, 966 yards, 14 touchdowns), all purpose back Frank Serbati (29 receptions, 470 yards, five touchdowns - 19 carries, 207 yards, three touchdowns) and tackle Quinton Reed. Tight end Tanner Harris gave the offense a fifth first team all-region selection last season and is back for his senior season, with juniors Sam Gatesman and Jake Zdarko others who could see time at tight end. Zdarko is also an option at guard along with senior Seth Fisher and Jon Masters, while senior Lucas McBride is the center and the top three tackles are sophomore Logan Stahl, junior Devon Klingler and senior Will McSparren. Senior Jackson McFall is back as the starting quarterback after completing 122 of 230 passes for 1725 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while rushing for another 245 yards and five scores last season and the new look receiving core includes juniors Morgan Hadley and Tyler Kline and seniors R.J. Hartle and Haundray Muir. Last year was the second straight season that Daly surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark and this year's running back rotation includes seniors John Tribusich and Chris Hicks and junior Matt Klena and Tribusich led the trio with 154 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries last year. Two others who could see time at running back are fellow sophomores Nico Deprea and Noah Patterson.

 

 

DEFENSE

Allowed 22.4 points per game last season (not including playoffs)

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 2

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 5

 

 

Five of six all-region selections from last year's defense are no longer around, including each of its three first team honorees in defensive tackle Trent Zdarko (43.5 tackles, 5.5 sacks), inside linebacker Trevor Deibert (86 tackles, two sacks) and cornerback/safety Jesse Rice (63 tackles, one interception). Second team safety McFall (62.5 tackles, two interceptions) is the only returning all region member, while Hartle (45 tackles) is a second experienced member of the secondary and sees time at cornerback along with Hadley, Muir and junior Ty Kline. Hicks, Klena, Gatesman and Patterson make up an inexperienced linebacker unit and the five man line includes defensive ends Harris (28.5 tackles, two sacks) and Jake Zdarko (11.5 tackles, one sack) and defensive tackles Fisher, Stahl and Klingler with Masters also in the rotation.

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior Sam Wilson enters his third season as the kicker, with Muir, McFall and Hadley all possible punters and Hadley, Tribusich, Hartle and Muir handling kick and/or punt returns.

 

 

OUTLOOK

With all that it lost to graduation, many might expect a drop off from Oil City, but coach LaVerde feels this is a very intelligent, hard working team that has picked things up a lot quicker than normal and if it can stay healthy then he believes a run at another postseason berth, and possibly even a region crown, is a definite possibility. 

 

 

 

 

4. MEADVILLE BULLDOGS

HEAD COACH: Ray Collins (first year)

2013 RECORD: 2-4 region (fifth), 3-7 overall

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 5 YEARS: 23-31

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 10 YEARS: 39-64

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 3 (2008 and 2010-2011)

DISTRICT TITLES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 0

PIAA FINALS APPEARANCES: 0

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 21.5 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 5

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 9

 

The loss of Nathan Martin (127, 733 carries, seven touchdowns), due to an injury, leaves junior quarterback Tanner Frye as the only returning starter in Meadville's Wing-T offense. Senior Faizon McClure and sophomores Journey Brown and Darius Edwards are now the top three wingbacks with sophomore Antonio Ferraro and senior Jarrid Miller the top two fullbacks. Ferraro will begin the season sidelined due to injury, but will be back and according to coach Collins, one of the strengths of this year's offense is the depth at running back. Senior Jaromir Edwards is the split end and junior Tanner Collins replaces first team all-region selection Alec Lloyd as the starting tight end. The line is made up of all new starters with right tackle Nick Klippel and left guard Jim Silvis both juniors and right guard Barrett Hoffman, center Tristan Beck and left tackle Luke Sherrod all sophomores.

 

 

DEFENSE

Allowed 33.0 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 5

Amongst 14 Class AAA-AAAA teams that competed in District 10 regions: 11

 

Like on offense, the Bulldog defense is very young with free safety Hayden Potts the only senior. Potts is joined in the starting secondary by fellow cornerbacks Edwards (14 tackles) and Frye, who are two of six starters that go both ways with defensive ends Sherrod and Klippel and inside linebacker Silvis (15 tackles, one sack) and outside linebacker Brown the others. Junior Caleb Bish led all returning players with 29 tackles last year and is the other inside linebacker with Tristan Beck the other outside linebacker and fellow juniors Danny Bell (18 tackles, one sack) and Tyler Parady the defensive tackles.

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Miller is the kicker, sophomore Kirk Mumau is the punter and Brown is the primary kick/punt returner.

 

 

OUTLOOK

The future is bright and the main thing for the Bulldogs right now is just to get through the building, which is what this is according to coach Collins. That said, Collins still believes that this team can challenge for the playoffs, but knows it will have to come up big in any and every game that it expects to win.

