SCA Claims Conference Crown.
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | October 14, 2017
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | October 14, 2017
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.
The victory gave Southern Columbia the Heartland Conference Division 3 Championship. However, with the amount of success the Tiger Football Dynasty has produced over three straight decades, it is considered just another normal victory. “Everybody has the same goal on this team. When you play football at Southern Columbia, winning a division or district championship isn’t as meaningful as it may be for other sports or other schools,” said SCA senior captain Anthony Scicchitano. “Tiger football is about getting down to Hershey and winning a state championship.”
Danville took an early 3-0 lead off the foot of Jared Mowery who made a 34-yard field goal. That came thanks to an interception by Ken Cooper who was the first person to intercept a pass from SCA quarterback Stone Hollenbach all season. “I mean you never want to throw an interception, but I guess now it takes any extra pressure off of me. It’s been talked about more the past couple of weeks that I didn’t throw any interceptions, but now I have one and will move on,” said Hollenbach who now has 19 touchdown passes to just the one interception.
Former Tiger quarterback Brad Fegley set the state record in 2011 by becoming the only quarterback in Pennsylvania high school football history to lead a team to a state title appearance without throwing a pick all season. “Unfortunately the interception I threw got tipped at the line or else it had a chance to be a touchdown. It’s obviously nearly impossible to go a whole year without throwing an interception like he did,” said Hollenbach with a chuckle. The junior, who has played with confidence all season, threw for 192 yards and a pair of scores on the evening.
His first touchdown pass went to Julian Fleming on the first play of the drive after the Tigers trailed for the first time all year. It was a quick pass that Fleming caught and did the rest himself by going 60 yards into the end zone to put Southern in front 7-3. “With the skills that Julian has, you just need to get the ball in his hands and he can score from anywhere on the field,” Southern coach Jim Roth said. Fleming intercepted a pass on the next drive to set up a 24-yard field goal by Elijah Hoffman to give the Tigers a 10-3 lead after the first quarter.
Fleming, who had extra motivation after Danville’s student section made the moronic move of publicly calling him out on Twitter the night before, set up the next score as well. He caught a 39-yard pass from Hollenbach that lead to Hoffman kicking his second field goal. The 35-yard kick put SCA up 13-3 with 7:42 left in the half. The Tigers defense came up with stops on the next two Ironmen drives. Both drives ended on long missed field goal attempts of 49 and 43 yards. “Our linebackers and defensive front make it a priority to shut down the run each game. We want to help our secondary by making it more predictable in forcing the other team into passing situations,” said Scicchitano.
With just over a minute left in the first half, Southern’s offense added some insurance when Preston Zachman caught his first career touchdown pass on a perfectly placed ball from Hollenbach. “It felt pretty nice to get that first one off of my shoulders. Stone threw a great ball right into my hands,” said Zachman when asked about the 38-yard score that gave the Tigers a 20-3 halftime advantage. “With Julian receiving so many double teams, I try to win the one-on-one battles to provide us with another option in the passing game. I just want to contribute however I can,” the sophomore said.
Gaige Garcia put a nail in the coffin by scoring on the first offensive play of the second half on a 60-yard run to make the score 27-3. “We had some issues running the football in the first half, so it was nice to find an opening. We knew we needed to establish a scoring drive to start the third quarter, and the line opened up a hole for me to get through to score,” said Garcia. With 1:09 left in the third quarter, Fleming made another impactful play by returning a punt 68 yards to extend the lead to 34-3.
Ty Roadarmel put the game into the Mercy Rule with 8:31 left in the game on a 54-yard rushing score. “It’s good that we have different guys that have the ability to score. It takes the heat off of some guys so that the defense can’t always just key on one or two of us,” Garcia said. Danville finally found the goal-line with 1:12 left in the game when Ian Persing scored from a yard out to make the final 41-10 in favor of the team repping the black and gold.
Southern Columbia will end their regular season with their final two games on the road. “We will be tested over the final two weeks and it will be good preparation heading into the playoffs because we are going to see some different looks from quality opponents,” Roth said. They will travel to Central Columbia next week. The Blue Jays (7-1) will be coming off of their only loss of the season that came from South Williamsport. Danville on the other hand will have a much easier task next week when they take on Shamokin Area. The Ironmen will be heavy favorites against the Indians (1-7) who are in complete disarray. The Tigers currently holds the 1-seed in the District IV AA playoff race and the Ironmen are the top seed in a weaker AAA field.