---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
They didn't get a chance to face one another this season in what would have been one of the season's marquis match-ups.
Danville linebacker Eric Haney, owner of his school's all-time record for tackles, did not face the Valley's top running back, Southern Columbia's Adam Feudale.
But today, the two senior standouts get to share top honors on the annual Daily Item All-Star football team.
Haney was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year and Feudale was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Haney's coach, Jim Keiser, is the Coach of the Year.
Feudale, in his first and only season as the Tigers' starting fullback, a position which gets most of the action in Southern's wing-T offense, made the most of his time. Despite sitting out large chunks of game time because the Tigers had large leads, the 5-foot-10, 215-pound fullback rushed for the Valley's rushing leader both in net yards and average per carry. He finished his final season with 1,552 yards on 154 attempts, a 10.1 average and 22 TDs. He was a first-team Heartland Athletic Conference Division III selection.
"I would like to say 'thank you' to all my teammates because ,without them, this honor would not be possible," Feudale said when told of his selection.
He added his thanks to the sports staff for choosing him, noting, "There are a lot of good players in our area, and it feels great to receive this honor."
Southern coach Jim Roth said that Feudale was not only a team captain, but an outstanding leader on this year's team.
"He was a complete running back, possessing strength, speed and moves," Roth said.
"An impressive quality he displayed was that he raised his level of play when we needed it and at the end of the season in the playoffs," roth said.
As for playing fewer minutes than many of his contemporaries, Feudale said, "I thought that not playing full games had positives and negatives. The negative aspect of it was that we did not have any games to prepare us to play in a tough battle all the way to the end."
He said that proved costly in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs when the Tigers fell 19-14 to Old Forge.
"Old forge was the first team that we played until the very last minute," he said.
"The positive of only playing the first half was that it allowed the second-team players to gain varsity experience for next season. Also, it allowed our team to be fresh going into the playoffs."
Although his team fell short of its goal, of getting to Hershey for the state championship, Feudale said, "I will be proud about how we came together as a team, and worked to achieve a common goal."
Feudale, son of Sam and Shirley Feudale, plans to play college football, but has not yet made a choice.
Haney holds the school record in career tackles with 442 and also holds the single-season record at 159 (in his junior season).
Keiser said those records could stand for a long time.
The 6-0, 210-pound linebacker did not return calls for comment on the story, but his coach had plenty of praise.
"Eric Haney has been a tackling machine for us," Keiser said. "He diagnoses a play as good as anyone I have ever seen play. He is a great student of the game and watches more film than anyone we have ever had here."
Haney led the Ironmen in tackles for the third straight season in 2013 with 140, despite playing with a high ankle sprain for most of the season. He was a first-team HAC-I all-star and two-time AP all-state team member.
As for his own accolade, Keiser said, "I am honored that you would select me. It is an honor for our whole coaching staff."
Keiser said, "I am so proud of this year's football team because of the way they kept competing and battling through the adversity they were faced with throughout the season. I was impressed with how, when one guy would go down, another would step up and make a huge contribution."
Among examples of that, he mentioned the play of quarterback Weston Baylor in the Montoursville game, when Danville was without injured fullback Sam Dressler. "Even though we lost, I thought Weston played an outstanding game and kept us in that game."
He also noted Caleb Jones stepping in at the dog linebacker position when they had to move Isaac Troutman inside. "Jones made two big interceptions against Loyalsock, and Troutman stepped in for an injured Dressler against Bloomsburg and rushed for more than 100 yards."
Later, it was Baylor who was lost for the season and wide receiver Zack Kosick took over.
"We had some challenges with the injuries but so did a lot of other teams. We were fortunate to have guys that could step in and do a good job. It wasn't the result we would have liked for the end of the season and I would have liked to see us play one game with the lineup we had on the depth chart, but I think it was a successful season for us, despite that," Keiser said.
Battling injuries all the way, Keiser's Ironmen produced a 10-3 record and another Heartland Athletic Conference Division I championship with a 5-1 division record, and advanced to the District 4 Class AA championship game.