WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. (WKBN) – In 2020, West Middlesex lost three games to teams that had combined for a 26-3 record. The Big Reds dropped a heartbreaker in the opening round of the District 10 Class A playoffs in double overtime (22-21) to Eisenhower. However, West Middlesex shut out Mercer to record its fourth win of the year in the regular season finale.

Since 2010, West Middlesex has had just one losing season (2017: 2-9). That’s a span of 11 years.

The Big Reds will begin the 2021 season at Sharpsville Friday, August 27.

2020 Record: 4-3 (4-2), 2nd place in Region 1 (Class A)
Coach: Mark Means, 4th season (20-10)

Previewing West Middlesex’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 22.4 (36th in area)
Total Offense: 265.9
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returnees: Colby Johnson, JR/WB; Blaiden Parcethich, SO/OL; Luke Rupert, JR/OL; Ian Smith, SR/FB; Christian Snyder, JR/WB
Key Losses: Nick Gearhart, OL; Nick Kobielus, OL; Eddie Lowe, WR; Alex Rea, WR; Chris Smith, WR; Ty Tate, QB; Kaleb Turcotte, OL
Name to watch for: Ian Smith, FB

Ty Tate graduated last spring after starting the past two seasons under center. Number 17 ran for 8 scores and completed 54.8% of his passes for 805 yards as a senior. Last year was the second time in the last five years where four different receivers caught 10 passes or more. The quarterback job may come down to either Blaze Knight or Logan Shrawder.

A big void is left behind with the graduation of three All-Region linemen (Nick Gearhart, Nick Kobielus, Kaleb Turcotte). Middlesex will still have a pair of starters (Bailden Parcetich and Luke Rupert) back in the mix. They’ll be joined by Kyle Hurley, Terry Grimwood and Noah Schmitt.

Ian Smith returns for his senior season after rushing for a team-high 412 yards on 90 totes (4 TDs) during the condensed year.

“Ian loves the game of football,” Coach Means said. “He’ll be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder this year. Ian plays a crucial part of our flex-bone offense at the fullback position. We expect a huge year out of him.”

Colby Johnson not only caught 14 passes for 140 yards, but he also ran for 202 stripes and scored 3 times on the ground.

“Colby will be a huge part of the offense. He has a lot of speed and is tough, too,” Means said.

Junior Christian Snyder is expected to play a key role at wing back and may see time at fullback.

Previewing West Middlesex’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 13.1 (4th in area)
Returning Starters: 3
Key Returnees: Colby Johnson, JR/DB; Luke Rupert, JR/DL; Ian Smith, SR/LB; Christian Snyder, JR/LB
Key Losses: Nick Kobielus, DE; Eddie Lowe, DB; Alex Rea, DB, Chris Smith, DL; Ty Tate, DB; Kaleb Turcotte, DT
Name to watch for: Colby Johnson, DB

Since Mark Means took over the program four years ago, the defense has been the anchor of the Big Reds’ identity over that span. In 2018, they allowed 16.2 points per game. In 2019, that figure dropped to an average of 14.9. Last year, the defensive unit permitted just 13.1 points to be scored per contest.

The Big Reds’ defense lost five All-Region selections. However, the unit returns their top tackler from a season ago in senior linebacker Ian Smith (60 tackles). Colby Johnson will be back in the fold after intercepting a pass and being involved with 30 defensive stops as a sophomore.

Along the front line, Luke Rupert returns for his junior season at his tackle spot. Terry Grimwood, Kyle Hurley and Nathan Jones will step into more significant roles this season along the defensive line. Christian Snyder will be joining Smith at linebacker.

“We look for Ian to step up and lead the defense this season,” Means said. “Christian [Snyder] is turning into a very good linebacker. He possesses all of the intangibles to be great.”

In the secondary, the Big Reds will have Brandon Flanigan, Declan Sweitzer, Blaze Knight and Tanner Shick teaming up with Johnson.

2020 Class A Region 1 Standings
Reynolds – 6-0 (9-1)
West Middlesex – 4-2 (4-3)
Mercer – 2-4 (3-5)
Kennedy Catholic – 0-6 (0-7)

Update: On August 6, PIAA approves co-op with Sharpsville