Selinsgrove at Jersey Shore
Last meeting: Jersey Shore won, 36-0, in Week 2
Background: No two district opponents have met more since 2013 than Selinsgrove and Jersey Shore. This will be the 14th game during that time and it is the seventh consecutive season that they will play twice in the same season. It is the seventh consecutive year that Jersey Shore and Selinsgrove have met in the playoffs and the sixth time they have battled for the championship. Jersey Shore rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to edge Selinsgrove, 20-17, in last year’s final after Selinsgrove won the regular-season meeting, 31-10. The playoff series since 2013 is tied 3-3 with Jersey Shore holding a 3-2 advantage in championship games. Selinsgrove has won eight of the 13 games in this series over the last seven years, but Jersey Shore has won the last two title games. Shamokin in 2011 was the last team other than Selinsgrove or Jersey Shore to win the old District 4 Class AAA and current AAAA crown.
Selinsgrove PPG–21.4, YPG–217, PPA–20.2, YPA–282.4
Selinsgrove facts: The Seals are playing their best football at the right time and have won five of their last six games. Selinsgrove made quick work of Midd-West, building a 34-0 halftime lead and its only loss in the last six weeks is against HAC-II champion Montoursville. Selinsgrove features a strong defense that has held five of its last six opponents to 17 points or fewer. The Seals swarmed against Midd-West and surrendered just 130 yards while forcing five turnovers. Four players intercepted passes, including linebacker Teague Hoover who picked off his third pass. Cornerback Josh Nylund has a team-best five interceptions and returned one for a touchdown in a Week 5 loss at Berwick. Nate Schon has a team-high 16 tackles for loss and helps ignite the defense, combining strength and quickness. Miciah Showers has three sacks, while Schon, Trey Baney and Wyatt Metzger have two each. Schon is a hard-nosed runner as well and he ran for a career-high 185 yards and three touchdowns in a 20-16 win against Danville four weeks ago. Dean Hollenbach complements Schon and made history last week, breaking loose for a 99-yard touchdown run. Sophomore quarterback Dan Schoch needs just four yards to reach 1,000 for a second straight season and was outstanding in the 2018 regular-season meeting against Jersey Shore, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Nylund had six catches for 100 yards in that game and is Selinsgrove’s leading receiver. Metzger is a big-play threat who has converted six of his 13 catches into touchdowns while averaging 18.4 yards per catch.
Selinsgrove player to watch–Ryan Aument: The junior middle linebacker helps ignite Selinsgrove’s stingy defense and has made a team-high 104 tackles. Aument averages 9.5 tackles per game and has 14 tackles for loss. He has topped 10 tackles six times and had 14 when Selinsgrove played Jersey Shore in Week 2. He also can play tight end and fullback, running for three touchdowns.
Jersey Shore PPG–38.5, YPG–421.7, PPA–23.2, YPA–273.2
Jersey Shore facts: Like Selinsgrove, Jersey Shore has started peaking when it matters most and brings a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game. The Bulldogs are trying to make history and repeat as district champions for the first time in program history. Jersey Shore won its second straight HAC-I championship earlier this season and is pursuing its first sweep of Selinsgrove since it started playing the Seals twice a year in 2013. The Bulldogs allowed just 45 yards in the first Selinsgrove game, but players understood afterward that they would likely see Selinsgrove again and kept things in perspective moving forward. Jersey Shore came out strong against Shikellamy in last week’s semifinals, scoring 51 first-half points and winning, 72-25. The offensive line featured four new starters when the season started, but has grown into a strong, cohesive unit that paved the way for 415 rushing yards last week. Josh Malicky ran for a career-high 215 yards, Dawson Sechrist added 106 yards and quarterback Tanner Lorson produced 80. Lorson has totaled 41 touchdowns this season and leads District 4 in passing yards. Four players have caught at least 29 passes and Cayden Hess scored twice against Shikellamy. Stanton Westlin’s 10 touchdowns are tied for the area’s most among receivers and both Owen Anderson and Anthony Shaffer have had some big games. Shaffer also has six interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Sechrist is one of the area’s premier linebackers and went over 100 tackles for a second straight year in Week 10. Fellow linebacker Dalton Dugan has become a weapon in his first year starting and collected his fourth sack last week. Defensive end Ryan Kerschner is a difference-maker who has a team-best seven sacks and who consistently disrupts the passing game. Kerschner had eight quarterback hurries a week ago. Colin Samar, Gaige Wilson and Karter Peacock also have been tough and the starting defense has not allowed more than two touchdowns in a game since Week 7.
Jersey Shore player to watch–Gabe Packer: This team lost some excellent players from last year’s defense and Packer has been one of many underclassmen who has kept this unit among the area’s best. Packer has hit his stride late this season and made 10 tackles against Shikellamy. The junior linebacker is averaging 7.1 tackles per game, intercepted a pass in the regular-season finale against Central Mountain and has reached 10 tackles three times.
Winner plays: District 1’s champion, either Upper Moreland or Bishop Shanahan at a District 4 site.
Outlook: These two know each other as well as any District 4 teams can. They appeared on a collision course to again meet for the championship all season and have done a good job preparing themselves to pounce on this opportunity. Three of the five championships these two have played in since 2013 have been decided by four or fewer points. Do not be surprised if that number increases to four tonight in what should be quite a battle.
–By CHRIS MASSE