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Little County Expects the Best!
By Jason Coleman
Mercer County, PA
Population - 121,003

4 PIAA state championships
3 PIAA state runners up

The people of Mercer County sometimes feel that their football teams do not get the respect they deserve. Being almost directly between Pittsburgh and Erie, they are sometimes overlooked by the media. They shouldn't worry though; their teams do the talking on the field - usually with winning results. There is a little part of Mercer County that just expects great football. It is a small, 20 square mile area in the southwest corner of the county. Just take I-79N to I-80W to Exit 1. This is an area of the state that has played some of the best 'A' and 'AA' ball. 3 of the last 4 PIAA 'A' state champions are from this part of Mercer County. (Farrell in 1995-1996; Sharpsville 1997) Hickory won the 1989 PIAA 'AA' title, Wilmington was PIAA 'AA' runner up in 1988 and Sharon played in the 1994 and 1995 PIAA 'AAA' state finals, losing both to nationally ranked Berwick both times. Sharon was also a PIAA semifinalist last year after moving down to 'AA'. Hickory, Sharon, Farrell and Sharpsville are all neighbors. Wilmington is an exhausting 18 miles away.

Single A is what everyone in Mercer County is excited about in 1999. Farrell and Sharpsville are two of the top teams in the state. Did I mention they are 5 miles apart? Sharpsville will have a very experienced backfield with RB Justin Napotnik and QB Brad Allen. The Blue Devils, however are expecting a strong defense to lead a PIAA charge. The Steelers of Farrell will once again put defenses to the test with a monster running game led by J.J. Wilson. Things will look a little different in AA, as perennial power Sharon goes through some growing pains. It appears that the Wilmington Greyhounds and their star seniors, OL Artie Rayner and RB Bob Whiting should be one of the best AA teams in the state. Can any of these teams make it to the big dance in Hershey? That all remains to be seen, but one thing is certain - a lot of good football will be played in Mercer County, and much of it may be overlooked.