The Lackawanna Trail defensive end was relentless in pursuit, leading an effort that shut out Juniata Valley in the second half of Friday’s 24-14 win in the state Class A semifinals.
Family: Mother, Tina
Other sports you play: Basketball
Athletes you admire: He was a senior last year, Shawn Jones.
Three people you’d like to have dinner with. Steph Curry, Shawn Jones and Ronald Reagan.
How do you not get frustrated when you’re trying to chase down someone as elusive as Quinn Zinobile, Juniata Valley’s quarterback, and he kept slipping away in the first half? It was frustrating. We got pressure on him but we just couldn’t bring him down. Our linebackers dropping back in zone, he’s got 10 yards to work his magic and obviously, a great athlete. It was tough to bring him down.
Do you think that you might have worn them down with your ability to pressure the quarterback? Obviously being able to keep playing, keep hitting, eventually we wore them down.
Can you explain the defensive adjustments you made in the second half? We had a quarterback spy formation but we didn’t rep it that much. We didn’t think we needed it. Obviously we did. We put that back in and we sent one backer almost every play in the second half just to get pressure on him.
You limited them to just 126 yards rushing, and one of their 1,000-yard backs had only 24 yards. Talk about how important was it to make them one dimensional. We really take pride as a defensive line on stopping the run first, making them beat us through the air. We did a really good job keeping the front on their heels, no movement up front and the linebackers making the plays.
They had two long completions in the second half. What’s the mindset after you’ve given up a big play? We always tell whoever it’s against, ‘Next play.’ They didn’t score yet. Make them earn every single yard. Stuff happens sometimes. You just have to keep playing.
How important was ball control in this game, and how important will it be in Thursday’s state championship game? Crucial, especially with our offense. Once our offense gets a lead, our defense shouldn’t give up any points. I feel if we keep the ball away from the other team and can score consistently, that’s a good formula to win.
Coach Steve Jervis talked about going up that hill for a 15th time. Can you explain? Every week since Week 1 he says we’re taking the hill figuratively. We’ve done that 14 out of 15 times so far. He’s been right most of the time.
Coach Jervis likes the analogy of which team looks better getting off the bus. But your team seems to relish playing the role of the underdog. Playing high school football for three years, you kind of get used to it, walking off a bus and seeing 40 kids on the other team and you look at yourself and you have 25. You may not be the bigger team, but you know everybody is here to play and ready to go. You can only put 11 on the field.
State championship game on Thursday and you’re playing in it. How’s that sound, and do you embrace the fact it’s a huge game, or try to shy away from the significance? Coach Jervis Is pretty hyped up for it. He always tells us just keep doing what we’ve been doing ever since Week 1. That’s what got us here and that’s what’s going to win it for us.
Who is the one person who has had the biggest influence on your athletic career and what have they done? Shawn Jones. I came in my sophomore year and he really worked me pretty hard. He beat me down a ton of times, like really bad. He made me get so much better over three years, it’s unreal.
What’s the one thing you will take away from this season? Discipline. Do what you need to do to be successful and be the best person you can be.
Finish this sentence. Win or lose on Thursday… It is something that we are never going to forget. It’s been a helluva run. It’s been a helluva run for Coach Jervis. It’s been a special run for us. It’s been a special senior group for us. It’s been a great time.