Southern Storms By Montoursville.
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | October 7, 2017
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | October 7, 2017
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.
In a 42-7 win over Montoursville on Friday night, he tied career highs with six catches and three scores on offense, picked off a pass on defense, and kicked a bomb on special teams as the team’s punter. “I was excited after that punt because I don’t get to do it often and I got a good piece of it,” he said with a smile. The punt traveled 61-yards and was a career long. Remarkably, it was just the second time that the undefeated Tigers had to punt all season through seven weeks, so the Division 1 recruit was able to use his legs in a different fashion.
Fleming’s touchdown grabs came on passes of 20, 33, and 32 yards on his home Jim Roth Field turf. The third one was historic because it gave him another school record. This one was the Tiger record for single-season receiving touchdowns. His now 15 scores broke the mark formerly held by Andy Helwig who had 14 touchdowns in 1995. “We try to go with whatever it is that is working. Usually our running game is the key with the offense that we run, but tonight we had a lot of positives through the air early on. Stone Hollenbach did a good job of threading the needle and we had success,” said the sensational sophomore who now has reached the endzone on nearly 50% of his catches from Hollenbach (15 TD’s on 31 receptions).
After Fleming’s first two scores, it was another outstanding sophomore’s turn to travel to the end zone. Gaige Garcia, who was an all-state selection last season with Fleming, scored on a seven yard run to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. “Our offensive line made it a goal to come out and dominate the line of scrimmage from the beginning of the game. We focused on executing our blocks to give our skill players opportunities to make big plays,” said starting center Troy Donlan. The Tigers starting offense has scored 105 points combined over the last two weeks in just four quarters of work.
Garcia, who has earned the nickname of The Goliath, scored on the third play of the second quarter with a 10-yard push from his line to put Montoursville further behind 28-0. Then, after Fleming’s third touchdown catch from Hollenbach, Garcia completed his own hat trick on an 18-yard run to put SCA in front 42-0 at halftime. “Our offense played real well tonight in the first half. The defense has played solid all year and did their job to get the ball back into the hands of our offensive skill players. The line was able to open up space for us to convert those drives into scores,” said Southern coach Jim Roth. The offense scored on every first half possession behind the blocking up front of Donlan, Connor Fulmer, Andrew Bell, John Stabinski, and Oak Six. Anthony Scicchitano and AJ Goodlunas provided running lanes from their tight end positions as well.
The Tigers defense forced the Warriors into four punts, a turnover on downs, and an interception on their six first half possessions. “Our coverage looked good all around. It started with the d-line getting pressure on the quarterback. The rest of the guys stepped up and did their jobs. We all played tough,” said linebacker Cal Haladay who was the Tigers leading tackler. Montoursville was only able to get the ball across midfield once in the first half and that was thanks to multiple penalties from the SCA defense. The other drives ended with the Tigers forcing 3-and-outs and Fleming’s pick.
With the game in the Mercy Rule, the teams traded third quarter possessions without any scoring. Montoursville finally got on the board when senior Keegan Leahy scored on a one yard dive early in the fourth. Neither team scored again with Southern Columbia winning their 58th straight regular season game. “I’m still extremely proud of my guys even though we don’t have any wins. There is a bright future with our young guys. As for Southern, it is going to be fun to watch them make a run in the playoffs again. They are just so explosive and can score at any time from anywhere,” said Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer.
The Warriors will try to get a victory next week as they host another winless team in Milton. Southern Columbia will be home again as the 6-1 Danville Ironmen come to town. “That should be a good game. We are going to have to prepare and put forth our best effort and execute to hopefully come out with another win,” Donlan said. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 1 in the state for Class AA.
Now that Southern as completed the mental task of staying focused in beating two teams that have combined to go 0-14 this year, the Tigers will shift gears to close out the season against their three toughest opponents. “We have some tough tests coming up here to end the season. Danville, Central, and Selinsgrove have all had good years so far and it will be good preparation for us before heading into the playoffs,” Roth said. The Ironmen, Blue Jays, and Seals are a combined 19-2 with one of the losses coming from Central topping Danville.