Pre-season Letter 2017
Dear Football Alumni:
A very warm welcome from all of the former Southern players and staff! To our six new Class of 2017 SCA Tiger Football Alumni -- Cameron Young, Drew Michaels, Garrett Henry, Hunter Thomas, Nic Fetterman, and Sydney Damgaard -- we’re wishing you happiness, success, and good luck in your future. Please support and stay connected to our Football Alumni Association, and share any ideas you have for improving it.
By now, we hope you’ve put the single loss out of a long 16-game season into perspective. We applaud you seniors, whose varsity careers resulted in an amazing 42-2 record topped off by both a state gold and a state silver. As Coach pointed out at our awards banquet, "No other team in the state accomplished as much as your class did in the last three years." Your squad’s teamwork maintained SoCo’s streak of going 20-some straight seasons with at least one player on a state playoff team. And you kept our regular-season 51-game win streak intact. Congratulations on your tremendous efforts on the field all year to achieve our unheard-of 15th State title game appearance! That’s a decade and a half out of the past 23 season. Thank you for all you’ve done to build Southern’s legacy as THE greatest football program in Pennsylvania, and among the best in the nation. We're Tiger proud of this past season’s surprisingly great run!
This year’s Alumni Night is slated to be held concurrently with Homecoming on Sept. 29 during our game against Milton. Our Board of Directors is still working on logistics. Details will follow in a couple of weeks.
Our last Alumni Night was unique, celebrating the full circle of our program’s history. It began with the pregame honoring of the 1966 Susquehanna Valley League B Champs – Southern’s first titlists, with the first senior class to play a full four-year varsity schedule. Then after the game came the officially renaming ceremony of Jim Roth Field. It was good to see the mix of Football Alumni and current players, both there and at the social afterward. Thanks to all who attended and made the night one to remember!
Our last Alumni news was sent before the 2016 state playoff game, so let’s wrap up that final contest for those who don’t have access to local media or don’t follow our Facebook group posts. As Josh Funk framed it: Perhaps most remarkably, Steel Valley handed Southern only its second loss since the Tigers moved to Class AA for the 2014 season; they were 42-1 entering that game. Southern still has the highest all-time PIAA playoff wins total, at 45-17.
The theme of that Saturday's post-game interviews was threefold: that SV was as good as advertised, that our determined leaders truly drove the Tigers to overachieve, and that we *will* be back in Hershey. Coach Roth said, "It was an outstanding season; just a very difficult day to finish this way." As Hunter Thomas reflected, "Six seniors, twelve freshmen ... I feel like we did a pretty good job with the whole leadership role."
With 16 of our 22 starters being frosh and sophomores, Cam Young quipped, "It was like parenting, as a senior, getting the kids ready to come out play." He added, "There's no doubt Southern Columbia will either be back here next year or in the [future]." Coach said we "hope the underclassmen learn from it and are determined to come back and change the outcome."
One of our bright spots was Cam's 24-yard TD pass from Stone Hollenbach (followed by Elijah Hoffman's PAT) to tie the game at 7. "It was just the third touchdown the Ironmen starting D allowed all season," points out Adam Hower ‘09 in these game highlights.
"We competed with them for awhile but their quickness just got to us and then things snowballed,” said Southern head coach Jim Roth, whose Tigers finished 15-1 and took home their eighth runnerup trophy to sit alongside their record seven state title trophies back at the school. He added, "In a game like this, we had too many turnovers and critical mistakes, and when you combine that with the fact that they have an outstanding football team, I think our lack of experience had an effect today."
A view from the west: "Steel Valley had rolled past everyone this year, but the prevailing thought seemed to be that there would be no blowout in the PIAA final. The Ironmen were playing Southern Columbia, one of the greatest programs in the state."
One Press story focused on SoCo players maintaining their perspective on early obstacles. When things went sideways at first, our seniors and other leaders knew to keep fighting; reminding them of the results the previous season, when "Southern allowed Aliquippa to score on its opening drive, then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and risked falling behind by 14 points early" ... as well as when "the Tigers allowed West Catholic to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown."
