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Tigers Torment Ironmen

Written by: on Saturday, October 26th, 2019

 

SCA’s Defense Sets School Record

By: Dave Fegley (10-26-19)

Members of Southern Columbia’s 1994 State Championship were on hand to recognize this year’s senior class as the Tigers hosted a struggling Danville Ironmen squad. Ironically, this year marks 25 years since the first State Championship at SCA and it is also a year that many believe the Tigers will become the first program in PIAA history to reach 10 State Championship victories. At the conclusion of Southern’s 49-6 victory, the 1994 team presented this year’s senior class with a retired jersey as a symbol of what this extraordinarily talented group has brought to the school. “This is a program that you dream of playing for one day as a kid. Then when you finally get the chance, it is a surreal feeling. Southern Columbia is the standard when it comes to success and winning championships,” said running back Gaige Garcia.

It was only fitting that on a night that Southern Columbia honored their senior class before their final regular season game at Tiger Stadium, the team went out and performed the only way that they know how. From the opening kickoff, until the backups relieved them, the offense gave the chain gang plenty of exercise and the defense allowed them to rest and catch their breath. For those that aren’t familiar with football lingo: it was typical Tiger domination. “This is the best individual class we have ever had come through the system in terms of overall talent,” said SCA coach Jim Roth. “The amazing part about it is the guys are in all different positions and all over the field. It is hard to imagine what the stats would be like if some of these guys played full games.”

With their 49-6 victory over Danville, the Tigers closed out their eighth consecutive regular season undefeated. For as explosive as the offense has been, the defense has been even more impressive. The 2019 Tigers have closed out the regular season by giving up a total of just 26 points on the entire season. That breaks the previous record of 35 that was set by the 2001 squad. “Most of the people look at the linebackers as the leaders of this defense, but this unit has played very well from the line through the secondary,” said defensive coordinator Andy Mills. “The way these guys tackle in the open field is better than any defense we have ever had in this program.”

From the onset, the Tigers showed why earlier in the week they moved up to the No. 1 ranked team in the country according to MaxPreps’ Small School Rankings. With the defense setting the tone by forcing four consecutive three and outs, the Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 lead with 10:34 remaining in the first half. “We have been clicking on all cylinders and have a great balance on offense. The line gets the job done and everyone that touches the ball wants to score,” said Gaige Garcia who has committed to play his college football at Michigan.

Gaige Garcia scored the first touchdown of the night on a 66-yard run early in the first quarter. Julian Fleming, an Ohio State recruit, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0 with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter. Gavin Garcia scored the final touchdown of the opening quarter on a one-yard run the play after breaking off a 73-yard sprint.

Fleming scored the Tigers lone touchdown of the second quarter on a quick slant from quarterback Preston Zachman who is headed to Wisconsin. The Ironmen got on the board with 54 seconds left in the half when freshman Carson Persing caught a 22-yard pass. Persing then picked off Zachman to close out the first half near the endzone. “Give Danville credit because they didn’t quit. We had three turnovers in the first half which is probably more than we have had in any game this season,” Roth said.

The turnovers didn’t hurt the Tigers because their defense played lights out once again. The starting unit limited the Ironmen to just two total first downs. “We all want to try and make every play on the field. It’s kind of turned into like a competition by now all in fun. Our defense is just playing so well right now and I think we will continue to shut teams down,” senior Cade Linn said. Linn was the leading tackler on Friday night from his safety position.

In the third quarter, the Garcia brothers each scored on nine-yard runs to put the game into the Mercy Rule at 42-6 with 4:21 left in the third. The Garcia’s each eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing on the season in the regular season finale. The elder added 146 more yards to his school record total for a career which is now at 7,416 yards. The senior also moved ahead of Christian McCaffrey, a current NFL star with the Carolina Panthers, to 14th all-time in career touchdowns across the Land of Liberty with now a total of 146.

