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30 In A Row For SoCo

Written by: on Sunday, November 27th, 2016. Follow Dave Fegley on Twitter.


Garcia breaks state record in SCA victory

Southern Columbia’s coaching staff has proven to be the most successful staff in all of Pennsylvania for the last three decades. With that being said, it’s hard to pick out the most surprising season during the championship-filled run, but this year may just be it. After losing 25 seniors from last year’s state championship team, and starting more freshman this year than any other, the Tigers have won their 30th consecutive football game to move to next Saturday’s PIAA Class AA Eastern Final. SCA was able to grind it out for a 20-5 victory over District XI champion Schuylkill Haven. “It was certainly a bizarre game. Not the way I had envisioned it to play out, but we got the win and that’s all that really matters at this point,” said Jim Roth who won his 395th game as Southern’s head coach.

The Tigers came in averaging a state best 50.6 points per game. The Hurricanes also were scoring in bunches averaging 41.5 per contest. Neither offense was able to have much success at all throughout the majority of the state quarterfinal clash. Southern got their points in all three phases of the game. The offense, defense, & special teams all scored a touchdown and that ultimately came down to being the difference. Schuylkill Haven only managed a field goal and safety for their handful of points. The game winning score actually came on the opening kickoff when Hunter Thomas, an all-state running back last season, returned it 93 yards to the house to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. “I had a nice lane up the middle and I saw Garrett Henry crush a kid. Then I cut it outside to outrun their kicker. I started getting gassed at about the 20, but I was able to shake a final guy off of me to score,” Thomas said.

A lot has been talked about Southern’s “Core Four” group of freshman including Gaige Garcia, Julian Fleming, Cal Haladay, & Tegan Wilk and the quartet didn’t disappoint in the victory. After the Hurricanes kicked a 25-yd field goal to make the score 7-3, Fleming caught a simple slant route and turned it into a 65-yd touchdown to extend the lead to 14-3. “I was able to catch it in stride after clearing their defensive backs and then I just had to outrun their cover guys into the end zone,” Fleming said of his 13th receiving touchdown which is just one off of the single-season school mark. Garcia carried 10 times for 63 yards which was enough to set the school and state, yes state, freshman rushing record. “It feels good with all the great backs that have played here and everywhere. It feels even better that it happened in a win,” said Garcia who now unofficially has 1,819 yards on the season. Southern’s Jerry Marks had held the state record since 1984.

Defensively, Wilk came up with the play of the game. After the Hurricanes produced a safety to make the score 14-5 and got the ball back, the freshman picked off a pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. “It comes down to the coaching staff making sure that we watch film. I was able to read that play off of film and was fortunate enough to come up with interception and return,” Wilk said. With the score 20-5, Haladay and Anthony Scicchitano came up with a combined stop on a 4th-and-goal from the one yard line to keep the Hurricanes out of the end zone to end their best chance at getting back into the game. “Shicky and I were able to make the read and stop him from getting into the end zone. There was no way that we were letting him score to get back into the game,” said Haladay who now has the third most single-season tackles in school history.

Late in the game with Schuylkill Haven in desperation mode, Cameron Young came up with a Tiger interception to officially seal the victory with under three minutes to play. The interception was the 17th of the senior’s outstanding career which set a new school mark. “It’s a cool accomplishment. I’m glad I’m able to be an example of an undersized guy that wants to compete on every play,” said Young after breaking a tie with Matt Murdock. Although the Tigers defense hasn’t gotten the credit that the high-powered offense has, they made the plays needed to preserve the victory especially down near the goal-line. “We seemed to get some good pressure on their quarterback. They had some trouble with holding onto the football and we were able to shed their blockers,” said lineman Connor Fulmer who had two sacks.

Schuylkill Haven ends their season at 12-2 and Southern Columbia sits at 14-0 and will take on undefeated Ligonier Valley next Friday night at Bald Eagle High School. “At this point in the season, no matter who you play it is going to be a big challenge. They sound like they are a much more pass-oriented team so we will have to get ready for it,” said Roth about the Tigers next opponent. Ligonier Valley is playing in the school’s first ever Eastern Final. The Tigers on the other hand are playing in their state record 16th and have only lost once in the previous 15 appearances.

SCA: 14-0-6-0 = 20
SH: 3-0-2-0 = 5



Hunter Thomas 6-87; Gaige Garcia 10-63; Nic Fetterman 8-25; Stone Hollenbach 3-12; Julian Fleming 1-4


Hollenbach 4-12-1, 93 yds, TD


Julian Fleming 2-70, TD; Gaige Garcia 1-15; Cam Young 1-8

1st DOWNS: 8




Danny Lozada 10-51; Preston Gehring 12-36; Mike Kalyan 12-35; Kobe Brish 11-29


Danny Lozada 3-7-1, 78 yds; Josh Kalyan 0-2-1


Preston Gehring 1-62; Mike Kalyan 1-12; Kobe Brish 1-4

1st DOWNS: 9


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8 Responses to “30 In A Row For SoCo”

  1. Paul says:

    Sorry Marshall, might have been our”dream” to play your high caliber team, but turned out to be your nightmare! The pressure put on your QB all night with running for his life was just what we do. The hardest part to believe is that normally for Southern these players would only be JV due to being only freshman and sophomore. If your not busy next Saturday, you can catch us in Hershey defending our title against a very good team. Roll Tigers!!!

  2. Brian says:

    How did that work out for you Marshall ?

  3. Mikw says:

    12/2/2016. SCA 31-27 and going to Hershey!!!!!!!!!

  4. Marshall says:

    This Southern Columbia team hasn’t seen nothing like us before. The Ligonier Valley Rams can’t be beat and we’s won’t be beat. The Tigers haven’t ever played a team of our caliber. It’s something that I’m sure that they would dream of one day, but no chance of that happening. The Tigers dream season will come to an end when the LV Rams blow the roof off of the stadium and head to Hershey to take on Steel Valley. Rams For Life!

  5. Dave Fegley says:

    Thanks for catching that Brian. I completely forgot to change it on my edit to the actual article when I did on Facebook. Thanks!

    Theo, yes that certainly didn’t help. Fortunately he was able to come back (although injured). Certainly a tough player. I don’t think the outcome of the game would have been different though in terms of the winner. SCA defense played their best game of the year in my opinion.

  6. Brian says:

    Their qb came back and played so it’s not relevant

  7. Brian says:

    Not to nitpick because you do an amazing job writing these articles but I’m pretty sure this is the 16th trip to the eastern finals. They have 7 state titles and 7 title losses and 1 loss in the eastern finals. Which means they would be 14-1 in the eastern final. I know it’s so hard to keep up with all the success and the numbers get confusing.

  8. Theo Smith says:

    Amazing nothing is said about Haven losing their starting QB. Obviously a huge game changer that should be illustrated in this article.