PUNXSUTAWNEY — In football, you have players that are the key to the team's success on offense or defense. The Punxsy football team saw one of its key players, Jamie Bush, post a "monster year" in his final one donning a Chucks uniform, on both offense and defense this fall.
The Punxsy Most Valuable Player, Bush, earned All-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference Large School notarity at both fullback and linebacker along with teammates center Jordan London, defensive end Dan McLain, wide receiver Clayton Dale and slot back Dakota Byers.
By the votes of his teammates, Bush was selected as the Punxsy (5-6) MVP for the 2012 season. Despite missing one contest, the two-way standout player was the team's driving force of the rushing attack as well as the defensive stopper on defense.
“Jamie had a monster year in all three areas that the team needed him," proclaimed Chucks head coach Alan Nichol. "One, he has been a fantastic lead blocker these past two years; two his linebacker play was second to none in the conference; most obvious, though, was his punishing running style."
The punishing fullback did his best work down the stretch in the final three contests. In those games, Bush ran for 382 yards on 65 carries, 5.88 yards per attempt, with five scores while pulling in six passes for another 89 yards and a touchdown. He also took down 23 ball carriers on defense.
"By game six, the other teams were tailoring their defense to stop him but really they could not," noted Nichol. "He had over 900 yards in 10 games out of that fullback spot which says a lot about his abilities.”
On the season, Bush paced the Chucks running game with 912 yards on 154 totes, 91.2-yard per game average, with eight touchdowns. The senior back eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times including a career-best 147 yards on 14 carries and three scores with two catches for 52 yards and another touchdown in his last game at Jack F. LaMarca Stadium.
Bush also posted 146 yards on 27 rushes at Northern Bedford to go with 118 yards against A-C Valley and 104 yards versus Karns City. He recorded seven of 10 games with at least 80-plus yards. The fullback added 14 receptions for 208 yards.
His fellow seniors London and McLain garnered All-KSAC acclaim.
Center London was the anchor of the Punxsy offensive line. The two-year starter helped the Chucks average 282.3 yards per game of offense with 188.4 on the ground and 93.9 through the air.
“Jordan eats, sleeps, and breaths football," said the Punxsy coach. "He has started at center these past two years and I sense the opposing coaches (who select the team) are aware of the immense job he did making line calls. He was a real leader on that offensive line.”
On the other side of the line, McLain came on for a top notch effort at defensive end this fall. The defensive lineman finished the year with 20 total tackles, 13 solo.
“Dan was all about physical play at the weak side defensive end, he did a nice job pressuring the quarterback and made a lot of tackles. He had a good year on special teams as well,” complimented Nichol.
McLain had his best game on 'Senior Night' with six total tackles, three solo and recovered a fumble. The end also added four solo stops at Karns City and three tackles at Northern Bedford.
The two top Punxsy receivers, Dale and Byers, completed the All- KSAC honorees.
Dale, a junior, was the top pass catcher for the second-year in a row with 24 grabs for 329 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 13.7 yards per catch on the season with a catch in all 11 games.
“This is Clayton’s second year on the All-Conference team," commented Nichol. "He was our “go to” guy this year and made a lot of key plays. He had a fantastic second half against Clearfield. We are looking forward to continuing that intensity his senior year.”
Dale had his highest receiving yardage total against Clearfield in the PIAA playoffs with 73 yards on five receptions and a 24-yard score. The third-year player pulled in 38 yards on three catches with the game-deciding two-point conversion catch at St. Marys.
Dale also had a pair of scoring grabs for 49 yards versus Clarion-Limestone and another 49-yard game on two catches against A-C Valley. He started the year with 37 yards on two receptions and a score against Brookville. The cornerback added 28 total tackles, including six against Brookville on defense.
The Chucks' flanker receiver, Byers, earned his first all-conference status. The sophomore pulled in 10 passes for 193 yards, 19.3-yard per catch average, with three scores.
“Dakotah made some nice catches throughout the year but what really made him all conference was his blocking out on the edge in the second half of the season," added Nichol. "He responded very well to improving that part of his game.”
Byers accounted for 76 yards on two catches including a 45-yard scoring grab against Clarion-Limestone. The second-year flanker pulled in four passes for 55 yards with two scores at St. Marys and two receptions for 28 yards at Clearfield. He added two tackles on defense.
Along with Bush, the Punxsy players selected seniors Garrett Zimmerman and Caesar Maruca as the Honorary Co-captains of the 2012 squad.
Quarterback and strong safety, Zimmerman provided nothing but production during his time as a Chucks player.
“Garrett has been on of the most productive players on both sides of the ball," said the Chucks leader. "He just loves to play, and I think his love for the game and the fact that he comes to practice really ready to play every night was infectious."
Zimmerman passed for over 1,000 yards for the second year in a row at quarterback. He completed 72 of 148 attempts for 1,033 yards and 13 touchdowns. He threw for a season-high 195 yards on 14 of 25 passes with three scores and the game-winning two-point conversion pass at St. Marys.
He added 171 yards on seven of 10 tries with four scores versus Clarion-Limestone. The senior hit for 137 yards on 10 of 20 tries at Clearfield to finish the year. Garrett had four 100-yard passing and three-multi touchdown games.
On defense, Zimmerman led the team with 76 total tackles, 6.9 per game, with 53 solo. He had 12 stops at St. Marys and 11 tackles hosting Brookville.
Maruca had his best year this fall. The fullback/inside linebacker was a solid contributor on both sides of the ball.
“Caesar sets a great example for all of us," pointed out Nichol. "He works hard, does whatever is asked of him, and encourages everyone he comes in contact with. It is easy to see why his teammates think so highly of him. Caesar had a good year at inside linebacker."
Defensively, Maruca recorded the third most tackles on the Chucks team with 62. He had his highest total of 11 at St. Marys while having nine stops hosting A-C Valley. He added eight tackles against Moniteau and seven at Clearfield.
The fullback rushed the ball 29 times for 147 yards. He ran for more than 30 yards in three games with 39 yards on two carries at Clearfield. Maruca also pulled in three passes for 20 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown.