Coach (season, record): Bill Brest (2nd season, 9-3)
2010 overall record: 9-3
2010 region record (place): 4-1 (second)
2010 playoff results: Lost 14-6 to Sharon in the District 10 Class AA championship.
Top players lost: Mike Grata, Marlon Pegues, Ross Brenneman
Top returning players: Matt Bell, Andrew Smith, Hayden Rohrbacher, Morgan Englebaugh, Calvin Pryts, Mike Palumbo, Alex Kirsch, Dan Sokac, Dionte Pope
Assistant coaches: Neil Gargano, Bill Sham, Walt Nogay, Mark Palumbo, Mike Nardone, Maurice Wilder, Ross Gargano
Outlook: Expectations are high in Hermitage this fall with what the Hornets have back from last year’s team. Hickory made a run to the District 10 Class AA championship game before a heart-breaking loss to rival Sharon. The Hornets have almost everyone back, but they will have to replace some talented players. Quarterback Mike Grata is gone to graduation as well as speedy Marlon Pegues and standout lineman Ross Brenneman. Those three played a huge part in Hickory winning nine games last fall.
The good news is the Hornets have plenty of experience back. Matt Bell is a Division I prospect on the line, while all-around athlete Andrew Smith is seeing interest from Division I and II schools. Hayden Rohrbacher and Morgan Englebaugh are back as three-year starters on the line, while junior Calvin Pryts is a two-way starter at tight end and middle linebacker. Mike Palumbo, Dan Sokac and Dionte Pope are back to help out the offense, while two-year starter Alex Kirsch is in charge of the secondary from the safety position.
In only his second year, coach William Brest has Hickory looking at competing for region and district titles this fall. His focus on offense will be playing physical football and developing a passing attack with a new quarterback. Team speed is the Hornets’ main strength and that will be apparent on both sides of the ball. The defense must stick to their assignments this fall and make plays for Hickory to limit some of the powerful offenses in Region 3. Field position hurt the Hornets at times last year and the focus on special teams will be to control field position and create momentum.
Hickory won’t wait for region play to be tested this season. The Hornets start with a trap game at Class A West Middlesex and will also travel to perennial power Farrell. Hickory will take on Sharon, Farrell and Wilmington three weeks in a row, which could determine its chances at a region title. If the Hornets can survive September in first place, they will grab the region championship and get a top seed in the playoffs.
2 at West Middlesex 7
9 Titusville* 7
16 at Sharon* 7
23 at Farrell 7
30 at Wilmington* 7
7 Karns City 7
14 Slippery Rock 7
21 at Greenville* 7
28 Reynolds* 7
– Tom Reisenweber