Mercyhurst Prep Lakers
Coach (season, record): Matt Morgan (8th season, 67-23)
2011 overall record: 9-2
2011 region record (place): 7-1 (second)
2011 playoff results: Lost to Farrell 28-25 in the District 10 Class A quarterfinals.
Top players lost: Joe Peterson, Darrin Donikowski, Dwayne Canady, P.J. Wycech, D.J. Mahoney, Josh Agresti, Ben Tarcson, Matt Ganska, Mike Weber, Kyle Marinelli
Top returning players: Cornelius Barclay, Tom Higgins, Ryan Connor, Alec Parson, Joe Desanti, Kyle Drabic
Assistant coaches: Ryan Abbott, Nate Hain, Pete Szoszorek, John Graeb, Scott Gorring, Drew Bothelo, Rich Krafty
Outlook: Mercyhurst Prep has some work to do in camp with the graduation of Joe Peterson, Darrin Donikowski, Dwayne Canady, P.J. Wycech, D.J. Mahoney, Josh Agresti, Ben Tarcson, Matt Ganska, Mike Weber and Kyle Marinelli. Weber, an all-state lineman, was named to the all-district team and the all-region first team at offensive line and the all-region second team at defensive line. Tarcson was voted to the first team at wide receiver, while Canady was a first-team selection at all-purpose. Canady led Mercyhurst with 18 catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns, while Tarcson had 259 yard and three touchdowns on 13 catches. Canady also rushed for 1,005 yards and 10 touchdowns on 114 carries. If there wasn’t enough for the Lakers to lose, Mahoney was a first-team defensive back, Agrestiy was a second-team tight end and Donikowski was a second-team defensive lineman. Donikowski led the Lakers with 76 tackles, including 6 1/2 sacks. Mercyhurst will also search for a new quarterback after Wycech graduated. He threw for 575 yard and six touchdowns as a senior. The Lakers will have a quarterback battle in camp between Garrett Palmer and Nick Evanoff.
Mercyhurst has enough experience back this season to stay near the top of the Region 2 standings and compete for the region title. Standout running back Cornelius Barclay is back after rushing for 1,324 yards and 18 touchdowns on 170 carries as a junior. He was voted to the all-region first team at running back and is primed for another big season. The Lakers return three lineman on the offensive line, including Joe Desanti, Alec Parson and first-team lineman Kyle Drabic. The defense must replace seven starters from last year. Ryan Connor, who might see a big increase in carries this year, is back as a second-team defensive back, while Parson, Barclay and Tom Higgins are back on defense. Higgins ran for 931 yards and 13 touchdowns on 145 carries last year and could factor into the rushing attack in a big way.
Mercyhurst Prep has a strong line back and solid players in the backfield. It will take some time to work in a new quarterback into the system and establish a new set of wide receivers, but the Lakers have the time to do it. After a season-opener against Class AAA Central Tech, Mercyhurst Prep jumps right into its region schedule. The Lakers will run into tough games along the way, including a road game at Eisenhower on Sept. 21, but they should be in good shape heading into the second half of the season. The Lakers also have interesting games against Mercer and Northwestern on the schedule to prepare them for another playoff run. Mercyhurst was shocked in the District 10 Class A quarterfinals against Farrell and is hungry to make a deep postseason run.
1 at Central Tech 7
7 at Union City* 7
14 Cochranton* 7
21 at Eisenhower* 7
29 Youngsville* 7
5 at Maplewood* 7
12 at Mercer 7
18 Iroquois* 7
27 Cambridge Springs* 7
2 Northwestern 7
*Region 2 games
Monday: North East
– Tom Reisenweber