Southern Columbia All Business
Garcia carries Tigers over Blue Jays
Give Central Columbia credit. The Blue Jays won more games this season than any of their other teams have won this century. They went 9-3, which topped the 8-3 record that their 2004 team posted. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they aren’t the only Columbia in the county. There is a team by name of Southern Columbia that is less than 20 miles away that happens to better.
Many people throughout the area thought that this Blue Jays squad may have finally been the team to crack through and take down the Tigers. However, SCA put a closure to that chatter. Over the last four weeks, Southern Columbia has beaten Central Columbia twice by a combined total of 101-14 which includes the 59-14 victory on Friday night that puts the Tigers back in the District IV AA Championship game. “That was definitely one of our better games. Execution wise, I was happy with our performance on both sides of the ball,” Southern coach Jim Roth said.
Tiger running back Gaige Garcia outdid the entire Blue Jays team in the first half. Central Columbia finished the opening half with just 96 yards of offense. Garcia had 223 yards himself. “The line was really paving the way. That opened up the option for us to either run or pass and we had success with both,” said Garcia. Southern finished the opening half with 376 yards of offense which led to a 38-7 halftime lead.
Southern Columbia knew they needed to improve in their pass coverage which has struggled over the last two weeks since Julian Fleming got injured. “I think we definitely did a better job tonight then we had the last two weeks. Julian takes away their number one receiver, and with him being hurt we had to step our game up. It’s nice to have him back healthy again,” said Tiger corner Brett Szuler. “We just need to execute on our assignments from here on out and we will do that. We also got good pressure from our pass rushers to force some quicker throws.”
Garcia opened up the first quarter with two 39 yard touchdowns. His first touchdown came via the run and his second came from his quarterback Stone Hollenbach. “Gaige looked as good as he has all year. His acceleration, his moves, and his power all showed up. He’s playing his best football right now,” said Roth. Hollenbach would add a 10-yard rushing touchdown to make the score 21-0 late in the opening quarter. Less than a minute later, Cal Haladay intercepted a pass and then Garcia scored again on the following play from 33 yards out to basically book the Blue Jays funeral.
With the Tigers in command 28-0 entering the second, they decided to get some reps in for their star receiver Fleming after getting injured and missing last week. He caught a 46-yard pass which set up a five yard run by Garcia for his fourth touchdown of the evening to make the score 35-0 after Elijah Hoffman’s extra point. “I felt like I did a good job of reading the holes and got off to a great start. I was pretty confident going into the game and was pleased with the effort out of everyone on the team,” said Garcia
Central finally got on the board on the next drive. Jack Schechterly scored on a two yard run on the Blue Jays only drive of the evening that resulted in multiple first downs. Then, with less than two minutes to go in the half, Hoffman kicked a 34-yard field goal to make the score 38-7. The senior kicker broke the school record for the most total points scored in a season by a kicker. Tyler Keiser set the record just two years ago.
The second half started with the Tigers defense making another stop. Cade Linn intercepted a pass and returned it to the 12-yard line. Two plays later, Tristan Heim scored from six yards out to put the District IV AA Semi-Final matchup into the Mercy Rule at 45-7. “We just came out and put them away early. It was good to get some of our key guys out of the game early. That was we avoid any potential injuries heading into the rest of the playoffs,” Linn said.
The rest of the scoring in the game came on a short run by Jeff Cox to make the score 52-7. Then, Tiger reserve Payton Pursel intercepted a pass and returned it 37 yards to extend the lead. Central scored in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard pass from Trae Devlin to Matt Fulton making the score 59-14. The Blue Jays end their season with a record of 9-3, after starting the year 7-0. “We know where we are at as a program. The players moved in the right direction this year. Now moving forward we need to figure out a way to get over the next step, and obviously that is going to involve finding a way to compete with Southern. They are an outstanding football program,” said Central coach Scott Dennis.
Southern Columbia will take their 12-0 record into next Friday night’s District IV AA Championship game. Their opponent will be the Mount Carmel Area Red Tornadoes who also happen to be their biggest rival. “It is obviously going to be a big game. This is the first time we will match up with them in the postseason. I’m sure there will be a huge crowd on hand. Only one team can advance and that is going to bring the best out of everyone on both sides,” Roth said.
The Red Tornadoes ended their regular season by only defeating a struggling Shamokin squad by a touchdown. However, they then upset the 3-seed South Williamsport to open the playoffs and then dismantled Line Mountain to advance to the final. “We just have to come out and play our hardest in stopping their run. I hope it’s not as cold next week either,” said defensive lineman Cavern Gosciminski. The Tigers won the regular season contest 29-7 back in week three. SCA will host the championship as the 1-seed and all fans are asked to wear all black next week.
SCA: 28-10-14-7 = 59
CC: 0-7-0-7 = 14
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (12-0)
Gaige Garcia 11-176, 3 TD’s; Jeffrey Cox 11-66, TD; Tristan Heim 5-28, TD; Stone Hollenbach 3-4, TD; Ty Roadarmel 4-61, TD; Cade Linn 1-5; Nate Crowl 2-9
Stone Hollenbach 9-15-0, 177 yds, TD
Gaige Garcia 3-72, TD; Julian Fleming 2-55; Preston Zachman 2-20; Brett Szuler 1-18; Tristan Heim 1-12
1st DOWNS: 24
CENTRAL COLUMBIA (9-3)
Isaac Gensemer 8-32; Andrew Fritz 6-17; Justin Thivierge 5-9; Ky Seesholtz 1-2; Jack Schechterly 1-2, TD; Trae Devlin 3-(-21)
Devlin 12-27-3, 159 yds, TD
Matt Fulton 5-68, TD; Zachary Smith 2-18; Jared Verse 1-35; Isaac Gensemer 1-16; Jack Schechterly 1-11; Ky Seesholtz 1-1; Eli Morrison 1-0
1st DOWNS: 8
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