The Girard football team won a share of the Region 4 title and advanced to the District 10 Class AA title game in 2013. The YellowJackets lost several standout players, but they have plenty of talent back. Watch the video preview and read the Girard Summer Huddle preview.
Coach: Jim Funk (5th season, 23-19)
2013 overall record: 10-3
2013 region record: 6-1 (co-champion)
2013 playoff results: Defeated Sharon 22-19 in the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals and Greenville 16-14 in the semifinals before losing to Hickory 21-10 in the championship.
Top players lost: Joe Dunn, Brian McNally, Bryan Divido, Nick Deaver, Jordan Friend, Buster Johnston, Jeff Little
Top returning players: Kel Barnes, Cody Dinger, Nason McCall, Rick Edder, Brenden Kohan, Kyle Titus, Brandon Etter
Assistant coaches: Mike Zona, Tracy Dinger, Pat Erdman, Jason Johnson, Greg Dore, Kyle Forte
For the outlook and schedule, click below.
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Here’s a look at high school beat writer Tom Reisenweber’s picks for today’s games:
District 10 Class AA championship game
Hickory 31, Girard 14
PIAA Class AAAA subregional title game
McDowell 31, Mifflin County 20
POLL: During the past week, the Varsity home page has featured the following poll:
Will the Girard football team upset Hickory to end Erie County’s District 10 Class AA title drought at 19 years? Here were the results with 544 votes cast as of 9:30 a.m.:
Yes, Girard’s a team of destiny: 30 percent
No, Hickory’s too tough: 70 percent
Two District 10 football championship games will be played tonight, so it’s time for the Our Call predictions. Here are beat reporter Tom Reisenweber’s predicted outcomes for tonight’s games:
Class A championship
Lakeview 24, Sharpsville 21
Class AAA championship
Cathedral Prep 38, General McLane 7
The Our Call picks for Saturday’s Girard-Hickory and McDowell-Mifflin County games will be posted Saturday morning. Have you voted in our Varsity poll on the Varsity home page? Here’s the question:
Will the Girard football team upset Hickory to end Erie County’s District 10 Class AA title drought at 19 years?
More than 400 people already have voted. Vote now on the Varsity home page.
The 2013 Kickoff magazine has been completed, and this year’s cover subjects are the Girard senior duo of tight end Brian McNally and quarterback Joe Dunn.
McNally and Dunn have composed one of the most potent passing tandems in District 10 the past two seasons. McNally is D-10’s active leader in career reception with 80s, while Dunn is the district’s active leader in career passing yards with more than 2,900.
Kickoff, a publication of the Times Publishing Company, will begin to show up on Country Fair shelves throughout northwestern Pennsylvania later this week and will be available at all Country Fair locations by Aug. 21.
This year’s magazine, the fourth edition of Kickoff, sells for $5 and includes 116 pages packed with stories, team outlooks, photos and statistics.
Pick one up soon at Country Fair.
2012 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Christian Bock, Forrest Smith, Kendall Bonnett, Ryan Barlow
Top returning players: Joe Dunn, Brian McNally, Kel Barnes, Nick Deaver, Jeff Little, Cody Dinger, Buster Johnston, Bryan Divido
Assistant coaches: Mike Zona, Pat Erdman, Bill McNally, Tracy Dinger, Josh Chiocco, Jason Johnson, Greg Dore
Outlook: Girard has some frustrations to get out this fall. The YellowJackets were left out of the District 10 Class AA playoffs last year despite finishing tied for third. What added to the frustrations was the way Girard finished in third. The YellowJackets lost to Fort LeBoeuf 13-10 in Week 9 on a controversial final drive. Girard is looking to redeem itself this fall with an experienced team back. The ‘Jackets will have some work to rebuild its offensive and defensive lines. Girard lost most of its starters in that area with only tight end Brian McNally and guard Nick Deaver back on the offensive line and no starters back on the defensive line. Christian Bock, Forrest Smith, Kendall Bonnett and Ryan Barlow are gone to graduation for Girard. Bonnett was voted to the all-region first team at wide receiver and defensive back, Barlow was a first-team kicker and Smith was a first-team defensive lineman and second-team offensive lineman. Bock is also a big loss as a running back and second-team linebacker. Bock was Girard’s second-leading rusher with 264 yards and three touchdowns. Bonnett was Girard’s second-leading receiver with 42 catches for 486 yards and six touchdowns.
The ‘Jackets return one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations in Erie County with Joe Dunn and McNally. Dunn, a 6-foot 4-inch senior, completed 113-of-193 passes last year for 1,518 yards and 14 touchdowns. McNally caught 47 of those passes for 665 yards and three touchdowns. McNally, a two-time all-district selection, was voted to the all-region first team last year and Dunn was the first-team quarterback. Kel Barnes, Jeff Little, Cody Dinger, Buster Johnston and Bryan Divido are back as well. Barnes ran for 1,003 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games last year, while Divido had 10 catches for 192 yards and four touchdowns. With Barnes, Dunn, Dinger, Little and Divido back at the skill positions, Girard needs to fill in its offensive line and maybe get another running back to help Barnes. Johnson, McNally and Divido are all back at linebacker, but the rest of the defense will need to be rebuilt. Nason McCall, Rick Edder and Brendan Kohan are younger players that’ll need to step up and help out on the varsity level this year. The ‘Jackets open the season with a tough road game at Conneaut before two huge games against Fairview and Northwestern at home. If Girard can get off to a 3-0 or 2-1 start, look out for the ‘Jackets the rest of the season.
