Tigers Knock Out Red Tornadoes
Written by: Dave Fegley on Sunday, September 1st, 2019
Southern’s defense posts another shutout
By: Dave Fegley (9-1-19)
Earlier in the week, one of Mount Carmel Area’s captains made the analogy that when they took on the reigning champions from Southern Columbia it would be a premiere boxing match in terms of wanting revenge. The comparison was made that the Red Tornadoes were Rocky trying to take down the the Tigers version of Ivan Drago like the famous movie depicted. Unfortunately, the hype was short-lived in a Saturday night showdown that turned out to be boxing’s version of a first round TKO. “They were pretty much Apollo (Creed) if we were Ivan (Drago) if they intended it to be a boxing match. We just went out and tried to knock the crap out of them like all teams want to do to their biggest rival,” said Southern linebacker Nate Crowl. From the beginning of the Labor Day weekend clash, the Tigers came out and dished out all of the major blows in a 48-0 victory.
The scariest part of the situation is the fact that MCA is a quality football team. In less than a week of prep, with a 700 mile return home South Carolina, the Tigers didn’t allow a national televised week one win slow their motor down in week two. The Red Tornadoes are more than likely the second best team in District IV, but consolation prizes aren’t worth anything especially when you have to go through SCA again in the postseason. Unfortunately, the Tigers stand in their way and through the first two weeks, Jim Roth’s Tigers look about as powerful as Muhammad Ali’s confidence, combined with Mike Tyson’s power, and Sugar Ray Robinson’s technical skills. “They are most definitely one of the stronger teams in the area and to win like that against them says something,” Roth said. “I can’t say enough good things about how well our defense has looked to start the season.”
In a shortened practice week, due to not game getting back to Pennsylvania until late Monday after their Sunday afternoon game on ESPN2, the Tigers picked up where they left off against Hammond. With the Southern Columbia defense holding Mount Carmel Area to just two first downs in the opening half, the Tigers offense was able to take advantage of the short field position that they got on nearly every drive. “Mount Carmel came in all hyped and confident like they are the upper-dogs even though we’ve beaten them four times in the past two years. Some of their kids were saying things over social media and look what we did to them,” said SCA’s Gavin Garcia.
Garcia scored four times with his older brother Gaige adding also finding the end zone twice. For the second straight week, the Tigers didn’t need to use their passing offense to get out of any tough situations. Credit for that goes to the offensive line’s ability to gel quicker than some might have expected. “The line has looked like they’ve played a whole year together and not just a couple of games as starters. They’re blocking great and creating some big holes,” Gavin said.
After Julian Fleming caught a 28-yard crossing pattern from Preston Zachman on Southern’s first offensive play, Gaige Garcia gave the Tigers an early 7-0 lead three plays later on a two yard plunge. Fleming went over 4,000 career receiving yards on that first reception of the game. “Offensively I thought we executed a little better than last week. The passing game looked better in the limited amount of attempts we had and that should continue to improve as Preston gets more comfortable,” said Roth. After a three-and-out, Fleming returned a punt over 50 yards to the MCA four-yard line and on the next play Gavin Garcia made the score 14-0.
Gavin Garcia added three more touchdowns in the second quarter on runs of seven, 38, and 35 yards which was more than enough with the way the Southern defense again looked. “Defensively I thought we played outstanding. No matter who was in the game, we kept the goose egg on the board and it means more in a game against our rival,” said Tiger defensive end Tyler Waltman. The only unfortunate thing for Southern in the first half was an extra-point that bounced off the upright. Ethan Haupt converted the rest of his PAT’s and will get a pass on the missed one considering he played an overtime soccer game just hours earlier on the same turf.
With the Tigers leading 34-0 at halftime, the starters only played one series in the second half. On a quick four play drive, Gaige Garcia muscled his way into the end zone on a 30-yard run to put the game into the Mercy Rule at 41-0. As they did in South Carolina last week, the Tigers second unit preserved the shutout and added more excitement. Junior defensive back Nick Zeigler intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown making the final score 48-0. “When we get the chance to go in after the starters are holding a shutout, we want to keep them off the board. It felt really good to get that pick and then to get that moment with the team afterwards,” Zeigler said.
In the 26th meeting between these two historic programs, the 48-point margin of victory was the second largest in the rivalry. It trails just the 54-0 Southern victory in 2006 which also took place in Tiger Stadium. The win was also the ninth straight one for Southern in the rivalry. Now the toughest thing for the Tigers will be trying to stay motivated as they have an easier stretch upcoming. Just as any championship program does, that shouldn’t be an issue. “We still have a lot to look forward to. We plan on winning another state championship and our defense wants to post as many shutouts as we can this season,” Crowl said. “For a 16-week season, we are going to shoot for a shutout each week and our backups have done their job of helping us accomplish that so far.”
The Tigers will take their 73-game regular season winning streak to Selinsgrove next Friday night to try and tie the state record for consecutive regular season victories. “It is hard to pick out any area that we have a lot to improve on right now, but as a coach you just hope the guys continue to stay focused and take care of business. They have done so against two quality opponents and our seniors are great leaders to keep the younger guys focused,” Roth said. The Red Tornadoes will try to rebound in their home opener next week as they host Lewisburg.
SCA: 15-14-7-0 = 36
MCA: 0-0-0-0 = 0
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (2-0)
Gaige Garcia 9-94, 2 TDs; Gavin Garcia 5-86, 4 TDs; Preston Zachman 3-42, TD; Julian Fleming 2-29; Ty Roadarmel 3-19; Braden Heim 6-29; Wes Barnes 6-19; Matt Masala 2-7
Preston Zachman 5-19-1, 62 yds
Julian Fleming 3-44; Liam Klebon 1-13; Gaige Garcia 1-5
First Downs: 18
MOUNT CARMEL (1-1)
Shane Weidner 11-19; Joey Bendas 6-42; Michael Reed 1-1; Julian Stellar 1-1
Tom Reisinger 13-24-0, 89 yds; Julian Stellar 2-4-1, 29 yds
Noah Berkoski 4-76; Jack Chapman 3-9; Mike Ballichik 2-22; Shane Weidner 2-4; Logan Wills 1-3; Garrett Varano 1-6 Dylan Pupo 1-(-2);
First Downs: 6
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