By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
By the time the second half of Friday’s Heartland-I matchup between Selinsgrove and Jersey Shore rolled around, thick fog had enveloped Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field to make it virtually impossible to see from one side of the stadium to the other.
Fortunately for a young Seals team, they scored all of their touchdowns in the first half.
The maturation process for Selinsgrove got a big boost as the Seals scored five touchdowns, including two defensively, to take a 36-0 homecoming victory over the Bulldogs.
More importantly, the win keeps Selinsgrove (6-2, 5-0 HAC-I) even with Danville in the race for the conference crown. The title will be decided when the Seals travel to play the Ironmen in the final game of the season on Nov. 2.
But before the Seals can even think about that game, they host Mount Carmel next Friday in what should be a real test for Selinsgrove.
“We have two sophomores and a freshman starting in our offensive backfield, and we got a sophomore tight end. It was a big growth night for us, and I think we got a little bit better,” said Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess.
“The win showed us where we are and where we need to be for next Friday night. Mount Carmel is a big game, and anytime you’re playing one of more storied programs in the state you got to start preparing, and we’re starting to prepare right away.”
Selinsgrove sophomore quarterback Isaiah Rapp was one of several players to show signs of growth in the contest.
Rapp tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Walter Jacobs on the opening series of the game, and he also threw a 13-yard touchdown to Tyler Krebs late in the second quarter to ensure that the mercy rule would be in effect in the second half.
The young signal caller finished with 105 yards on 9-of-14 passing.
“Rapp really got better tonight. We’ll proud of him and we’re happy with (his numbers),” said Hess.
In between Rapp’s two touchdown passes, Selinsgrove also scored on two fumble returns from junior Curtis Banasiak and on a 51-yard run from sophomore fullback Zach Adams.
Banasiak returned the first fumble 75 yards after Jersey Shore quarterback Jordan Tawney coughed it up near Selinsgrove’s red zone. The score helped ease the sting of the Bulldogs holding the Seals to a four-and-out on their second offensive series.
The second fumble return for Banasiak came two plays after Adams’ run, and the back-to-back touchdowns for Selinsgrove took the wind completely out of Jersey Shore.
“My team really had my back on (the fumble returns). Mason Pope caused the first one. I could never have done that without him,” said Banasiak. “Harley Stahl and Mikey Walter forced the second one. It got kicked right to me and it was just being in the right place and where you’re supposed to be at the right time. Everything just worked out.
“I think (the returns) gave some positive momentum for the team and it hyped everyone up,” added Banasiak. “But our offense did their job tonight. All in all it was a good night.”
It was a good night for Selinsgrove’s defense, but the offense only managed a total of 179 yards. Jersey Shore totaled only 163 yards of offense, despite the Bulldogs gaining 11 first downs to only six for the Seals.
“Curtis Banasiak scooped up two fumbles and he scored. The offense wasn’t great, but it was good enough to get the rest of the touchdowns. We’re happy with that,” said Hess. “The win is a really big confidence builder for our team, and our defense went out there and played hard and just shut them down. It felt really good,” said Banasiak.