Before I get started, I want to be clear — I am not talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Rachel Levine. I am talking about Doctor J — Julius Erving. I think we all need a little break from the COVID craziness and political divide.
For all you younger folks out there, or those who might not know who Dr. J is, here’s a quick overview. He was the high-flying face of American basketball before Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. He could defy gravity and hang in the air forever. David Thompson, most famous for his NC State days, and Dr. J were the first to make dunking an art form.
Every young person who loved basketball wanted to be Dr. J when I was growing up. He united people from all walks of life. He was beyond cool, charismatic, intelligent, and blessed by God with amazing athletic talent. He wore the big 70’s afro during his early days with the New Jersey Nets, and then retired with a touch of gray, distinguished, tight haircut, looking ready for the governor’s office.
In an interview I recently watched, the good Dr. noted some of his most special memories from his basketball career. They included his playing days and graduating from the University of Massachusetts and then bringing home an NBA championship to the City of Brotherly Love for the 76ers. Julius Erving was, for my money, the greatest ambassador the NBA has ever had. His love and sharing through a game and real-life experiences have never ended. He is a living example of all the good that is possible through sports.
Not everybody is going to be the next Dr. J, Michael Jordan, or LeBron James. However, I cannot overemphasize the importance of athletic competition regarding the development of young minds and bodies. Before you read on, think of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities lost if the fall sports season would have been canceled.
Congratulations to the Warrior Run Defender girls’ cross country team. These amazing young ladies ran all the way home with the 2A Pennsylvania State Championship. Warrior Run continues to build upon a great legacy of female student-athletes. The championship trophy complete with gold medal will look unbelievable behind glass in the Defender’s display case. See cover story, page 6.
A soccer salute to the Lewisburg Green Dragon boys’ soccer team. They defeated Deer Lake 6-nil to bring home the PIAA 2A State championship. The Green Dragons have dominated their competition in recent years, winning four state titles since the 2000 season. The class of 2020 has posted a record of 78-10-2 during their careers. Winning three District 4 titles and now capping it off with the PA gold medal.
Senior midfielder Ben Liscum was the 2019 Pennsylvania 2A player of the year. He should again win the award this season after scoring 35 goals and dishing out 29 assists. He will be losing the green and wearing blue and white next season for the Penn State Nittany Lions. A Webb Weekly tip of the cap to Coach Ben Kettlewell on the championship season!
That gets us to our last West Branch Valley team competing for gold at Hershey Park Arena this season. At press time, Coach Tom Gravish’s Jersey Shore Bulldogs were preparing to take on perennial state power Thomas Jefferson for the 4A state football crown. What a doggone great season the Orange and Black have put together. Hopefully, as you’re reading this, they’ve added State Champions to the resume.
The District 4 and PA East champion are currently undefeated 10-0. They have been dominant on both sides of the ball, averaging 38.6 points a game on offense while giving up less than a touchdown on defense. Tip of my military appreciation Steelers’ cap with the American Flag on the side to Dawgs’ D-Coordinator, Alex Jackson. He is one of the best defensive coaches in the state.
Coach Gravish has built a truly remarkable program in Bulldogland. They exemplify family, togetherness, and team. The talent has always been there in Jersey Shore; it has taken just the right teacher/coach to bring it all together.
Some great individual performances for the Bulldogs this season have been the following. Junior All-State Receiver Cayden Hess has become the area’s all-time leading pass catcher. Recording 139 catches, covering 1,786 yards. He has crossed the goal line 20 times during his career.
Senior Owen Anderson has accounted for over 1,000 total yards while scoring 17 touchdowns. Hopefully, he joins Cayden on the All-State team this season as a selection at the athlete position.
Senior Cam Allison has led the Bulldog ground attack rushing for over 1,000 yards in scoring nine touchdowns. He has topped the 100-yard mark in 7 games.
Senior quarterback Brandon Weary waited his turn behind last year’s PA Player of the Year, Tanner Larson. The young man has gotten every squeeze out of his season as the starter passing for 1,843 yards and 22 TDs. Most impressively, he’s only been picked off one time.
The team’s offensive efforts begin upfront with a pack of Bulldogs — tackles Lee Springman and Ben Webb, and guards Eddie Woodring and Joe Larson. The centers, Cayden Smith and Colin Samar have provided some O line depth.
Coach Jackson’s side of the ball has featured the epitome of Team Defense. Hayden Packer leads the team averaging over seven tackles per game. Dalton Dougan and Quincy Myers are tied for the team lead with 9.5 quarterback sacks. The speedy and athletic Hess has six interceptions. We’ll have much more on the Bulldogs next week.
God Bless America.