By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — Fans of good defense just might enjoy taking in Friday night’s season and Heartland Athletic Conference Division I opener between Mifflinburg and host Selinsgrove.
It’s not just that last year’s game was won 3-0 by the Seals on a field goal in the final seconds.
It’s that both teams try to play an aggressive style of defense, which should make it difficult for the Seals and Wildcats to get into an offensive rhythm. At least that’s what it looks like on paper.
“Their defense flows well to the ball and one thing coming out of our scrimmages we were pleased with was the way we were running the ball and moving the balll,” Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler said.
But he said he would like to see an improvement on the execution of his passing game.
“From our defensive perspective, we have been playing aggressively ourselves, although we need improvement on our pass coverage and are continuing to work on that,” Dressler said.
“It should be a good game,” he said.
Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess, noting that he was lucky but very happy to get the win a year ago, said, “They are a far better football team than everybody gives them credit for. They are big and strong up front.”
Hess said, “Those guys are good up front and any time you can saw that about your football team, no matter who is behind them at running back or in the secondary, you are going to have a good football team.
“Mifflinburg is flying under the radar right now,” he added.
Hess said that new starting quarterback sophomore Jordan Wagner looks mature, has a strong arm and keeps a cool head.
“I think they are going to be one of the better teams in the area this year, “ Hess said.
He agrees with his Mifflinburg counterpart that this match-up has the look of a grind-it-out type of game.
“They put 11 guys in the box and play press coverage on the outside, and they are loaded with interior linemen and linebackers. Even their safeties play down on the line of scrimmage. It’s going to be confusing for us and we’ve got to keep cool heads,” Hess added.
Dressler said, “The expectations for both teams are obviously to get the ball to the end zone as many times as possible, but there are athletes on both sides of the ball.
“We are coaching up our kids to be aggressive, and put the ball in the end zone. And we can’t relax with the way they play. They are tough, and we have to play four quarters of football. Last year’s game was a reminder of that,” he said.
Last year, Kaelan Sullivan’s winning field goal came after the snap rolled on the ground and he had to hesitate before chipping it in.