As Tim Hare wrote for the Press, our team had been playing with house money all season anyway. "We weren’t supposed to do anything this year," Southern quarterback Stone Hollenbach said. "We definitely overachieved." And a Daily Item article mentioned that we return a heck of a lot of talent, and that so many Southern records “have already been broken by kids with the potential to wreck the books by the time they're done.”
Our alma mater is the only school in PA where earning state silver can cause disappointment. But 2016 was a great ride -- and "a truly remarkable freshman class, which provided the Tigers with their leading rusher and scorer (Gaige Garcia), leading receiver (Julian Fleming), and two leading tacklers (Cal Haladay and Teagan Wilk), when mixed with returning players from the other three classes, gave them an explosiveness on both offense and defense which was hard to contend with."
It tells a lot about the program when social media was full of scenes of our players back in the weight room, or at least keeping in shape by other means – like the basketball players that went right from Hershey to their b-ball game.
Finally, read a recap of the entire season’s State title run by Dave Fegley ‘09, including his own season awards:
OUR ALUMNI ON THE FIELD ...
While college teams are finalizing plans for their teams, we’ll hold off a bit until announcing who’s doing what. But here’s where our Tigers are right now:
^Josh Tripp ’14 is expected to contend for a starting spot on the offensive line at Bloomsburg U.
^New alum Cameron Young ’17 committed to the local Huskies, too, at DB.
^Trent Donlan ’15 completed his junior year at Lebanon Valley College, starting at nose tackle.
^Josh Yoder ’16 returns for a second year at Bucknell, and should play now that the Bison senior-heavy line graduated .
^Fellow class of ’16 alum, Stevie Toczylousky, is back at Lycoming College after seeing a lot of time on special teams.
^New grad Hunter Thomas ’17 is on the roster as a linebacker at Saint Francis in Loretto.
... AND ON THE SIDELINES
Still our only high school head coach alumnus, Mark Scisly ’97 begins his fourth year with Northampton Area in District XI. Mark's squad will try to improve from a season of just two wins. Those Ws came in their last games of the year, so hopefully the Konkrete Kids will ride that tide. Good luck, Tiger!
This season we’ll face only one alum on the opposing side, and that’s long-time Danville assistant Bill Freeman ’84. After reaching the District title game last year, his Ironmen have high expectations. Bill’s also the head wrestling coach at Bloomsburg High.
Chase Fraley ’09 has a new coaching job. When his fellow Kutztown University teammate left as head coach at Lower Merion, he invited Chase to join him. Our Tiger is now will mentor the O-line for the Lions of Penncrest, a Class AAAA program in District I.
Last we heard from Cody Schnaufer ’03, he had stepped down from D-coordinator to defensive line coach after becoming a dad. He’s with the AAAA (largest class) Tahoma Bears in Maple Valley, Wash.
Former Tiger football assistant Charlie Troxell enters his second year as head coach with York County School of Technology, where he had been originally been head coach from 2002-04. His Spartans went 4-6 last season. They’re a 6A school in District III.
Major renovations are taking place in and around Tiger Stadium, the most noticeable of which is preparation for artificial turf on Jim Roth Field. Our field hockey team and both boys and girls soccer squads will call this turf their home now, so the renovation is projected to cost less in the long run than the current continuous maintenance to all those fields. The new surface is expected to host extracurricular and community events too, which could bring in more funds.
The stadium lights are being replaced with LED fixtures, and the aging electrical panel is being upgraded. Plus, permanent restroom facilities will finally be constructed at field level! No more gross leaking potties, and no more $21K every year going down the toilet for rented job-johnnies. The field received a new scoreboard, too. More improvements are happening elsewhere on the district properties; the links here have details.
Tons of photos with updates for the renovations all over Southern's campus are now at this link. