By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Talking before the season, Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford truly believed his Braves could be playing for a championship this season.
After starting 1-4, chances of that happening looked rather bleak.
Well, guess what? Shikellamy, coming off two straight wins, coupled with losses by their top competitors, travels to Danville on Friday night for a chance to win at least a share of the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I title. And they are No. 2 in the District 4 Class AAA point standings.
The Braves saw bad luck and bad breaks derail their season early on, but, at 3-4 overall, but 2-1 HAC-I, they are back in the hunt versus Danville (6-1, 4-1), coming off its first loss, last week at Montoursville.
“At this point in the season, with some of the things we came up short on, whatever happened earlier doesn’t matter because Friday we’re playing for first place, if we can go to Danville and get a win,” Tilford said.
“If the kids can’t be excited playing a game like that...Our kids are excited to go compete and that’s how it should be, and the coaching staff is excited for this one,” Tilford said.
The Ironmen were without two starters last week in running back Sam Dressler and running back/linebacker Isaiah Croll.
Cross remains out, but Dressler is listed as a probable starter this week.
Having seen what the Ironmen did without those players, Tilford said, “They ran the quarterback (Weston Baylor) a lot more and their third-best option is a pretty good one. It adds another dimension. They are a really versatile team.”
Danville coach Jim Keiser said his players will have no problem preparing for this game, despite the loss.
“I think it is easier to refocus after a loss than it is after a win. The kids realize they have to turn it up a notch.”
Plus, he said, “This basically is the championship game. They played some good football every game and I saw that they made a mistake here or there and they could be sitting at 6-1 of 5-2.”
Keiser said one of his concerns is Shikellamy senior fullback Dwayne Pepper.
“He is really running the football now and they are playing defense as well as anybody we’ve seen. Todd does a great job of getting the kids ready.”
“Watching film on Shikellamy they really impressed me. They are a very good football team and they are starting to get things down more. And they are more relaxed and they are playing that way, too.”