Sunday, December 20, 2009

Left No Doubt!!!!

"You win a championship game with championship people," said Pennsylvania's all-time winning coach George Curry after a playoff victory over Shamokin in the early 1990's. That quote was oh so true as the Selinsgrove Seals claimed their first PIAA crown and the first for District IV above the AA level ever.

With starting backfield Kyle Reinard and Matt Wenrich out with injuries in the second half and quarterback Cory Briggs suffering from illness, the Seals supporting cast dug deep and mined PIAA gold for the Seals. Stepping in for the backfield was Cameron Benner and Seth Lauver. Spencer Myers and Kyle Schuck switched in order to get helmet on Manheim Central's Dakota Royer.

What can you say about Ryan Keiser? Keiser didn't have a big stat night, but what a second half he had. Keiser recovered a fumble when it looked like Central would increase their lead in the 3rd quarter. He had a the key interception to set up the state championship drive and made a third down reception to keep the drive alive.

Bryant Troutman nearly in double-digit tackles and key sack late in the game.

Standing on the sideline on Friday night there are a few observations with the ebb and flow of the game. Despite scoring over 40 points in 10 of 15 games, there wasn't a sense of pressing by the Selinsgrove players or staff. That seemed evident when the Seals opted for the 21-yard field goal by Spencer Hotaling instead of trying to go for it in a fourth-and-three situation. Down at that point 7-3 with a whole quarter left, most of the Seals thought they would see the redzone at least one more time.

Most revealing moment for me was early in the first half, Manheim Central QB Justin Gorman rolled right toward his bench and looked to have plenty of running room evident by the sudden roar of the Baron fans. Out of nowhere, Cameron Benner came up stopped Gorman in his tracks for a minimal gain. The Baron faithful had to think they were in a long night.

Was it the 3-5 defense giving the Baron's fits? In an observation made by Dylan Elliot quoted by Harold Raker in the Daily-Item,

“The quarterback usually gave away what he was going to do. He peaked around at his receivers when he was going to throw, he did have that flaw.

He also crouched a little lower when he was going to run. You have to pick up on things like that when you have a good defense like Selinsgrove,” he said.

The other thing for everyone was the noise!!! Hersheypark Stadium was rocking. Hard to believe there were only 8155 there, but more on that later.

Sowing the seeds.

When you look at the official program of the PIAA finals, the past 21 years are filled with teams of great traditions making appearances in eastern or western finals, state finals and state championships. With the Seals you will only see the 2008 appearance in eastern final, but the seeds for this championship were sown in 1996 when the Seal added Mount Carmel to the schedule who picked up AA state titles in '96, '98 and 2000.

Although early success against the Red Tornadoes was minimal, the Seals now lead the series 9-5. In 1999, put the District IV on a notice with OT loss opening day to eventual district champion Danville and a shootout loss to a very good Blue Mountain team. 2000 and '01 were marked by state playoff losses to Manheim Central. 2005 and 2006 featured losses to Franklin Regional and Thomas Jefferson, as the Seals were shoved to the Western bracket while Pottsville represented the East. Although there were upset at the time, the Seals knew they would still have to improve. In 2008, the Seals broke through and made it to the Eastern Final which set the stage for this season.

One of the great thing about high school sports is watching players over the years mold and mesh together for a common goal. For the most part, the are no free agent signings and young men try their best to represent their school and community. This team recognized early on that they could be special only if they worked hard. You could see that commitment in other sports like in Spencer Myers or in the classroom with Corey Briggs.

The 2009 season for the Seals reminds me of quote from the late Philadelphia Flyer coach Fred Shero wrote on the blackboard for Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup clincher, "Win together today, and we walk together forever." The 2009 Selinsgrove Seals will be together forever.

PIAA Attendance

The announced attendance for Friday's game was 8155. Hersheypark Stadium has 33 seats in a row and 30 rows per sections. There are 8 sections on each side and both sides I had a solid 6 sections full. Central and Selinsgrove both had fans spill over in the final two sections. If you look at 990 people for each of the 12 sections were full and subtract about 100 from each section for clothing your still looking at over 10000 with spill over into four other sections.

Mount Carmel Board Problems

Chuck Souders once again points out the "Constititutional Crisis" in today's News-Item. We could only hope Mr. Belfanti doesn't seek higher office.

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