PUNXSUTAWNEY — Jan. 4, Pennsylvania Football News announced its annual PFN All-State football teams for the 2011 season, and this year, two Chucks — defensive lineman Jacob Shiock and quarterback Garrett Zimmerman — were among those named as statewide honorable mentions.
"Any time athletes are recognized for their hard work, it's a good thing," Punxsy head football coach Alan Nichol said in an interview Wednesday. "PFN is not as media-driven as some of the other awards. They're more based on opposing coaches nominations and statistics. So it's a nice honor for these guys."
PFN's Web site says the team is selected through online nominations and submissions by Pennsylvania head coaches, submissions by selected media sources and recruiters and the PFN staffs' observations and statistical analysis through the Web site MaxPreps, which provides stats for high school sports.
The honor for Shiock wasn't the first he received this year, as it was announced in late November that Shiock had been named the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference's Big School Lineman of the Year for 2011.
"With Jake being named Lineman of the Year in the KSAC, he's obviously a really good high school football player," Nichol said. "The year that he had at defensive tackle didn't go unnoticed in the area. So it's great for him to be listed as an honorary pick state wide."
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Shiock doesn't fit the stereotypical mold for a lineman, but Nichol said in the evolv- ing game, speed plays a larger role than it used to.
"The two honors for Jake kind of highlights the year he had and speaks to his ability," Nichol said. "It's a game of speed anymore, and his instincts and speed, combined with his tenacity, really made him an outstanding high school football player."
Shiock didn't let his size affect his statistics, as he compiled 74 total tackles this season, including 52 solos. He amassed 4.5 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, as well.
Junior quarterback Zimmerman also earned the nod for the PFN All-State team — one of just six juniors to earn an honorable mention at his position.
"Garrett worked really hard last summer to step in and really do a great job in his first year as starting varsity quarterback," Nichol said. "The fact that he threw for more than 1,300 yards really caught the eye of some other people. He's very deserving of mention with some other juniors throughout the state that have excelled like that."
Nichol said that while Zimmerman played with great confidence in 2011, this honor can only boost his confidence heading into next season as a senior.
"I think for the most part, he played with a lot of confidence all year, but the difficulties you face at quarterback put a lot on your plate," Nichol said. "Confidence is important in that position, because things happen throughout the game — from a breakdown in pass blocking to a dropped pass or an interception — that the quarterback just can't afford to look back on. I think going into next year, it's definitely going to boost his confidence."
Nichol said that although an honor like this will stand out to opponents on the 2012 schedule, he felt teams were preparing for Zimmerman and Punxsy's passing game all season after throwing for 196 yards Sept. 30, 2011, against Karns City.
"I think by the middle of the season, teams were game planning a little more for our passing game," Nichol said. "That speaks volumes to what Garrett and the receivers did in the offseason. Now that he has some recognition going forward, they'll have to defend that, but even with his season last year, he had already opened some eyes from the Karns City game on. I don't think he was sneaking up on anybody this year."
Although Shiock will graduate in the spring and won't be on the 2012 roster, Nichol is excited to see where the Chucks' program will head in 2012 behind Zimmerman and his other senior leaders.
"We really want to step in and work hard whenever we get an opportunity," he said. "We want to pick up where we left off rather than start all over. I'm really looking forward to it."