PUNXSUTAWNEY — After an undefeated regular season and a league championship, a number of Punxsy football players are bringing home Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference hardware.
Leading the way on the All-Star First-Team and Second-Team lists was Punxsy's defense, which surrendered 39 points during the Chucks' 10-0 regular season.
Seniors Ben Blazavich (defensive end), Zak Dickey (cornerback), Devon Luzell (defensive interior line), Ian Weaver (linebacker) and junior Logan Weaver (safety) were all recognized as First-Team All-Stars in the conference on defense. Offensively, Dickey (wide receiver), Luzell (offensive interior line) and senior Jason Fallara (running back) were also honored as First-Teamers.
A pair of Chucks were also selected to the Second-Team — Logan Weaver (quarterback) and junior Jacob Shiock (offensive and defensive interior line).
Dickey was a solid cornerback for the Chucks who managed 40 tackles and had a team-high seven passes defended to go along with three interceptions. He often covered the opposition's biggest threat in the passing game and often shut him down.
Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol said that his ability gave the team a chance to play some cover-4, which left him out on an island. But he still didn't give up much while receiving little help.
"About the fourth game last year in the secondary, he really stepped up, and he contniued right on where he left off last year," Nichol said. "I think he got so good out there that, in some ways, we took him for granted."
Offensively, Dickey led the Chucks with 27 catches and 362 yards. He also averaged 13.4 yards per reception.
Dickey excelled in the red zone and especially at the goal line, leading the team with eight touchdown receptions.
"The big difference that set him apart was that he was very difficult to cover around the goal line," Nichol said. "The sledding gets tough down there. If you can get open, that puts a lot of pressure on the defense."
In addition to his cornerback and wide receiver prowess, Dickey constantly provided the Chucks with excellent field position all year due to his punt return abilities.
Luzell was Punxsy's only other First-Teamer on both sides of the ball. He was dominant on both sides, playing left tackle on offense and defensive tackle.
The Chucks consistently ran the ball to the left side behind Luzell, and the opposition couldn't mount much offense up the middle because of his presence.
"In the last two years, Devon's been a very steady presence and played very good football," Nichol said. "He worked very hard in the offseason the last two years."
Luzell and Shiock provided a potent combination on offense and defense. Shiock — a two-way Second-Team All-Star — played left guard and defensive tackle.
"He and Jacob really did anchor that defense," Nichol said. "When your defensive tackles are making tackles, that's when you know your defense is going to be formidable."
Shiock was injured for much of his sophomore season last year, but when he played this year, he made a difference. Along with Logan Weaver, he was one of two Punxsy juniors to be named a KSAC All-Star.
"He played a good, full season, and he had some very good games," Nichol said of Shiock. "His speed off the ball on defense particularly was instrumental to having such a strong defense this year. There were a lot of nights they weren't able to block him."
Shiock had 46 tackles, 1 1/2-sacks and an interception, and Luzell tallied 48 tackles.
Punxsy's final player to be honored on both sides of the ball was Logan Weaver, a First-Team quarterback and Second-Team safety.
The Chucks planned on keeping Logan Weaver at cornerback, but he played himself into a safety role during the preseason. With Duell Thompson and Logan Weaver, Punxsy was able to play with two safeties for much of the season.
"He and Duell both did a fantastic job playing the safety positions," Nichol said. "They had a lot of tackles within three yards of the line of scrimmage."
Nichol was concerned about how physical Logan Weaver would play on defense, considering he was needed as the team's play-caller. But he remained healthy while laying out the opposition to the tune of 53 tackles — second-best on the team.
"Sometimes, I had to cringe a little bit because he's a physical player," Nichol said. "That's the challenge that was before him, and he accepted that challenge."
Logan Weaver started every game behind center for Punxsy this year, throwing for 1,126 yards.
He completed 81-of-141 passes to go along with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. He threw only two interceptions during the regular season. The quarterback also rushed for five touchdowns.
"If you were talking about your classic quarterback, Logan was definitely that," Nichol said. "He had a lot of fantastic games of putting the ball right on the money."
Logan Weaver was joined by his older cousin, Ian Weaver, as an All-Star. Ian Weaver — one of Punxsy's captains — led the defense with 91 tackles. He was much like a quarterback on the defensive side of the ball.
"He's one of those kind of guys that has such a nose for the ball and ability to get to the ball," Nichol said. "Ian's a real student of the game. He likes to study offenses and what they're doing."
Nichol said that the opposition often became frustrated since Ian Weaver and some other Chucks were calling out the other team's offensive plays before the ball was snapped. Their recognition and experience went a long way toward Punxsy's defensive success this season.
"It certainly showed on how we were able to stop the other team," Nichol said.
Blazavich was a menace coming off the defensive end, tallying 7 1/2-sacks for 57 yards and 36 tackles.
"As much as passing is part of the game today, he was a real handful," Nichol said. "Even in the Clearfield game, he had a lot of tackles coming off the edge. The other team put some extra time in trying to figure out how they would handle him coming off the end."
Additionally, Blazavich rushed for 361 yards, scored six touchdowns and was the lead blocker for Fallara, who led Punxsy with 666 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Injuries led to Fallara playing in just eight games. In one of those games, he had just one carry.
Still, he averaged six yards per carry and more than 80 yards per game.
One of Fallara's best games came against Clearfield in the district title game. He gained 102 yards on 20 carries and scored once.
"Jason worked very hard to get himself into the position he was in. He had such big games," Nichol said. "(Against Clearfield), he blocked very well, and everybody saw his running ability. He made very good decisions."
Nichol said he's certainly biased and hoped more players could have been recognized as All-Stars, but was proud of who was honored.
"It was a great run and a great season," Nichol said. "You're happy about the guys that made it."