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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
The Varsity blog is the 2013 winner of an international EPPY award for best sports blog. EPPYs are awarded to media-affiliated websites by Editor & Publisher, an industry trade publication. Varsity is primarily maintained by Times-News sports writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik.   Read more about this blog.
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Posts categorized "Football"
Posted: July 31st, 2014

Strong Vincent's Tim Romanski, center, scores a touchdown in the District 10 Class AAA championship game against Sharon as Tony Robie (13) and Quentin Orlando (21) provide blocks. The Colonels won the game 14-10 and went on to win the PIAA championship a few weeks later, beating Conestoga Valley 29-20. ERIE TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO


Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 29 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 29

That’s the number of points Strong Vincent scored to beat Conestoga Valley Buckskins in the 1991 PIAA Class AAA championship game. The Colonels’ 29-20 victory at Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic made them the first Erie County team to win a state championship in football, and only the second from District 10.

Vincent, coached by Joe Bufalino, shut out the Buckskins in the second half after trailing by five points at the half. The Colonels all but clinched the title when running back Tony Robie scored on fourth down-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Robie, along with Tim Romanski and Quentin Orlando, accounted for the brunt of Vincent’s 186 rushing yards out of the offense’s Wing-T attack.

The Colonels earlier won their first District 10 title when they beat Sharon 14-10 with a last-minute touchdown.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 30th, 2014

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 30 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 30

That’s the number of points Hickory scored to beat Montoursville in the 1989 PIAA Class AA championship game. The Hornets’ 30-22 victory at Memorial Stadium in Middletown made them the first District 10 football team to win a state tile.

Hickory beat Fairview 34-10 in District 10′s inaugural Class AA final in 1989. They eliminated Steel Valley 17-7 in the state semifinals to set up the final against Montoursville.

Andre Coleman starred for the ’89 Hornets. The wide receiver was recruited by Kansas State and then picked by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the 1994 NFL draft.

The highlight of Coleman’s five-year professional career was at the end of his rookie season. He scored on a 98-yard kickoff return for the Chargers during their 49-26 loss to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIX.

Coleman will be featured in a upcoming story on the history of the District 10 playoffs in the Kickoff magazine.

– Mike Copper


Posted: July 29th, 2014

Brian Milne

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 31 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 31

That’s the number of touchdowns Brian Milne scored during Fort LeBoeuf’s 1989 season. His 2,419 rushing yards that season are the fourth most in District 10 history.

Milne’s story is well known, but always worth repeating. He never got a chance to duplicate or surpass the statistics he posted as a junior after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1990.

Although Milne didn’t play for the Bison as a senior, Penn State coach Joe Paterno didn’t rescind the football scholarship offered by the Nittany Lions even if Milne never played a down for them.

Milne recovered and returned to the football in the 1991 Erie Lions Club Save-An-Eye All-Star Game. He went on to play for Penn State and then four seasons in the National Football League with Cincinnati, Seattle and New Orleans.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 28th, 2014

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 32 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 32

That’s the number of seasons Dan Budziszewski was the head coach at Harbor Creek.

Budziszewski teams went 165-146-3 between 1982 and 2013. His victory total trails only Mina George (230) and Gus Anderson (167) among District 10 head coaches who spent their entire careers in charge of Erie County programs.

The highlight of Budziszewski’s tenure were Harbor Creek’s 2004 and 2007 teams. Each reached District 10 Class AA championship games, with the former losing to Grove City and the latter to Wilmington.

Budziszewski also was a six-year assistant with Harbor Creek’s coaching staff before he took over for John Ballard.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 27th, 2014

Bryan Divido will forever be remembered in Erie Lions Club Save-An-Eye All-Star Game history thanks to his two interception returns during Friday night’s game at Veterans Stadium.

Divido was vital to the County’s 21-14 victory over the City. The Girard graduate became the first player in the series’ 76 games to accomplish that feat, according to the “75 Save-An-Eye Games” book.

After returning a Josh Wells interception 38 yards for a third-quarter score, Divido picked off an errant pass by Chris Starocci for a 74-yard return midway through the fourth. That return was the difference in the County’s first Save-An-Eye victory since 2008.

Wesleyville graduate Paul Barone was the first player to record an interception return in a Save-An-Eye Game. Barone’s 40-yard return for the East was part of their 25-0 shutout of the West on Nov. 27, 1943.

The Save-An-Eye Game switched to its current City-County format in 1952.

– Mike Copper

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: July 27th, 2014

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 33 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 33

That’s the number of touchdowns Lakeview running back Blake Reddick scored during his record-setting season in 2013.

Reddick captained the Sailors to their first-ever District 10 championship in the sport when they blanked Sharpsville 27-0 for the Class A trophy. A loss to Clarion in the PIAA quarterfinals left the senior with 2,974 yards on the ground.

Mercyhurst Prep graduate Aaron Horton held the district’s previous single-season mark with 2,444 yards in 2010.

Reddick, who plans to play for Edinboro University this fall, also graduated from Lakeview as District 10′s career rushing leader at 6,548.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 26th, 2014

Any District 10 fans who didn’t get enough football watching former Erie stars in the Save-An-Eye Game on Friday night can get their fix today at Corry high school.

