Last season, Southern Columbia walked off of the field at Hershey Park Stadium with their tears of defeat soaking into the turf in Chocolate Town, suffering a lopsided defeat in the PIAA Class 2A State Championship. Just 363 days later, the Tigers returned to that same field and this time left absolutely no doubt of what they were trying to accomplish. “These guys, especially the senior class, took that loss personally. This team is a true example of a team not settling for anything less than what they wanted. I’m very proud of the way that they reached it and it feels great to win another one,” said Tigers coach Jim Roth.
The first week of deer season didn’t end well for the Bucks, but then again the ending hasn’t been good for anybody that has faced off against the Tigers all season. “Our guys came out and took care of business against a quality football team with a deep tradition. The players are happy, but not satisfied because the ultimate goal is winning in week sixteen,” said Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth. His Tigers added to their already state-record by winning a remarkable 16th Eastern Championship, and SCA will take on Wilmington next Friday for the PIAA Class 2A State Championship.
Southern Columbia might be the worst enemy of every other public school in the PIAA. The Tigers just keep taking down these all-star teams and that is why the team in Black & Gold is the leader in winning success across the state since the early 1990’s. Every year a new charter or prep school seems to emerge out of nowhere because of the ability to recruit from anywhere they please. Amazingly, every year the Tigers seem to be right in the thick of things despite the fact that like every other public school, the players on the field are the ones that live in your school district.
It’s not too often that the two most historic teams in a state match up at any point during a sports season. Not only did fans get to watch the Southern Columbia Tigers take on the Mount Carmel Red Tornadoes, but they got to see it with a lot on the line. The winner would go home with a District IV Gold medal, and the loser would go home in disappointment. The Tigers celebrated the victory, and the Tornadoes saw their season come to and end, but not without a fight.
Give Central Columbia credit. The Blue Jays won more games this season than any of their other teams have won this century. They went 9-3, which topped the 8-3 record that their 2004 team posted. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they aren’t the only Columbia in the county. There is a team by name of Southern Columbia that is less than 20 miles away that happens to better.
Nobody in the stadium deep-down believed that North Penn-Mansfield could upset top-seeded Southern Columbia. However, give the Panthers credit for coming out and competing for the better part of the first half. “I am proud of the way our guys came out with confidence. We were excited to play against the top team in the state. This was a game for our kids to see what an elite football program looks like and hopefully we can build off of this experience heading into next year,” said North Penn-Mansfield coach Tom Dickinson. The Tigers ended up winning the game in Mercy Rule fashion 63-26, but it wasn’t the prettiest victory in recent memory.
Friday nights matchup between the Tigers and Seals at Harold L. Bolig Field in Selinsgrove was the definition of one helluva football game. Arguably the two best teams in the area, it was Southern Columbia proving once again that they are unquestionably the best team in the entire Heartland Conference. The Tigers, who started their unbelievable streak with their first victory on this same field back in 2011, won their 61st straight regular season game. This one however, was filled with just about everything possible that can take place on the gridiron.
A lot has taken place since the last time Central Columbia has beaten Southern Columbia in football. Bill Clinton was just starting his second term in office as the POTUS, the first iPhone was still a decade away from being released, the Twin Towers were still standing in NYC, Seinfeld was still airing new episodes, and the Houston Texans weren’t even an NFL franchise yet. Oh, and nobody on either the Tigers or Blue Jays roster was born yet. All of those facts are still the same after SCA’s 42-0 Mercy Rule victory on the road in Blue Jay Stadium. “Central is having a successful season. This was just their second loss, but our guys came out and took care of business from the start on both sides of the ball. Once again I was real pleased with the play of our defense,” said Tiger coach Jim Roth.
Friday the 13th comes around about once a year and is considered to be the most unlucky and frightening day on the calendar. Unfortunately for Danville, their bad luck meant that they had to take on the state’s top ranked team in Southern Columbia who has an offense that is as scary as any across the state and a defense that is just as scary. “Playing Southern Columbia is the litmus test to gauge where your team is at. They are the top team. I thought we played gutsy, especially in the first half. We just gave up some big plays which you can’t do against a team of their caliber,” Danville coach Jim Keiser said. The Tigers won in convincing fashion by a score of 41-10 on their senior night on Jim Roth Field at Tiger Stadium. Southern has now won 59 consecutive regular season games.
Spoiler alert if you aren’t a regular follower of Southern Columbia football, Julian Fleming is a human highlight reel on the gridiron. His nickname, Highlight, started as a joke when he put highlights in his hair last summer as a freshman, but since then he has taken over games in virtually every matchup that he has played in. The sophomore continues to awe fans in all three phases of the game. “I just want to help the team out any way that I can and leave my mark. On offense, defense, and special teams I try to make an impact on every play,” said Fleming.
Let’s not sugarcoat it, nobody was looking forward to the matchup between Southern Columbia and Milton on Friday night. The Tigers came in riding a 56-game regular season winning streak dating back to 2011. The Black Panthers hadn’t won a single game since early in the 2015 season. With that being said, anyone looking for a change in results, at this point it is okay to stop reading.
First year Lewisburg head coach Marc Persing was forthright after Friday’s game when talking about the opposition in black and gold. “Let’s make no mistake about it, that is one of if not the best programs, not just the team, but programs in the state of Pennsylvania. I told our kids that we are trying to become what Southern Columbia is. They have set the standard that all the other teams are trying to reach,” Persing said. “Hats off to Coach Roth. He has a tremendous staff and a tremendous team and they just have a winning culture that we are trying to establish with our program.”
Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth decided to let the clock run out for halftime on Friday night with his team less than 15 yards from the end zone and all three timeouts left in his pocket. No, the Tigers weren’t in desperate need to score, the game was handily in check by then with his team in front 37-0 over Hughesville. It was just another classy move that the veteran coach has shown countless times during his long tenure at the helm.
During Southern Columbia’s now 54 consecutive game regular season winning streak, the Tigers have put points on the board at a staggering pace. Most have come from the offense during that span, but in Friday night’s 29-7 victory over rival Mount Carmel Area, the offense got some needed assistance in their home opener. “It’s still early in the year and high school kids sometimes listen to the noise from the outside of what they are expected to accomplish. Mount Carmel proved tonight that they are a good football team. We didn’t play our best by any means, but Mount Carmel deserves credit for that too,” said Southern coach Jim Roth after his 399th career coaching victory.
Every high school football fan in District IV knew what Southern Columbia had coming back on offense this season. A running back in Gaige Garcia that broke the PIAA freshman rushing record last season, the top ranked receiver recruit in the country in sophomore Julian Fleming, the school’s single-season passing yardage record holder in junior quarterback Stone Hollenbach, and an offensive line that returns every starter from last year’s state championship game representative out of the east.