Huskies’ heart, determination led to solid season

STATE COLLEGE — The magical season for the Mifflin County football team ended where it began with the Huskies dropping a 42-7 decision to State College in the District 6 Class 6A championship game Friday night at Memorial Field.

The Little Lions had too much athleticism and too much speed for the Huskies to deal with but heart, determination and a never-say-die attitude Mifflin County had in spades.

“Coach (James) Franklin said it best when he lost to Ohio State and it’s the same with us. We are a good team but we lost to an elite team,” Mifflin County coach Scot Sechler said. “They have a lot of weapons. My hat’s off to coach (Matt) Lintal and his staff. They’ve done an amazing job. We did a good job if hanging with them for about a quarter and half. We let a couple plays get away from us. Our kids are real class acts. We win with dignity and we lose with dignity”

No matter the final result the loss doesn’t diminish what this team accomplished in 2018 — a program record six straight wins, their first conference championship and the third winning season in school history.

“Coming into the season, we set down and came up with three goals: one was a winning record; two was win the conference and three was to make the playoffs,” Sechler said. “We accomplished all three and I couldn’t be prouder of these kids and how hard they worked this season.”

Mifflin County finished the season 6-5 after a 0-4 start against a schedule featuring seven teams making the postseason. The record of its regular season opposition was 58-42, including the state ranked Little Lions (10-1) and one-loss Shippensburg, who fell 26-21 to the Huskies back in September.

It was the big win over the Greyhounds that got the Husky train on the march to what would be a six-game win streak and a playoff berth. It was here Mifflin County found its identity and everything started to click. The blue collar, ground-and-pound style of running the football mixed in with play-action passes combined with an aggressive attacking defense became the Huskies’ calling card.

What followed was an amazing 33-27 double-overtime victory over Waynesboro, thanks to a blocked extra point by Isaac Matthews gave new life to Mifflin County. The Huskies scored on the next series to ice the win.

A come-from-behind win over Dover and another thrilling ending in the 28-27 defeat of West Perry kept the streak going. The Huskies, down 21-7 in the third quarter, roared back to take the lead only to see the Mustangs score with 58 seconds to go in regulation. Defensive back Shane Herbertson broke up the pass on the two-point conversion attempt for the victory, clinching the Mid-Penn Colonial championship.

The winning streak brought the crowd back in droves to Mitchell Field and on the road. The support from the community was something that hasn’t been seen in a long time as it relates to football. The fans were loud and enthusiastic. The student section was raucous. It was refreshing to see and hopefully, continues on in the near future.

“We had the kind of season where we learned a lot about ourselves along the way. We did a pretty good job of bringing a school and a community together,” Sechler said. “I appreciate the support we had tonight. We had more fans here than they did. That makes me proud knowing the community is behind what we’re doing.”

Sechler put together a solid staff comprised of Christian Hassinger, Bryan Yeager, Steve Searer, Steve Poche, Bob Douglas, Derek Yoder, Harry Aultz and Nick Poche. The sign of a good coaching staff is getting the kids to buy in to the system and get the most out of each player’s potential. Sechler and his crew did all of that and more.

“It’s important to surround yourself with really good people and my assistant coaches are really good, knowledgeable people, who care about the kids,” Sechler said. “I’m pleased with our coaching staff and how hard they worked all season. I’m thankful for my coaches. Those guys do a great job and the effort they put into it and the hours upon hours of film and preparation is great. I’m blessed to have them working with me.”

The Huskies lose 28 seniors but the cupboard isn’t bear with the return of Schaeffer, Trey Kibe, Jacob Krepps, Bronson Smith-Price and Zach Bickhart to name a few.

“Our seniors started something here in Mifflin County we’re going to build on. We’re going to better. We’re going to come back bigger, better and stronger next year,” Sechler said.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and so it does for Mifflin County football in 2018, but my, oh my, what a magical and thrilling season it was.

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Sentinel correspondent Brian Carson covers Mifflin County football for The Sentinel.

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