Southern Columbia Dominates Canton
CATAWISSA: Sometimes it is difficult to write an article on a high school football game that accurately captures the essence of the contest. Often this is due to a superb competitive struggle which makes it difficult to find the right adjectives to give proper justice. Other times, as in the case of the District IV “A” semi-final between the Canton Warriors and the Southern Columbia Tigers, the actions of a few individuals are so puzzling that one is hesitant to present them in full. This first post-season game started well, offering competition and spirited play, but ended poorly, actually losing its competitive qualities completely despite the 68-52 final score.
Canton received the opening kick-off and moved quickly down-field, primarily on a reception from quarterback Ben Pepper to Kyle High for 43 yards and and an interference call that kept the drive alive on a 1st&10 at the Southern 14 yard-line. After a stop for a 4-yard loss by Southern’s Alex Fidler, Pepper found a seam and burst for an 18-yard touchdown to start the scoring.
Southern answered back quickly after Casey Savitsi received the kick-off with excellent field position at the Tiger 45. Tyrell Thomas clipped off 18 yards and QB Jake Townsend added another ten before he connected with Kieth Day on a 27 yard touchdown strike. The three plays took only 40 seconds and the PAT put Southern up 7-6.
The Tiger defense stepped up to force a quick four&out series despite a 25 yard reception to Eric Matthews. This time it took five plays for Southern’s offense to travel the 65 yards necessary for pay-dirt. Strong rushes by Jake Morton and a 34-yard catch by Thomas set up a two-yard TD score by Tim Benner to go up 14-6 after Colton Yeick’s PAT.
The Warriors were by no means ready to concede and quarterback Pepper sought to pronounce that load-and-clear. Two plays into Canton’s next possession he took the quarterback draw through the middle like a cannon-shot for 77 yards and the quick score. Another failed PAT attempt made left the score at 14-12 in favor of Southern. The somewhat stunned crowd settled in for a shoot-out as the scrappy underdogs from up North were throwing everything they had at Southern, including formations – offensively and defensively – that the Tigers hadn’t seen previously.
But tricks and crazy formations would only prove slightly effective. Southern’s offense was unstoppable and answered right back on a 38-yard TD run by Morton. Then Tyler Levan picked-off a pass for the Tigers at the Canton 34 yard-line. A few seconds later Townsend hit Benner on a 31-yard scoring toss. On the ensuing kick-off High was hit during the return and fumbled the ball back to Southern to set up another score. This time Townsend hit Joey Kleman for 13 yards and then Benner ran the final 15 yards for the score, extending the lead to 34-12 to round-out a wild first quarter of play.
Southern’s offense continued to roll through the second quarter, and the defense shut down the Warriors. Thomas juked and spun his way for 24 and 19 yards, while Morton pounded out 16 to set up Benner’s third touchdown from the four yard-line. On their last offensive series of the half, Thomas turned the corner and broke loose for a 74-yard score to put the game into mercy rule at 48-12 going into the locker room. In all, Thomas had 144 yards on 11 carries and a TD, while Morton added 75 yards on 5 carries and a score, and Benner racked-up three touchdowns with 43 yards on 6 carries. The Tigers’ total offense was 272 yards rushing and 121 passing in the first half alone.
Coach Roth made the only reasonable decision to start the second half by putting in his reserves. This would keep his starters from potential injuries which the Tigers can ill-afford at this stage, it would keep the scoring from getting out-of-hand and degrading a good Canton squad, and it would give the younger players some valuable playoff experience. Despite this, and keeping the ball on the ground to chew up time, Southern’s reserves increased the lead to 55-12 when Jamie Slotterback broke free for 33 yards for a 1st&goal at the seven, and Levan punched it in from the two with 8:19 left in the third.
Canton’s Scott Rockwell responded with a nice break-away run for a 51-yard touchdown, and a respectable 55-20 score. At this point, with wholesale substitutions being made by the home team, most coaches would reciprocate by putting in their reserves and giving them some quality experience – but not Miller Moyer. His decided not only to keep his starters in throughout the third quarter, but the entire game while the other half of his team stood waiting on the sideline. To show his utter lack of class he also kicked on-sides kicks, went for two-point conversions, ran trick plays and called time outs to drag out the game as if he was mounting some kind of great come-back. Its effect was to mar an otherwise solid season for the Warriors and teach poor sportsmanship to his players, all while building nothing toward next season. When asked about his intentions during the post-game, Moyer claimed that he was trying to get his running back a thousand yards. The overwhelming majority in attendance would agree that some character building will go a long way further than extra numbers on a stat-sheet ever will.
Congratulations go out to the Canton Warrior players for overcoming difficulties and making the playoffs en route to a 6-5 record for the 2010 season.
Southern Columbia improved to 9-2 in what turned into a scoring-fest (or a debacle, depending on one’s perspective). The offense continued to put up excellent numbers, and the defense was forced to adjust to multiple looks throughout the first half. The reserves also got a taste of playoff action which could prove valuable (if they learned any lessons from it) given the Tigers’ injury woes. They will host Line Mountain(10-1) next week for the District IV title in a rematch of the season opener. Southern scored 49 unanswered points to overcome a 20-point first quarter deficit in their last meeting in Herndon. The Eagles man-handled Muncy(6-5) 57-20 Friday night, and will be looking for revenge. This should prove to be another great game.
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