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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021
The football world was fully aware of what was at stake Friday night inside of Tiger Stadium. From a matchup standpoint, the game featured two undefeated programs that are looking to bring home PIAA Championships come December. From a historical perspective, Southern Columbia was looking to tie Clairton’s mark for the longest winning streak in Pennsylvania history.
Wyomissing was up for the challenge and the Spartans ended the Tigers streak which was the longest active one in the United States of America. With a 41-21 loss, SCA saw their state record 93-game regular season winning streak come to an end as well as watching their 65-game streak overall snapped.
Some critics will look at it from a jealousy standpoint as a Tiger loss, the glass half-full football fans will consider it a hard-fought Spartan win.
As Grammy Award winning country artist Taylor Swift, a former Wyomissing student before making the career move as a teenager to Nashville, said in her 2014 single just “Shake it Off” if you are a Southern Columbia fan.
For Spartan and Tiger fans alike, they are both focused on Swift’s famous hit “Back To December” for when they want to see their teams playing until in order for a return trip to Chocolate Town for another chance at state gold.
After not being able to play the game last season because of COVID-19 forcing schools to play conference games only, the first meeting between the two schools finally took place.
“Two weeks ago, we played on a Saturday, so our guys were listening to the Southern vs Wyoming Area game the night before. When the Tigers were down by 17 points in the third quarter, our guys were their biggest fans. We wanted them to have their winning streak alive when we played them. This type of game is what high school football is all about,” said Wyomissing coach Bob Wolfrum.
The teams came in with an eerily similar makeup. Two successful head coaches that have been around for decades running the same effective Wing-T offense that take pride in playing stout on the defensive side of the ball.
Wolfrum (328 wins) is the ninth winningest head coach in PA history, and the second active trailing only Southern’s legendary leader Jim Roth (461 wins) who holds all of the win and championship marks in the Keystone State’s history.
“This Southern program is special and he’s an outstanding coach and his accomplishments put him in a class of his own,” Wolfrum said of Roth. “We got a great opportunity to face them. To be honest, I had no idea whether we’d get our butts kicked or what would happen in the end. I was hoping we’d play a good game regardless of the outcome. Our players exceeded my expectations and played outstanding.”
For the Spartans, Richmond-bound Aiden Mack and junior lineman Jven Williams, who has offers from Power 5 schools across the board, garner most of the spotlight. On Friday night, it was senior Amory Thompson and junior Drew Eisenhower who stole the show.
Both players scored twice in two different ways. Thompson opened the scoring with a 41-yard run. After Southern’s Wes Barnes answered the bell with a 24-yard score, Thompson turned a muffed kick return into a 98-yard touchdown to make the score 14-6.
“We practiced our kick return in practice all week. I’ll get in trouble when we watch film for dropping it, but it worked out in the end. The blocking was perfect and the hole to run through was wide open,” Thompson said.
After Southern’s Gavin Garcia, who recently committed to Kent State, returned a kickoff 82 yards following an Eisenhower 9-yard rushing touchdown, the Tigers appeared to be gaining momentum after a defensive stop.
With the score 24-14 with under a half minute remaining in the first half, SCA was looking to cut their deficit to a one-score game as they were set to receive the second half kickoff.
“At that point, we seemed to be settled in after they got off to their big lead early on. We were in a position to score and go into halftime with a chance to take the lead to start the second half. Things changed quickly and you have to give Wyomissing credit for making the big plays when they needed to,” said Roth.
Blake Wise, who was making his first start after senior Liam Klebon’s career came to an end with a neck injury last week, dropped back to pass on a third down just outside of the red zone. As the newcomer looked for an open receiver, Wyomissing’s Matt Kramer came off the left edge and crunched him from the blind-side. As the football bounced backwards, Eisenhower grabbed it and took it back 69 yards for a touchdown.
“That play was all Matt’s doing. He made the hit that knocked the ball free,” Eisenhower said. “He clobbered the kid, and the ball bounced right up into my hands and I just took off the other direction.”
Trailing 31-14, Garcia scored on Southern’s first play of the second half on a 61-yard carry. Ironically, two weeks ago when the Tigers trailed by the same margin at halftime, Garcia ripped off a long touchdown run start the comeback. This time, the opponent wasn’t about to surrender the lead and the Tigers weren’t able to score again after that.
“Garcia will more than likely be the best player we will face this season. We allowed him to make a couple of big plays, but our defense buckled down when we needed to in the second half,” said Wolfrum. “This was a historic victory for our program. If you want to be a bull fighter, you have to fight the bulls, and I am happy for our kids after picking up this win.”
Wyomissing (6-0), the 2020 Class 3A runner-up, travels to Twin Valley next week as they look to stay undefeated on the year. Southern (5-1), coming off of an extremely rare loss for the first time since their senior class was in second grade, will look to take out their anger on a struggling Central Columbia squad as they continue to prepare for a run at a 12th PIAA Championship.
“These are the games you schedule to prepare for the postseason. We don’t have time to reflect on the accomplishments of this winning streak that we had. That can be talked about later. Right now, we want to see the kids come back and respond by playing better football. Tonight, we were disappointed with the defensive play and need to fix things on both sides of the ball up front if we want to reach our goal of getting back to Hershey,” Roth said.
The 41 points the Tigers allowed were the most since their last loss in the 2016 state final when Steel Valley won 47-7 in Southern’s last loss before this.
Wyomissing: 17 – 14 – 10 – 0 — 41
Southern Columbia: 6 – 8 – 7 – 0 — 21
W — Amory Thompson 41 run (Ian Levering kick), 9:56.
SC — Wes Barnes 24 run (no attempt), 6:26.
W — Thompson 98 kick return (Levering kick), 6:07.
W — Levering 20 field goal, 3:08.
W — Drew Eisenhower 9 run (Levering kick), 7:36.
SC — Gavin Garcia 82 kick return (Barnes run), 7:19.
W — Eisenhower 69 fumble return (Levering kick), :13.
SC — Garcia 61 run (Isaac Carter kick), 11:39.
W — Charles McIntyre 82 run (Levering kick), 10:17.
W — Levering 22 field goal, 2:33.
First downs 15 10
Rushing-yds. 44-328 31-174
Passing 4-6-0 8-16-4
Passing yds. 31 46
Total yds. 359 220
Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-yds. 4-30 4-35
RUSHING — Wyomissing: Charles McIntyre 4-97, TD; Drew Eisenhower 16-83, TD; Amory Thompson 8-86, TD; Tommy Grabowski 15-49; Ja-mhi Jackson 1-13. Southern Columbia: Gavin Garcia 16-106, TD; Wes Barnes 7-59, TD; Matt Masala 1-4; Braeden Wisloski 6-7; Blake Wise 1-(-2).
PASSING — Wyomissing: Ben Zechman 4-7-0, 31 yds. Southern Columbia: Blake Wise 8-16-4, 46 yds.
RECEIVING — Wyomissing: Aiden Mack 1-11; Drew Eisenhower 1-10; Tommy Grabowski 1-6; Nevin Carter 1-4. Southern
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