The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

December 7, 2012

Harold Raker's column on high school football: Future bright for Valley teams

Instead of dreaming of a white Christmas, some Valley football coaches are already dreaming about the next season.

Any sports season as it heads toward the final weeks can become an absolute grind for the athletes and even the coaches. But in the case of at least three area schools -- Selinsgrove, Danville and Southern Columbia -- the coaches, and most likely the players, are as excited as kids at Christmas time for the 2013 season to get here.

There were tears shed last Friday night at Bethlehem Liberty High School's Frank Banko Stadium, especially by some of the seniors who were saying good-bye to their high school and maybe their overall football careers.

But, after an emotional talk with his players and hugs all around on the field after the loss to Allentown Central Catholic, Seals coach Dave Hess couldn't help talking about the future.

After enduring a 1-9 season in 2011, just two years after a 16-0 state championship run, the joy, and the optimism, have returned to Selinsgrove's program.

Asked about how many starters graduate from this year's 11-3 team, Hess went over what is a relatively short list, and a big smile came to his face.

"We will have one of the best nucleuses ever," Hess said as his players and coaches milled around, knowing that they had just been a part of a Seals football resurgence.

"I can't wait."

Selinsgrove will return six starters on each side of the ball, and they include this year's freshman sensation, tailback Juvon Batts, who ran for more than 1,000 yards even though he missed a few games early.

Both Hess and his Danville counterpart, Jim Keiser, had young squads this season and were not picked to contend, much less win any championships. But Danville beat the Seals in week 10 to take the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I crown and both won their respective District 4 championships, the Seals in AAA and the Ironmen in AA. Selinsgrove won an opening-round state playoff game before falling to the Vikings.

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