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Written by: Dave Fegley on Saturday, October 23rd, 2021
With the regular season winding down in the high school football slate in late October, Halloween is just a week away. Opting to not wear a costume, Southern Columbia tried to pose a fear into their upcoming opponents in a different fashion.
Well, they actually tried in two different ways. By the end of the night, both attempts appeared to work as the Tigers terrorized their opponent after a defensive battle highlighted the first two quarters.
From a result perspective, the Tigers turned a 7-7 halftime tie at Selinsgrove into a 49-7 Mercy Rule rout inside of Harold L. Bolig Memorial Stadium over a Seals team that had won their previous six games.
From a costume perspective, juniors Braeden Wisloski and Wes Barnes dressed up for the first time in a while after being sidelined with injuries. In uniform with senior Gavin Garcia, the trio seemed to be back in their three-headed monster form.
The Southern Columbia defense played the part of the villain as they stole the show. After Selinsgrove jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, the Tigers were flat out scary on the defensive side of the ball.
“We stepped up to the challenge. After they scored early on, we did a good job of filling the holes and stopped them,” said freshman inside-linebacker Dominic Fetterolf. “It was only a matter of time until we knew our offense would get going.”
The final nine possessions for the Seals resulted in three-and-outs, and the Tiger offense got into their explosive form.
After Mark Pastore scored the opening touchdown on a 1-yard plunge, set up by a 48-yard pass from the sophomore to senior Derek Hile, things just didn’t pan out for Selinsgrove on their Senior Night.
“We just needed to settle down after the first series. They caught us in some man coverages on passes early. We spent the rest of the game playing our base defense and kept things in front of us. I think that helped us settle down,” SCA defensive coordinator Andy Mills said.
Gavin Garcia, who became the fifth different Tiger back to reach 6,000 rushing yards with a run in the first half, tied the game just over a minute later. After his 15-yard touchdown run made it 7-7 with 6:27 left in the first quarter, neither team scored again in the first half.
In the third quarter, SCA made up for the lack of scoring and Selinsgrove couldn’t find an answer on how to stop them. The Tigers scored four touchdowns in the third quarter and didn’t allow the Seals to pick up a first down from the middle of the first quarter until the end of the game.
“It was a tale of two halves. We had opportunities to take the lead in the first half after our defense made some quick stops, but the offense didn’t convert. We had some costly penalties, and their defense was playing tough,” said Tiger head coach Jim Roth. “In the second half, we had some good success against their scheme. Our offensive line played much better with adjusting to their different looks after halftime.”
Garcia started the second half scoring with a 2-yard run less than three minutes in. The Kent State bound back added a 56-yard punt return with 7:56 remaining in the third to give Southern a 21-7 lead.
On that special teams play, the Seals assumed that Garcia would let the ball go as three different Selinsgrove players were around him as the ball was rolling on the ground.
“Our guys assumed that Garcia was going to let it go, so they let up. You can’t assume anything when he is around the football. After he picked it up and scored, that really opened the momentum for them. He saw our guys ease up and then picked it up and went the other way,” Selinsgrove head coach Derek Hicks said.
Later in the quarter, Garcia scored for a fourth time as he went around the left side for a run of 34 yards. With 2:15 left in the third, sophomore Blake Wise threw a pass to Jake Rose and the senior took it in from 14 yards out to extend the lead for the four-time defending state champions to 35-7.
“We just had to stop doing stupid things. In the first half the penalties were killing us, but everyone played much better in the second half,” said left tackle Carson Savitski. “Getting everyone back is important. Now that our running backs are all back healthy, it will help Blake (Wise) continue to improve in the passing game.”
In the fourth quarter, four-yard touchdown runs by Barnes and linebacker to converted emergency quarterback Mike Zsido capped off the dominant second half performance.
“It was nice coming back with Braeden from injuries to contribute for the team. We hated not being able to play and watching from the sidelines these past few games, so it was exciting to get back out there on the field. Our line play was a little shaky at first, but we worked it out and came together to get the job done,” Barnes said.
Southern (8-1) will travel to Danville next week. Selinsgrove (6-3) will also be on the road as they travel to Montoursville to close out the 2021 regular season.
Both teams have easily qualified for the postseason as the Tigers will be the 1-seed in 2A and the Seals will more than likely finish as the 2-seed in 4A.
Preliminary rumors are that the District 4 playoffs will be run with the format of 3A and 4A playing on Fridays, and the 1A and 2A brackets will be played on Saturdays.
“Our team seems to be as healthy now as we are going to be. Getting both Wisloski and Barnes back is a big boost for our offense, and hopefully they can stay healthy. For us to have the success that we want in the playoffs, this group needs to keep working together with what we have,” Roth said. “We are confident that the players that we have in uniform can execute at a high level going forward. There is only one more game left until it is do or die time.”
Southern: 7 – 0 – 28 – 14 — 49
Selinsgrove: 7 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 7
SEL — Mark Pastore 1 run (Carter Young kick) – 8:02
SCA — Gavin Garcia 15 run (Isaac Carter kick) – 6:27
SCA — Garcia 2 run (no attempt) – 9:08
SCA — Garcia 56 punt return (Wes Barnes run) – 7:56
SCA — Garcia 34 run (Carter kick) – 5:49
SCA — Jake Rose 14 pass from Blake Wise (Carter kick) – 2:15
SCA — Barnes 4 run (Carter kick) – 10:54
SCA — Mike Zsido 4 run (Carter kick) – 3:44
Southern – Selinsgrove
First downs: 19 – 4
Rushing-yds: 47-377 – 24-22
Passing: 3-5-0 – 6-12-0
Passing yds: 22 – 73
Total yds: 399 – 95
Fumbles-lost: 1-0 – 3-2
Penalties: 7-65 – 2-12
RUSHING — Southern: Braeden Wisloski 9-111; Gavin Garcia 11-109, 3 TD’s; Wes Barnes 15-94, TD; Carter Madden 3-24; Louden Murphy 3-19; Mike Zsido 2-10, TD; Blake Wise 1-5; Gavin Krebs 2-3; Trevor Yorks 1-2. Selinsgrove: Brandon Hile 6-11; Tucker Teats 10-8; Derek Holtzapple 2-4; Mark Pastore 2-1, TD; Steven Miller 1-1; Gavin Bastian 2-(-1); Cale Bastian 1-(-2).
PASSING — Southern: Blake Wise 3-5-0, 22 yds, TD. Selinsgrove: Mark Pastore 6-11-0, 73 yds; Cale Bastian 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — Southern: Jake Rose 2-26, TD; Braeden Wisloski 1-(-4). Selinsgrove: Brandon Hile 1-48; Gavin Bastian 2-15; Nate Aument 2-12; Steven Miller 1-(-2).
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