The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 30, 2013

High school football notebook: Strong Ironmen defense improving

Lewisburg's Smith finds happy home

Daily Item

---- — By The Daily Item

After giving up some long drives this season to Shamokin and Montoursville, Danville coach Jim Keiser was more than pleased with the Ironmen's defensive performance Friday night against Central Columbia.

The Blue Jays struggled to generate first downs, going just 2 for 15 on third-down conversions. They had only four drives of longer than six plays.

Central Columbia had two 13-play drives in the second quarter, but the first ended with an interception near the goal line and the other ended on downs before the half.

"That's one of the things we wanted to take care of because we've given up some drives this year, long drives," Keiser said. "(Friday), I thought our guys stepped up and played real well."

The Danville defense also accounted for three interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery.

COMFORT ZONE: Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn knew before the season started that he needed to find a way to get the ball into Luke Smith's hands.

Winn thought Smith would be the perfect candidate to replace Brandon Smith at fullback in the Green Dragons' Wing-T offense.

"He's somebody we knew in the summer we had to get the ball to. We thought fullback would be the easiest way," Winn said.

However, Smith didn't take to the change quite like Winn envisioned.

"I wasn't really all the comfortable running the ball; you could probably tell by watching," Smith after Friday night's 42-6 victory over Shamokin.

With Logan Aikey growing into the fullback role in the Lewisburg offense, Smith moved back his to his former halfback position.

"I think I can block better, help the team more out there. I can catch passes," Smith said. "It's what I'm used to my whole life. It's what I did under the old coaching staff and it's what I did last year."

Smith caught three passes for 78 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Costagliola in the third quarter.

"Costy's great. I can't say enough about that kid," Smith said. "He put that ball right on my hands from 60 yards. (The pass) was so beautiful."

THEY'RE ON THEIR FEET: Shikellamy fans, and the approximately 60 on the Loyalsock side of the field hardly could settle into their seats because the big plays were almost non-stop.

At no time was this more evident than at the start of the second half. The Braves preserved a 14-13 halftime advantage with a diving end-zone interception by Nathan Shrawder, and the excitement continued into the third quarter.

First, Loyalsock's fine wide receiver, Phil Krizan, gave the Lancers their second kickoff return in as many weeks (Omar Little did it last week against Mount Carmel). He ran the second-half kickoff back 72 yards for a score.

As the fans attempted to sit down again, there went Shikellamy's John Schaeffer looking like he would make it back-to-back kick return TDs. He took it at the 12 and, like Krizan, went down the left sideline, but was bumped out of bounds at the Lancers' 24. Five plays later the Braves scored and it was 21-all.

TAKE THAT: Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet, who both played and coached at Susquehanna University, called the game a "slugfest" with one team punching the other, and then the other team punching back.

He also said he was proud of his team that it could even compete with a team like Shikellamy.

NOT DONE YET: Meanwhile, Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford said that, with the unsettled situation in District 4 Class AAA, his team needs to continue to play hard and make the plays needed to win games.

"If we can just get a couple of wins ... They have to know that we still have a lot to play for at 1-4 at the halfway point," he said.

LET THERE BE LIGHT: Just before the teams took the field for the opening kickoff at Shikellamy Stadium, a bank of lights went dark, casting the field in semi-darkness.

As Shikellamy personnel worked to restore the lights, the officials allowed the game to start, but then called the players to the sidelines with 9:38 left in the first quarter, and the Braves already up 7-0.

The lights were turned back on after about five minutes, and play resumed.

REDEMPTION: Selinsgrove's Mason Pope, who fumbled on a first-quarter kick return that helped stake Berwick to a 22-point lead, redeemed himself later in the game.

Pope broke a second-quarter kick return 42 yards into Berwick territory. Pope took the Olivia Seely kick at the Seals' 16 and bolted through the coverage to the right sideline where he was eventually escorted out of bounds by Berwick's Dain Kowalski at the Berwick 42. The return gave Selinsgrove its best starting field position of the game.