Super Bowl LIII teams set for showdown on Sunday

By Nick Archacki, news editor

On Sunday January 20, one of the most important days of the NFL season occurred for the NFC and AFC divisions as the Los Angeles Rams faced the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs to determine which two teams would advance to Super Bowl LIII (53).

The first game of the day, a battle between the Saints and Rams, transpired at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints held a comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter 13-0 until the Rams came back in the second quarter to close the gap 13-10 at the end of the first half.

The Saints had firm control of the game at the closing of the fourth quarter until an inexplicable no-call was made by the referees as the pass interference and hitting a defenseless receiver contact play was considered, by many, as the worst no-call in playoff history and one of the worst no-calls in NFL history. The result of this no-call led to the Rams tying the Saints at the end of regulation, 23-23.

The Saints got the ball at the start of overtime and the Rams connected for an interception off Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Rams brought the football within reach of the field goal and the Rams kicker sent L.A. to the Super Bowl with a 57-yard field goal conversion, winning 26-23.

Later that night, the Chiefs and the Patriots faced off in frigid temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots took an early lead 14-0 at the end of halftime. But the Chiefs answered New England’s call by tying the game at the end of regulation, 31-31, with the Chiefs kicker making a 3-point conversion.

The Chiefs scored 31 points after halftime and the Pats maintained by scoring 17 points in their third and fourth quarters, respectively. This was the first time in NFL history where both NFC and AFC championship games resulted in a tie at the end of the fourth quarter.

The Patriots received the ball in overtime and the Chiefs didn’t get the ball again the rest of the game. The Patriots running-back scored the game-winning touchdown with a 2-yard run into the end zone, ending a thriller, 37-31.

Now the excitement builds for the big game this Sunday. The Patriots and Rams will duel at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Patriots will be looking for their record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory (The Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the record), and the Rams will be looking to capture their second Vince Lombardi trophy.

History is also on the line for this game. If Tom Brady wins, he will be the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41. If Jared Goff wins, he will be the second youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 24. If Goff starts, he will be the youngest quarterback to start the Super Bowl since Tom Brady in 2002.

The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl was 2002. Their opponent? The New England Patriots. The Rams lost the game, 20-17. Coincidence? That question will be answered on Sunday.

‘Safe2Say’ comes to Saegertown: school receives first anonymous tip

By Samantha Thomas, staff writer

Last January, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018, which created a School Safety and Security Committee, established mandatory training, and further secured public schools in the state. Part of this act mandated a statewide launch on January 14 of ‘Safe2Say Something’ an anonymous reporting system for school related safety concern.

The program was created by the Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. Pennsylvania is the first state to roll out the program statewide.

“The goal of the program is to help someone before they make the tragic choice to carry out violence,” said Nicole Hockley, who helped create ‘Safe2Say Something’ after losing her six-year old son Dylan at Sandy Hook.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said tips to this hotline will go to specially trained agents in his office who will analyze them. Shapiro’s office has hired people specifically for the ‘Safe2Say Something’ program. These agents are not crisis counselors and have only been trained for this program. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, 615 tips and calls were received statewide in the first week of operation.

All Saegertown students were trained on Safe2Say on January 22 during fifth period. The training covered warning signals, signs, and threats as well as how to use the site or mobile app to submit a tip.

On January 22 at 6:29 p.m. the first tip from Saegertown High School was reported through the mobile app. The tip was received by Saegertown Principal Tom Baker at 6:10 a.m. on January 23. “The reason the tip took so long to be received is because it was deemed not life-threatening,” Mr. Baker said. He also noted that the system appeared to work as it was designed to do.

If you have serious concerns about your own safety or the safety of your peers, you may report through either the Safe2Say mobile app, website or on the mobile tip line at 1(844) 723 2729.

Mrs. Keller receives grant for microscopes

By Claudia Fetzner, photo editor

Biology teacher Mrs. Nicole Keller received a $250 grant from the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools to put towards new classroom equipment.

Mrs. Nicole Keller

Over the past ten years, Mrs. Keller has been working to finish her collection of updated cordless microscopes for each of the 12 tables in her room. “I only get about $500 a year for my 100 students, so I had to find money elsewhere,” Mrs. Keller said. She applied for the grant earlier in the school year.

