Another Year, Another Gold
SCA players rewrite the record book
The questions coming into 2016 were more about who was going to replace Southern Columbia by season’s end at the top of District IV AA. Now the questions center around who on Earth will be able to stop the Tigers offense in all of Pennsylvania in AA. “We know that people were doubting us early on in the season. They didn’t think we had a team that could be as good this year after what we lost to graduation. I mean it’s hard to believe, but we were actually losing to Shamokin at halftime in the opening game of the season,” said Southern lineman John Stabinski. Now thirteen weeks later, the Tigers are a perfect 13-0, winners of 29 consecutive games, and the District IV AA Champions after beating South Williamsport in Mercy Rule fashion 49-21.
The Mountaineers actually controlled the tempo to start the game. They picked up five first downs on their opening drive and ate up over half of the quarter. Unfortunately for them, the drive came to an end with a punt and then the rest is history. “We knew that they were going to pick up their yards on the ground. They have quality players in the backfield and on the line and have had success running all year,” said Tiger coach Jim Roth. “I think our players did a good job of adjusting during that series and ultimately came up with the stop.”
Southern would score touchdowns on their first five possessions of the opening half to build a 35-0 lead at halftime. “They are very explosive as a unit and it’s just tough to stop. We knew coming in how difficult it would be to try and stop all their weapons. They can beat you in so many ways,” South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth said. Julian Fleming started the scoring frenzy with a 38-yard reception from Stone Hollenbach on the first Tiger drive. Then, Gaige Garcia scored on a 37-yard scamper with seven seconds left in the opening quarter. After Elijah Hoffman’s extra point, the Tigers lead was at 14-0.
In the second quarter, Hollenbach threw a pair of touchdown passes to Hunter Thomas and Fleming to extend the lead to 28-0. The touchdowns went for 55 and 25 yards respectively. “We have a lot of weapons and with that we have a lot of options to beat other defenses. Teams can’t key on one person because if they do then another player will make them pay,” said fullback Nic Fetterman. Garcia scored the final touchdown of the half on a six yard carry. The five touchdowns in the first half came over a span of just over eight minutes of game time.
After that first sustained drive by the Mountaineers, the Tigers starting defensive unit didn’t allow much more success. “All the credit should go to the coaches. We knew coming into the season that our defense wasn’t going to be as big as in years past, but we have been put in positions to succeed,” said defensive end Tyler Bendas. In the first half, the Tigers forced three turnovers and tallied five sacks to help put the game into the Mercy Rule.
In the second half, Garcia found the end zone on a 50-yard run to start the third quarter. South Williamsport finally got on the board on the next possession when junior running back Gideon Green, who finished with nearly 2,000 yards rushing on the season, found the goal line from four yards out. Fetterman answered right back with a 17-yard trot to extend the SCA lead to 49-7 after three quarters of action. In the fourth quarter, Green scored on a one yard carry and teammate Ashton Martin scored on a two yard plunge, making the final 49-21 score seem a little closer than it was.
A handful of Southern Columbia players are creeping up the record books, as well as setting new ones, during this offensive show that they have put on over the past few months. “With the youth on this team, I don’t know how much better that some of these guys could have done up to this point. Now, these players basically have a full year under their belt so they have certainly grown throughout the season,” Roth said. Fleming’s two receiving touchdowns give him 12 for the year which is tied for second in a single-season in school history. The freshman is tied with Steve Toczylousky who had 12 last season, and he trails only Andy Helwig’s record of 14 which was set in 1995. Garcia is approaching Jerry Marks’ freshman rushing record of 1,769 which was set 32 years ago. Garcia now has 1,747 heading into the state playoffs.
Hunter Thomas has now caught 59 passes in his career. With three more receptions, he would break Blake Marks’ record for the most ever by a running back which was set last season. He also sits just 124 yards away from passing Shaun Gaul for 5th on the career rushing list. Fellow senior Cam Young, who had an interception against the Mountaineers, now is tied with Matt Murdock for the most interceptions in school history with 16. Freshman linebacker Cal Haladay has moved into 10th place for tackles in a season.
Although the ground game gets much of the praise in the Tigers offensive system, Stone Hollenbach has without a doubt put together one of the best seasons ever by a Tiger quarterback in his first season with the black and gold. The sophomore has now thrown for 22 touchdown passes which breaks Matt Kaskie’s record of 21, set in 2000, for the most ever in a season. “It is definitely a tremendous honor to be mentioned with some of the greats to play quarterback for Southern. I have tried to become familiar with the past here in my first year at the school,” Hollenbach said. He has also thrown for 1,873 yards on the season moving him up three spots to third on the school’s single-season list. In the win, he moved ahead of Brad Osevala (1,807 yards), Brad Fegley (1,770 yards), & Nick Becker (1,750 yards). “Obviously last year Nick Becker was a big part in helping the team win a state title. A few years before that Brad Fegley became the first quarterback in Pennsylvania history to make a state title game without throwing an interception. It’s just an honor to be in the same category as guys like this.”
Next week’s opponent is yet to be determined. The Tigers await the winner of West Catholic vs Schuylkill Haven that is to be played today. Southern Columbia defeated West Catholic in last year’s Eastern Final. “We have to be ready to play no matter who it is. At this point in the season, it comes down to who wants it more and who is able to get the job done on both sides of the football,” Roth said.
SCA: 14-21-14-0 = 49
SW: 0-0-7-14 = 0
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (13-0)
Gaige Garcia 6-129, 3 TDs; Hunter Thomas 7-57; Nic Fetterman 5-53, TD; Thomas Manley 3-25; Cole Potter 3-5; Nate Crowl 3-7; Ty Roadarmel 2-5; Stone Hollenbach
Hollenbach 5-6-0, 128 yds, 3 TD
Julian Fleming 2-63, 2 TDs; Thomas 1-55, TD; Cam Young 1-13; Fetterman 1-(-3)
1st DOWNS: 14
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (11-2)
Gideon Green 33-157, 2 TDs; Ashton Martin 11-70, TD
A.J. Flick 6-10-2, 44 yds
Austin Nash 2-13; Ashton Martin 2-9; Patrick West 1-18; Hunter Finn 1-4
1st DOWNS: 14
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