High School Sports

4 State College, 2 Bellefonte football players make all-state team

Four State College and two Bellefonte football players have been named to the all-state team as voted on by the media.

Among the Little Lions’ Class 6A representatives were wideout Brandon Clark, offensive lineman Robert Nachtman, defensive lineman Jackson Heasley and athlete Cohen Russell. Bellefonte’s two Class 4A honorees included athlete Dylan Deitrich and defensive lineman Caleb Rockey.

The 2017 Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State Teams were released Monday afternoon in Class 2A, Class 4A and Class 6A. The other all-state teams will be announced Tuesday.

State College’s four picks were the second-most in Class 6A, behind only state champ Pine-Richland — who had five selections and knocked the Little Lions out of the postseason.

“I’m tremendously proud of these kids and the effort that they put in and just their dedication and sacrifice to the program,” State College coach Matt Lintal said. “I’m thrilled that they’ve been recognized.”

Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning felt similarly about his two Red Raiders. They both helped guide the team to its first district title since 1999.

“It means a tremendous amount,” Manning said. “It says a lot about the program and where it’s headed. It’s great for the individuals, it’s a point of pride in the community — there’s a lot of great things that tie into it.”

Rockey led the defensive side of the ball for Bellefonte, as he amassed 48 solo stops, 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.

Deitrich set the county record books back to the printing press after becoming the first Centre County player to both rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. The quarterback finished with 1,245 passing yards and a county-leading 1,535 rushing yards. He also posted 12 passing touchdowns and a school-record 26 rushing scores.

“He’s just an extremely competitive kid,” Manning added. “I don’t think it would matter if it was checkers or chess. He has such a desire to win that he’s willing to do whatever it takes.”

The Little Lions boasted three selections just on offense. Clark, a preferred Penn State walk-on, earned a spot after making 51 receptions for 895 yards and 16 touchdowns — the most scores by a receiver in county history. Russell finished with 289 rushing yards, 549 receiving yards, 402 punt-return yards and 129 kick-return yards. And Nachtman was part of a line that helped spring the offense to 41 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 rushing yards.

Heasley was the lone honoree on defense. He had 94 tackles, to go along with a team-high 13.5 sacks.

Nearly 500 players were nominated by the media, and sports writers across the commonwealth then voted on the top players from that list a week ago.

What the coaches are saying

Six county football players made the all-state team Monday. Here’s what their coaches had to say about them:

State College coach Matt Lintal

WR Brandon Clark (Senior, 6-5, 200): “As a captain of our football team, he’s a tremendous young athlete. He has the best ball skills of any young man I’ve ever coached at the high school or college level. And he’s a spectacular person.”

OL Robert Nachtman (Senior, 6-3, 300): “He plays with an edge. It’s not enough to make a block with Robert. He wants to make a statement with each block, and he does. He had more pancake blocks than anyone I’ve coached here at State High.”

Ath Cohen Russell (Junior, 5-7, 160): “I say this to a lot of people, but Cohen was probably our best overall football player this year. A junior, he’s not the biggest — but he’s one of the fastest kids out there all the time. He was impactful from the receiver position, from the defensive back position, and he was an absolute beast in the return game. He’s dynamic.”

DL Jackson Heasley (Senior, 6-2, 225): “I’ve never had a kid that plays as hard as Jackson. He’s a young man that believes he can make every play and does not quit until he does — or until the whistle blows.”

Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning

Ath Dylan Deitrich (Senior, 5-6, 135): “He was a huge pulse for us. And with how humble he was, it made him very appreciated by his teammates. He wasn’t one of those quarterbacks where we didn’t hit him in practice. He did everything like everyone else. ... He was a great leader. Nothing flashy about him. He wold expect zero accommodations.”

DL Caleb Rockey (Junior, 6-3, 237): “A game he didn’t play for us was Central Mountain — the game that took us 3 OTs to win. He’s had a huge impact for us. He’s got a huge motor, and he’s extremely competitive.”