Coach (season, record): Bill Brest (3rd season, 20-5)
2011 overall record: 11-2
2011 region record (place): 4-1 (second)
2011 playoff results: Hickory defeated Northwestern 33-12, North East 35-0 and General McLane 35-13 to win the District 10 Class AA championship. Hickory then lost to Tyrone 40-28 in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Top players lost: Matt Bell, Hayden Rohrbacher, Del Warren Meyers, Mark Mrozek, Alex Kirsch, Andrew Smith
Top returning players: DeShawn Coleman, Mike Nardone, Mike Palumbo, Calvin Pryts, Dionte Pope
Assistant coaches: Neil Gargano, Mike Nardone, Bill Sham, Walt Nogay, Maurice Wilder, Jeff Valentino, John Flynn, Mark Palumbo, Ross Gargano, Scott Biro
Outlook: Hickory had a banner year in 2011, including a District 10 Class AA championship. The Hornets dominated in the District 10 postseason and ran into a tough team in Tyrone in the PIAA quarterfinals. Hickory has a strong group back this fall and will be a threat to repeat as D-10 champions. The Hornets lost four starters on both sides of the ball. Matt Bell, an all-disitrict offensive lineman and first-team all-region offensive and defensive lineman has graduated. He will compete for Youngstown State this fall. Also gone on the line is first-team selection Morgan Englebaugh, second-team selection Hayden Rohrbacher and tight end Del Warren Meyers. Hickory also has to replace Mark Mrozek, Alex Kirsch and all-region selection Andrew Smith. Smith, who is competing for Edinboro this fall, was a first-team wide receiver and second-team defensive back. Smith ran for 323 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 480 yards and seven touchdowns. Kirsch caught 14 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns as a senior.
Hickory has several standout players back this fall, including West Virginia recruit DeShawn Coleman. In a breakout junior season, Coleman ran for 2,391 yards and 33 touchdowns on 209 carries and caught 10 passes for 160 yards and three TDs. Coleman was named to the all-district team as a running back and was vote to the all-region first team at running back. Mike Nardone is back at quarterback and linebacker. He threw for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Mike Palumbo also returns in the backfield, while Dionte Pope is back at wide receiver and Calvin Pryts returns at tight end. Pryts was a second-team selection at tight end and linebacker, while Pope was voted to the second team at all-purpose and defensive back. Palumbo has plenty of speed and was voted to the first team at linebacker. The Hornets have some experience on the offensive and defensive line this year. Joe Hines, a second-team defensive lineman, is back for his senior season, while Jaylen Sharper is back as well. Alonzo Scott started three games last year on the line and will compete for a starting spot along with seven other hopefuls in camp. Freshman Andrew Pryts and LaRon Allen could be impact players as well this year.
Hickory has the talent and experience to repeat as District 10 Class AA champions. The Hornets have a loaded schedule this season. Region 3 is tough enough with teams like Grove City, Sharon and Wilmington waiting but Hickory went above and beyond for the non-region portion. The Hornets open with Class AAA Strong Vincent and will eventually play powerhouse Farrell. The open date in Week 10 could be a welcome bye week after nine tough games. Hickory’s toughest stretch will come in September when the Hornets take on Wilmington and Grove City in back-to-back weeks.
31 Strong Vincent 7
7 at Greenville* 7
14 at Wilmington* 7
21 Grove City* 7
28 at Titusville* 7
6 Sharon* 1
12 Farrell 7
19 at Saegertown* 7
26 Reynolds* 7
*Region 3 games
– Tom Reisenweber