Jersey Shore kicker nails game-winning field goal for district championship

One yard separated Jersey Shore and another district championship.

His team facing a fourth-and-goal Saturday against Selinsgrove, Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish temporarily thought about going for the overtime touchdown. No kick was a sure thing on a muddy field, but Gravish quickly changed his mind.

Having one of the best kickers in area history made it an easy decision.

Gravish sent out Cameron Griffin and the senior drilled the game-winning, 18-yard field goal as Jersey Shore defeated Selinsgrove, 20-17 and captured the District 4 Class AAAA championship. The Bulldogs (7-5) won their third district championship in six seasons and Griffin experienced every kicker’s dream.

“This was a really gritty game. We always have something extra to give against them and they have something extra to give against us,” Griffin said. “It’s just a great game. I love it. I kept telling myself ‘you gotta get this for the team,'”

He did. And that is nothing new. Griffin has delivered big kicks throughout his scholastic career and is the area’s all-time leader in kicking points, having 31 more than the second-place kicker. Griffin’s game-winning field goal last Saturday gave him 200 career points. He made all four kicks against Selinsgrove, two field goals and two extra points. In a game that went to overtime, one miss could have been the difference between a championship and cleaning out the lockers.

But those are the games and situations Griffin works so hard to make sure he owns. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, making three field goals and 47 extra points as Jersey Shore reached the district final. He used that season as a launching pad, working harder and growing better each season. Now, his final campaign has become his best.

Griffin has drilled nine field goals and totaled 57 points. He has missed just two field goal attempts and his 18 career field goals trail only Loyalsock’s Dan Hutchins for the most in area history. His nine field goals this season also tied Montoursville’s Ethan Lazorka for the most in a year during the 2000s. He has become quite a weapon, helping Jersey Shore nearly ensure itself any time it reaches the red zone that it will at least produce three points.

“We have a lot of faith in Cam. He’s been to so many camps. He’s been an incredible kicker for us over his four years,” Gravish said. “Part of me wanted to got for it (against Selinsgrove), but the smart play was to line up for him to kick it.”

Griffin has made at least three field goals in each of his four seasons. He has been a part of two district champions, a league champion and three district finalists. Kickers and what a vital role they play sometimes can be overlooked.

There is no overlooking Griffin and the value he has provided Jersey Shore.

“I’ve been kicking for a very long time,” Griffin said. “I have been part of a lot of history on this field.”

ANOTHER CLASSIC

Jersey Shore and Selinsgrove have met six straight years in the playoffs and Saturday marked the fifth time these rivals played for the district championship. Four of those finals have been decided by 20 combined points and this was the third time the title was decided by four or fewer points.

This game, however, topped all those other close battles. Selinsgrove led 14-0 in the second quarter before Jersey Shore scored the next 17 points and thought it had the game won in the final seconds. Instead, Kyle Ruhl kicked a 32-yard field goal as regulation time expired. Unfazed, Jersey Shore forced a turnover on Selinsgrove’s overtime possession, drove to the 1 and had Griffin win the championship.

How Jersey Shore won epitomized its team and its season. The Bulldogs have endured adversity on and off the field, but keep fighting on and beating good teams. They lost two games on the final play and started the season 1-3, but Jersey Shore rallied to beat Montoursville, Lewisburg and Shamokin while capturing a share of the HAC-I championship. The district final and this whole season has been hard and maybe that is what makes this latest championship so special.

“They are a bunch of battlers,” Gravish said. “We have people from the community that raised kids the old-fashioned way. They are tough kids in a tough blue-collar community of hard-working families. They never believe they are out of anything at any time.”

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