---- — By The Daily Item
Although Selinsgrove didn't come away with a win Friday, the Seals played tough defense against Jersey Shore in the District 4 Class AAA final.
However, Selinsgrove couldn't stop Jersey Shore from claiming its first district championship since 1997 with a 20-16 victory.
Sophomore defensive lineman Jack Gaugler starred for Selinsgrove in the game. He recorded six tackles, with three amounting to losses of 19 yards. Two of those were sacks.
Ethan Troutman and Nathan Bingaman each had two tackles for loss in the game for the Seals.
All told, Selinsgrove had eight tackles for loss against Jersey Shore for minus-37 yards.
"Our defense, overall, played well for most of the night, but offensively we didn't get the job done," said Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess. "We got into a situation where we didn't have field position, and it's one of those situations where your offense has to get first downs and move the sticks, and we weren't able to do that at that point.
"That's what beat us," added Hess.
Ultimately, the Bulldogs won the game with big plays and turnovers before their defense "sealed" the monumental victory.
Following Angelo Martin's 4-yard touchdown run late in the third that gave Selinsgrove a 16-14 lead, Jersey Shore held the Seals to just one first down the rest of the way. A 12-yard scoring pass from Logan English with four minutes remaining in the game proved to be the difference for the Bulldogs.
Moments after that touchdown Selinsgrove found itself backed up near its goal line. Jersey Shore safety Boone Costa helped put the win in the books by intercepting a desperation pass from Seals quarterback Isaiah Rapp.
"We got to make plays everywhere. We can't go down to Selinsgrove and not make plays and wait for them to fumble. My hat's off to the Selinsgrove guys. I think it was a real tough battle. I give their players a lot of credit. They battled," said Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish.
"We were motivated to play Selinsgrove for the district title in Selinsgrove since they won so many titles. I've said for the past few weeks we are trying to build a program like Selinsgrove has built a program. This is a start for us."
COOL HANDS LUKE: Along with its stable of talented running backs, now 22-time District 4 Class A champion Southern Columbia also has a genuine game-breaker at split end in junior Luke Rarig.
The state track medalist continues to make dazzling plays on the end of passes from sophomore quarterback Nick Becker.
In its 47-21 win over South Williamsport in the D4 final Saturday night, Rarig had five catches for 96 yards and most of them were worthy of the highlight reel.
His 12-yarder on a screen to the right, on which he reversed field and went all the way across the field to the left, picked up a first down to set up Southern's first touchdown. Shortly after, he made a nice catch at the 5 and broke a tackle to get into the end zone. In the third quarter he had a 27-yard TD catch, which he made between two defenders.
All this by a player who rarely comes out of the game. He is a cornerback, a punt returner and the kicker.
ALL HANDS ON DECK: Southern Columbia's opponent, South Williamsport, was the Tigers' polar opposite when it comes to offensive production.
The Mountaineers were led all season by junior tailback Dominick Bragalone, whose 333 yards and three TDs in the final gave him 3,273 yards and 48 TDs for the season.
On the other hand, Southern's first five scores, to take a 28-7 lead, came from five different players. Getting into the end zone for the Tigers were Adam Feudale, Rarig, Matt Lupold, Nate Hunter and Blake Marks. Rarig and Feudale would each add another TD.
Said Feudale, "We are not a one-person team. We can put anyone in there and they will get the job done."
FUMBLES A CONCERN: The Tigers uncharacteristically fumbled three times Saturday night, losing two of them (one leading to a South Williamsport score).
Although Southern coach Jim Roth said it is something you can't do much about, he added that fumbling had not been much of a problem until recently.
"It's something we have to clean up," he said.
RISING TO THE OCCASION: Roth was glad to see Feudale have a huge night, which included 386 all-purpose yards. He said that when the team as a whole didn't play as well as expected in the District 4 semifinal versus Bloomsburg, Feudale was an exception.
"He had a heck of a game," Roth said. "He's certainly done what we try to stress to the whole team and that is (during) the playoffs, to try to step it up and play at a higher level, and try to play your best football that you've played all year. He's certainly done that the last couple weeks."