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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, October 24th, 2020
Covid-19 tried its best to ruin the 2020 high school football regular season, but Pennsylvania’s only 10-time PIAA champions haven’t allowed even the world’s most perilous disease to date from getting in the way of Jim Roth’s program from trying to win an 11th in 2020. The regular season is now complete, and Southern Columbia has shown that even with the graduation of their most decorated senior class, who continued their life journey after last season, they are still continuing to run business as usual.
It was the strangest one during the unprecedented streak, but Southern Columbia’s football program officially wrapped up a 9th consecutive undefeated regular season on Friday. The Tigers journeyed to Central Columbia and handled the Blue Jays to end the shortened regular season by a score of 52-3.
Once again, the stingy Southern Columbia defense came to play. In fact, the Tigers defense forced two safeties, both in the first quarter, that would have been enough to pick up the win alone. “I think our defense played solid once again. We got our offense back on the field as much as we could. We look forward to keep the streak of not letting a touchdown to be scored on our starters,” said freshman linebacker Garrett Garcia who forced the first safety.
As scary as it sounds, Southern Columbia finished the regular season once again by averaging over 50 points per game. More impressively, they have accomplished it by only needing to accumulate 233 passing yards in total through the seven-game stretch. “Down the line in the playoffs we are going to need to rely on the passing game at some point,” said SCA coach Jim Roth. “For a variety of reasons, our passing game hasn’t been very lively all season, but we have run the ball effectively.”
Junior running back Gavin Garcia put the Tigers in front 7-0 with 10:40 remaining in the first quarter on a 26-yard run. “You can tell when a running back is also a wrestler. Gavin is so good with keeping defenders from getting a hold of his legs, and he is able to spin out of traffic to make big gains and that hurt us for sure,” fifth year Central coach Scott Dennis said. Just 16 seconds later, a snap went through the hands of Central senior Garrett McNelis’ hands and Garrett Garcia pounced on him after the quarterback regained possession in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing kickoff, Gavin Garcia returned the kick 71 yards for a touchdown making the score 16-0 with still 10:13 remaining in the first.
The next score came on another safety. This time Tiger defensive end Derek Berlitz, who also registered two sacks in the win, blocked a punt in the end zone to make it 18-0 after the opening quarter. Braeden Wisloski scored on a 57-yard dash on the first play of the second quarter. “Our defense has provided our offense with momentum all season and that continued in this game against Central in a big way early,” Roth said.
The Blue Jays got onto the score board on the next drive when Mason Yorty made a 31-yard field goal, but it wasn’t near enough to keep the Tigers from eventually winning their 26th straight game via the Mercy Rule. Gavin Garcia scored on a 45-yard run on a play following a Jake Davis interception to make the score 32-3 at the half.
Early in the third quarter, fullback Wes Barnes put the game into the Mercy Rule with a carry of 16 yards to pay dirt. “I feel that it’s important to have a consistent running game up the middle. That is what makes us able to open our outside runs and to make sure they’re not keying only on one back,” said the sophomore who joined Gavin Garcia with over 100 yards rushing in the dominant win.
Ian Yoder intercepted a pass on the ensuing possession. The starting safety went in as the backup quarterback on the next drive and scored on a 12-yard run making the score 45-3. “Although the loss of lasts years stars hurt, this year’s team knew what had to be done and stepped up. As a team we filled some gaps and learned to play together to hopefully fulfill the ultimate goal which we still have to work for,” said Yoder. The Tigers third quarterback, Tyler Arnold, scored the only touchdown of the fourth quarter on a three-yard keeper.
The Tigers state record streak, currently at 88 consecutive victories, will now carry into the 2021 season with 3,592 days since the last time the PIAA’s most successful program was beaten in the regular season when next year starts. “They just play with such a passion. On defense they have four or five guys on every tackle. They have weapons across their backfield, and they just are relentless every play and it shows on special teams as well,” Dennis said.
Southern Columbia, who now has won 55 consecutive games overall, will begin their task of trying to win a fourth straight PIAA Class 2A title with the postseason beginning next week. “It is a new season. The regular season doesn’t mean anything now. We need to fight each snap to keep our season alive if we want to reach our goal,” Roth said. After feasting on the Blue Jays, the Tigers will look to get another tasty meal next week from the bird menu. Top-seeded SCA will host the Eagles of Line Mountain next Friday to open the District 4 playoffs. Central Columbia is now officially eliminated from the playoff picture.
Southern Columbia 52, Central Columbia 3
First downs 6 23
Rushes-yards 14-34 47-458
Passing yards 54 28
Total yards 88 486
Passing (C-A-I) 5-21-2 4-10-1
Penalties 3-32 2-10
Fumbles/lost 4-2 1-1
CENTRAL (4-3) 0 3 0 0 — 3
SOUTHERN (7-0) 18 14 13 7 — 52
S — Gavin Garcia, 26-yard run (Isaac Carter kick)
S — Safety, fumble in end zone
S — Gavin Garcia, 71-yard kick return (Isaac Carter kick)
S — Safety, blocked punt out of end zone
S — Braeden Wisloski, 57-yard run (Isaac Carter kick)
C — Mason Yorty, 31-yard field goal
S — Gavin Garcia, 45-yard run (Isaac Carter kick)
S — Wes Barnes, 16-yard run (Isaac Carter kick)
S — Ian Yoder, 12-yard run (blocked extra point)
S — Tyler Arnold, 3-yard run (Isaac Carter kick)
RUSHING: CENTRAL — Troy Johnson 9-31; Garrett McNelis 3-4; Logan Welkom 2-(-1). SOUTHERN — Gavin Garcia 12-158, 2 TD’s; Wes Barnes 10-113, TD; Braeden Wisloski 6-77, TD; Trevor Yorks 6-20; Matt Masala 3-27; Liam Klebon 3-22; Connor Gallagher 5-26; Ian Yoder 1-12, TD; Tyler Arnold 1-3, TD.
PASSING: CENTRAL — Garrett McNelis 5-16-2, 52 yds; Logan Welkom 1-4-0, 2 yds; Troy Johnson 0-1-0. SOUTHERN — Liam Klebon 4-10-1, 28 yds.
RECEIVING: CENTRAL — Logan Gillaspy 3-35; Zach Smith 3-19. SOUTHERN —Jake Toczylousky 2-15; Jake Rose 1-9; Braeden Wisloski 1-4.
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