By The Daily Item
One of the best runs of the day in Selinsgrove's 41-14 victory over University Prep on Saturday ended up not counting.
Fullback Conner Leisenfeld took a handoff up the middle in the fourth quarter against the Panthers. He appeared to be stuffed in the middle of the line and a flag was thrown for good measure.
However, before the officials could blow the play dead, the Seals' sophomore began to move the pile and eventually bulled his way for nearly seven yards on the play with University Prep players hanging on his back and still pumping legs.
Unfortunately that flag was a holding call against the Seals, negating Leisenfeld's effort.
UP NEXT: The Seals will take on a familiar foe in the Class AAA quarterfinals on Friday night when they meet District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic in Bethlehem. Kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The teams met in the 2009 state playoffs when the Seals won 31-10 on their way to the state title. The Vikings won their third PIAA title the next season in 2010.
HE'S A FRESHMAN: After the post-game interviews wrapped up on Saturday afternoon at Mansion Park, Seals coach Dave Hess and several reporters spent some time rehashing the PIAA Class AAA first-round game with University Prep.
One thing that stuck out to everyone that watched the Panthers' defense closely was the play of No. 51 on University Prep at linebacker.
"The tape we had on them No. 51 just jumped off the screen," Hess said.
Even more surprising, the Wildcats' No. 51, Jaseem Campbell, is just a freshman.
Campbell is already 5-foot-11, 245-pounds with the speed and athleticism of a much smaller player. The youngster was able to track down Selinsgrove's own talented freshman tailback Juvon Batts on his longest carry of the day, a 20-yarder in the second quarter.
Campbell is also big enough to slide down on to the defensive line as a nose guard when the Panthers are in their short yardage defense.
SIZE NOT EVERYTHING: In addition to its dangerous offense, the biggest concern for Danville going into Friday's District 4 Class AA title game with visiting Mount Carmel was the Red Tornadoes' significant size difference up front.
After his team fell to the Ironmen 28-21, Mount Carmel coach Carmen DeFrancesco, who is a former Danville head coach, said, "Their quickness on defense was really something to see. I give them a lot of credit."
DeFrancesco said that, especially in the second half, when the Ironmen held standout running back Lucas Klingerman to 34 yards on 16 carries, "They just flew to the ball. We just couldn't seem to stay on our blocks."
Mount Carmel's offensive front included four 260-pounders and a 230-pounder. Danville's biggest defensive lineman goes 205.
Danville coach Jim Keiser said, "We may have the smallest Class AA line in the state, and those kids have great heart, they're hard workers, and they did a great job against a very good football team."
Keiser added, "(Klingerman) is a heck of a running back. For us to do what we did to him the second half, that was huge. Our guys did a great job of flying to the football, they did all year. I can't say enough about our kids."
PLEASANT SURPRISE: Keiser admitted he was not expecting to come into this season with all of the heavy graduation losses and still be playing in week 14.
"No, but these kids worked so hard. We started working for this year in this week last year," he said.
Senior Bret Berg, who had two touchdown catches and a pair of interceptions, said, "It feels great. No one expected us to do this, at the beginning of the season, but we all believed."
Danville junior Zack Kozick, who scored the winning touchdown and helped preserve the win with an interception, said the fact that few people believed they could win made this victory even more special.
"We were huge underdogs. It's almost the story of our season, and I think this showed everybody that we are worth of (being) district champions."
Danville play unbeaten District 3 champion Wyomissing (13-0) at noon on Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium. The Ironmen are in the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history while the Spartans, led by Notre Dame recruit Alex Anzalone at linebacker, lost in the District 3 title game to eventual state champion Lancaster Catholic in last year' opening round.
STAYING WITH THEM: From the first Mount Carmel score to the last, Danville had an answer every time and never fell behind more than one score, before breaking the tie for good with Kozick's TD catch from Weston Baylor.
Berg said that was vital to his team's chances of winning.
"I felt if our team got down, (Mount Carmel) would get more fired up. They're a great team and if they can put it to you they will, so we felt that we needed to do that."
RARE DOUBLE: With Friday's victory, Danville joined Montoursville as the only schools in District 4 to win at least two district titles in two different classifications.
The Ironmen have now won two titles in Class AA (1992 and 2012) and two in Class AAA (1998 and 1999). Montoursville has won seven titles in two classifications, including three in Class AAA (1986, 1990, 1994) and four in Class AA (1987, 1989, 2005, 2006).
The only other school in District 4 to win titles in two different classifications is South Williamsport, which won the AA title in 1997 and the A crown in 1989.