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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, September 11th, 2021
It’s hard to believe it has been twenty years since the senseless attacks on our nation that took the lives of many on 9/11. Those that were lost will never be forgotten.
Fast-forwarding to present day, it has probably been forgotten as to when Southern Columbia last loss on the gridiron.
Winners of 63 in a row overall, and 91 straight in the regular season to expand their PA record, the Tigers now hold the United States longest active winning streak.
Caledonia (Minnesota) saw it’s 71-game winning streak come to an end last weekend which moved Southern Columbia into the driver’s seat for the most successful current run across America.
The latest win for Jim Roth’s Tigers came at home against previously unbeaten Loyalsock. A destructive offensive display led the way in a 51-15 victory.
“We try each week to make sure the guys are focused. Even though we won our first two games by big margins, I don’t think the focus was fully there. In this game, I felt our team showed up against a very good opponent,” Roth said.
The reigning 2A Player of the Year, Gavin Garcia, led the way with a 209-yard rushing performance that saw him surpass 5,000-career rushing yards. He became just the fifth player to ever reach the mark joining his brother Gaige (8,232), Henry Hynoski (7,165), Jerry Marks (7,075), and Ricco Rosini (6,413).
“It’s an honor for sure. A lot of great runners have played for this historic program and being part of this group is special. I want to continue to move up the ladder because every yard will help our team out. Winning is the most important thing,” said the newest member of the 5K club.
Garcia isn’t the only talented back that the Tigers have. Joining him as returning starters in the backfield are junior halfback Braeden Wisloski and junior fullback Wes Barnes.
The trio each got two carries on the opening drive to set the tone which Garcia capped with a 17-yard score to give SCA a 7-0 lead minutes into the first quarter.
After Loyalsock’s Davion Hill tied the game on a four-yard run with 2:14 left in the first, it was time for the dynamic trio to get back to work. Wisloski had an effective return on the ensuing kick which set up a Barnes 20-yard touchdown run two plays later to give Southern the lead for good at 14-7.
All three members of the three-headed monster were asked to put in overtime on Friday. The Lancers had early success in their spread offensive scheme by completing some long passes. Garcia and Wisloski went in as corners and Barnes as a linebacker after a couple of completions.
The decision paid off, but the ending result was potentially detrimental. Although team’s are better with their best on the field, Roth has always tried to keep as many players one-way as possible.
With a one-touchdown lead, Wisloski came up with his second interception in as many weeks but the three-sport athlete, who Virginia is highly interested in for football, got injured on the play. As the reigning 100-meter dash state champion tried to pick up yardage on the return, he landed awkwardly on his ankle forcing him to exit for the night.
“At this point we don’t know the extent of the injury. He has been very impressive this season starting in the preseason up until this happened. Hopefully it isn’t anything significant, and he can get back to 100 percent. He is a great runner, and we need him to get healthy moving forward,” said Roth. “In his absence, we are confident that we have guys that can fill in. We aren’t expecting them to be as explosive as what he has shown, but we feel we have guys that can fill the void in some capacity.”
Speaking of track state champions, SoCo’s hurdling star, senior Jake Rose, made a major impact on both sides of the ball in the Mercy Rule win.
The wide receiver and linebacker was involved on both sides of the ball in helping the four-time defending PIAA 2A champions take a 35-15 lead into halftime.
On offense, he caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from fellow senior Liam Klebon. On defense, he was involved in three of the Tigers five first half sacks.
“It’s extremely important to get pressure on the QB when they are passing because it helps to set up bad passes and even turnovers and loss of yardage,” Rose said.
In addition to all of the offensive action in the first half, there were plenty of other highlights on the eve of remembering all of the lives that were lost in the terrorist attacks two decades ago.
The most notable one was Southern’s starting kicker Isaac Carter who was pulled out by the head official. The sophomore, who is the school’s most efficient defender on the soccer field, apparently didn’t have his kneepads in (watch an NFL game to see how strict that is…sarcasm). That forced Klebon to kick one PAT and the Tigers to go for two on the other scores.
All in all, with the red, white, and blue being at the forefront of everyone’s minds with the sad anniversary upon us, it was the black, gold, and white putting up another fight that was unmatched.
“Every win is a team effort. We want to continue to improve going forward and have some really good teams coming up on our schedule,” said Garcia who for the third week in a row scored three times and also had a 78-yard punt return called back on a questionable block in the back penalty behind the play.
Loyalsock, who has proven to be a serious contender in District 4 Class 3A, will take on Danville next week in what should be an even matchup. Southern will continue their midseason gauntlet at undefeated Wyoming Area.
“With this streak still in hand, the motivation is there in terms of not wanting to end it. No group ever wants to be known as the crew that ends any positive streak. Our guys passed the first test, but we have three tough games still to be played in a row,” said Roth who’s team takes on Mount Carmel Area and Wyomissing after their next heavyweight bout.
Southern Columbia 51, Loyalsock 15
SCA — LOY
First downs: 23 — 15
Rushes-yards: 44-402 — 35-107
Passing yards: 94 — 142
Total yards: 496 — 249
Passing (C-A-I): 4-5-0 — 8-17-1
Penalties: 10-103 — 5-46
Fumbles/lost: 0-0 — 1-1
LOYALSOCK (2-1): 7-8-0-0 — 15
SOUTHERN (3-0): 14-21-8-8 — 51
SC — Gavin Garcia 17 run (Isaac Carter kick), 6:01.
L — Davion Hill 4 run (Evan Anderson kick), 2:14.
SC — Wes Barnes 20 run (Liam Klebon kick), 0:34.
SC — Jake Rose 42 pass from Klebon (Klebon kick), 6:55.
SC — Gav. Garcia 67 run (pass failed), 2:44.
L — Rian Glunk 50 pass from Tyler Gee (Jerval Weeks-Shuler pass from Gee), 2:14.
SC — Gav. Garcia 3 run (Gav. Garcia run), 0:56.
SC — Barnes 2 run (Matt Masala run), 7:52.
SC — Masala 3 run (Barnes run), 11:02.
RUSHING: SOUTHERN — Gavin Garcia 14-209, 3 TDs; Wes Barnes 11-75, 2 TDs; Matt Masala 6-36, TD; Trevor Yorks 3-28; Louden Murphy 3-24; Braeden Wisloski 3-22; Carter Madden 2-11; Logan Fosse 1-2; Blake Wise 1-(-5). LOYALSOCK — Davion Hill 19-126, TD; Rian Glunk 1-3; Team 2-(-3); Tyler Gee 13-(-21).
PASSING: SOUTHERN — Liam Klebon 4-5-0, 94 yds, TD. LOYALSOCK — Tyler Gee 8-17-1, 142 yds, TD.
RECEIVING: SOUTHERN — Jake Rose 2-53, TD; Gavin Garcia 1-40; Wes Barnes 1-1. LOYALSOCK — Rian Glunk 5-81, TD; Jerval Weeks-Shuler 1-37; Hill 1-16; Jaylen Andrews 1-8.
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