By Brian Holtzapple
The Daily Item
Just a year removed from one of its worst seasons, Selinsgrove is back in the title hunt.
The Seals are only a win away from claiming their 12th District 4 Class AAA title as they trounced Shamokin 41-0 in Friday’s semifinal game at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field.
Next up for the Seals are the Milton Black Panthers, a 13-7 winner over Shikellamy in the other semi. The district final will be played at Selinsgrove on Friday.
“It couldn’t feel better. It’s a great feeling. It gives me faith in knowing the good guys can win in the end. I’m very proud of the kids,” said Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess. “We knew we had a solid program, and we knew we would be back eventually. I’m just happy we bounced back this quickly.”
After needing a late score to pull out a 20-13 victory over the Indians in week four, Hess and his coaching staff were a bit nervous entering Friday’s game. But any anxiety over the rematch with Shamokin (2-9) began to disappear for Selinsgrove (8-3) by the time the second quarter came to a close.
The Seals scored three times in the quarter. Freshman Juvan Batts scored twice — on runs of four and 10 yards — and Zach Adams scored on a 13-yard pass from Isaiah Rapp to give the No. 1 seed a 21-0 halftime lead.
Batts finished with 104 yards on 18 carries.
“I was real happy with Juvan, and obviously I’m happy with Zach, too,” Hess said. “The offensive line did a great job, and they did a great job communicating what was there. It was a good offensive effort.”
“We were actually pretty nervous coming into this game because we knew Shamokin has some athletes, and it was a pretty tough game the last time around. It was a test to see how far we’ve come around since then, and I think the guys passed the test. They played well.”
Adams scored on a 60-yard run midway through the third quarter to put Selinsgrove up by four scores. He finished with 116 yards on 10 carries.
And with a big lead, the Seals were able to experiment a little.
Harley Stahl, a center/nose guard, ran the ball in on the conversion following Adams’ run. Then early in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Billy Parks scored on a two-yard touchdown run to put Selinsgrove up 35-0.
“That was real big. We needed to get that score in,” said Hess. “We needed to seal the game up, and we were able to experiment with some stuff we were looking at.”
Defensively, not only did the Seals shut out the Indians, but they also got six turnovers — including an interception by Mason Pope that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.
“We wanted to have a strong defensive game tonight. Obviously, you want one every time,” Hess said. “But it’s time now for us to start peaking and getting better. We’re into the playoffs now, and it came at the right time.”
Shamokin coach Dan Foor said: “(Turnovers) have hurt us all year. You can’t do that, especially in a playoff game. Selinsgrove was on a mission this year after the lack of success they had last year. They really turned it around. They had a great season, while our season didn’t go as expected.”
Selinsgrove’s season has gone better than expected following last year’s 1-9 campaign. But the Seals will need another performance like Friday’s if they want to beat Milton and capture their first district title since their state title run in 2009.
The previous matchup between Selinsgrove and Milton was also close, with the Seals taking a 14-12 victory five weeks ago.
“Once again, we’re in a situation where we played with Milton the last time and it came right down to the end, so this is going to be another big one for us,” Hess said.