Braden Heim scored the only touchdown of the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run and the Tigers reserves took care of business on defense after the starters showed why they are the favorites in Class 2A once again heading into the postseason. “We have a lot of fun out there. Everyone on defense knows what they have to do,” said Max Tillett who committed to New Hampshire earlier in the week. Tillett is second in school history in tackles, trailing only teammate Cal Haladay, who is heading to Michigan State to play at the next level, as the program’s all-time leader.

The Tigers checked off another win in Mercy Rule fashion becoming the first team in SCA’s storied history to accomplish the feat in every game of the regular season. “We just go out and do what we need to do,” Fleming said. Fleming became just the 17th player in United States history to go over 5,000 receiving yards for a career. “I have made a lot of memories playing for this program. Now the fun really starts next week in the playoffs”, said Fleming who is the only player to reach the 5,000-yard milestone in Pennsylvania history.

His second receiving touchdown, and 66th in his career, also moved the 5-star recruit into 13th all-time in that category after breaking the state record a little over a month ago. Fleming is currently on pace to become the first wide receiver in the history of ESPN’s senior player rankings to finish as the top ranked recruit in the USA.

Danville (4-6) will have to travel next week as they will try to advance to their second consecutive District IV Class 3A championship game riding a current five game losing streak. Southern Columbia (10-0) will get to play the next three weeks on Jim Roth Field as they will have home-field advantage throughout the District IV Class 2A playoffs. The Tigers are heavy favorites to win another district and state crown to their already record in both categories. “We can play even better. Now it is playoff time and we want to add another district championship and state championship to the list,” Linn said. Postseason pairings will be released on Sunday for next Saturday’s games.

 

            DAN               SCA

First downs                 3                      14

Rushes-yards               32-64               30-389

Passing yards              45                    191

Total yards                  109                  580

Passing (C-A-I)           9-15-0              8-12-1

Penalties                      2-10                 3-40

Fumbles/lost                1-0                   3-3

 

BOX SCORE:

SOUTHERN (10-0)      21        7          14        7          —        49

DANVILLE (4-6)           0          6          0          0          —        6

 

Scoring

S — Gaige Garcia, 66-yard run (Ethan Haupt kick)

S —  Julian Fleming, 15-yard pass from Preston Zachman (Ethan Haupt kick)

S — Gavin Garcia, 1-yard run (Ethan Haupt kick)

S —  Julian Fleming, 19-yard pass from Preston Zachman (Ethan Haupt kick)

D —  Carson Persing, 22-yard pass from KJ Riley (kick blocked)

S — Gaige Garcia, 9-yard run (Ethan Haupt kick)

S — Gavin Garcia, 9-yard run (Ethan Haupt kick)

S — Braden Heim, 11-yard run (Ethan Haupt kick)

 

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: DANVILLE — Ty Stauffer 7-46; Jagger Dressler 7-27; Jack Smiley 7-11; Joe Harris, 5-(-2); KJ Riley 3-(-18); Colton Sidler 1-1; Shaun Potter 2-(-1). SOUTHERN — Gaige Garcia 7-146, 2 TD’s; Gavin Garcia 8-124, 2 TD’s; Ty Roadarmel 6-71; Ron Zsido 3-18; Braden Heim 2-12, TD; Matt Masala 2-9; Wes Barnes 1-7; Preston Zachman 1-2.

PASSING: DANVILLE — KJ Riley 8-13-0, 44 yds, TD; Mason Raup 1-2-0, 1 yd. SOUTHERN — Preston Zachman 8-12-1, 191 yds, 2 TD’s.

RECEIVING: DANVILLE — Carson Persing 4-30, TD; CJ Outt 1-8; Ian Persing 3-6; Eli Strausser 1-1. SOUTHERN — Julian Fleming 7-152, 2 TD’s; Ty Roadarmel 1-39

INTERCEPTIONS: DANVILLE — Carson Persing. SOUTHERN — None.

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