Jersey Shore’s Owen Anderson, Tom Gravish earn Class AAAA top honors in football
Jersey Shore’s football program put together one of its best seasons this past fall. The Bulldogs went 11-1 with their lone loss coming to Thomas Jefferson in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game at Hersheypark Stadium.
Jersey Shore played excellent offensively, had an outstanding defense and made huge plays when needed. So perhaps its no surprise that six individual players were named to the Class AAAA football all-state team that was released Wednesday.
In addition, Owen Anderson and Tom Gravish received the state’s ultimate honor by being named the Class AAAA Player and Coach of the Year, respectively.
It marks the second consecutive season Jersey Shore has had the Class AAAA Player of the Year as quarterback Tanner Lorson received the honor in 2019.
“It just shows how hard work will eventually pay off. It is great to now see that all of those offseason workouts and lifts when nobody was watching were worth it,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t be in this position without my teammates doing the same and putting work in the whole offseason and my coaches pushing me every day to improve myself as a player and a person.”
The Bulldogs’ Branden Wheary (quarterback), Cayden Hess (wide receiver), Anderson (athlete), Joe Lorson (offensive line), Dalton Dugan (defensive line) and Hayden Packer (linebacker) were all-state selections this season in Class AAAA.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and the guys up there making blocks so we can get those passes off, those runs off. For Owen, he’s a special player. He can catch, he can get behind you on routes, he can beat you deep, he can jet sweep you, he can lineup with the quarterback and throw,” Gravish said. “He’s also a great punter, punt returner, kick returner. He does it all. He’s had great interceptions. He’s well deserving of player of the year.
“To have it two years in a row with Tanner last year and this year with Owen, it’s a great day to be a Bulldog and we want to keep plugging away. Tradition doesn’t graduate and we’re going to try to get back and have some more fun next year in 2021.”
Gravish helped turn the Bulldogs program around and it culminated this year with the program’s first trip to the state championship game. It’s been a gradual build to get to that point. While Gravish has been instrumental in that climb to reach the state championship this year, he said that he can’t take all the credit for it and that it’s a team award.
“I think it’s an honor for our program, not just for me. I think it says a lot about our program. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of players over time, including this season, and a lot of hard work and dedication from our coaches and everybody involved in our program.”
Wheary threw for 2,021 yards, threw 24 touchdowns and had just two interceptions all season. He finished the year averaging 2.2 touchdowns per game and had a quarterback rating of 107.8.
Hess was Wheary’s favorite target this year and led Jersey Shore in receptions (67), yards (911), yards per game (82.8) and was second on the team in both average per reception (13.6) and touchdowns (nine.)
Anderson was an outstanding all-around athlete. The Bulldog senior was second on the team in receiving yards (707) and receptions (40) and led the team with 10 touchdown catches. He also ran for 390 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
That offensive success was due to the Bulldogs’ excellent offensive line, which was led by Lorson up front. He helped clear the way for the Jersey Shore offense, which scored 429 points this year and was undefeated at home (3-0) and on the road (5-0).
Defensively, the Bulldogs were tough. Jersey Shore had 33 sacks, picked off 15 passes and allowed 135 points all season (11.3 per game). In its 12 games, Jersey Shore held an opponent to seven or fewer points seven times and recorded four shutouts.
That was in large part to defensive lineman Dugan and linebacker Packer.
In the team’s first eight games of the season, Jersey Shore allowed just 30 points.
Packer led the team with 57 solo tackles and had a team-high 82 total tackles. Dugan had 39 and 46, respectively. Dugan led the Bulldogs with nine sacks and Packer added three. Dugan also had two interceptions — both of which were returned for touchdowns in the state semifinals and final. He also had an impressive four pass deflections and a fumble recover. Packer also had a pick, pass deflection and fumble recovery.
“We had a lot of guys make the all-state team and a lot more guy who could have made it. I think its a team award for all involved. How we matched up with guys, we feel we had a lot more guys who could have had it,” Gravish said. “I’m proud of all of them and all of our players. It says a lot about our team. We emphasize team and coaches. The coaches coach and the players play, and we have a chance to win.”
Branden Wheary, Jersey Shore, sr.; Jake Pugh, Thomas Jefferson, sr.; Lek Powell, Bishop McDevitt, sr.; Cadin Olsen, Armstrong, so.; Sean McTaggart, Lampeter-Strasburg, sr.
Vernon Redd, Aliquippa, sr.; Cam Russell, Oil City, sr.; Jayden Williams, Allentown Central Catholic, sr.; Teddy Ruffner, Mars, sr.
Cayden Hess, Jersey Shore, jr.; Ian Hansen, Thomas Jefferson, sr.; Zach Hunsicker, Lehighton, sr.; Preston Zandier, Thomas Jefferson, sr.
Beau Heyser, Lampeter-Strasburg, jr.
Ryan Brubaker, Cocalico, jr.; Joe Lorson, Joe Lorson, Jersey Shore, sr.; Colin Lyons, McKeesport, sr.; Max Pacheco, Conrad Weiser, sr.; Zac Shelley, Lampeter-Starsburg, sr.