The PARSS acts as an advocate for over 150 small schools in Pa., and “provides resources to help in management of the unique issues faced by small schools and schools in isolated locations.”

“I’m grateful that there are companies that think public education is important and are willing to invest,” Mrs. Keller said.

Saegertown basketball coach credits players with 100 win milestone

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

Coach Greg Molnar celebrated his 100th win on January 12.

Saegertown Basketball Coach Greg Molnar recently claimed his 100th varsity basketball win against the Tidioute Charter on Jan. 12. The 2018-19 season marks Coach Molnar’s eleventh season at Saegertown and his team is currently 8-7. With the win, Coach Molnar takes his place among three other varsity basketball coaches in Saegertown’s history to achieve 100 career wins.

Despite his recent achievement, Mr. Molnar has not enjoyed the spotlight. “It’s like this. I’m not the one who plays. I just pick five people to play, and they are the ones who win the games,” said Coach Molnar. “It’s nice to have people congratulating me but it’s just weird and it makes me uncomfortable.”

The Saegertown community, however, responded enthusiastically. After Saegertown’s win over Tidioute 48-43, Coach Molnar was surprised by players and fans who attended the match with a confetti cannon and a sign recognizing his accomplishment.

Mr. Molnar joins famed Saegertown basketball coaches Merle Darcangelo, Chuck Swick, and Dean Henderson as a part of the “100 win club.” Coach Molnar currently has 103 wins and has the chance to potentially challenge the current coaching win record of 109 wins held by Merle Darcangelo (109-42) and Dean Henderson (109-104).

Coach Molnar attributes his recent milestone at Saegertown to “the great athletes” that he has coached during his tenure, and is optimistic about his coaching future. “I’m just enjoying this as much as I can,” said Molnar. “I know that my time is very limited here. It’s going to come to an end, and I’m ready to move on to the next phase in my life.”

For more information on the history of Saegertown basketball, click here. The Saegertown varsity boys basketball team will make its next appearance tonight at 7 p.m. at Union City.

Accident closes Hayfield Township bridge

Story and photos by Nick Archacki, news editor

News spread quickly across Facebook and other social media about a baffling event involving a Route 6 and 19 bridge which crosses French Creek and is located south of Black Rd. On Wednesday Jan. 16, a truck collided with the bridge, affecting a heavily-used route between Saegertown and Meadville.

Lincoln Recycling, a Meadville based recycling business, had a company truck approaching the bridge at around 8:30 a.m. when the extension boom arm on the truck remained in an upward position as the truck departed from U.S. Bronze. The operator of the vehicle was not aware of the boom arm being in this position before he reached the bridge and struck the 82-year-old structure, causing extensive damage to the bridge, which will remain closed till further notice.

The boom arm ripped a gaping hole through the first and second upper-support beams on the bridge before striking a third beam and ripping the boom arm off the truck. The third beam was severely damaged as well with the impact caused a significant bend in the beam.

Emergency crews arrived at the scene shortly after the accident occurred to assure no other vehicles attempted to cross the bridge because the extensive debris made it unsafe, and PennDOT conducted an inspection that deemed the bridge in need of repair. PennDOT is currently formulating a plan for repairs to the bridge, and it will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Road closed signs were placed throughout the area to warn drivers that the bridge was inoperable, which will cause many headaches for travelers to Meadville on Route 6 and 19 and for students who live south of the bridge.

However long the repair process takes, it appears Saegertown’s bridge debacles will continue.

Saegertown Students dance their way to blue ribbons at the PA Farm Show

By Sam Shelenberger, broadcast director

On January 7, students from Saegertown High School traveled to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg to compete in the Square Dance Competition for the ninth consecutive year.

Saegertown students brought home blue ribbons in the square dance competition from the 103rd PA Farm Show.

Seniors Seth Lang, Ben Shelenberger, juniors Nathan Barner, Sam Shelenberger, Marli McGowan, Emily Barr and sophomore Amanda Crowl are all members of the ‘Wild Country Dancers’ club.

