Can Hickory & Brest make it 7 straight D10 titles?

Hickory opens the new campaign with a matchup with Greenville.

Hickory Hornets High School Football - Hermitage, PA

2017 Hickory Football Preview
Head Coach: Bill Brest, 8th season (76-15)
Last Season: 11-1 (8-0), 1st place in Region 2
Classification: AAA

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The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 7; Defense – 7
The month of April is typically a downtime for high school football news. This year, it wasn’t the case in Mercer County with the announcement of coach Bill Brest’s resignation. That wasn’t true. As one of the most successful coaches in all of Mercer County will return for his eighth season. In seven years, Brest has compiled a record of 76-15 by winning six consecutive District 10 titles. He has won more games at Hickory than any other coach.

After back-to-back seasons with the second highest scoring offense in the area (2015: 39.9; 2016: 43.0), Hickory returns their quarterback and their top receiver in 2017. Senior Luke Brennan and junior Hayden Gallagher both completed 50% or better passing and threw for 5 or more touchdowns apiece. Brennan, who has started since he was a freshman, threw for 797 yards and 7 scores. Gallagher completed 57.8% of 45 tosses (26 completions) while throwing for 391 yards and 5 touchdowns (just 1 interception). Junior Simeon McKinley (6’1, 205 lbs) will take over as the team’s lead back out of the backfield. Receiving threat Will Gruber is back after amassing an impressive 23 yards per catch (29 receptions, 666 yards) with 8 touchdown receptions. Junior Nate Marchand filled in nicely at fullback (26 carries for 141 yards, 3 TDs) as well as the team’s third leading receiver (12 catches, 85 yards). Marchand, a linebacker on defense, also led the team in unassisted tackles with 48. Senior Evan McCrensky will be back at his linebacker position along with Marchand. In the secondary, the Hornets will welcome back Darren Mitchell (30 solo tackles), Mike Filardi and Will Gruber (3 INTs). Sam Scarton, the team’s kicker, will be looked upon to lead the special teams unit this coming season.

“We’re looking for a solid season once new starters step in and develop confidence,” says Brest. “We’ll rely on playoff experience and the extra weeks of practice. Our offensive line needs to develop and is working hard on the fundamentals of the game. We also have many experienced offensive weapons to spread the ball around in the run and pass game.”

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – at Greenville, 7
Sept. 1 – at Mercer, 7
Sept. 8 – Slippery Rock, 7
Sept. 15 – at Sharon, 7
Sept. 22 – at Westinghouse, 7
Sept. 29 – Lakeview, 7
Oct. 6 – Sharpsville, 7
Oct. 13 – at Wilmington, 7
Oct. 20 – Reynolds, 7

More:High School Football schedules from other teams

Challenges
Very rarely does a high school runner go for over 2,000-yards on the ground in back-to-back seasons. That’s exactly what Chuck Carr did as he raced for 2515 yards in 2015 (9.5 avg) as well as gaining 2280 yards last Fall. Carr’s absence will be felt not only in the running game – where he garnered 77.2% of the team’s yardage last season – but also on defense where he was key linebacker as well. Receiver Cameron Pica also graduated after finishing the year with an average of 22.4 yards per catch (13 catches for 291 yards, 3 TDs). Tyler Bishop also is gone after anchoring the offensive line and accumulating 5 sacks on defense. Caleb Gagliardi led the team in interceptions with 5. Dulton Poole and Josh Scovil also leave the defensive unit behind after allowing just 16 points per game a year ago.

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 72.3% (86-33)
Playoff Appearances: 7
Playoff Record: 21-7
Region Championships: 2 (2012, 2016)
Region Record: 47-19

2016 Results
Karns City 35 Hornets 17*
Hornets 45 Sharon 13*
Hornets 33 Slippery Rock 10*
Hornets 54 Reynolds 7
Hornets 28 Wilmington 20
Hornets 56 Sharpsville 26
Hornets 40 Lakeview 8
Hornets 38 Westinghouse 22
Hornets 42 Sharon 14
Hornets 45 Slippery Rock 21
Hornets 70 Mercer 0
Hornets 48 Greenville 14
*-Post-Season

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 43.0 (2nd in Area)
Total Offense: 347.4
Passing Offense: 101.1
Rushing Offense: 246.3
Scoring Defense: 15.6 (7th in Area)
…The Hornets’ defense has been in the top 10 in scoring defense among area teams in each of the past six years (2011: 5; 2012: 3; 2013: 3; 2014: 2; 2015: 3; 2016: 7).

Key Number
Currently, Hickory is the only area team to post six straight 11-win seasons.

Featured Stat
The Hornets’ quarterback sack leaders since 2013:
2016: Tyler Bishop – 5.0
2015: Troy Scurry – 5.0
2014: Jordan Wombacher – 12.0
2013: Zach Cirillo – 8.0

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