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Hats off to my friends from Jersey Shore. It was another amazing and unforgettable run. I know it hurts being nipped in the semis, but the Bulldogs should keep their heads high. They were a joy to cover this entire season. I enjoyed getting to watch and know some of their coaches and players. I have so much respect and marvel at what they accomplished. Everyone bought in from the beginning. Jersey Shore is now one of the elite football programs in the entire state.

I am just amazed by their successes. You have no idea how hard it is to reach a final four, and Jersey Shore has done it three consecutive seasons. Unbelievable. So, I reached out to a few for some perspective. Sure, the wins were great, but I could not believe the support. This team had quite the following. These kids were rock stars. The entire community rallied around their football team.

“I am extremely proud of each of our players,” Coach Tom Gravish commented. “They did everything that we asked and more. We had a great offseason. I applaud their commitment. Our guys played Bulldog Ball for 48 minutes in every game. We gave Aliquippa all they could handle. We showed tremendous heart and effort.”

Karter Peacock has a great name, and he was one of the leaders on defense. “The support was incredible. It didn’t matter where we were; our fans were behind us. I still get goosebumps with all of the police escorts. Fire trucks everywhere. It meant a lot to us players. We had a great run, and this was something special. We all loved having the community there to celebrate with us. Coach Gravish has done an amazing job. He has raised our standards.”

I told you a story about Cayden Hess a few weeks ago. What an impressive young lad, and I am very proud of him. Cayden finished his career with some jaw-dropping numbers. He leads the entire area with 198 catches, 2,837 yards, and 30 touchdowns. Hess is the only receiver to top 50 catches and 900 yards in three straight seasons. He will go down as one of the all-time best.

“We’ve seen a huge change in the entire town the past few seasons,” Cayden texted. “Everywhere we went. Everyone was excited. Our support was outstanding. The stands were full. Sometimes people were five rows deep along the track. No matter the weather. Our fans were so important. They helped us in those close games, and we knew the entire community was there to back us.”

“It all started with the leadership from our seniors,” Gravish continued. “They did what was needed on the field and in the classroom. The torch was passed after our game against Thomas Jefferson in Hershey last season. We will miss them greatly. They have been part of 4 straight District 4 AAAA Championships and three straight PIAA Final Four appearances. Impressive. Our assistant coaches were also amazing. They got our team to play at a very high level. They are a great group and extremely dedicated. Finally, we could not have had success without the support of school and community. Our ‘tradition never graduates,’ and the torch has been passed. We had a great run, and we look forward to what 2022 brings.”

I love Coach Gravish. I was never a football guy, but every time we chat, I want to run some patterns. He finds a way to get the most out of his players. So, I needed a little more to end this week’s story. I even reached out to one of my friends in the business. The Sun Gazette’s Doctor Chris Masse summed it up great, “Jersey Shore has written one of the best turnaround stories I’ve witnessed in my 22 years. The Bulldogs are a joy to watch because they are wildly entertaining, as tough as any team out there, relentlessly hard-working, and brilliantly coached. The 2021 team will take their place alongside so many other Bulldog greats. It proves that the Jersey Shore tradition truly never graduates.” Well said Doc. Congrats guys. Cheers.