Nov. 20, 2022
Updated: Nov 21
Losses that really hurt
There are losses and there are losses that leave you absolutely numb.
Such was probably the case Friday (Nov. 18) when Jersey Shore went down to defeat in overtime at the hands of Allentown Central Catholic, 38-31, in a 4A playoff game.
Jersey Shore was the team that eliminated Meadville from the playoffs last year, handing the D-10 Bulldogs a 30-6 defeat. The D-4 Bulldogs then went on to lose to Aliquippa (and who doesn't lose to Aliquippa?), 41-16, the next game to finish with a 14-1 record.
Jersey Shore not only was 12-0 entering last Friday's game, but had won all season by scores like: 55-12, 70-6, 63-0, 49-6, 63-24, 65-12, 58-0, 71-6 and 63-6. (Sound familiar Oiler fans?) Its only reasonably "close" games, or games that ended with normal-looking scores, were 23-0 over Canton and 35-7 over Selinsgrove.
So the D-4 Bulldogs had to be reasonably confident going into Friday's game, especially since they had beaten Central 20-7 in the playoffs last year and the District 11 Vikings took only an 8-5 record into the game.
But alas, they lost. Thud.
Not only did it spoil a probable rematch with Meadville in the state quartertfinals, but a reunion with junior fast guy Nic Williams who played for Jersey Shore last season. Williams transferred to Meadville sometime after football season. (I originally thought he moved to Meadville over the summer, but then I noticed he ran track for the Bulldogs last spring)
So, anyway, Meadville, after wearing down Juniata, 28-14, Saturday, will miss senior QB Brady Jordan and his 1,233 yards rushing and 1,011 yards passing -- not to mention senior RB Hadyn Packer and his 1,217 yards rushing.
Instead it will get the Vikings, who I suspect have played their share of 5A and 6A schools, hence the so-so record. Central finished sixth in its conference with a 4-5 mark. Still Max Preps ranks ACC 14th in the state among 4A schools and Meadville 19th.
The winner will take on either Aliquippa or Central Valley, no picnic either way.
It's a small world, after all
There is a sort of comparative score vibe going on here. Selinsgrove (9-3) was one of Jersey Shore's regular season victims (63-0), but the Seals "only" lost to the D-4 Bulldogs 35-7 in the playoffs.
And wait, there's more: Selinsgrove edged Juniata, 17-14, and Hollidaysburg, 38-28, this year. Oil City, a 35-0 loser to Meadville at home in a game that was more competitive than the final score shows, took to the (long) road the next week and beat the Golden Tigers, 38-21, to end a two-game losing streak.
Juniata doesn't look that good on paper, but held a 14-12 halftime lead over MASH before the D-10 Bulldogs imposed their will (aka Khalon Simmons) after intermission. Simmons carried 27 times for 236 yards and three TDs, including a 65-yarder late to ice the game.
Yeah, Juniata finished 8-4. You might recall that Oil City played the Indians during their playoff run from 2018-20. One of Juniata's victories this year was an unimpressive 17-7 over DuBois -- one of the two teams Hollidaysburg beat this fall.
Small world, isn't it?
A few other things to mention about last weekend's slate of playoff games: the three-overtime classic in which State College outlasted McDowell, 57-50, in 6A, ending when the Trojans fumbled on the 3, and in 2A, Farrell star Kylon Wilson being ejected in the Steelers' win over Sharpsville. Wilson got the thumb after allegedly throwing a punch in the second quarter. That means he will be ineligible for this week's game against Westinghouse, which is no slouch. Sharpsville proved the be no slouch either. It was a 7-0 game until the Steelers exploded in the fourth quarter for a 26-0 decision. The only TD to that point came on a fumble return, and in the end, there was not much to chose from statistically: Farrell with 174 yards and the Blue Devils with 148.
Late entry Nov. 21 A.M. -- I had no problem with Grove City being the top seed in the D-10 3A playoffs. None of the Mercer County teams had an outstanding overall record, but they have been dominating the playoffs for years. And this year, they just beat each other up.
However, I did have a problem with General McLane being seeded higher than Oil City. Comparing scores, the Oilers were more impressive than the Lancers. I guess that hose job the Oilers got at Northwestern was the difference. Gave TPTB (the powers that be), an excuse to shaft Oil City. JMHO.
And in other sports...
Maplewood won the 1A state title in volleyball, defeating West Branch, 3-0, in
the finals. It was the sixth state crown for Maplewood and gave District 10 its fourth state champion this fall, the others being Hickory girls golf, Grove City boys cross country and Cathedral Prep girls cross country. Hey, way to be D-10!
Meanwhile, the General McLane girls bowed to Central Columbia in the 2A girls soccer state final.
And then there are Tiger LaVerde's Kirtland Hornets, who keep rolling along in the Ohio state playoffs. Kirtland is in the Division VI Final Four, and will meet Fort Frye in the state semis Saturday. The winner will pay either Marion Local or Columbus Grove on Dec. 3 for the state championship. Tough getting used to the names of these Ohio schools.
Meanwhile, in local small college football, Slippery Rock and Carnegie Mellon advanced, and Grove City and W&J won bowl games.