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Offseason work pays off for Shore O-line

They arrived early and stayed late. They knew they would toil in anonymity once the season started, but embraced those potential roles. If Jersey Shore could continue its winning ways they would be happy.

Four offensive line starters from last year’s District 4 Class AAAA champion graduated, leaving a gaping void up front. But what seemed like a big question mark entering the 2019 season has become a big strength. Jersey Shore is a district champion again and those athletes certainly are happy.

The players who often are overlooked helped pave that championship path.

Seth Ingraham, Colin Samar, Eddie Woodring, Joe Lorson, Karter Peacock and Lee Springman have meshed well while playing together for the first time and have grown stronger throughout the season. They shined again last Friday, helping Jersey Shore produce 423 yards in a 33-14 district championship win over Selinsgrove. The Bulldogs (9-3) repeated as district champs for the first time in program history and face District 1 champion Bishop Shanahan in Friday’s state tournament opener at Selinsgrove.

“We lost a bunch of offensive linemen, but their attendance when we started our winter strength and conditioning program was really good and we had a lot of people who wanted to play on the offensive line,” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “They have embraced hard work from January to this point. That’s the key. They came and took advantage of the strength and speed development program and are starting to feel confident.”

Quarterback Tanner Lorson has put up some video game-like numbers at times, running back Josh Malicky went over 900 yards last week, and five wide receivers have caught at least 35 passes. Jersey Shore features some dynamic playmakers, but they could not perform the way they have without this line coming so far, so fast. Despite the line’s inexperience entering the season, Jersey Shore has increased its win total from last year and improved on both its passing and rushing numbers.

Actually, the Bulldogs are more potent than they have been all decade. Jersey Shore is averaging 38.1 points and 421.9 yards per game. They have won six consecutive games and the Bulldogs have scored 33 or more points each time, going over 40 points five times. All that success starts up front.

“We are so excited when Josh or Dawson (Sechrist) or Tanner rushes for over 100 yards,” right guard Eddie Woodring said. “It’s great to see all the seniors playing at the high level they can with throwing and rushing and catching.”

That sums up the line’s mentality. Their joy comes from seeing the skill players make big plays. They do not care who receives the publicity.

They are working-class players who clock in, grind it out as long as needed and punch out without seeking the limelight. The light shining on the program is what matters most and those linemen have embraced the Jersey Shore “tradition never graduates” slogan.

“I have to give all my success as a lineman this year to coach (Alex) Jackson, coach (Ken) Williamson and the other coaches who believed in us,” Woodring said. “We put so much work in over the offseason.”

That work immediately started producing results. Jersey Shore scored 55 points and totaled 493 yards in a season-opening win at District 6 Class AAAA champion Bellefonte. The Bulldogs fell to 2-2 three weeks later, but only Southern Columbia has beaten them since that point. Not coincidentally, the line has settled in more and more during that time. They are feeding off each other, communicating well and developing more chemistry.

Ingraham is the line’s only senior and returning starter. The center has provided not just quality play, but also leadership. Woodring and Lorson have grown into their roles at guard and Peacock, Samar and Springman have rotated in well at the tackle positions. Throughout that process, the offense has surged. It also has never tired while running a rapid-fire, no-huddle offense.

“Seth is the leader of the line,” Woodring said. “He keeps our heads up and if one of us makes a mistake we all own up to it.”

An added luxury up front is that four of those linemen play only offense. Peacock and Springman are having good defensive seasons and play with the defense against the scout team offense. That is a win-win situation for Jersey Shore. The defense is one of District 4’s best and this rebuilt offensive line has excelled against teams like Bellefonte, District 6 AAA champion Bald Eagle Area, Selinsgrove (twice) and Lewisburg, among others.

The offensive line is making the defense better and vice-versa. Going against each physical unit provides about as good a look as one can get leading into that week’s game.

“They are getting good looks and if someone is not going hard against people like Karter Peacock and Lee Springman and all those guys, you’re going to have a hard time,” Gravish said. “They are really battling and they are getting better every week. They had to play against some tough people and some of those tough opponents have helped make us better.”

And that offensive line has helped make the entire Jersey Shore team better.

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