30 at Conneaut 7
6 Fairview* 7
13 Northwestern* 7
20 at Seneca* 7
27 Harbor Creek* 7
4 at North East* 7
11 Union City 7
18 Corry* 7
25 at Fort LeBoeuf* 7
1 at Saegertown 7
*Region 4 games
Girard returned one of the top passing attacks in District 10 this season. Now, sophomore Kel Barnes is forcing the YellowJackets to include the running game as well.
Barnes rushed for 226 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in a 24-7 win over rival Fairview last week. The 5-foot 10-inch, 164-pounder helped the YellowJackets pull away by scoring on a 28-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Barnes’ production gives Girard a balanced attack on offense that could be tough for region opponents to slow down.
Because of Barnes’ play, QB Joe Dunn, who averaged 19.7 passes per game in 2011, attempted only 11 against the Tigers.
Barnes won a close vote over Youngsville’s Rocco Gatta, as almost 1,500 votes were cast.
It was the night of the sophomore running back in Region 4 Friday.
Three sophomores made impact performances in their teams’ winning efforts. Girard’s Kel Barnes led the way with 226 yards and two crucial touchdowns on 25 carries in the YellowJackets’ 24-7 win over rival Fairview.
Meanwhile, Northwestern’s Austin Miczo scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards in the Wildcats’ 35-6 win over Seneca. Another underclassman, junior Brandon Reiser, led Northwestern with 101 yards on the ground. Fellow junior Nate Noe had 54 yards, including a 43-yard first-quarter TD run.
Finally, Fort LeBoeuf sophomore Collin Fish scored a critical 2-yard TD and finished with 44 yards rushing in the Bison’s 17-14 win over Harbor Creek. Meanwhile, junior Cy Carroll led the Bison with 140 yards rushing.
Here’s a link to Friday’s District 10 statistics and state scores.
Get expanded coverage of District 10 sports every Friday with the Varsity Letter e-newsletter.
A new feature we’ll unveil this week is the Triple Option. Three games. Two prognosticators. One weekly showdown.
In Triple Option, high school beat writer Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik will make predictions about three D-10 football games they disagree on each week. See which games they pick, why they picked them and then track to see who gets them right.
This week, Tom and Jeff face off on the Conneaut-Girard, Sharon-Farrell and Mercyhurst Prep-Central Tech games.
Also, if you sign up for Varsity Letter before Friday, you’ll get a chance to win free Kickoff magazines from 2012, 2011 and 2010. Just go to GoErie.com/section/newsletters and click on Varsity Letter.
As always, Varsity Letter will provide readers with District 10 sports news, commentary and schedules, along with links to photos, video and blog posts.
It’s all delivered to your e-mailbox every Friday. Subscribe today at GoErie.com/section/newsletters.
Coach (season, record): Jim Funk (3rd season, 7-12)
2011 overall record: 3-6
2011 region record (place): 2-4 (fifth)
2011 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 Class AA playoffs.
Top players lost: Hunter Jones, Hayden Erdman, Jake Kalicky
Top returning players: Kendall Bonnett, Brian McNally, Joe Dunn, Christian Bock, Brandon Hall, Forrest Smith
Assistant coaches: Mike Zona, Pat Erdman, Bill McNally, Tracy Dinger, Josh Chiocco, Jason Johnson
Outlook: Despite having a young team, Girard was actually in the playoff race in the final weeks of the season. The YellowJackets lost only a few players to graduation, including Hunter Jones, Hayden Erdman and Jake Kalicky. Kalicky was a second-team all-region linebacker, while Jones was a big part of Girard’s offense. Jones ran for 971 yards and nine touchdowns on 170 carries and he caught 24 passes for 266 yards and three TDs.
Girard could have one of the top offenses in Erie County this fall. Quarterback Joe Dunn along with tight end Brian McNally and wide receiver Kendall Bonnett made up a potent offense as the 2011 season wore on. Dunn completed 110-of-177 passes for 1,450 yards and 14 touchdowns. McNally, an all-district selection and all-region first-team selection at tight end, finished with 583 yards and six touchdowns on 33 catches. Bonnett had 22 catches for 308 yards and four touchdowns and was voted to the first team as a wide receiver and second team as a defensive back. Girard’s line will feature four seniors, led by three-year starter Brandon Hall and returning two-way starting tackle Forrest Smith. Christian Bock also returns at fullback. Bock carried the ball 15 times for 49 yards last year and could see an increase in carries as the ‘Jackets search for a replacement for Jones. McNally and Bock could be impact players at linebacker, while Buster Johnston and Bonnett are back at defensive back. Forrest Smith, Jake Hatton and Justin Eaton return on the defensive line.
Girard started seven sophomores last year and that move could pay off this fall. Region 4 is wide open this year after the departure of perennial power General McLane. The ‘Jackets have a potent offense and experience on the line. Girard will be a part of history as it will be the first team to take on the newly formed Conneaut Eagles. The ‘Jackets then jump right into the region schedule with two tough road games at Fairview and Northwestern. The biggest stretch comes in October where Girard will play North East, Corry and Fort LeBoeuf.
31 Conneaut 7
7 at Fairview* 7
14 at Northwestern* 7
21 Seneca* 7
28 at Harbor Creek* 7
5 North East* 7
12 at Union City 7
19 at Corry* 7
26 Fort LeBoeuf* 7
2 Saegertown 7
*Region 4 games
– Tom Reisenweber
Girard High School will have a homecoming bonfire Oct. 6 at 7 that will be open to the community.
The gathering will take place on the north side of the high school, near the softball fields, off Lake Street.
The YellowJackets will play host to Fort LeBoeuf Friday at 7 p.m.