Southern Wipes Away West Catholic
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | November 30, 2018
By: Dave Fegley | SCA Tiger Football | November 30, 2018
If you are accustom to Southern Columbia football, then there isn’t much that can be said about the state's top ranked team in a dominant win over West Catholic. The Tigers simply came out and did what they do best. The defense shut down the opposition and the offense scored at will. The thing that seems to get lost is the fact of when they are doing it because of how often that they do it. This wasn’t a regular season game against a winless opponent. This was the PIAA Class 2A Eastern Final and the Tigers went out and Mercy Ruled an athletic Burrs squad 42-6.
Other than the Southern fans getting their yearly announcement to not throw Hershey Kisses onto the field as the fourth quarter winded down, which obviously gets ignored considering the occasion, it was all cheers from the Tigers side of the field. The complete opposite of what was across from them. The Burrs fans, that seemed to consist of less than 200 people, didn’t have a chance to cheer on a score for their West Catholic team until the middle of the third quarter when the game was already out of reach.
Gaige Garcia, who will likely be an all-stater, led the Tigers offense for the second consecutive week by running around, under, over, and through defenders.“We know in order to be effective that we need to run the ball efficiently and that is what we were able to do tonight. Everything starts up front with the line and to win games you need to move the ball on the ground consistently,” Garcia said. The junior totaled 182 yards rushing and found the end zone twice. On his first touchdown run, he became the fourth SCA running back to reach 6,000 career rushing yards.
For as successful of a night that virtually every player in a Southern uniform had in the victory, it was Julian Fleming’s third quarter touchdown reception that garnered the spotlight. “He just has that ability to accelerate and put on moves that very few people can do week-in and week-out. He obviously has great hands as well,” said Southern coach Jim Roth. “There’s a reason that he has scholarship offers from everywhere in the country. Every game he finds ways to showcase his rare set of skills.”
The junior caught a 25-yard touchdown pass for the 55th in his illustrious career. That touchdown reception moved him into second all-time in Pennsylvania history for a career. “We have our biggest game of the year next week. I don’t care about any records or anything like that right now other than our team’s record of staying undefeated,” Fleming said. He passed former Allentown Central Catholic receiver Kevin Gulyas and now trails just Ligonier Valley’s Aaron Tutino who holds the record at 61 which he set earlier this season in his senior campaign.
Just as they have done all season, the Tigers received contributions from just about every player that stepped on to the field. On defense, it was all-time leading tackler Cal Haladay that was involved in virtually every play on the outside edge. “They had a lot of success on the outside coming in to this game so it was important to break down and make tackles in the open field,” said Haladay.
His buddy at the other inside-linebacker position, Max Tillett, continued to show why he has gone over 100 tackles for the second year in a row and is an all-state candidate. “We wanted to get pressure on them as quick as we could and force them to three and outs. Keeping up the intensity is important,” Tillett said. He had a team-high 11 tackles while continually pressuring the quarterback in the first half. An interception by Tillett in the second quarter set up a SoCo touchdown on the next play.
Southern jumped out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Garcia scored on runs of 67 and 10 yards for the first two touchdowns. With 1:06 left in the quarter, Preston Zachman caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Stone Hollenbach to extend the lead to three touchdowns. The lone downfall for the Tigers in the quarter was seeing Gaige’s younger brother Gavin leave the game after his first carry of the night with an injury. “My heart definitely goes out to him. He’s a big part of our offense this year so hopefully he will be back next week,” said the older Garcia.
After the Tillett interception, Fleming caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on the next play to put the Tigers up 28-0 with 11:36 left in the half. “I don’t think our defense gets enough credit. We have been very dominant all season long on the defensive side of the ball and teams have struggled to stop us,” Fleming said. Neither team found the end zone for the remainder of the half.
The Burrs had their best chance to get on the board when they drove to the Tigers six yard line, but Haladay made a stop to end the drive on a fourth down pass with less than five minutes left in the half. “It was my guy so I knew I had to make the tackle. I was the only one by him so it was either the tackle or he would have scored,” said Haladay. He also had an interception to end West Catholic's final possession of the half.
On the second offensive play of the second half, junior Ty Roadarmel outran the West Catholic defense to move the game into the Mercy Rule. “It was nice to see Ty Roadarmel break off that long run. He really showed his speed on that play which he hasn’t had the opportunity to do as much as the fullback this season. He has been more of a blocker really than a runner,” said Roth. The 51-yard run put Southern in front 35-0 with 9:27 left in the third quarter.
After forcing another three and out, Fleming caught the 25-yard touchdown to move into second place all-time. An Ethan Dunkelberger extra point made the score 42-0. The Burrs got their lone touchdown of the game with 4:08 left in the third when Tre Johnson found Seth Degree for a 62-yard touchdown pass. “We need to walk out with our heads held high. Nobody thought that we would get to this point. We got to experience playing against the best team in the state,” West Catholic coach Brian Fluck said.
The 42-6 score would hold throughout the fourth quarter as the Tigers advance to a record 17th state final. The District 12 champion Burrs finish the season one game short of the state final. The Tigers ended West Catholic's season almost three years ago to the day back in 2015 in this same game. Southern Columbia will battle it out with Wilmington, who SCA beat in last year's gold medal matchup, next Friday afternoon to determine the state champion. “It’s special to get this opportunity to play for another state title. We want to make the most of it. It’s just really special,” said Tillett. Kickoff is set for 1:00 at Hershey Park Stadium as the Tigers look to win their record ninth all-time.
SCA: 21-7-14-0 = 42
WC: 0-0-6-0 = 6
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (15-0)
Gaige Garcia 18-182, 2 TDs; Ty Roadarmel 6-74, TD; Nate Crowl 6-29; Jayden McCormick 1-6; Braden Heim 2-3; Stone Hollenbach 1-1; Gavin Garcia 1-(-2)
Stone Hollenbach 6-12-0, 69 yds, 3 TD’s
Julian Fleming 4-49, 2 TD’s; Preston Zachman 1-14, TD; Ty Roadarmel 1-6
First Downs: 18
WEST CATHOLIC (12-3)
Jacir Savoy 17-63; Aaron Jenkins 1-3; Zahir Booker 1-1; Tre Johnson 6-(-21)
Tre Johnson 11-26-2, 198 yds, TD
Seth Degree 4-70, TD; Justino Griggs 2-69; Damen Studstill 2-51; Carl Smith 1-6; Jacir Savoy 2-2
First Downs: 10