PIAA Class 4A championship breakdown: Thomas Jefferson vs. Jersey Shore

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Saturday, November 28, 2020 | 11:00 AM


Thomas Jefferson vs. Jersey Shore

3:30 p.m. Saturday, Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey

On the air: TV: PCN; Streaming audio: TribHSSN.triblive.com; Radio: 95.3 FM

PIAA titles: Thomas Jefferson 4 (2004, ‘07, ‘08, ‘19); Jersey Shore 0

Thomas Jefferson (9-1)

Player to watch: Conner Murga

Junior, 6-1, 178, RB/DE

Murga and DeRon VanBibber have formed a strong two-man tandem in the backfield. Murga led the way in last week’s state semifinal win over Oil City, rushing for 137 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. He also had 20 carries and 121 yards in the Jaguars’ overtime win against Aliquippa in the WPIAL finals.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jake Pugh, 100-163, 1,706 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs

Rushing: Conner Murga, 86-706 yards, 12 TDs

Receiving: Preston Zandier, 40-630 yards, 10 TDs

How they got here

Thomas Jefferson defeated Aliquippa in the WPIAL championship, 35-28 in OT; and defeated District 10 champion Oil City, 62-0, in the PIAA semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Bill Cherpak

Offense

LT, 56, Nicholas Bryan, 6-3, 250, jr.

LG, 55, Jacob Krawcyzk, 6-4, 255, sr.

C, 66, Nicholas Trainor, 6-0, 200, sr.

RG, 64, Alby Breisinger, 6-2, 250, sr.

RT, 77, Owen Myer, 6-0, 250, so.

TE, 40, Chase Lautner, 5-11, 188, sr.

WR, 2, Preston Zandier, 6-1, 195, sr.

WR, 10, Ian Hansen, 5-7, 163, sr.

WR, 24, Rex Miller, 5-10, 170, sr.

RB, 23, Conner Murga, 6-1, 178, jr.

(or) RB, 3, DeRon VanBibber, 6-0, 175, sr.

FB, 20, Isaac Eckley, 5-11, 180, jr.

QB, 12, Jake Pugh, 5-9, 160, sr.

Defense

DT, 56, Nicholas Bryan, 6-3, 250, jr.

DT, 67, Seth Lieberum, 6-3, 228, sr.

DE, 23, Conner Murga, 6-1, 178, jr.

DE, 33, Jordan Mayer, 6-4, 227, so.

OLB, 5, Flinn McClain, 6-1, 182, jr.

OLB, 7, Aiden Palmer, 5-10, 160, sr.

ILB, 2, Preston Zandier, 6-1, 195, sr.

ILB, 20, Isaac Eckley, 5-11, 180, jr.

CB, 3, DeRon VanBibber, 6-0, 175, sr.

CB, 24, Rex Miller, 5-10, 170, sr.

S, 10, Ian Hansen, 5-7, 163, sr.

S, 16, Joseph Lekse, 5-9, 170, jr.

Special teams

K, 89, Jack Sella, 5-9, 150, sr.

P, 12, Jake Pugh, 5-9, 160, sr.

LS, 33, Jordan Mayer, 6-4, 227, so.

Game scores

Regular season

West Mifflin, W, 52-0

Trinity, W, 51-14

Belle Vernon, W, 42-21

Laurel Highlands, W, 58-0

Ringgold, W, 41-0

McKeesport, L, 20-14

Postseason

Mars, W, 41-6

Plum, W, 20-17

Aliquippa, W, 35-28

Oil City, W, 62-0

Notable: Thomas Jefferson is the defending PIAA Class 4A champion. The Jaguars defeated Dallas, 46-7, in last year’s final. … Only five WPIAL teams have ever won consecutive PIAA titles. Clairton won four in a row from 2009-12. The others were Thomas Jefferson in 2007-08, South Fayette in 2013-14, Rochester in 2000-01 and Farrell in 1995-96. … The Jaguars offense has averaged 41.6 points and its defense allows 10.6. … Zandier is a Youngstown State recruit.

Jersey Shore (10-0)

Player to watch: Branden Wheary

Senior, 6-0, 185, QB

Jersey Shore graduated 3,400-yard passer Tanner Lorson after last season, but Wheary has replaced him admirably. Wheary completed 21 of 39 for 282 yards and three touchdowns in Jersey Shore’s state semifinal win over Lampeter-Strasburg.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Branden Wheary, 131-230, 1,843 yards, 23 TDs, 2 INTs

Rushing: Cam Allison, 180-1,054 yards, 9 TDs

Receiving: Cayden Hess, 62-848 yards, 9 TDs

How they got here

Jersey Shore defeated Shamokin, 54-0, in the District 4 championship; defeated District 2 champion Crestwood, 26-14, in the PIAA quarterfinals; and defeated District 3 champion Lampeter-Strasburg, 39-35, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Tom Gravish

Offense

T, 62, Joe Lorson, 6-0, 215, sr.

G, 56, Eddie Woodring, 6-2, 238, sr.

C, 60, Cadan Smith, 6-1, 225, sr.

G, 52, Lee Springman, 6-0, 235, sr.

T, 51, Ben Webb, 6-1, 255, sr.

TE, 38, Connor Davis, 6-2, 190, jr.

WR, 24, Cayden Hess, 6-2, 193, jr.

WR, 15, Owen Anderson, 6-0, 178, sr.

WR, 23, Dalton Dugan, 6-0, 180, sr.

WR, 2, Kooper Peacock, 5-10, 175, so.

FB, 44, Hayden Packer, 5-10, 190, so.

RB, 7, Cam Allison, 5-10, 188, sr.

QB, 17, Brandon Wheary, 6-0, 185, sr.

Defense

DE, 23, Dalton Dugan, 6-0, 180, sr.

DT, 57, Karter Peacock, 6-1, 230, jr.

NT, 55, Colin Samar, 5-11, 205, sr.

DT, 51, Ben Webb, 6-1, 255, sr.

DE, 25 Quincey Myers, 6-0, 180, sr.

LB, 43, Gabe Packer, 5-8, 170, sr.

LB, 44, Hayden Packer, 5-10, 190, so.

CB, 24, Cayden Hess, 6-2, 193, jr.

S, 7, Cam Allison, 5-10, 188, sr.

S, 15, Owen Anderson, 6-0, 178, sr.

CB, 2, Kooper Peacock, 5-10, 175, so.

Special teams

K, 7, Cameron Allison, 5-10, 188, sr.

P, 15, Owen Anderson, 6-0, 178, sr.

LS, 43, Gabe Packer, 5-8, 170, sr.

Game scores

Regular season

Shamokin, W, 41-7

Shikellamy, W, 53-0

Central Mountain, W, 55-7

Selinsgrove, W, 33-0

Shikellamy, W, 16-0

Central Mountain, W, 21-9

Postseason

Mifflinburg, W, 48-7

Shamokin, W, 54-0

Crestwood, W, 26-14

Lampeter-Strasburg, W, 39-35

Notable: Jersey Shore has reached the state finals for the first time in team history. A year ago, the Bulldogs lost to Dallas, 68-28, in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals. … This is Tom Gravish’s ninth season as coach. Jersey Shore went 0-10 in his first season but 70-29 in the past eight with five District 4 titles. … Gravish previously coached at Bellefonte and Williamsport. … The team’s offense is balanced, averaging 159.2 passing yards per game and 177.3 rushing. … The Bulldogs have three receivers with more than 20 catches: Cayden Hess (62), Owen Anderson (34) and Dalton Dugan (22).

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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