Grove City Eagles
Coach (season, record): Jeff Bell (15th season, 90-58)
2010 overall record: 11-1
2010 region record (place): 6-0 (champion)
2010 playoff results: Lost 28-16 to Cathedral Prep in the District 10 Class AAA championship.
Top players lost: Anthony Ruffo, Ross Caruso, Jibrin Ahmed, Travis Wanner
Top returning players: Wes Phipps, Tyler Dagres, Erik Record, Alex Gilmore, Jordan Patterson, Chauncey Miller, Brian Murone, Foster Reznor, Harold Price, Kyle Trinch, Mason Depeal, Tony Turner
Assistant coaches: Keith Degraaf, Todd Warner, Ty Thompson, Dwayne Lettie, Sam Mowrey
Outlook: Grove City was the only District 10 team to play Cathedral Prep close in 2010 and the Eagles might have enough to upset the Ramblers. Grove City lost four all-region selections in Anthony Ruffo (defensive back), Ross Caruso (defensive line), Jibrin Ahmed (offensive/defensive line) and Travis Wanner (linebacker, offensive line) to graduation but everyone else is back. Ahmed was also named to the all-district team as a lineman. The Eagles return their entire backfield which rushed for 3,852 yards last year, including 57 touchdowns and an average of 7.3 yards per carry. Wes Phipps led the way with 1,014 yards on 146 carries and 19 touchdowns, while Erik Record carried the ball 108 times for 978 yards and 13 TDs. Harold Price completes the impressive trio with 666 yards on 105 carries, including six touchdowns, while quarterback Tyler Dagres had 467 yards on 69 carries and seven TDs. Even Foster Reznor saw significant carries at 439 yards on 47 carries and seven TDs. Everyone is back this fall making the Eagles a formidable team in Mercer County.
The biggest asset for coach Jeff Bell is Dagres, a four-year starter under center. In a run-heavy offense, Dagres still managed to throw for 997 yards and six touchdowns last year and has more than 1,800 yards in his career. Dagres was an all-region selection at quarterback last season along with Phipps (running back/linebacker), Record (running back/defensive back) and Price (linebacker). Dagres’ top target last fall was Record at 13 catches for 388 yards and four touchdowns, while Phipps caught 13 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown. Chauncey Miller and Price each caught seven passes last year, while Mason Depeal, an all-region defensive back, had three catches.
Grove City’s biggest strength the past few years has been its offensive and defensive lines. The Eagles have plenty of experience back on both lines, including all-region defensive lineman Alex Gilmore and two-way all-region lineman Jordan Patterson. Senior Tony Turner is also back after starting on the offensive and defensive lines in 2010. As if the Eagles didn’t have enough experience back, they can also count on soccer standout Brian Murone to be the kicker. Murone averaged 36.7 yards per punt and 43.9 yards per kickoff, while connecting on 47 extra points and two field goals.
The Eagles begin the season at home against East, the site where the two teams played to a double-overtime thriller in 2009. Grove City follows with a region-implicating game against Corry with a huge showdown at Meadville looming on Sept. 30. The Eagles will renew its growing rivalry with Class AA power Wilmington on Oct. 7 with the rest of the schedule shaping up pretty well. Grove City won 11 games in a row before the D-10 championship against Prep and could be in the same position this fall.
Friday: Harbor Creek
– Tom Reisenweber