By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
TURBOTVLLE — At 1-4, Shikellamy knows things have to turn around if the Braves are going to qualify for the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
So a trip to play winless Warrrior Run on Friday night in a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game, should be just what the doctor ordered.
Yet Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford, whose team is close to being at least 4-1 on the season, has some concerns about the Defenders (0-5), despite their record and lopsided losses.
“This week in practice we are focusing on our blocking assignments versus the 4-4,” Tilford said earlier this week. “We face so many odd-front defenses these days, so it is important that we are focused and confident with our assignments.”
The Defenders went to the air last week to help them put up 28 points in a loss at South Williamsport and Tilford said that Warrior Run presents a challenge to the Braves’ defense by running many different spread formations.
“We need to be ready to defend the pass because they have had success throwing the football,” Tilford said.
Last week, the Braves were burned by Loyalsock’s outstanding junior quarterback, Kyle Datres.
“We are getting defenders to the right spots defensively, but we need to do a better job reacting to the routes and getting to the football,” Tilford said.
The Braves rode the legs of senior fullback Dwayne Pepper last week when it led the Lancers until a late touchdown spelled defeat. The 6-0 foot, 220-pound Pepper rushed for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“We were pleased with the way we were able to run the ball last week and had a strong outing form Pepper.”
Other than a depleted roster that gets thinner every week, Pepper is the biggest concern for Warrior Run coach Mark Burrows.
“We are not going to tackle Pepper. This week will be the same as last week,” he said, referring to his team’s inability to stop South Williamsport’s Dominick Bragalone, who ran for 324 yards and 6 TDs.
“We have to stop the run. The quarterback (senior Garrett Kemberling) is athletic and their defense runs all over the place. We obviously have our hands full and we’ve just got to go play the game.”
He added that in the last couple of weeks, the offensive line has given quarterback Hunter Raup time to throw, so that is one area in which the team has been improving.
“But we can’t score 70 points to win. We haven’t been able to stop people,” he added.
Tilford’s team needs some wins to get back into the thick of the D4 AAA playoff race.
“To be successful in the second half and to get a win at Warrior Run, we need to continue improving in the run game, which will set up the play-action pass where Garrett can be very dangerous,” Tilford added.