Football preview: Jersey Shore at Selinsgrove
District 4 Class AAAA Semifinals
No. 3 Jersey Shore (7-3) at No. 2 Selinsgrove (8-2)
Jersey Shore PPG-30.2, YPG-365.2; PPA-12.1, YPA-198.3
Jersey Shore facts: The Bulldogs are seeking a second straight district championship and a fifth straight finals appearance. Jersey Shore and Selinsgrove have met in four straight championships, splitting those contests. The Bulldogs lost by 20 to Selinsgrove in the regular season last year, but bounced back and defeated it, 31-15 in the championship. Three times in the last four years, the regular-season loser has bounced back and won the championship. That could be a good omen for the Bulldogs after Selinsgrove defeated it, 25-6 in Week 6. Jersey Shore has played well down the stretch, winning its last three games and allowing just three offensive touchdowns. Jersey Shore pounded Central Mountain, 49-14 in its regular-season finale and the defense surrendered just three yards rushing. The Bulldogs are ranked second among area defenses but struggled against Selinsgrove. The Seals love throwing the ball but also hurt Jersey Shore with the run and built a 25-0 halftime lead in that game five weeks ago. Linebackers Hunter O’Connor and Dominic Williams both are having big seasons and both have topped 100 tackles. O’Connor had 13 tackles, including three for loss against Central Mountain. Mason Sechrist, David Tomb and Jacob Jones have been strong up front and Hunter Frantz has intercepted six passes. The offense has made big strides during the winning streak after hurting itself with turnovers in losses to Selinsgrove and Shikellamy. Running back Kyle Tomb has run well behind a strong line and is second among area rushers with 1,552 yards. He ran for 181 yards and five touchdowns last week. Quarterback Elijah Shemory has gone over 1,500 yards for a second straight year and has thrown 52 touchdowns the past two seasons. Koby Peacock has enjoyed a breakout season, catching 41 passes and Frantz stretches the field, averaging 24.1 yards per catch. Frantz caught two touchdowns in last year’s championship and is third among area receivers with 799 yards.
Jersey Shore player to watch-David Tomb: The junior nose tackle is only 190 pounds but he has played mighty big on both sides of the ball all season. Tomb averages 8.3 tackles per game, outstanding for a lineman, and has 16 tackles for loss. Tomb was outstanding against Selinsgrove, making nine tackles, four for loss, and adding a sack.
Selinsgrove PPG-34.0, YPG-412.0; PPA-16.1, YPA-213.8
Selinsgrove facts: The Seals are seeking their third district championship in four years and started 8-1 before losing to undefeated Southern Columbia, 49-28 last week. Southern had won five straight games before that and has been ranked among the district’s top offenses and defenses all year. The Seals cut a 24-point deficit to six at one point last week as quarterback Logan Leiby threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Leiby has shattered district career records for yards (8,980) and touchdowns (84). The four-year starter and is 90 yards from topping 3,000 for a second straight year. He has a potent set of receivers as well with Jarrett Inch catching 10 passes in each of his last three games and ranking second in the district with 953 yards and 11 touchdowns. Josh Nylund and Tony Dressler also have had big receiving games and dynamic receiver Ricky Cope returned for the first time in seven games last week, catching six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. As dynamic as the passing game is, Selinsgrove running back Joe Kahn has done a lot of damage and ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns against Jersey Shore five weeks ago. He also ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns against Mount Carmel in a 35-14 win. Nylund returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against Southern Columbia. The defense is stingy and Southern is one of only two teams that has scored three or more touchdowns against its starters. Linebacker Clayton Sheesley leads the team in tackles, averaging nine per game and also has a team-best 15 for loss. Hunter Croman has 86 tackles and seven for loss, and Ben Swineford has intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown. Selinsgrove forced four turnovers in the Jersey Shore win and allowed just 225 yards.
Selinsgrove player to watch-Tony Dressler: The senior linebacker is the program’s all-time leader in sacks (21) and is a four-year starter who is closing in on 200 career tackles. Dressler also is a quality tight end who has caught five touchdowns, including three in a Week 8 win at Central Mountain.
Outlook: Many thought this would be the district final when the season started and it is hard to believe one of these strong teams will have its season end tonight. Selinsgrove is the favorite tonight but Jersey Shore has come a long way since that first contest. Turnovers ultimately sealed Jersey Shore’s fate five weeks ago. If the Bulldogs play a clean game this one should be a dandy.
Winner plays: No. 1 Shikellamy (8-2) or No. 4 Athens (8-2)
-by CHRIS MASSE