Just hit me: Oilers 4-0 in D-10 title games
(This article appeared in the Nov. 4. 2020, edition of The Derrick and The News Herald.)
Just hit me Tuesday morning: Oil City is 4-0 in District 10 championship games. I looked it up just to make sure and noticed this: General McLane, surprisingly, is 3-10 and hasn’t won the title since 2006, the year it won the state championship.
A look at records of other annual foes of the Oilers: Meadville is 1-4, Conneaut is 1-1, Franklin is 0-2 and Warren is 0-1.
Franklin’s title game appearances came in 2003 (a 36-15 loss to Strong Vincent in the AAA game) and 1989 (a 21-6 defeat to Cathedral Prep in 4A.)
District 10 playoffs began in 1985, and I remember Oil City being upset that it didn’t get in with a 7-1-1 record.
But it added a game at the end of the season at Hickory that ended up keeping the Hornets out of the playoffs after the Oilers romped, 39-6. (When it was all over, some wag in the Hickory press box asked, “Who scheduled this game?”)
That was by far Oil City’s most lopsided win of the season. And its 415 total yards were by far the most it gained against anybody. Chris Conway ran for a then school record 293 yards in that game.
Said coach Dan Brown afterward, "The way we're playing we'd love to play Greenville, Sharon or any of those teams (that will be in the District 10 Division I playoffs). Any of those teams would have trouble beating us."
Greenville had handed the Oilers their only loss of the season, 14-0, in a Week 2 game, but it was one of those deals where somewhere in the middle of the campaign a team shows vast improvement. (There was a scoreless tie with Kennedy Catholic during Week 4, too.)
The ’85 Oilers were defense oriented, allowing 759 yards rushing and a conference-low 34 points, recording 19 sacks and forcing 40 turnovers. Jeff Brown (7 INTs and 3 fumble recoveries) and Todd Piendel (7 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs) had 10 takeaways apiece, school records that still stand.
Mike Jolley at fullback teamed with Conway to give the Oilers a formidable 1-2 punch on the ground (1,649 yards). Conway would go on to star at Edinboro along with lineman Matt Miller. Current Oiler assistant Bill Heber also played on that team.
The first four years of the D-10 playoffs, teams were divided into three “divisions.” Sharon trounced Greenville, 53-7, for the Division I crown in 1985. Northwestern, in what would become a rare Erie County win over Mercer County, walloped Reynolds, 40-7, in Division II. Farrell claimed Division III, 50-7, over Kennedy.
“Classes” --- 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A -- didn’t come to be until 1989. There were four until 2016 when it ballooned to six.
Cathedral Prep has the most titles – 24, including its uncontested bye to interdistricts this season. Wilmington is next with 14 and Sharon has 12. McDowell also has 12, including three uncontested. Farrell has nine as does Hickory, which could make it 10 with a win this weekend against Grove City in the AAA title game. Sharpsville has eight, Strong Vincent five and nobody else has more than four.