District report: State champs and football playoffs

It may be the start of the winter sports season, with practices getting underway on Friday, but there’s still been plenty going on with the fall sports throughout Districts 10 and 9, including a pair of state champions.

Those state championships belong to the Maplewood volleyball team and the Mercyhurst Prep girls soccer program.

Maplewood, which plays in the same region as Youngsville and Eisenhower, was dominant in its run through the 1A state tournament, dropping exactly zero sets in wins over Our Lady of Sacred Heart, Otto-Eldred, Clarion and Marian Catholic.

The state championship is the fifth in the rich history of Maplewood volleyball.

Mercyhurst Prep, meanwhile had a much more competitive road. After a shootout victory over Fairview in the D-10 playoffs, the Lakers needed two overtimes to beat Central Martinsburg, 1-0, in the first round of the Class 2A state tournament.

They followed that up with a 2-1 win over District 9’s Karns City, a 1-0 triumph over Bedford and completed their run with a 1-0 win over St. Basil.

Moving over to football, Cathedral Prep, Sharon, Clarion, Wilmington, Ridgway and Farrell all remain alive and in pursuit of a state title.

In terms of potentially winning a state title, the Ramblers, with a roster full of Division I talent, including the likes of Matt Bauer (Notre Dame commit), Juice Scruggs (Penn State commit) and Terry Roberts (Iowa commit), are probably the most likely to do so.

They have a quarterfinal matchup with WPIAL champion Thomas Jefferson, which is coming off a 27-0 win over Montour. TJ will make the trip from suburban Pittsburgh Friday night (7 p.m.), while the Ramblers will make the 1.8 mile jaunt to Veterans Stadium. The winner will take on either Bishop McDevitt or Berks Catholic in the semifinals.

That’s not even the best (or worst) of the homefield advantages this weekend, as Clarion literally just has to cross the street when they take on Wilmington in a D-10 vs. D-9 quarterfinal matchup in 2A on Saturday (1 p.m.) at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium, where the Bobcats play their home games. The winner of that game will play either Steel Valley or Washington in the semifinals.

In 3A, Sharon, coming off a 67-17 whitewashing of Karns City, plays Forest Hills (Penns Manor H.S., 1 p.m. Saturday), with the winner to face WPIAL champ Quaker Valley, which received a bye after its 2-0 (yes, 2-0) win over Aliquippa in the WPIAL title game.

In 1A, there will be a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal matchup between Ridgway and Farrell, after both captured district titles last week.

Farrell has played most of the season without its best player, Division I recruit Kyi Wright, but has gotten tremendous play from receiver Jourdan Townsend, a junior who recently picked up an offer from Kansas State.

Ridgway is coming off a 9-7 win over Curwensville and will look to avenge last season’s 21-7 loss to the Steelers.