HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – In 2020, Hickory topped Grove City for the third time in one year to claim the District 10 title. The district championship was the Hornets’ seventh in the past 10 years.
“Our kids understand that the expectations don’t change from year to year. Every year, we expect to beat our rival, go undefeated at home, and compete for the region and district championship,” Coach Bill Dungee said.
Hickory will welcome Ursuline for its season opener Friday, August 27.
2020 Record: 8-1 (6-0, 1st place in Region 3)
Coach: Bill Dungee, 3rd season (15-5)
2020 Big 22: Michael Henwood
Previewing Hickory’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 37.9 (5th in area)
Total Offense: 440.7
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Joey Fazzone, SR/OL; Sammy Mancino, SR/OL; Jackson Pryts, SR/ATH; Ramarion Whitehead, SR/WR; Clay Wiesen, SR/RB
Key Losses: Dalton Beatty, OL; Matthew Cannone, ATH; Michael Henwood, QB; Rocco Iacino, TE; Michael Trinchese, OL
Names to watch for: Joey Fazzone and Sammy Mancino, OL
In Coach Dungee’s second season, the offense saw a major jump in scoring (from 26.8 to 37.9 ppg) and in total yards per game (from 326.5 to 440.7).
Last year, the Hornets scored 40 points or more in six of their eight wins.
Three-year starting QB Michael Henwood has graduated. He led the team in both passing and rushing in each of the last three years. Last fall, he threw for 2,130 yards (62.2%) and also ran for 943 yards (10.8 avg).
“We have an ongoing competition at quarterback that will last throughout the off-season. The leader has been Logan Woods, a rising junior who’s been with the program for the last two years,” Dungee said.
Seniors Joey Fazzone and Sammy Mancino are both back to anchor the offensive line this season.
“They’ll both be three-year starters,” Dungee said. “We expect them to be leaders of this group and the team as a whole. Several underclassmen will be competing for the starting center spot and left tackle.”
Hickory last had a 1,000-yard rusher in 2016 when Chuck Carr went for 2,280 yards.
In 2020, five receivers caught 17 passes or more. The Hornets’ leading receiver in each of the past two years is back in Ramarion Whitehead. As a sophomore, he caught 29 passes for an average of 25.8 yards (8 TDs). Last year, he nearly eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau as he hauled in 57 catches for 931 yards (8 TDs).
Previewing Hickory’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 15.8 (8th in area)
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Tai’zhean Cameron, SR/LB; Jackson Pryts, SR/LB; Ramarion Whitehead, SR/DB
Key Losses: Dalton Beatty, DL; Matthew Cannone, DB; Michael Henwood, DB; Rocco Iacino, LB; Michael Trinchese, DE
Name to watch for: Jackson Pryts, LB
A year ago, Hickory posted the lowest points allowed average since 2016 (15.6) by permitting a 15.8 average. The Hornets forced 17 turnovers in just nine games.
“We’re excited about our defense because we have returning starters at all three levels,” Dungee said. “Two on the defensive line, two at linebacker and two in the secondary. We’ll have to make some adjustments in our scheme to match the strengths of our personnel, but we’re excited about the speed and athleticism of this group.”
The team’s leading tackler from each of the last two years, Jackson Pryts, returns for his senior year. Pryts finished 2019 with 123 defensive stops (11 TFL). Last year as a junior, he closed out the condensed season with 104 tackles (12 TFL).
“To have Jackson back for us is huge,” Dungee said. “First of all, his size — 6’4″, 215 pounds — is imposing but his speed, athleticism and toughness is what gives opposing offenses fits. He is a chess piece that we can move around to stop the run, drop into coverage and also rush the quarterback. He’s a special player and special kid, and I look forward to seeing how he performs his senior season.”
In the secondary, Ramarion Whitehead has picked off 5 passes total over the last two years.
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 – Ursuline
Sept. 3 – at Girard
Sept. 11 – at Sharon
Sept. 17 – Conneaut, OH
Sept. 24 – Mercyhurst Prep
Oct. 1 – Titusville
Oct. 8 – at Slippery Rock
Oct. 15 – at Grove City
Oct. 22 – at Corry
Oct. 29 – Farrell