By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Even with both teams coming in at 2-4 overall, the winner of tonight’s Heartland Athletic Conference Division I game between Shikellamy and visiting Jersey Shore could have a bearing on both teams’ District 4 Class AAA playoff possibilities.
“Our kids are aware of the implications of getting into the playoffs,” Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford said. “We feel like we are capable of making a run, but Jersey Shore has the same record and is in the same place. The kids are excited for this one.
The Braves (1-1 HAC-I) and Bulldogs (1-2 HAC-I) are separated by a mere 10 points in the district points with Shikellamy in third place and Jersey Shore fourth.
Tilford said the players are concerned about the playoffs as well as the HAC-I. “The way our schedule sets up...we finish up with four league games (and) we have only one loss in the league, so we control our own destiny,” he said.
Of Jersey Shore, a winless team last season, Tilford said, “They took some lumps last year but I think they learned from it. They’ve got a lot of kids with varsity experience and, defensively ,they are really athletic and they’ve played really well against some good teams.
Tilford added that one similarity between his team and second-year coach Tom Gravish’s Bulldogs is that they have had shots to make plays at the end in games, but couldn’t get the win.
“We are similar and we are capable of beating anybody,” Tilford said.
Gravish likes what he has seen on film of Shikellamy.
“Shikellamy is extremely well coach and is talented on offense, defense and special teams,” he said.
“I like how their running backs run with quickness and power. They have been a challenge for the teams that they have played,” he said. “Their defenders are very quick and are always lined up where they have been coached to play.”
Gravish added that the Braves were explosive in their win against Warrior Run last week and are getting better each week.
One of the players who stands out on offense for the Bulldogs is 5-foot-11, 193 pound junior quarterback Logan English.
“He is a big athletic kid, similar to some of the other quarterbacks we have faced,” he said, noting that English is often able to get out of trouble and make a play with his feet. “You’ve really got to keep him in the pocket and force him to throw it down the field.
He said the Braves’ players could see in their film sessions that Jersey Shore has an athletic group.
“(Our players) know we are at home and this is one we just have to get. We’ve got to make the plays when we have them this week, and set the tone for the second half.”
He said Jersey shore played well against unbeaten Danville last week after the first Ironmen drive.
Said Gravish, ”We have had a really good practice week so far and look forward to playing a really good team on Friday.”