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69 Points For 69th SCA Win

Written by: on Saturday, October 13th, 2018

 

Haladay sets new Tiger tackle record

Dave Fegley (10-13-18)

Going back to the first time Southern Columbia and Shikellamy played each other, nobody would have ever thought that the next time the two teams met the Tigers would ever be in this position. After scoring 69 points in a complete demolition of Shikellamy by a score of 69-7, SCA has now won 69 consecutive regular season games. The way the Tigers looked on Friday, there is no sign of this streak, which is the second longest in state history, to be ending any time soon.

Behind the success of the state’s most successful operation is Tiger coach Jim Roth. Heading in to the matchup, the long-time head coach had beaten every team in the Heartland Conference except for one. Ironically, the final team that he beat to cap off the list was his alma-mater. That’s because the last time these two schools played each other, Roth was in elementary school at Shikellamy in 1966. “I think it would have been a different feeling if I coached against them earlier in my coaching career. Now that all this time has gone by, it didn’t have the same effect but it does bring back some memories of my high school days,” Roth said. The third winningest coach is PA history was a defensive back and slot receiver during his playing days with the Braves.

For as impressive as the Tigers have been during this win streak that has stretched over seven years, Friday night in Sunbury had to be the most dominant performance yet. “We just go out and play. I don’t know what to really say other than that. We know our roles and we go out and get it done,” SCA safety Cade Linn said. The halftime score, although about as lopsided as one could be, didn’t even ultimately show the dominance. “When you know going in to the game that you’re playing against a team that isn’t going to give you much competition, it’s hard to stay motivated. You just got to go out and have fun,” said Linn who had a defensive touchdown in the win.

To help put the game into true perspective, the Braves had scored 54 points all season heading into Friday night’s week eight game. The Tigers scored 55 points against them…in the first half. Shikellamy had eight first half possessions. Seven of them resulted in three and outs. The one that didn’t was a one-play drive that resulted in an interception return for a touchdown. Southern had seven possessions in the opening half and they all resulted in touchdowns.

Although the Tigers offensive numbers actually weren’t as mind-boggling as one might expect in the box score, the defensive ones were. The Braves ran 22 plays in the first half. Out of the 17 running plays, only one resulted in positive yardage. That run went for one yard. Out of their five passing plays, three of them fell incomplete. The other two were completed to a Southern defensive back and a Shikellamy cheerleader.

Leading the SCA defense was junior linebacker Cal Haladay who has now earned his way to the top of the school record books. On just the second play of the game, Haladay made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage to break Ricco Rosini’s school record for career tackles. “It’s a great feeling especially knowing how many great linebackers have played here before me. If we don’t win a state championship this year and next year though it won’t mean near as much to me,” said Haladay.

Rosini set the mark in 1997 by finishing with 320 for his career. Haladay still has the rest of this season and all of next to add to his new record. “He has gotten better every year as far as his reaction and reading of each play. He has a motor that doesn’t stop, and Cal plays just as hard no matter what the quality of our opponent is,” Roth said. “Sometimes at practice even our coaching staff has to tell him to turn it down a notch because he’s just naturally so aggressive.”

Haladay set up the Tigers first touchdown of the game on a blistering block on a punt return. The block helped Julian Fleming return the ball deep into the Braves territory. On the first play of the drive, Gaige Garcia scored on a 10-yard run. “I am just trying to find someone to hit each play. You don’t want to make a dirty play, so I just try to go out and legally hit someone as hard as I can,” Haladay said.

Southern added four more touchdowns in the opening quarter which resulted in the Tigers kicker getting a game’s worth of work in the first 12 minutes alone. “I definitely think it’s a possibility that I kicked more tonight than I ever have before in goal,” said SCA kicker Ethan Dunkelberger who is also the school’s soccer goalie. Fleming caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Preston Zachman, Gavin Garcia scored on a four yard run, Linn had his 18-yard pick six, and Zachman found Fleming again for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

Heading to the second quarter up 34-0, the Tigers offense didn’t let up. Gavin Garcia, who finished with a game-high 143 yards rushing on just six carriers, found the end zone with 9:01 left in the half. His older brother, Gaige, ran for a 29-yard touchdown to help get himself over 100 yards rushing on the night as well. The third member of the backfield, Ty Roadarmel, scored the final touchdown before intermission on a 16-yard run to put the defending state champs up 55-0. “I mean obviously Shikellmay is in a down season, but you have to try and get the guys to stay focused and execute no matter who you play. Tonight everything just seemed to work in the first half especially,” said Roth.

In the second half, Shikellamy got a third quarter 33-yard touchdown run from Ulysses Mercado against the Tiger backups. That was the lone bright spot that the home fans got to witness other than their pre-game senior night festivities. In the fourth quarter, SoCo added two more rushing touchdowns. These came from sophomore running backs Braden Heim (6 yards) and Brandon Gedman (10 yards). The 69-7 win was the most points that the Tigers scored in a game this season.

It has been known around the conference and district that Shikellamy had tried to pull every string to keep Southern Columbia off of their schedule. The Braves were trying to schedule a matchup with Athens rather than the Tigers. Depending on which side of the argument you fall on, you will hear differing opinions. “We feel that playing a school like Shik will be one that will draw a lot of fans each year since the school’s are in close proximity to each other. It’s also a conference crossover game to get a better gauge of where other teams stand,” Roth said.

Shikellamy didn’t seem to have the same opinion as the Southern Columbia folks did. The bottom line however is even though Shikellamy would have preferred to play Athens (3 hours apart) instead of Southern (20 minutes apart), by losing to the Tigers in the new playoff seeding format, the Braves actually benefitted. Since the Tigers are undefeated, the Braves picked up more opponent success points than they would have against Athens in a loss. Also, the argument can’t be made that the enrollment is a factor because Shikellmay is a bigger school than Southern Columbia. With how close the schools are both booster clubs will also benefit by the amount of money that will flow in when they host the game. Playing a team near the New York border wouldn’t have brought in as many green Benjamins to deposit at the bank.

Heading to next week the Braves, who currently still sit in the final playoff spot of the District IV 4A standings, will travel to Shamokin. Southern will travel home to take on a winless Hughesville squad. “It’s been a great experience playing for this team. I’m glad I’m able to enjoy my senior year with these guys and help with the kicking game. I was in a little funk at a time, but I feel more confident as the season goes on,” said Dunkelberger. With how well the Tigers are starting to click, a 70 for 70 is certainly not out of the question for next week, so the Tiger kicker better ice up to have his right foot ready.

SCA: 34-21-0-14 = 69
SHK: 0-0-7-0 = 7

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (8-0)
Rushing:
Gavin Garcia 6-143, 2 TD’s; Gaige Garcia 9-112, 2 TD’s; Ty Roadarmel 5-40, TD; Braden Heim 9-40, TD;Brandon Gedman 5-35, TD ; Nate Kearney 3-29; Jayden McCormick 4-16
Passing:
Preston Zachman 4-6-0, 71 yds, 2 TD’s;
Receiving:
Julian Fleming 3-58, 2 TD’s; Gavin Garcia 1-13
First Downs: 20
Penalties: 4-30

SHIKELLAMY (1-7)
Rushing:
Jermez Herring 11-19; Ulysses Mercado 5-32, TD; Brayden Long 1-3; Coltyn Sempko 4-9; Brayden Long 1-3; Evan Bingaman 1-0; Drew Balestrini 3-(-5); Braydon Wertman 2-(-14)
Passing:
Drew Balestrini 0-5-1; Braydon Wertman 0-1-0
Receiving:
NONE
First Downs: 2
Penalties: 5-55

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