Corry will hold its annual 7-on-7 passing camp today, and 24 teams from throughout the region will be participating. The action starts at 9 a.m. and continues for most of the day.

Among the teams competing will be Strong Vincent, DuBois, Cathedral Prep (two teams), Fort LeBoeuf, Youngsville, Northwestern, Corry (two teams), Warren, Eisenhower, Maplewood, Girard, Franklin, Titusville, Lakeview, Seneca and Cambridge Springs.

For the first time, the Corry event will feature a competition for linemen — the Big Man Bash. Linemen from 16 schools are scheduled to compete in heavy-duty events like bench press, tire flip, truck pull and tug of war.

Fans might want to check it out.


Posted in: District 10, Football
Posted: July 26th, 2014

Ryan Morris

Chris Starocci

The 76th annual Save-An-Eye Game was a memorable one Friday night at Veterans Stadium. The County beat the City 21-14, thanks in large part to the efforts of several Girard players. Check out a Save-An-Eye  photo gallery and a Street View Fan Cam photo gallery.

– One of the standouts for the City was Strong Vincent quarterback Chris Starocci. He attempted just five passes in the game, but he completed two, and both went for touchdowns. Starocci threw a 37-yard TD pass to former Vincent teammate Dajhere Pacley in the second quarter. He then connected with McDowell grad Jamie Szymczak on a 24-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. Starocci finished with 61 yards passing and 21 yards rushing.

– Corry’s Ryan Morris showed why he was an all-District 10 and all-state linebacker. He was all over the field, making a game-high 17 tackles, including 10 solo stops. No other defender hit double digits in tackles. He will play at Gannon this fall.

– The City’s leading tackler was McDowell linebacker Lucas Bailey. He had nine tackles (three solo) while helping the City limit the County to just 44 yards rushing. Cathedral Prep’s Jacob Murawski led the City with two tackles for losses among his three tackles. One was a sack for an 11-yard loss.

– East’s Eddie Williams had one of the City’s biggest highlights with a 52-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter. That set up the City’s first TD — Starocci’s 37-yard strike to Pacley. Williams also returned a punt 17 yards.

– Girard’s Bryan Divido finished with 144 return yards. In addition to his interception returns of 38 and 74 yards, he recovered a fumble and returned it 32 yards after a sack by Northwestern’s Brayden Wojtecki. Wojtecki had two of the County’s three sacks.

– Two players who were making comebacks from season-ending injuries in the fall experienced big moments Friday. Girard’s Brian McNally, who suffered a knee injury in 2013, led all receivers with four catches for 63 yards and opened the scoring with a 15-yard TD reception in the second quarter. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards, had three tackles and broke up a pass.

Meanwhile, General McLane’s Michael Suminski, who suffered a broke leg last fall, caught a pass to score a two-point conversion in the second quarter.

– The game’s leading rusher was East’s Anthony Gates with 64 yards on just seven carries. The leading passer was Corry’s Nathaniel Smith with 70 yards on 5-of-12 completions. He was the only County quarterback to attempt a pass.

– McDowell kicker Ethan Stark showed off his big leg with three kickoffs for an average of 61.3 yards, including two touchbacks. He also punted twice for an average of 32 yards and kicked two extra points. Stark will kick for Albany in the fall.

Posted in: District 10, Football
Posted: July 26th, 2014

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 34 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29:

Number of the day: 34

That’s the number of points Farrell scored en route to its victory over Sharpsville in the 2009 District 10 Class A final.

The Steelers’ 34-7 win over the Blue Devils at Slippery Rock University represented the second of their three straight titles in that class. The first was thanks to a 28-7 victory over Linesville in 2008 and the third via a 39-0 shutout of Mercyhurst Prep in 2010.

Unfortunately for Farrell, its district dominance from 2008-10 coincided with the early years of Clairton’s tenure as a state power and champion. The WPIAL school eliminated the Steelers in the PIAA Class A semifinals in each of those three seasons.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 25th, 2014
Live Blog Save-An-Eye live blog

Posted in: Football
Posted: July 25th, 2014

Varsity Kickoff Countdown is a daily series on the Varsity blog. It’s 35 days until the opening night of the high school football season on Friday, Aug. 29.

Number of the day: 35

That’s the number of points Wilmington scored in one of the greatest PIAA championships games ever played.

Wilmington became the sixth District 10 program to win a state football title in 2008. However, that didn’t become fact until after a second overtime session against Philadelphia West Catholic in the Class AA final at Hersheypark Stadium.

The teams went into overtime tied at 28. Each scored a touchdown during their possessions in the first OT, with the Greyhounds also reaching the end zone for seven points in the second.

West Catholic scored on its possession. However, instead of attempting a tying extra point and forcing a third OT, the Burrs opted for a title-winning, two-point conversion.

They lost the gamble, as Wilmington’s Shane Wagner tripped up star quarterback Curtis Drake inches short of the goal line. The ‘Hounds’ 35-34 victory meant they joined the 1989 Hickory Hornets (Class AA) and the 1997 Sharpsville Blue Devils (Class A) as PIAA football champs from Mercer County.

– Mike Copper

Posted: July 24th, 2014

The full rosters — with jersey numbers, weights and positions — have been released in advance of Friday’s Save-An-Eye Game. Read more about the Save-An-Eye Game, including ticket information.

Posted in: District 10, Football

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