“My favorite part is being out there on the floor at Farm Show with all of my friends,” said Crowl, who has been square dancing for four years. “I like dancing with my friends, and our instructors make it fun.”

The square dance team is instructed by Brenda Schmidt and Don Yosten. Starting in October, the club meets every Sunday at the VFW to practice. This year, the songs the club danced to were “Wagon Wheel,“ “Just Keep Rolling Along,” “Fancy Free,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” and “Write Your Name in the Sand.”

“The hardest part was taking the time to learn the new calls,” said five year veteran Emily Barr. “It wasn’t too hard because Brenda and Don are excellent instructors.”

Each of the seven SHS students received a blue ribbon, and are eager to return to the floor. “I can’t wait for next year,” Crowl said. “I’m ready to see what awaits us.”

‘On Applebee Pond’ will soon debut at Saegertown

By Samantha Thomas, staff writer

A group of juniors and seniors from Saegertown High School have been working to introduce a research-based curriculum known as ‘On Applebee Pond’ that uses puppets to teach children positive and applicable life skills to elementary school students.

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Saegertown elementary students will soon be learning positive life skills from the On Applebee Pond puppets shown above.

Designed by the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission Inc., this program is designed to teach young children about social skills, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and peacemaking through eight charismatic puppet personas.

The puppet characters will be portrayed by seniors Madison Morgan, Dustin Steiger, Stephanie Polach and Mykenzie Connally, and juniors Oliver Smith and Carson Jones. Advisor Susan James and her students will be performing at the elementary at a date yet to be determined. She emphasizes the importance of teaching kids social skills at a young age.

“I think it’s important to help teach the kids in a relatable and captivating way that they can understand and enjoy,” Steiger said. Steiger, along with five other students, were recruited by Assistant Principal Kylene Koper.

According to Mrs. Kelly Burke, who taught the curriculum at Maplewood, each of the eight puppets were handmade by retired seamstresses. Arnold, the farmer who introduces and concludes each lesson, is joined by Tadpole, Buddy Beaver, Clayton Crab, Handy Gander, Freddie Fish, Merrie Mermaid, and Bull Frog. Each character has a unique personality that will help teach students valuable lessons. To learn more about the program, click here.

Saegertown bowlers back in championship contention as members of Cambridge team

By Nick Archacki and Will Phelan, news editor and social media editor

The Cambridge Springs bowling team, which includes bowlers from all three PENNCREST high schools, has dominated the season in the Ven-Craw (Venango and Crawford counties) high school bowling league as the Blue Devils primary team is among the top forces on the Ven-Craw leaderboard for the fourth straight year.

For the past three seasons, Cambridge has fought to secure a spot in the Ven-Craw championship but was denied by Saegertown in 2016 and Cranberry in both 2017 and 2018. With the addition of two Saegertown bowlers, senior Scott Proper and two-time Ven-Craw league champion, junior Nick Archacki, Cambridge is a top competitor in the league and has a great chance to advance to the championship this season.

The Cambridge Springs Blue team has owned the lumber since the start of the season.  The Blue team currently sits tied for second place, 0.5 points behind the Ven-Craw team leader, Conneaut Lake Blue. The Cambridge Black team holds sixth place. Both teams are currently eligible to make the Ven-Craw playoffs with one match left in the season, as the top eight teams earn a playoff spot.

Regarding the individual standings, Cambridge Springs’ Nick Archacki leads the fifty-eight bowlers of Ven-Craw with an average of 222.33 after 15 games. Following Archacki, his teammate, Maplewood’s Issac Heim, has an average of 206.63 while three bowlers from Conneaut Lake round out the top five with averages between 205 and 199.

The final match for Cambridge Springs and the Ven-Craw league for the regular season is this Sunday at Plaza Lanes in Meadville.

Did Thanos kill you?

By Dustin Steiger and Sam Shelenberger, arts and entertainment editor and broadcast director

On January 9, Panther Press members Dustin Steiger and Sam Shelenberger released a survey to discover which members of the student body survived ‘The Snap’ from Avengers: Infinity War. Click here to find out who lived and who died.