Selinsgrove junior Nate Schon is the defending Class 3A wrestling state champion at 220 pounds.

His skills on the mat have paid off for the Selinsgrove football team this season as Schon has been a menace on the defensive line.

"He was a linebacker last year to start the year," Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks said. "Kind of by accident, I dropped him down to d-line one day. His quickness and as low as he plays, he was a handful. I talked to him about making that move. He's made me look good because he does a heck of a job down on the d-line for us. That's kind of that wrestling background helping us out in football."

Schon has 49 tackles this season, including a team-high 16 tackles for loss.

"From being on the bottom in wrestling, you learn a lot of quick movements," Schon said. "That's what you do when the see the ball move. It helps a lot. Hand-fighting is a big thing, too."

Schon has plenty of strength, as well. However, as a 224-pound nose guard, he's often going up against offensive linemen who are much bigger than him.

"It's been my speed off the ball and hand-fighting," Schon said. "When those big kids get their hands on me, it's tough. I try to not let that happen."

That ability to not let the opposing team's offensive linemen get their hands on him has helped him wreak havoc in opponents' backfields.

"He plays through the other team's center," Hicks said. "His goal is to drive him into the backfield and get a hold of the quarterback or the ballcarrier at that point."

The change to the defensive line has allowed Schon to play more freely.

"Being a linebacker you have a lot of responsibility — like pass drops, filling open gaps," Schon said. "On the d-line, you can just go right in there and go after the guy with the ball."

Schon has also played a big role when the Seals have the ball.

"He's a 220-pound tailback that a lot of teams don't want to tackle," Hicks said.

Schon has rushed for 718 yards and 11 touchdowns on 127 carries.

"I think my patience has been key — waiting for the holes to open and reading the blocks," Schon said.

Hicks said it was difficult to say which side of the ball Schon was more impactful on, but the coach did point out he is in charge of Selinsgrove's defense.

"I call the defense, so I'm going to go defense," Hicks said. "If we take him out — if we have to give him a breather or something — there's a definite change in the whole defense. When you've got a nose guard who can drive the center back into the quarterback's lap that certainly makes shutting down the opponent a whole lot easier."

For his part, Schon said he was happy to be a two-way starter.

"I love scoring touchdowns, and I also love making big-time tackles," he said.

Schon and the rest of the Seals head to Jersey Shore tonight for the District 4 Class 4A playoff. The Bulldogs, who won the regular-season meeting 36-0, tried to keep Schon at bay.

"The last time we played Jersey Shore, they were triple-teaming him at times, and he still had a couple of tackles for loss," Hicks said.

 

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