The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 26, 2013

Braves seniors step up against Indians

Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item

— By Brian Holtzapple

For The Daily Item

SUNBURY — While Shikellamy was celebrating Senior Night against Shamokin on Friday, two seniors in particular stood out for the Braves.

Quarterback Garrett Kemberling and running back Alex Bruner both made a couple of big plays in the game to lift the hosts to a 28-0 Heartland-I victory over Shamokin at Shikellamy Stadium.

The win by Shikellamy (4-5, 3-2 HAC-I) sets up a conference showdown against Milton (5-4, 2-3) next week. On the line is the No. 1 seed in the upcoming District 4 Class AAA playoffs for the Braves.

“We squandered some chances there early, but our kids did what they had to do up front and we kind of took care of business on Senior Night and hopefully we can keep on progressing,” said Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford.

“Our kids knew that Shamokin has some athletes and that they are a competitive team, so we had to take care of business tonight (and not look ahead to Milton).”

With Bruner leading the way for Shikellamy, Shamokin (0-9, 0-6) didn’t stand much of a chance against the Braves.

Bruner made the most of his senior night appearance by accumulating more yards in one game (109) than he had in the entire season leading up to Friday (95).

Bruner’s first carry in the second quarter, and third overall in the game, resulted in a 43-yard touchdown run. Shikellamy took an 8-0 lead following the touchdown when Kemberling hooked up with Jean Turber for the point after conversion.

“Bruner has really been coming on, and Turber just does a heck of a job blocking on the edge. They are both little guys and they got a lot of heart,” said Tilford. “Bruner has really been planting and getting north and south and that’s when he’s a pretty good back.

“That touchdown was big because we were having trouble (moving the ball) early with all the Shamokin players in the box,” Tilford added. “We got a little off-tackle going and Bruner just used his ability and took advantage of what was there. That was a nice run.”

That 43-yard run was Bruner’s longest carry of the season — up until he had a carry for 44 yards in the following series to set up the Braves’ next touchdown.

With under two minutes remaining until the half, Kemberling ran for a 34-yard touchdown on a draw play to give Shikellamy a 15-0 halftime lead.

But Kemberling wasn’t done yet.

The Braves quarterback passed for his fourth touchdown of the year when he found Nick Dunn for a 48-yard strike late in the third quarter. Dunn caught the ball over the out-stretched hands of Indians defender Shane Williams for his third touchdown of the season to give Shikellamy a 21-0 lead.

“I was happy to see Kemberling connect there. With teams loading up in the box we have to be able to make some plays down the field,” said Tilford. “Seeing Kemberling connect with Dunn there was a good sign to break things open for us.”

While the game was under Shikellamy’s control by that point, the Braves would add a touchdown in the fourth on a 29-yard pass from back-up quarterback Christian Schlegel to John Schaeffer.

Shamokin and its option attack, however, was held to just 117 yards of total offense in the loss.

“It was tough because you don’t see (the option) and you have to be disciplined and everybody has to play to their responsibilities,” said Tilford. “The kids keep plugging away and we have a chance to get in districts and earn another home game.

“Milton has kind of become a rivalry game, and the kids have a chance to play another good team and see where we stand.”