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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, September 8th, 2018
Three touches, three scores for Tiger freshman
By: Dave Fegley (9-8-18)
Last year, Southern Columbia traveled to Selinsgrove for the final week of the regular season in a showcase of the two best teams in District 4. SCA ended up winning the game, but the display proved that both teams were as good as advertised. The Tigers went on to win the Class 2A State Championship & the Seals made a deep run into the Class 4A State playoffs before suffering a one point loss in the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the Seals, they graduated the bulk of their starters and have had trouble fitting in new pieces. The Tigers on the other hand, graduated some key players but ultimately they just reloaded. “The biggest thing for us is stepping up to play the best competition. Sometimes, this is what the elite teams do to you,” said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks. By halftime, the Tigers were leading 48-0 and the Seals looked like they were falling faster than the stock market in 1929.
How one-sided was it in the first half? Well, the stats would be a good place to start. Southern had 328 yards of offense compared to Selinsgrove’s negative-14 yards. At one point, including sacks, the Seals had a net of negative-52 yards rushing. “Our defense was very overpowering against their offensive line,” said defensive end Payton Pursel. The Tigers could have been over halfway to 100 by the break, but they chose to let the time run out at the Seals one-yard line after driving down the field.
Last week, the Tigers offensive line struggled in comparison to their standards. However, seven days later they dominated the line of scrimmage. “We were a lot more focused this week in practice. We wanted to fix the mistakes that we made in last week’s game,” said lineman Oak Six. Including a defensive touchdown, SCA only needed 19 offensive snaps in the first half to score seven touchdowns.
Gavin Garcia got a few of those opportunities on offense and each time that he touched the ball, the play ended with him handing it to the referee in the end zone. “The blocking was a lot better this week. They did a really good job of opening up holes for the backs to get through,” said Gavin. The freshman touched the ball three times total. The first was a 37-yard touchdown run. The second was a 26-yard touchdown catch. The most impressive was his final carry when he broke four tackles and crossed from one sideline to the other to run it in from 58 yards out.
On the Tigers opening offensive play of the game, Julian Fleming caught a 44-yard pass. The very next play he caught a seven yard touchdown to make the score 7-0. “There isn’t much more I can say about his talent level. He’s just simply that good,” Southern coach Jim Roth said. The touchdown reception was the 37th of the junior’s career. He already broke the District 4 career record last week that was set in 2008, ironically by Selinsgrove receiver Ryan Keiser who had 35.
After Gavin Garcia’s first two scores, the Tigers led 20-0 heading to the second quarter at Tiger Stadium. “I think our physicality was important this week. We have some new starters on the line and we will improve as the season goes on,” Six said. Speaking of Six, the Tigers defense had four of their six sacks during the opening quarter. At one point, the Southern defense forced five consecutive three-and-outs in the first half.
In the second quarter, the Tigers added four more touchdowns. The first one coming from Gavin’s brother, junior all-stater Gaige Garcia, on a 34-yard run. Then, Preston Zachman intercepted a pass and returned in 22 yards for a score. “Our pass rush is really important. When we can get to the quarterback quicker it really helps our guys in coverage,” said Pursel who had two of the Tigers sacks. After Gavin Garcia finished off his night with a third score, fullback Ty Roadarmel got into the action by scoring the game’s final touchdown on a five yard run.
The second half flew by quickly with the Mercy Rule in place and neither team scored over the final two quarters. “Defense is the side of the ball that doesn’t get as much of the press, but it’s so important if you want to reach your ultimate goal as a team. With an explosive offense, if we can force three-and-outs consistently on defense it will make it that much tougher on our opponents,” Roth said.
Selinsgrove will return home next week to take on their rivals from Shikellamy. Southern Columbia has a Homecoming next week in more ways than one when Shamokin comes to town. The Indians are coached by former Tiger star fullback Henry Hynoski. The first year coach also has a couple of other former Tigers on staff. “It’s going to be pretty cool going up against a Super Bowl winning player who is a Southern grad. I’m sure Coach Hynoski will be excited to come home and it will be a crowded stadium,” Gavin Garcia said.
SCA: 20-28-0-0 = 48
SEL: 0-0-0-0 = 0
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (3-0)
Gaige Garcia 7-123, TD; Gavin Garcia 2-95, 2 TD’s; Ty Roadarmel 5-34, TD; Braden Heim 5-68; Brandon Gedman 5-19, Jayden McCormick 3-20
Stone Hollenbach 4-6-0, 90 yds, 2 TD’s
Julian Fleming 3-64, TD; Gavin Garcia 1-26, TD
First Downs: 14
Joe Kahn 11-25; Dean Hollenbach 8-38; Isaiah Showers 3-7; Coy Bastian 4-20; Danny Shoch 8-(-34)
Danny Shoch 6-16-1, 56 yds; Coy Bastian 2-7-0, 21 yds
Ben Swineford 2-23; Scott Kissinger 2-21; Christian Kantz 2-12; Brett Foor 1-12; Josh Nylund 1-9
First Downs: 10
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