Tigers Decimate Indians
Southern’s Fleming Breaks School Record
Southern Columbia’s Julian Fleming is considered one of the best players that this area has ever seen. Giving a player the title of “once-in-a-generation” puts them in a category of their own. In the professional sports world, some of the athletes that are mentioned with this phrase include Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky & Michael Phelps. The Tiger sophomore has already reached that level in the PIAA sports world. “He’s as talented of a receiver as you are going to see at this level. He can do just about everything with the football in his hands,” said Southern coach Jim Roth after his Tigers first game since last year’s state championship game loss.
Southern Columbia opened their season at Shamokin Area’s Kemp Memorial Field with a dominating 55-7 victory over the Indians. During the dismantling, Fleming caught his 14th, 15th, and 16th receiving touchdown of his young career. The significance of the 15th one was Fleming breaking the school record for the most career receiving touchdowns, a record held by Andy Helwig and Steve Toczylousky who each had 14. “Everything seemed to be working for us on offense and we were able to keep it going and kept scoring,” said Fleming who only needed one game into his sophomore campaign to set the career record.
Fleming’s first touchdown of the game came on an 11-yard slant from Stone Hollenbach. Hollenbach then overthrew a wide open Gaige Garcia that would have put the Tigers up two scores on the next drive. No worries though as the junior quarterback came back two plays later to rush for a 34-yard touchdown to put Southern up 14-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. Fleming then made it 21-0 by the end of the quarter with a 25-yard touchdown grab. “He’s an amazing talent,” Hollenbach stated about his favorite receiving target.
Garcia, who like Fleming is only a sophomore, went over the 2,000 yard rushing mark for his career in the second quarter on a 32-yard dash to extend the Tigers lead to 28-0. Tom Manley scored on SCA’s next possession to put the Tigers up 35-0 on a three yard run with 6:23 remaining in the first half. “I think they were really focused on keying on Gaige and that opened up some holes for me,” said Manley. Manley is replacing two-time all state running back Hunter Thomas who graduated. “I’m just going to try and do the best that I can. It’s a huge benefit to have our entire offensive line returning,” he said.
The final touchdown of the first half looked like maybe the easiest even though it was the longest of the game. Fleming, who was doubled-covered the entire night, caught a basic ten yard out-pattern and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown. During the process, he made Shamokin’s secondary appear as if they were trying to skate for the first time in an ice rink. “I don’t have any control over how the defense is going to cover me, so I just try to get the most out of every opportunity,” Fleming said. The Tigers went into the half leading 42-0 and scoring every possession.
Not to be overshadowed by the offense, Southern’s defense was probably even more impressive. “I was most pleased with the way our defense came out and took care of business. We knew we have our two inside-linebackers in Cal Haladay and Anthony Scicchitano returning off of huge years from last year so we are expecting them to be the leaders,” said Roth. “The way our front was able to get off the ball and put pressure on their quarterback was nice to see. We were also glad to see the new outside linebackers and new guys in the secondary contribute and we are confident that they will keep improving as the season goes on.”
Just how good was Southern’s defense? Well put it this way, Shamokin’s best play of the first half came by accident. Their punter botched a snap on 4th down of their first series, but he was able to pick it up and run for a first down. Other than that play, the Indians had just one other play in the half to go for more than three yards. “When the defense is able to have success, it really boosts the confidence of the whole team. I thought we did a good job of getting pressure on their quarterback,” said Tyler Bendas who had two of the Tigers five sacks. Shamokin finished the half with negative-16 yards rushing and 0 for 5 passing.
Manley scored his second touchdown to start the third quarter and that would be the only touchdown of the quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Shamokin’s Jake’s Jeremiah was able to finally give the home bleachers something to cheer about when he scored on a 33-yard run make it 49-7. The final touchdown came from Tiger senior Tristan Heim on a 44-yard burst to make the final score 55-7.
The Tigers, who finished with over 500 yards of offense, will travel to Bloomsburg next Friday night to take on the Panthers. “The guys know that they are going to get everyone’s best shot. When you have a successful season, the next year you just need to realize that there is a target on your back,” Roth said. The Indians will play host to Loyalsock in week two.
SCA: 21-21-7-6 = 55
SHA: 0-0-0-7 = 7
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (1-0)
Gaige Garcia 10-149, TD; Tom Manley 5-56, 2 TD’s; Stone Hollenbach 2-40, TD; Jeffrey Cox 5-15; Tristan Heim 3-92, TD; Ty Roadarmel 4-25; Nate Crowl 1-2; Nate Kearney 1-1
Stone Hollenbach 7-10-0, 144 yds, 3 TD’s
Julian Fleming 4-111, 3 TD’s; Preston Zachman 1-16; Anthony Scicchitano 1-12; Gaige Garcia 1-5
1st DOWNS: 18
SHAMOKIN AREA (0-1)
Jacob Jeremiah 4-32, TD; Dennis Cole 3-15; Mark Wetzel 11-15; Marcus Deivert 1-14; Devin Pietkiewicz 8-6; Brycen James 4-6; Michael Breslin 1-2; Zack Johnson 1-0; Wolfgang Pearson 1-(-1); Deven Klock 1-(-5); Nathan Grimes 5-(-11)
Nathan Grimes 0-6-0
1st DOWNS: 7
Shamokin stats provided by Damien Scoblink (PE)
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