ALTOONA - Dominating. History making. Inspirational.
Pick your adjective and it still won't do justice to what happened Friday night at Mansion Park in Altoona.
Mifflin County played a near-perfect game and the result was the first district championship for the county in Quad-A football and only the third title in county history, joining the 2002 and 2007 Indian Valley squads.
Sentinel photo by MATT?STRICKER
Mifflin County Huskies coach George Miskinis, right, shares a moment with Curtis Jerzerick while handing out medals to his players after Friday’s win in Altoona.
"I'm so proud of these kids. They did everything we asked them to do. We added some wrinkles like the halfback pass and the reverse," Mifflin County coach George Miskinis said. "We started out strong, kept it going and it was great. They are a resilient group. They've been up, they've been down, they've been squashed and they've been written off. Every time people do that they just keep playing harder and harder and bounce back."
The Huskies (6-6) played liked men among boys. They ran, passed and stifled DuBois in every phase of the game on their way to a 41-21 victory and a berth in the PIAA playoffs against Erie's McDowell High School (6-5), a 49-19 winner over Allderdice in a similar subregional.
That game is tentatively set to be played Nov. 22 at DuBois.
It's amazing when you consider where Mifflin County was just three weeks ago - losers of six straight and decided underdogs against State College.
Mifflin County could have melted and given up but they didn't. Instead of faltering, the Huskies circled the wagons and dug deep.
That's what champions do.
They keep on fighting when all looks lost. Belief and purpose are powerful motivators and combined with determination, they are a force of nature.
The Huskies are all about work ethic and physicality and it showed in full force against the Beavers. Bronko Nagurski would love this team. For proof, look no further than Curtis Jerzerick holding the championship trophy with dried blood caked to his forehead and nose.
"Words can't describe how I feel. Since freshman year, I wanted to hold this trophy. I can't describe how I feel right now," Jerzerick said. "All the guys worked hard. We gave 110 percent and we never gave up."
It was a total team effort. Everyone stepped up. In particular, quarterback Hunter Walker played his best game of the season, all the while looking poised and confident. John Michael Maclay hustled all night on both sides of the ball, Heath Hidlay ran like his hair was on fire and the line, led by Jesse Rodgers, Phil Rearick and Colton Craig, dominated both sides of the ball.
"I feel like it was just the playoffs that got our spunk back. We brought our A-game and it was time to bring back the wins," Craig said. "We brought a good one tonight."
"We progressed throughout the year. We got better," Rearick said. "We worked hard in practice which gave us that one percent better and then we just came in, were physical and hit them hard."
Part and parcel of the Husky offense against DuBois was a bag of tricks. The Huskies practiced the halfback pass all week and it paid off early in the game when Maclay connected with Jared Michaels for a touchdown.
"Hunter played his best game of the season. He gets better every start. We are rallying behind him and now that the playoffs are here we playing our best football in November," Maclay said. "Coach Miskinis had us ready to go and we wanted to throw things in that they haven't seen before."
The game plan Miskinis had against DuBois was to limit mental mistakes, force turnovers, and not give up the big play. Mission accomplished on all three phases.
"Mission accomplished except for one turnover. Other than that I think we played pretty flawless," Miskinis said. "I think it has a lot to do with concentration of our kids in practice. They are confident now and they know they can accomplish what we want to do. We were better up front tonight. The kids accepted the challenge. They have bought in to the team concept, not the individual."
Part of the success can be attributed to being in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth schedule. The competition helps make you better. Just ask Miskinis.
"It is a tremendous help," he said. "We are accustomed to the speed and the physical play. Everything DuBois tried we have seen this year. Being in the Mid-Penn has only helped us get better,"
The young men who made history Friday night won't really appreciate what they've done until age and perspective settle in. No matter what happens in the future, nothing can take away what happened on a chilly November night in Altoona.
The Mifflin County fans were loud, boisterous and in full force. It was a magical night for the area and a reason to puff out our collective chests
Be proud Mifflin County, your team is a well-deserving district champion.
Doesn't that sound great?