District 4 AAAA: Selinsgrove at Jersey Shore
Selinsgrove facts: The Seals are seeking their third straight district championship and fourth in five years after beating Jersey Shore the past two seasons. Selinsgrove and Jersey Shore are meeting for a fourth straight year in the final with Jersey Shore winning in 2013. Selinsgrove has won four straight in this series, including twice last year and 26-6 at Jersey Shore in Week 6. The Seals are the last team to beat Jersey Shore and avenged a previous defeat in last week’s semifinals, overcoming a 10-point deficit and beating Shikellamy, 21-17. Selinsgrove features a potent offense and quarterback Logan Leiby is two yards from breaking the District 4 single-season record for passing yards. Leiby, a three-year starting junior, shredded Jersey Shore six weeks ago, completing 27 of 40 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns. That was part of a four-game streak in which Leiby topped 300 yards each time. Eight receivers caught passes in that game and Jarrett Inch is Leiby’s favorite target, catching 54 passes. Inch had seven catches in the first game and Ryan Bucher had five for 139 yards and a touchdown. Still, the Seals are more than just an aerial show. Garrett Campbell is closing in on 1,000 yards and ran for 209 yards and two touchdowns two weeks ago at Southern Columbia. The defense allowed 348 yards against Shikellamy last week, but also forced two key turnovers. That unit started jelling in Week 5 when Selinsgrove beat Berwick, 17-14 to start a five-game winning streak. Joe Kahn had three interceptions in that game and Bucher had two in the Jersey Shore game.
Selinsgrove player to watch–Hunter Croman: The junior linebacker is having a big season and averages 9.9 tackles per game. Croman has topped 10 tackles in three straight games and also had two sacks against Jersey Shore.
Jersey Shore facts: The Bulldogs are playing in their fourth straight district championship and are having an outstanding season a year after losing the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, including two all-state players. Jersey Shore has won five straight since losing to Selinsgrove and moved from the third seed to the top seed in the closing weeks. The Bulldogs are talented, but also resilient, having overcome five second-half deficits to win. Jersey Shore’s defense has helped ignite the current winning streak, allowing just four offensive touchdowns during that span. The defense has not allowed a touchdown in 11 quarters and held Athens to 114 yards in last week’s 31-7 semifinal win. Jacob Jones has nine sacks and Hunter O’Connor and David Tomb combined for 23 tackles. Jersey Shore is the only area defense that has yet to allow 1,000 rushing yards and has played better against the pass in recent weeks. The Bulldogs allowed only 71 yards against 1,500-yard passer Justin Reagan last week and intercepted three passes. Hunter Frantz returned an interception for a touchdown and also caught a touchdown. The offense has overcome a rash of injuries and has kept performing well. Quarterback Elijah Shemory has broken single-season records for yards and touchdowns in his first year starting. Todd Sanford, who tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in Week 7, returned to catch three passes against Athens but is doubtful to play tonight. Frantz, Kevin Titus and Austin Breon all have played well in his absence. Jarrett Guthrie returned from injury last week and ran for a touchdown. He and Kyle Tomb both have good years running behind a solid line.
Jersey Shore player to watch–Dominic Williams: The junior linebacker has shined in his first year starting and leads the team in tackles. Williams was outstanding last week, making a career-high 15 tackles. Williams is tied for the area lead with five interceptions, has three sacks and his game-winning interception return for a touchdown at Shikellamy started this five-game win streak.
Winner plays: District 6-9’s champion, either Clearfield or Johnstown at a District 4 site
Outlook: The Bulldogs have come a long way since that first Selinsgrove game and tonight we find out how far. Jersey Shore must defend the pass better than it did the first time around but doing so will be difficult with the style of defense it plays. The Bulldogs keep it closer this time but Selinsgrove is the pick to win an exciting game.