Southern Columbia All Over Selinsgrove
CATAWISSA: With the top seed and home-field advantage through District Playoffs on the line for the Tigers of Southern Columbia Area, their final regular season game meant a great deal to the Class “A” power. Visiting Tiger stadium was none other than the defending Class “AAA” State Champion Selinsgrove Seals. The Seals came into the game on a roll with six straight wins after losing their first three games to quality opponents. There was not as much at stake playoff-wise since Selinsgrove had already wrapped up the top spot in the District IV “AAA” field, but coach Hess’ team wanted to keep the momentum rolling going into the post-season.
Southern Columbia needed to put the finishing touches on what has been the toughest regular-season schedule a Tiger team has ever faced. After two losses to state-ranked “AA” teams in very winnable games, and losing multiple starters to injuries, the Tigers were going to have to play with a lot of heart and eliminate the mental mistakes which tripped them up in the past. They accomplished this in resounding fashion, trouncing the Seals 48-7.
Southern received the opening kick-off and began to march down-field. Utilizing three different ball carriers, the Tigers kept the Seal defense on their heels. Solid running from Jake Morton and Tyrell Thomas, then a reverse to Tim Benner for 13 yards set up a 39-yard reception From Jake Townsend to Thomas for the first touchdown at the 9:14 mark in the first quarter.
Selinsgrove was looking to answer right back with a twelve play drive of their own. If Kyle Reinard and Eric Eaton weren’t bowling ahead for good yardage, then Justin Keiser was finding an open receiver on a quick pass. However, the Tiger defense came up big when it counted most. Deep in the red-zone they forced a very short pass and two incomplete passes to get the ball back on downs at the Southern eleven yard-line.
From that pointon the Tiger backfield began to pour it on. Morton and Thomas ran for gains of 19 and 17 yards respectively. Then Morton caught a pass and nearly ran the distance only to have it called back on an illegal block, but it still netted a 1st & 10 at the Seal 28. With yards after initial contact, the backfield marched down to the four yard-line, and Benner took it in form there to go up 14-0 with 8.3 seconds left in the opening quarter.
After an excellent kick return to the 47 by Reinard, the Seals needed ten plays to find the endzone on a 10-yard dump screen to Eaton, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
The Tiger offense was unstoppable though. The front line continued to open huge gaps in the Selinsgrove defense, and the ball carriers took full advantage. Morton stiff-armed and spun his way for gains of 17 and 11. Townsend got in on the rushing action with a 25-yard scramble around the outside. Then Thomas burst in from the three to extend the lead to 21-7 after another Colton Yeick(6/6) PAT.
To round out the first half Morton added another score on a 14-yard run after the defense forced a punt attempt which resulted in a high snap and Tiger recovery on the Selinsgrove 25 yard-line. Then the defense stymied a final attempt by Keiser & Co. to score on a twelve-play, 63 yard drive which netted a 1st & goal at the Southern five. Three pass attempts were batted down and another was rushed and fell short to end the threat. The score was 28-7 at the half-time whistle.
Nobody on Southern’s side of the stadium was ready to relax though. This was far too reminiscent of the state title game rematch between the Seals and Manheim Central on week three of the season – a game in which Selinsgrove came back in the second half only to lose 21-20 by a missed extra point at the end.
The two teams traded punts twice to begin the second half, but on their third possession of the quarter Selinsgrove’s Keiser was intercepted by Kieth Day at the Seal 28 yard-line. It took only two plays for Morton to rumble in for a 22-yard score. Coach Jim Roth sent in the reserves with the score 35-7, but the momentum did not slow down for Southern. Tyler Levan scored a 19-yard TD to put the game into mercy-rule early in the fourth quarter. Then Casey Savitski tacked on the final score on a one yard dive.
Selinsgrove falls to 6-4 with the loss and will probably host Columbia-Montour Vo Tech(5-4) (Playing Northwest on Saturday 11/6) in the opening round of “AAA” District play, while Shikellamy(7-3) hosts Shamokin(5-5). EasternPAFootball.com wishes them good health and success as they begin the post-season.
Southern Columbia clinched the top spot in the District IV “A” playoffs with the convincing win to close the 2010 regular season. Although riddled with injuries, the Tigers stand poised to make a deep run into the state tournament. They have overcome adversity, attrition, and mistakes en route to earning their 8-2 record in a season that matched them up against eight ’09 playoff teams and nine teams in a higher classification. They will need to stay focused despite everything that has happened thus far, and face each opponent without looking ahead to the next. They will likely host the Canton Warriors(5-4)(playing Troy on Saturday 11/6) in the first round of districts. Best wishes to the Tigers as they gear up for post-season play.
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