By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
ALTOONA -- There might not be two more disparate programs playing in the PIAA playoffs than Saturday's Class AAA matchup between Selinsgrove and University Prep at Mansion Park at 1 p.m.
When the Seals defeated Milton last Friday night, it was Selinsgrove's 12th District 4 football title since 1998. The Wildcats -- in their second year of existence -- won their first PIAA playoff game in school history in last week's 36-22 victory over previously undefeated Clearfield.
Not only is their history different, their styles of play are completely different. Selinsgrove has been relying on its ball-control offense and a nasty defense on its way to a 9-3 record.
University Prep spreads teams out with senior quarterback Akil Smith throwing the ball all over the field. In fact, Smith has thrown for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Wildcats' last two games.
"They will have four and five wide receivers out on every play," Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess said. "They throw the ball downfield and they have a lot of speed."
The main catalyst is Smith. The senior is in his first year as the starting quarterback for the Wildcats, who own the highest scoring offense in the Pittsburgh City League. He's thrown for 2,065 yards and 21 touchdowns this season for University Prep (7-3).
That kind of offense is going to be a different look for the Seals' 3-5 defense.
"It puts a lot of pressure on the three linemen up front and the inside linebackers to put pressure on the quarterback," Hess said. "The defensive backs are going to have to be aware at all times and not let their receivers get behind them. They are trying to come up with a big play almost all of the time."
The Selinsgrove defense should certainly be up to the task. The Seals have posted back-to-back shutouts in the district playoff, beating Shamokin 41-0 and Milton 31-0 last week.