Owen Anderson, Jersey Shore, sr.; Justin Holmes, Northwestern Lehigh, jr.; Reed Martin, Plum, sr.
Parker Owens, Lampeter-Strasburg, sr.; Justin Fagley, Oil City, sr.; Lavon Johnson, Allentown Central Catholic, jr.; Owen Ordonez, Lewisburg, jr.; Mario Fontanazza, Oil City, sr.; Dalton Dugan, Jersey Shore, sr.
Hayden Packer, Jersey Shore, so.; Cole Weightman, Belle Vernon, jr.; Duncan Weir, Shikellamy, sr.; Ryan Aument, Selinsgrove, sr.; Nick Del Grande, Lampeter-Strasburg, jr.; LUke Williams, ELCO, jr.
Dakota Cole, Oil City, sr.; Ayden Garnes, Mons. Bonner-Prendergast, sr.; Jesse Martin, Garden Spot, sr.; Teague Hoover, Selinsgrove, sr.
Jack Landis, Lewisburg, sr.
Braden Bohannon, ELCO, sr.; Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon, jr.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Owen Anderson, Jersey Shore
COACH OF THE YEAR — Tom Gravish, Jersey Shore
Joey McCracken, Warwick, sr.; Micah Brubaker, Mechanicsburg, sr.; Ethan Dahlem, Upper St. Clair, sr.; Quinn Wentling, Whitehall, jr.; Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland, sr.
Colton Miller, Warwick, sr.; Derrick Davis, Gateway, sr.; Nick Singleton, Governor Mifflin, jr.
Owen Sensenig, Manheim Central, jr.; Alex Rufe, Lebanon, sr.; Charley Rossi, South Fayette, sr.; Christian Sapp, East Stroudsburg South, sr.; Eli Jochem, Pine-Richland, sr.
Thatcher Miller, Warwick, sr.
Harrison Hayes, Pine-Richland, sr.; Nolan Rucci, Warwick, sr.; Jaheim Bassham, Erie Central Prep, sr.; Dominic Sheidy, Governor Mifflin, sr.
Ethan Carr, Penn-Trafford, sr.; Randy Fizer, Red Lion, sr.
Miguel Jackson, Pine-Richland, sr.; Anthony Smith, Shippensburg, jr.; Jett Kelly, Elizabethtown, sr.; Jaydon Smith, Erie Cathedral Prep, sr.; Tyree Morris, Mechanicsburg, sr.; Cam’Ron Stewart, Governor Mifflin, sr.
Brandon Strausser, Governor Mifflin, sr.; J.R. Straus, Exeter, jr.; Bobby Walters, Elizabethtown, sr.; Corban Hondru, Peters Township, sr.; Luke Miller, Pine-Richland, sr.
Caleb Schmitz, Warwick, sr.; James Anderson, Mecahnicsburg, sr.; Micah Bootman, Upper Dublin, sr.; Donovan McMillon, Peters Township, sr.
Billy McNitt, Elizabethtown, sr.; Justin Caputo, South Fayette, jr.
Charlie Box, Marple Newtown, jr.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland
COACH OF THE YEAR — Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland
Evan Pribula, Central York, jr.; Evan Clark, Manheim Township, sr.; Matt Bugbee, Nazareth, sr.; Kyle McCord, St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.
Edy Tillman, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, sr.; Jaheim White, York High, so.; Timmy Smith, Central Dauphin, sr.; Jalen White, Souderton, sr.; Khalani Eaton, North Penn, jr.
Marvin Harrison Jr., St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.; Anthony Ivey, Manheim Township, jr.; Sahmir Hagans, St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.; Judah Tomb, Central York, sr.
Khalil Dinkins, North Allegheny, sr.
Drew Shelton, Downingtown West, jr.; Brad Harris, St. Joseph’s Prep, jr.; Nate Bruce, Harrisburg, sr.; Dorrien Ford, Baldwin, sr.; Josh Gaffney, Central York, sr.
Tanner Hess, Hempfield, sr.; Tyler Merwarth, Quakertown, sr.; Malik Cooper, St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.
Josh Miller, Seneca Valley, sr.; Braelin Moore, Freedom, jr.; Nick Yagodich, St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.; Seth Griffiths, Central York, sr.; Bralen Henderson, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, sr.; Nassir Jones, Williamsport, sr.
Jeremiah Trotter Jr., St. Joseph’s Prep, sr.; Jack Smith, Central York, sr.; Nathan Hoke, North Allegheny, sr.; Tamir Jackson, Easton Area, sr.; Jason Henderson, Delaware Valley, sr.
Sammy Knipe, State College, sr.; Troy Corson, Wilson-West Lawn, sr.; Malachi Bowman, Central Dauphin, sr.; Abdul Sabur Stewart, Coatesville, sr.; Keenan Nelson, St. Joseph’s Prep, jr.
Spencer Biscoe, Hempfield, sr.
Shane Hartzell, Pennridge, sr.; Matthew Cusatis, Hazleton, so.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Kyle McCord, St. Joseph’s Prep
COACH OF THE YEAR — Gerry Yonchiuk, Central York.