Football Team Defeats Chambersburg on Senior Night

Junior wide receiver Ty Salazer catching a 35-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Photo by Michael Powell
Junior wide receiver Ty Salazer catching a 35-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Photo by Michael Powell
Michael Powell

On an emotional night for the State High football program, the Little Lions escaped with a 21-14 win over the Chambersburg Trojans. State High came in with the utmost confidence against a team it had not lost to since before the class of 2024 was born, and nearly lost its streak.

Before the Oct. 27 matchup, State High saw leaders in the trenches Justin Castro-Dixon and Jake Hoenshelt honored, as well as 16 other senior players. After honoring players, managers, and media team members, State High came out hot against what many believed to be an inferior opponent.

The Little Lions came out operating the same quick strike-offense it had been running all season. Sophomore running back D’Antae Sheffey took the opening kickoff to the State High 40-yard line. Less than three minutes later junior quarterback Eddie Corkery hit junior receiver Ty Salazer for a 35-yard touchdown over the outstretched arms of Chambersburg’s Jake Folmar.

Salazer played this one for his senior class, he recognized that it was their last time doing something important to them and showed up for them. “Every senior class, it’s hard to see them go, so we try to come out and win every single game for them in their last season,” Salazer said, “It’ll be my last season next year, and I’m gonna want [the younger] guys to play as hard for me as I am for these seniors.”

Chambersburg appeared to be threatening on its first drive, but was stuffed by the State High defensive line on fourth and one.

Senior Owen Yerka, State High’s publicly presumed starting quarterback in the preseason, took his first offensive snaps of the season as a gadget quarterback for option plays on State High’s second drive of the game. The drive didn’t amount to points, but Yerka brought out another aspect of the State College offense that Chambersburg hadn’t seen on film.

After John Zipf’s punt was downed by senior Adison Dillon at the one-yard line, Salazer recorded the first of many splash plays for the State High defense. Salazer jumped in front of Chambersburg quarterback Riley Harmon’s pass and took it untouched into the endzone to put State High ahead 14-0 with 1:40 left in the first quarter.

Junior linebacker Michael Gaul created another Chambersburg turnover as the first quarter wound down. Blitzing off the edge, Gaul stripped Harmon then recovered his own forced fumble at the Chambersburg 24-yard line.

The State High offense couldn’t pick up even a yard, and was forced into a long field goal attempt from Zipf. Zipf missed the 41-yarder just outside the right upright and State College failed to widen its lead.

Chambersburg took advantage of the field position and drove all the way down to the State College seven-yard line where they faced another fourth and one. The State High defensive line again rose to the occasion, led by defensive tackle Justin Castro-Dixon to make the stop with 6:15 to play in the half.

Neither team threatened to score again before the halftime break, and the State High student section began to empty expecting another typical blowout win over Chambersburg. Even as the game tightened in the third quarter, the State High student section remained noticeably sparse.

After a defensive stop for each team to begin the second half, including a State High interception by Cooper Brushwood, Chambersburg was threatening with fourth and goal at the three-yard line. Harmon placed his pass in the perfect location for the 6’4” Jermere Jones to climb the ladder and bring it down for Chambersburg’s first score of the game.

After a State High three and out, Chambersburg got the ball back in great field position at the State College 48 yard-line with a chance to tie the game. The Trojans sliced through the State High defense on the back of running back Antonio Harrison, who punched in the game-tying 11-yard touchdown with 10:51 remaining in the game.

The fourth quarter was all Owen Yerka at quarterback for the Little Lions. Ty Salazer set up State High perfectly with a punt return to the Chambersburg 16-yard line with six minutes to play. The offense pinballed back and forth with successful runs by Yerka and Sheffey and penalties on the offensive line. Finally, Yerka was able to score from eight yards out to give State High a 21-14 lead with exactly two minutes remaining in the game.

Chambersburg drove into State High territory, but Brushwood came up huge again with a game-sealing interception at the State High fifteen yard-line. Brushwood showed up for State College on both sides of the ball all game, and State College Head Coach Matt Lintal said after the game, “Shoutout to Cooper Brushwood for two huge interceptions and making a bunch of key plays in this game.”

The Little Lions didn’t finish with the blowout win that many expected, but accomplished what Lintal preaches every week, going 1-0, and sent the senior class off with a win in their last game at Memorial Field.

Every senior night is important to Lintal in that he’s saying goodbye to players he’s known for years, but he also spoke on how the seniors recognize the significance of what they are doing on nights like these.

“[On senior night] it starts to sink in for the kids what it means to play on this field, play for this crowd, play for this town, and it all kind of hits them at the same time, and it’s really hard.”

The team awaits an uncertain playoff schedule, but is likely to have a bye week before facing either Mifflin County or Altoona on Nov. 10 for the District VI championship.

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    Nancy RadioOct 31, 2023 at 9:18 PM

    A well written article, especially for senior night!