---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- It was not the news Tyler Krebs wanted to hear.
The Monday before his Selinsgrove Seals, who were 4-1, began practicing for Southern Columbia, coach Dave Hess told his star senior that he was removing him as the starter at quarterback.
The move had nothing to do with Krebs' performance under center. Instead, Hess was trying to cut down the number of two-way players, and the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Krebs was a two-year starter at safety.
"It was a little tough at first, but, as it went on, the more I was OK with it. It's really a team thing more than an 'I' thing, and it was better for the team," Krebs said this week as Selinsgrove (10-3) got ready to travel to Bethlehem on Friday night to take on Allentown Central Catholic (8-5) in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals.
Hess said he would have worried about almost anyone else if handed that kind of news, but not Krebs.
"He is the most unselfish team player I've ever seen here. There wasn't one bit of negative from him," said Hess.
"He knew we wanted him to be a one-way player and he is our quarterback on defense. He is better and we are better off if he is 100 percent if he is playing defense, rather than being 75 percent two ways."
Krebs understood the reason for the move and, making the best of it, he tore into his work on the defensive side. After 13 games, Krebs has made a team-high 105 total tackles (47 solo), with four interceptions and six pass break-ups.
"After the change, it really gave me motivation to go out on defense and do my thing, prepare for each team so much harder, work so much harder. I could solely work on one thing, on one side of the ball rather than offense and defense. It definitely motivates you to excel on defense a lot," he aid.
Krebs was a quarterback in junior high, but did not play safety until his freshman year when the starter got injured.
He said, "The more I played it, the more it really caught my attention and my interest in the position in general.
As a sophomore, he played some safety in the Southern Columbia game and the first game of the District 4 class AAA playoffs against Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech. "That was a good learning experience for me as a sophomore," said Krebs, son of Mark and Yvonne Krebs.
Hess said, "He's been our leading tackler for two years and he has the ability to see the field very well. He puts himself where he needs to be, and doesn't get beat with the long ball. He brings a load; he is a tall, long kid with a knack for delivering a blow."
Krebs said film study is a big part of his preparation so that he can recognize where opponents are on the field and figure out before the snap what play they might run and where they might go with the ball.
It helped in last week's state playoff win over Pittsburgh's University Prep, when Krebs made two interceptions.
"He had two picks that were incredible athletic moves, and that made a huge difference. He kept us close," Hess said.
"That performance, from all of us, is something that couldn't have come at a better time, in a better game," Krebs said. "We knew University Prep would spread it out and throw the ball and we knew we needed to get some turnovers," he said. "It really worked out in our favor."
Now the Seals must try to stop a great running game, led by Colin McDermott and his 2,947 yards and 35 TDs.
"That kid is a heck of an athlete, with incredible stats, and, from what we've seen on film, he runs the ball pretty hard. He will be a great challenge to defend. We just have to go out and try to stop him, and get turnovers."
Added Krebs, who was new to the state playoffs as a player, added, "Turnovers can decide games in high school. One play goes a long way to deciding the winner of games, especially in the state playoffs."
Krebs, then a freshman on the junior high team, and some of his friends, attended the Seals' 2009 state title game.
"I envied those kids growing up. To come out and see Ryan Keiser and all the great players on defense, it was something of a motivational thing, to go out and keep up with the tradition of the program and all the success this program has had, and get back to Hershey for the semifinals and even the championship game, it's definitely an awesome opportunity we have in front of us."
He said that, after last year's 1-9 season, the senior class is excited about what it has accomplished and what could lie ahead.
"For us to go out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and still be at practice and do all the film study with your friends, play in the cool big stadiums, traveling a little further, it's great. High school football is the greatest thing ever, so much fun," he said.