By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — One didn’t play football until eighth grade.
One was slated for wide receiver and back-up quarterback until a season-ending injury forced a change of plans.
Now another injury has forced them into starring roles for one of the top programs in Class AAA, a spot neither had thought much about even as recently as the start of fall practice.
After finding out in the preseason that tailback Juvon Batts will miss the season, Selinsgrove got a double dose of bad news after Friday night’s loss to Berwick when leading rusher and receiver Zach Adams went down with an injury as well.
That leaves the Seals’ backfield in the hands of a fullback that didn’t play football until eighth grade and a converted quarterback at tailback.
However, they are certainly in capable hands.
Liesenfeld didn’t play many sports when he was younger, except for wrestling for a little bit. He didn’t think football would be the sport for him.
“I didn’t play football until eighth grade, I didn’t play midgets,” Liesenfeld said. “I just hadn’t played; I didn’t think I’d be good at it. I’m pretty new to football, but I’ve loved it since I’ve played.
“It was a good decision (to play).”
Liesenfeld, a junior, has certainly seen his fair share of time at fullback for the Seals. He ran for 241 yards and four touchdowns last season, along with 266 yards and three scores this season.
But Liesenfeld expends most of his energy on the defensive end now with Adams down.
“I’m probably going to play more fullback. I’m going to play more offense,” Liesenfeld said. “I think definitely there is a lot more pressure on me now that Zach’s down and Juvon can’t play. I’m just going to have to step up and make things happen.”
At least for Liesenfeld, he enjoys playing both sides of the ball.
“It’s really fun at fullback,” Liesenfeld said. “It’s just like linebacker; I run and hit somebody hard.”
Angelo Martin knew his sophomore season was going to be different. Coach Dave Hess had talked a lot in the preseason about getting Martin on the field, working the former quarterback at wide receiver for most of the season.
Then the bad news came about Batts.
“I know coach likes to get the best athletes on the field. I told the coaches when we found out about Juvon that I’d be willing to move anywhere to help the team,” Martin said. “As soon as Juvon went down, we knew, not just me, the whole team knew, we had to step up.
“We know things like this happen and the next guy has to be ready.”
So Martin made his second position switch of the season into the backfield. Martin had been a quarterback his entire career, including last season where he was the jayvee quarterback and threw two passes for the varsity and had 10 carries for 42 yards.
Martin said he always relied more on his legs as quarterback so the change to tailback wasn’t that huge of a deal, but there certainly are some adjustments.
“The view is a lot different. As a quarterback, I was used to running off tackle, not between the tackles,” Martin said.
And with more carries between the tackles Martin also had to get used to getting hit more often.
“It was a transition at first to taking those hits,” Martin said. “But I think I’ve gotten better each week and gotten more used to it.”
Martin is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has 350 yards and three touchdowns on the ground this season. He’s going to have to be more involved in the passing game in the final five weeks of the season.
Adams leads the Seals with 19 catches and Martin has yet to catch a pass.
The 5-10, 160-pounder knows exactly what needs to happen for him to grow even more into the halfback role.
“The toughest part has been the little details. A lot of (the position) is going out — competing and being an athlete,” Martin said. “The toughest part though has definitely been the details. I have to get better at the little things.”