SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – After finishing with a record of 2-5 last fall, Sharon is looking to bounce back this year.
The Tigers are looking to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2012.
“We talk to them about that,” said Head Coach Jason McElhaney. “What do you want to leave here? Do you want to be one of the guys with the plaques on the wall? Or, something else? They understand. It’s a mature group of seniors, and they’ve got a really good level head about them, and they know what they want to do. And they know what it’s gonna take.”
Watch the video above to hear Coach McElhaney’s thoughts heading into the 2021 campaign.
2020 Record: 2-5 (1-5), 4th place in Region 3 (Class 3A)
Coach: Jason McElhaney, 3rd season at Sharon (11-9)
Previewing Sharon’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 22.0 (39th in area)
Total Offense: 271.3
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Bryce Carroll, SR/OL; LaBrae Norris, JR/ATH; Ja’on Phillips, SR/WR; Jayden Robinson, JR/RB
Key Losses: Thomas Dawson, OL; Tyvell Richardson, RB; Brett Salsgiver, QB
Name to watch for: Ja’on Phillips, WR
For the first time in six years, Sharon was unable to post 300 yards per game during a season (271.3).
“We’ll have a quarterback competition throughout the summer between Mike Rodriques [junior] and Mister Ham [sophomore],” McElhaney said. “LaBrae Norris, LaBron Wilder, Jayden Robinson and Cortez Nixon will all be in competition for carries this year.”
Last year, Norris averaged 4.3 yards per carry (48 attempts, 205 yards). Robinson led all returnees on the team with 208 rushing yards (3.9 average).
First-team receiver Ja’on Phillips caught 31 passes for 257 yards and two touchdown receptions in 2020. As a sophomore in 2019, he snagged 32 balls for 359 yards.
“Ja’on had a really strong junior season with most defenses keyed in to stop him,” McElhaney said. “His game will naturally be elevated even further with the emergence of another playmaker at the wide receiver position to draw some attention away from him.”
The offensive line group has Coach McElhaney excited.
“We’re going to be a little bigger than we’ve been in the past, which isn’t a guarantee of being good, but our young men have been working really hard on their mobility and short-area quickness and explosion,” he said. “They’re a really coachable group. They want to get better, and I expect them to play very well this year.”
Previewing Sharon’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 29.6 (49th in area)
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: LaBrae Norris, JR/LB; Ja’on Phillips, SR/DB; Shane Rowe, SR/LB
Key Losses: Aidan Buck, DL
Name to watch for: LaBrae Norris & Shane Rowe
Sharon saw an increase in points allowed per game from 2019 (16.9) to 2020 (29.6).
“Defensively, we’re going through some structural changes to better fit with our personnel,” McElhaney said. “Our priority is to find our best 11 defenders and put them in positions where they can be the most successful.”
Linebackers LaBrae Norris and Shane Rowe each earned Second-Team All-Region honors. Ja’on Phillips’ forced fumble against Hickory near the end zone was one of the top plays of 2020. Phillips led the team with three interceptions last fall.
Henwood, Hickory offense explode in wild ‘Game of the Week’ against Sharon
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. 28 – at Corry
Sept. 3 – University Prep
Sept. 11 – Hickory
Sept. 17 – at Titusville
Sept. 24 – Fort LeBoeuf
Oct. 1 – Grove City
Oct. 8 – Conneaut
Oct. 15 – at Slippery Rock
Oct. 22 – at North East