By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — When winless Shamokin gave unbeaten Southern Columbia, the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A team (by Pennsylvania Football News) a tussle for the first quarter last week, it not only got the attention of the Tigers, who went on to win the game 56-0. Other coaches took notice as well, including Shikellamy’s Todd Tilford.
The Braves coach, whose team hosts the Indians on Friday night in a Heartland Athletic Conference Division I game, echoed many other coaches who have played or were about to play Shamokin.’
“It’s the same thing every coach has been saying about Shamokin,” Tilford said. “They have talent and they are getting close. They have kids who can make plays and they’ve been competitive very week,” Tilford said.
Tilford, noting that Friday is Senior Night for the Braves (3-5 overall, 2-2 HAC-I), said, “Our kids know that they are going to have to work to earn a victory. Coach (Yaacov Yisrael) is going to have his kids ready and they have been improving every week. I’m sure that’s what we can expect this week.”
He said, “In the first couple of series they moved the ball well against Southern and had a couple penalties that kept them from getting a lead on Southern.”
He said that, in the film session this week, the Braves’ players learned that the Indians (0-8, 0-5), have potential to do some good things and that Shikellamy will have to earn a win.
“To get a win on Senior Night, the kids are going to have to earn it; it’s not going to be handed to them. Shamokin always plays tough and this should be another battle,” Tilford said.
The Indians, under Yisrael, who was unavailable for comment this week, have gone to an option attack and, Tilford said, senior Sean McLaughlin, who took over at quarterback at mid-season, does a nice job of handling the ball and using the deception that makes the option work.
“It’s something we don’t see a lot and something we really have to work on this week,” Tilford said. “It’s one of those things you can’t simulate at practice, when you don’t do it (yourself).”
Tilford also believes his offense will be challenged, especially if the Braves cannot get the passing game going. “The last couple weeks teams have loaded up in the box against (fullback) Dwayne Pepper and the halfbacks and we were unable to make plays in the passing game. I expect them to be aggressive with our running backs, and the quarterback and receivers are going to have to make some plays to back them up, or it’s going to be difficult,” he said.