Roth’s Tigers Have Been Unbeatable
5 Straight Perfect Regular Seasons
Sometimes in life, it’s important to just sit back and appreciate greatness. Whether you’re a supporter of Southern Columbia football or not, the reality is what they have done, are doing, and will almost certainly continue to do is great. For the fifth straight season, the Tigers will head to the postseason without a loss on their resume. The regular season ended on Friday night with Southern Columbia beating Selinsgrove 52-35 in a scoring frenzy on Jim Roth Field. “We were expecting them to be tough in the passing game obviously, but they really hurt us on the ground. We were able to come up with some big plays though to pick up the win,” said Jim Roth after the Tigers 51st consecutive regular season victory. It was also the 26th straight win overall.
If you’re a fan of stats, the regular season finale was filled with them. Southern senior halfback Hunter Thomas went over the 3,000 rushing yard mark for his career, becoming just the 8th Tiger to ever reach that milestone. He’s less than 500 yards from cracking the school’s top five. Selinsgrove’s Logan Leiby set the school’s single-season completions record of 177. The junior quarterback broke the record that had stood since 1979. SCA’s Julian Fleming became the first freshman since 2009 in all of District IV to go over 500 yards receiving during a season. Oh, and a player on each team rushed for over 200 yards, another quarterback threw for a career high, a receiver had 140 yards, and none of their names have been mentioned yet.
The skills position players are the ones that garner most of the press throughout the season, but to be elite it takes the efforts of the players that do most of their work outside of the spotlight. After the first quarter ended without any scoring, the Tigers outscored the Seals 24-7 in the second quarter. That lead ultimately provided Southern with enough security to hold on until the end of the game. Key plays by linebacker Anthony Scicchitano, fullback Nic Fetterman, and kicker Elijah Hoffman sparked the Tigers in helping them take a three score advantage to the halftime break.
The Seals drove down the field to start the game, but a third down pass breakup in the end zone by Scicchitano forced Selinsgrove into missing a field goal. “Our scout team ran a lot of passing plays in all kinds of situations during the week. We knew we had to stop their pass attack. I was able to get good position to knock the ball away on that play,” said Scicchitano. Thomas scored for the Tigers on a four yard run to put the home team up 7-0 after Southern’s first possession. Fetterman, who has been primarily used as a blocker this season, scored the second touchdown on a 14-yard carry. “Being that it’s my senior year, I wanted to end the regular season on a positive note. I was determined to score on that run,” Fetterman said.
With Southern in front 14-0, Scicchitano came up with another big play. This time the junior intercepted a Logan Leiby pass to set up the team’s third score. “As an inside linebacker, it’s rare to have the chance to intercept a pass, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to help get the ball back in our offense’s hands,” he said. Thomas scored from a yard out to make the score 21-0. Leiby scored on a short run on the following possession, but the Tigers were able to drive down the field with under a half minute remaining in the half. Hoffman kicked a 30-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it a three score game at 24-7. “I was hoping to get an opportunity to kick a field goal and the offense gave me that chance. I was happy to see it go through the uprights,” said Hoffman.
The third quarter, which seemed to last longer than the movie Titanic, resulted in both teams trading touchdowns for the majority of it. Gaige Garcia, who finished with 218 yards rushing, extended the Tigers lead to 31-7 on an eight yard run after a big pass from Stone Hollenbach to Fleming. “We have so many weapons on this team. It’s fun to be a part of it all. We don’t have just one guy that other teams can key on,” said Hollenbach who finished with a career high of 226 yards passing. Ricky Cope scored on a 23-yard catch on Selinsgrove’s opening drive of the second half. Garcia then fumbled on the next drive after rushing for a 39-yard gain. Joseph Kahn carried the ball 56 yards just three plays later for the Seals to make the score 31-21.
Roth wanted to show his freshman halfback that he didn’t lose an ounce of confidence in him. He gave the ball to him on the first play of the next drive, and Garcia came up clutch as he has time and time again during his freshman campaign. “I was mad after that fumble, but I was glad that I had the chance to make up for it with that next touchdown,” Garcia said about his 55-yard touchdown run. He then scored on the next drive, this time on a 20-yard dash, to put Southern up 45-21. Garrett Campbell, who lead Selinsgrove with 207 yards rushing, scored from 18 yards and then again from 68 yards to make the score 45-35 after three quarters.
The highlight of the fourth quarter was a Cam Young interception as the Seals were trying to make it a one score game. The senior corner was able to pick it off of the the intended receivers back after the ball bounced around multiple times. “The ball hit his leg, then it bounced off of me, and I was finally able to dive and pull it off of his back before it hit the ground,” Young said. Leiby, who is on pace to break the school’s single season completion percentage record, had his most inaccurate game of the season by completing well under 50% off his passes and throwing three interceptions.
Thomas scored the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter less than a minute later from 25 yards out to make the final score 52-35 in favor of the Tigers. Selinsgrove will open the District IV AAAA playoffs next week at home. The loss dropped them to the two-seed, so the Seals will host a Shikellamy squad that beat them earlier in the season. Southern will be the top-seed in the District IV AA playoffs and barring a miracle, the Tigers are three weeks away from walking away with yet another district championship. “Now is when the fun really begins. It’s do-or-die time and we can’t have any let downs. Our goal is to defend our state championship and win another one,” Thomas said. Southern will host Towanda in round one.
SCA: 0-24-21-7 = 52
SEL: 0-7-28-0 = 35
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (10-0)
Gaige Garcia 19-218, 3 TDs; Hunter Thomas 13-161, 3 TDs Nic Fetterman 9-68, TD; Julian Fleming 1-14; Stone Hollenbach 2-7; Jeffrey Cox 1-9; Thomas Manley 1-3
Stone Hollenbach 11-19-0, 226 yds
Julian Fleming 5-112; Hunter Thomas 3-97; Cam Young 2-22; Gaige Garcia 1-(-5)
1st DOWNS: 24
Garrett Campbell 14-207, 2 TDs; Joseph Kahn 2-60; TD; Logan Leiby 6-10, TD
Logan Leiby 16-41-3, 285 yds, TD
Jarrett Inch 7-140; Ricky Cope 4-95, TD; Ryan Bucher 3-20; Garrett Campbell 1-21; Kody Showers 1-9
1st DOWNS: 18
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