Bulldogs set to take on undefeated Dallas in state semifinal
By: AARON JAMES
The Jersey Shore Bulldogs passed yet another test in a classic of a playoff battle in the PIAA Class 4A District Quarterfinal. After falling into a 21-0 deficit against what many considered and superior opponent everyone having a role in the Jersey Shore football program did their part en route to a legendary 42-35 triple overtime comeback victory.
The Bulldogs are no stranger to overcoming obstacles and faux criticism. From injuries, to doubts, to lazy opinions, this Bulldog team demonstrates what a football team is all about. As a result, they find themselves two wins from the mecca of high school football. A state title.
The Bulldogs road to that dream though, embattles another deserving opponent in a 14-0 Dallas football team. A team with a 2,300 yard rusher and one of the few teams that have put up comparable offensive and defensive statistics in the 4A category of football across the state.
“We’ve put a lot of hours in the weight room this summer and we know alot of people doubted us, this is hard work paying off for us, and it’s well deserved” Senior Tanner Lorson said.
“We know we have playmakers all over the field, you take away one it just opens another one up. We always open up the door for something else and it gives us a lot of confidence in what we do knowing we have playmakers all over the field” he continued.
“We can play with anybody out there, we preach and harp all the time, the kids didn’t flinch down 21-0 to a great football team. Pottsville was loaded and our guys just battled back. I’m just so proud of them, we celebrate every victory, we find time to celebrate them all but we had a lot of fun after that game. We wanna still have fun” Head Coach Tom Gravish said about his run with this Bulldog squad.
Evaluating the matchup
Dallas Runninback Lenny Kelley has rushed for an astounding 2,354 yards with 36 touchdowns in a mere 14 games. The confident and superb Jersey Shore Bulldog defense with clearly have a hard task at hand defending such an electrifying runner.
“Our defense has been huge all year. They play with so much confidence and know they can stop anyone, they’ve been doing this all year.” Jersey Shore Quarterback Tanner Lorson said of his defense that held a Pottsville team to 0 points after the first quarter throughout regulation on the way to their state quarterfinal victory last week.
The Shore defense will need to battle in the trenches forcing Dallas to compete through the air.
Shore cornerback Brett Guthrie who has been more than stellar outside amassing six interceptions can change the game in the blink of an eye.
The Dallas offense has thrown for 1,813 passing yards compared to the 3,000 plus Tanner Lorson has led his Bulldog offense to. Creating a switch in the game plan could be exactly what sends the Jersey Shore Bulldogs to their first ever state title.
Embracing the community support
The stands at Thompson Street Stadium have been filled since week one for years and years in the Jersey Shore Football Programs history. The streets are flooded with “Go Dawgs” signs, the Black and Orange is dangled from trees, and flags and houses. A community has rallied behind this team, and helped to thrust them to the forefront of program history.
“I sense that confidence in seeing their faces in our postgame address to them. They had every emergency vehicle in our school district there to greet us on the way home again. The confidence and seeing how our community really supports us and our guys really know that. School administration, to teacher, to following with our student body, and boosters, businesses. They appreciate that” Gravish said reflecting on the support.
“We have a whole community behind us supporting, It’s such an advantage every game with all those fans there, it brings a lot of momentum for us. It brings a lot of momentum for us. We know they can help get us farther than where we want to be. We thank the community so much, they know they’re a crucial part to our season, they’ve believed in us and known all year when everyone else didn’t think we could do anything, Thank you for rolling together with us.” An appreciate and humble Lorson added in addition to the communities effect.
The Bulldogs have amassed 38 points per game in 14 contests. They have two 1,000 yard rushers, a 1,000 yard receiver, and Senior Tanner Lorson has thrown for over 3,000 yards this season with 32 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. This team is deep in gamechangers, from Josh Malicky to Lorson, from Hess, to Westlin. Shutdown corner Brett Guthrie was thrust into an offensive role in a state quarterfinal game which he sealed with a game winning interception in a third overtime. Prior to his game clincher, he hauled in the game winning touchdown pass. The next man up mantra runs deeper than ever before when it comes to this Bulldog offense.
The Bulldogs have the opportunity to go where no team has ever gone from that program, and already have. The players have been hard working and incredible, the coaching staff has been everything the players need to reach their full potential as well on and off the field.
“Our coaches believe in us, they’re a huge huge part. they have 100% confidence in all of us. They go out and compete with us every week and believe in us, even outside of sports. We know we can count on them and they can count on us.” Lorson said
“We have such great assistant coaches, you want great people around you to do this, our coaches put the time in in the off season and our kids know that. They do a great job, how well they all get along, our meetings, preparing for each opponent to our commitment to going to camps, the kids see that our coaches aren’t just great teachers of football, but they’re great teachers of life and values. Our players respect all our coaches and all our coaches respect all our players” Gravish added on his go to men throughout this season and months prior.
The Bulldogs meet up with a team that only allowed 140 points all season, while the Bulldogs have scored 532 on the year. If there is one thing we’ve learned about this Bulldog team, it’s to never doubt them. Friday night at 6 PM in Danville, no matter the score throughout the game, it’s never over. The Bulldogs are hungry, and ready to eat.