The Southern Columbia Versus Mount Carmel Rivalry Experience @SoCoTigerSports @GOBIGRED19
Written by: Phil Myers on Sunday, September 1st, 2019
I realize there are many rivalry games across the state and I’ve been to Punxsy-DuBois, Tyrone-Bellwood, and North Allegheny-Pine Richland to name a few, but Saturday night was a treat to witness the winningest team in Pennsylvania history, Mount Carmel, take on the winningest team in the last 36 years, Southern Columbia. Even though the game was not close (more can be read about that in Dave Fegley’s story), the atmosphere was incredible.
Arriving in Catawissa early at 5:30, I found the parking lot packed except for a few spots in front of the Southern Columbia High School. Eventually, my understanding is that they parked people in fields behind the high school. As I walked around and talked to people, it was apparent this is more than just a game. One of Southern’s running backs said there were social media battles, words exchanged at Sheetz, and various analogies in which one side or the other will bring home the win.
If I were to guess, I’d say three to four thousand were in attendance. The bleachers on both sides were full, quite a few fans sat in the grassy hill on the right after coming through the gate, and people stood around a large portion of the track. Being that these two towns are only eight miles apart, I noticed some of the fans were friends with some of the opposing fans. Even after the game a few of the players from each side mingled together.
As for the game itself, I am going to go out on a limb and saying Southern Columbia is without a doubt, the best small high school team I’ve ever seen. They are well coached, they make few mistakes, they hit hard, don’t miss tackles, block down field when they have the ball, and just do all the intangibles paying attention to details.
Mount Carmel is a very good team, but they were overmatched. Coach John Darrah realizes how good Southern is, but really felt, based on the past couple of years, that his Red Tornado could get over the hump so to speak. But it is hard to go toe to toe with the Tigers. After all, they have the number one wide receiver in all of the United States who is going to Ohio State, a running back going to Michigan, and a linebacker going to Michigan State plus two other D-1 recruits not yet committed anywhere. To top it off, there may be a couple more D-1 recruits among the underclassmen.
After the game many fans just milled around and some of the Southern players signed autographs for the kids including Julian Fleming, the all-state wide receiver who is going to Ohio State.
Again, the people on both sides were nice and polite, to me anyhow. A fan returned my dropped pen, the Southern Columbia cheerleaders were a great bunch, both bands did a wonderful job. It was a great time. Nice year I may go back to experience the game at the Silver Bowl in Mount Carmel.
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