Sharon 40 Northwestern 0

SHARON - One of the biggest questions after the first two weeks of the District 10 high school football season was what is wrong with the Sharon Tigers, who opened with a 19-0 setback at Jefferson (Ohio) and followed that with another shutout loss at Region 3 rival Hickory (35-0).

However, since those first two games the Tigers have responded with a resounding effort of absolutely nothing.

On Friday night Sharon picked its fifth straight triumph, since the Hickory loss, as it spanked visiting Northwestern 40-0 in a non-region game between fellow District 10 Class AA teams.

"We've improved by leaps and bounds (since the first two weeks of the season) and for a lot of these kids that first week was the first time they played in a varsity game so it's coming together and we've just got to keep working," said Sharon coach Jim Wildman. "18 of our 22 starters are underclassmen and they are getting better and smarter each week."

In the last five weeks Sharon has outscored its opponents by a combined mark of 177-53, scoring 36 points or more in four of those wins, while not allowing more than 17 points in any of them.

"We realized what we want and we're reaching for it," said Sharon junior fullback/linebacker D'amon Rudolph.

At 4-1 in the region (5-2 overall), Sharon has already guaranteed itself of finishing no worse than fourth in the region and therefore pretty much secured a second straight postseason berth, but the Tigers also still control their own destiny for at least a share of the Region 3 crown as they travel to Slippery Rock (5-0, 7-0) next week and then host Greenville (4-1, 6-1) the following week.

"We've done it five weeks in a row now and it comes down to these last two weeks," said Wildman. "Obviously they are more meaningful each week and we have one loss (in the region) and if I understand it correctly we are chasing numbers one and two right now."

The defense set the tone for Sharon on this night as it helped the team begin seven of its eight first half possessions at no worse than the 50 yard line. Sharon's five first half touchdown drives accounted for 5, 45, 35, 3 and 28 yards and the defense also scored the team's only second half touchdown, recovering a fumble in the end zone.

"We played hard today," said Rudolph. "We did well in pass coverage and made sure we wrapped up on our tackles and just did what we had to do."

Sharon got on the board less than five minutes into the game on a five yard touchdown run by Jermiah Norris, while a one-yard quarterback sneak by Andrew Tomko and a 14-yard scoring pass from Tomko to Isaiah Pinckney made it 20-0 before the end of the first quarter. A five-yard touchdown run by Rudolph and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tomko to A'royal Ali made it 33-0 at halftime. Sharon's last touchdown of the night came with 3:57 left in the third quarter at which point the clock began to run continuously due to the PIAA's 35-point mercy rule.

The loss drops Northwestern to 3-4 overall, although the Wildcats still seem to be in pretty good shape for a fourth straight playoff berth as they are currently tied for third place in the Region 4 Standings with North East (both 3-2). Like Sharon, Northwestern has a couple key region games left as it is hosts Region 4 co-leader Fairview (4-1, 5-2) next week and is then at Fort LeBoeuf (2-3, 2-4) the following week.


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SHARON            20-13-7-0 40