 

 

 

 

5. FRANKLIN KNIGHTS

HEAD COACH: Tom Haynes

2013 RECORD: 1-5 region (tied sixth), 2-8 overall

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 5 YEARS: 5-41

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 10 YEARS: 31-65

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 2 (2004-2005)

DISTRICT TITLES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 0

PIAA FINALS APPEARANCES: 0

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 15.8 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 6

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 11

 

Franklin begins its second season running coach Haynes' triple option offense and leading the list of returners is junior split end Khalil West who caught 54 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Actually, all of Franklin's "skill" position starters are juniors as Tanner Moon is the split end, Zak Lynn is the tailback, Justin Hunter and Noah Cowles are the halfbacks and Peter Rembold, who completed 10 of 20 pass attempts for 120 yards in limited action last season, is the new starting quarterback. Tackle Devin Latchaw gives the offense a seventh junior starter, while the rest of the line is made up of seniors Mykel McCool (guard), Kirk Breithaupt (center) and Michael Wisner (tackle) and sophomore guard Tyler Jones.

 

 

DEFENSE

Allowed 41.5 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 6

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 12

 

On defense Franklin runs a 3-5 and the unit is led by second team all-region defensive tackle McCool, who finished last season with 35 tackles and one sack. Cowles is the other defensive tackle and the nose tackle is Wisner, who had 29 tackles to go along with a sack and an interception in 2013. Junior Tyler Carey led all returning players with 49 tackles a season ago, adding two sacks, while Rembold also had a pair of sacks to and totaled 27 tackles and that duo is joined by Breithaupt as starting inside linebackers with seniors Austin Clark and Austin Andres the outside linebackers. In the secondary West (18 tackles, one interception) and junior Rayquan Gray-Law are the cornerbacks and sophomore Darian Taylor is the safety.

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior Ty Mooney was a first team all-region kicker last season and is also the punter with West and Gray-Law handling kick and punt returns.

 

 

OUTLOOK

The goal for this year's Franklin team is to build off of what it started in Haynes' first season last year and use it as a stepping stone.

 

 

 

6. BRADFORD OWLS

HEAD COACH: Jeff Puglio

2013 RECORD: 1-5 region (tied sixth), 2-8 overall

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 5 YEARS: 23-27

CUMULATIVE RECORD IN LAST 10 YEARS: 53-48

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 2 (2006-2007)

DISTRICT TITLES IN LAST 10 YEARS: 2 (2006-2007)

PIAA FINALS APPEARANCES: 0

 

 

OFFENSE

Averaged 9.1 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 7

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 14

 

It seems as if the Bradford offense has nowhere to go but up as it struggled mightily last year, being shutout in three consecutive games from September 27 through October 11 and scoring 20 points or more only twice all season long. Another reason to be cautiously optimistic is that the majority of last year's unit is back, including the starting quarterback, top four rushers and six of its top seven pass receivers. Junior Andrew Colosimo led the team in carries (103) and rushing yards (626), adding two touchdowns on the ground and is joined as a starting halfback on this year's team by senior Justin Fishkin, who rushed for 291 yards and three scores in 2012, but was injured in last season's opener against Kennedy Catholic and didn't play again. Senior Kyle Langdon is the starting fullback and rushed for 492 yards and three touchdowns, while catching, a team-high, 12 passes despite missing four games due to injury. Senior Zach Bartlebaugh was the starting quarterback last year (275 yards passing, two touchdowns, 13 interceptions - 39 carries, 92 yards rushing), but could be unseated by sophomore Kyle Kirk who completed three of nine passes for 67 yards and both one touchdown and one interception in limited action as a freshman. Seniors Brandon McWilliams and Rob Taylor and sophomore Mitch Vleminckx all see time at split end, while senior John Pantuso enters his third season as the starting tight end and was a second team all-region pick in 2012. Three players who began last season as starters on the line are back, although senior Rob Rice could be unseated at one of the tackle spots by junior Taylor Brautigam. Steve McNinch returns at the other tackle position with his senior classmate Kyle Whitmer also back as the starting center. Guards Steve Zawatski and Brandon Hughes give the group up front two more senior starters.

 

 

DEFENSE

 

Allowed 42.0 points per game last season

RANK

Amongst seven teams in region: 7

Amongst 14 teams AAA-AAAA that competed in District 10 regions: 14

 

The Owl defense struggled just as much as the offense did last year, allowing at least 28 points in each of its last eight games and giving up 59 or more three times. Many of the players who start on offense will go both ways, including cornerback Bartlebaugh who finished last season with 26 tackles and, a team-high, five interceptions. Vleminckx (15 tackles) is the other corner and Fishkin (36 tackles, one sack in 2012) is the safety. Even with the graduation of 2013 tackles leader Ryan McCammon (93), the linebacker position should be a strength for the Owls with Langdon a fourth year starter (145 tackles, two interceptions, one sack in that time) and both Colosimo (48 tackles) and sophomore Tim Shuster (43 tackles, one sack) entering their second season as a starter. Hughes is the other starting linebacker and the line includes Whitmer (49 tackles, one sack) and senior Pat Robinson as the defensive tackles and Pantuso (50 tackles over the past two season), Rice (53 tackles, one sack over the past two seasons) and Zawatski rotating at the two defensive end spots.

 

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Travis Gleason handles all kicking and punting chores and the kick/punt returners are Vleminckx and senior Garrett Kornacki.  

 

OUTLOOK

After finishing with a losing record just once from 1999-2010, Bradford finished with more losses than wins in each of the past three years and while this year's team should be better than the 2013 version, how much better and just how many more wins that will equate to, remains to be seen.