By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
Selinsgrove football fans will long remember the 2009 team, especially its seniors, for a 16-0 season and Class AAA state championship.
What about the 2012 seniors? This team shrugged off a 1-9 season in 2011 to win 10 games and advance to the state quarterfinals.
Senior Harley Stahl, who starts at both nose guard and center, knows the answer.
“Our senior class is going to be remembered as one of the greatest senior classes to ever come through,” the 6-foot-1, 271-pound Stahl said Friday night after Allentown Central Catholic ended Selinsgrove’s season with a 41-13 victory at Frank Banko Stadium.
“Because we weren’t winners and we became winners, and we brought our team back to being one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania. So I’m proud to be a part of this team,” Stahl said.
The Seals (10-4) took the lead first and trailed 19-13 at halftime, but were done in by a 15-point ACC (9-5) third quarter. They had a chance to cut it to one score, but a long touchdown run by freshman Juvon Batts was nullified by a holding penalty, the seventh time it happened to Batts this season.
From then on, the Vikings began to pull away, and the writing was on the wall for this group of Seals.
Nevertheless, Stahl said, “That’s a bummer, but I still played full speed. It’s my last game, so why not.”
He was happy that the Seals gave the Vikings a battle, and even took the early lead.
“When we scored, we were like, ‘We can do this; we have a good team,’ but I don’t know what happened,” Stahl said. “It could have been worse. We could have been shut out, but we weren’t and we put up a good fight. I’m happy for that.”
Seals coach Dave Hess was happy for the leadership he got from Stahl and his fellow seniors. “Harley was a tremendous leader. He was the catalyst, one of the group of seniors who was a catalyst for what we did this year, and you’ve got to hand them all the credit in the world,” Hess said.
“Harley is a great kid. I honestly think he is probably one of the best linemen in the state of Pennsylvania and I hope he gets the recognition that he’s due,” Hess continued. Because of his position, Stahl does not show up among the defensive leaders in the statistics, but it is because of the things he does that others get more of the glory.
“Harley is constantly underneath things, grabbing ankles and legs, and he does so much underneath, things you just don’t see,” Hess said. “If you are a football coach and you examine just what he does, you see just how special he is.”
That was evident when the Seals blocked an extra-point try by the Vikings early in the game. Stahl occupied a blocker to allow Billy Parks to get through for the block.
The coaches thought he was special three years ago when they gave him the No. 55 previously worn by one of the championship team members, Jon Trego, now at Susquehanna University.
“Jon was a two-way player. We put Harley in the same number as Jon because we thought that he could be a lot like Jon and — holy cow — that kid had a great three years for us,” Hess said.
“A three-year starter at nose guard and a two-year starter on both sides, and the kid worked his tail off; he never wore down. He is just a phenomenal football player and a great person,” Hess added.