HS football preview: Jersey Shore at Mifflinburg
Jersey Shore facts: Bellefonte sent shockwaves through District 4 when it upset the defending District 4 Class AAAA champions, 17-13 last week. Jersey Shore has many starters back from that team and led 13-3 in the fourth quarter before a big play prevented it from closing things out. If Jersey Shore learns from the loss, it could end up being something early this season that provided a boost. Seeing how Jersey Shore responds makes tonight’s game especially intriguing. Add to that Mifflinburg beating Jersey Shore, 21-13 last year and Jersey Shore has plenty of motivation. The Bulldogs allowed just 174 yards, including four in the air last week, but three turnovers proved costly. Turnovers were the difference in last year’s game when the Bulldogs lost five of them in a hope-opening defeat. Still, the offense is dangerous with quarterback Elijah Shemory coming off a record-setting season in which he led District 4 with 33 touchdown passes. Shemory threw to more last week, hitting Hunter Frantz and Darren Stetts with long scores. Frantz caught 11 touchdowns in 11 games last season and averaged 19 yards on four catches against Bellefonte. Jersey Shore struggled to run the ball and Shemory was sacked twice on a last-minute drive, but Kyle Tomb twice topped 100 yards late last season. The defense is stout and all-state linebacker Dominic Williams picked up where he left off a year ago, making seven tackles for loss and adding a sack. Fellow linebacker Hunter O’Connor added nine tackles and Frantz intercepted a pass. Linemen Jacob Jones and Mason Sechrist combined for 18 sacks last year.
Jersey Shore player to watch–Austin Breon: An excellent cornerback, Breon enjoyed a breakout 2016 season and was among the area’s leaders in interceptions with six. Breon also is a dangerous receiver who caught three passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in last year’s state tournament game against Johnstown.
Mifflinburg facts: The Wildcats are hoping they can make a big statement tonight and give their District 4 Class AAA playoff chances an early boost. Mifflinburg lost some key players from last season, but led Central Columbia, 11-7 early in the second quarter a week ago. Quarterback Gary DeGroat Jr. is a first-time starter who is a dual threat. DeGroat completed 9 of 14 passes and also ran for a team-high 71 yards and a touchdown. Cole Laubach is a versatile threat who can hurt opponents in all facets. Mifflinburg can use him as a receiver and a running back and he also is one of its top defenders, making 10 tackles last week. Laubach makes a special teams impact as well. Laubach caught three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against Jersey Shore last year and also returned an interception for a touchdown. Mifflinburg held Jersey Shore to 178 yards in last year’s win and has a good playmaker in linebacker Garrett Becker who made 10 tackles against Central. If the game is close late, kicker Ryan Oliver could make a difference. The senior connected on five field goals last year.
Mifflinburg player to watch–Rylee Stahl: The sophomore linebacker looks like he will be a good one. Stahl made nine tackles against Central, including seven solos. The running back also led the team with three catches for 32 yards.
Outlook: If Jersey Shore is focused and cuts down on the mistakes it made last week, it should even its record and starting making a push.
–by CHRIS MASSE