GROVE CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – For the third straight year, the Eagles were turned away in the District 10 Class 3A title game. Last year, it was Hickory, which topped Grove City 42-29. The loss was their third in 2020 against Hickory.
Coach Sam Mowrey begins his eighth season at the helm of the Eagle football program.
“Expectations never change,” he said. “Our vision is to build men of integrity, continuing to be intentional about character development in and outside of the football field. On the field, we’re in continual pursuit of a District 10 championship. This is a veteran team that has been through the highs and lows of a football season. They’re hungry and motivated to bring a championship back to Grove City.”
That road begins at home Friday, August 27 with a matchup against the Meadville Bulldogs. The Eagles have topped the Bulldogs in their last four meetings dating back to the 2017 season, the year after they were eliminated in the District 10 Class 5A championship by Meadville.
2020 Record: 4-4 (3-3, 2nd place in Region 3 3A)
Coach: Sam Mowrey, 8th season (48-28)
Previewing Grove City’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 27.3 (26th in area)
Total Offense: 333.6
Returning Starters: 9
Key Returnees: Jacob Blair, SR/OL; Gage Dlugonski, SR/OL; Curtis Hovis, SR/RB; Gavin Lutz, SO/WR; Anthony Nemec, JR/RB; Anthony Pereira, SR/WR; Zach Rodgers, SR/WR; Nathan Wadsworth, SR/OL
Key Losses: Logan Breese, QB; Matt Howard, OL; Zack Martin, TE
Name to watch for: Zach Rodgers, WR/QB
Two-year starter Logan Breese has since graduated this past spring after completing 61.7% (230-373) over the last two seasons, while throwing for 3,339 yards and 30 touchdowns.
“Quarterback is obviously going to be a huge role to fill for the upcoming season,” Mowrey said. “Zach Rodgers will be returning as a senior and did a great job stepping up last year while Logan was sidelined with an injury.”
Sophomores Hunter Hohman and Joey Hathaway will be competing with Rodgers for the starting position this summer.
Grove City has topped 330 yards per game in each of the last five years.
The Eagles return a pair of All-Region linemen (Gage Dlugonski and Nathan Wadsworth), as well as their top two rushers (Curtis Hovis and Anthony Nemec) and receivers (Anthony Pereira and Gavin Lux).
Hovis led the team in rushing with 861 yards. He scored 8 touchdowns and gained 5.4 yards per carry. Nemec scored 6 times on the ground while gaining 4.9 yards per attempt (71 carries, 351 yards). Pereira hauled in 36 passes for 567 stripes and 7 touchdowns. Lux, as a freshman, snagged 23 balls for 213 yards.
“There’s plenty of experience and leadership returning along the offensive line with three-year starters Jacob Blair, Gage Dlugonski and Nate Wadsworth. Cole Hammerman, Dylan Ahern, Thomas Rodgers and Marcello Trezona are a few names that will be counted on to step up and provide depth on the line.”
Previewing Grove City’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 25.6 (T-34th in area)
Total Defense: 288.0
Returning Starters: 9
Key Returnees: Gage Dlugonski, SR/DT; Cole Hammerman, SR/DE; Curtis Hovis, SR/LB; Gavin Lux, SO/DB; Anthony Nemec, JR/LB; Anthony Pereira, SR/LB; Zach Rodgers, SR/DB; Nathan Wadsworth, SR/DE
Key Losses: Matt Howard, DT; Zack Martin, LB
Name to watch for: Curtis Hovis, LB
Last season, Grove City saw an increase in points allowed from 17.0 in 2019 to 25.6 in 2020. That’s 8.6 points more per contest.
In their four wins, the Eagles permitted just 12.8 points per outing. In their four losses a year ago, they allowed an average of 32 points.
The loss of Zack Martin will hurt.
“Zack was a great leader,” Mowrey said. “He was a rock at linebacker for us the past few seasons. We’re looking for leaders to step up and fill that void, not only at linebacker but as defensive players.”
The defense returns five All-Region standouts this year, including defensive lineman Nathan Wadsworth, who earned First-Team honors. Wadsworth will be joined by Gage Dlugonski, Jacob Blair, Dillon Winger, Cole Hammerman and Thomas Rodgers along the defensive line.
Linebacker Curtis Hovis finished with 4 quarterback sacks to lead the defensive unit.
“Anthony Nemec, Anthony Pereira, Nathan Boyd, [Curtis] Hovis and Luciano Trezona are all experienced players,” Mowrey said. “That will help provide leadership and depth on our defense at the linebacker position.”
2020 Class 3A Region 3 Standings
Hickory – 6-0 (8-1)
Grove City – 3-3 (4-4)
Slippery Rock – 2-4 (2-6)
Sharon – 1-5 (2-5)
Aug. 27 – Meadville
Sept. 3 – at Fort LeBoeuf
Sept. 10 – Conneaut, OH
Sept. 17 – at Slippery Rock
Sept. 24 – Fairview
Oct. 1 – at Sharon
Oct. 8 – at Titusville
Oct. 15 – Hickory
Oct. 22 – at Mercyhurst Prep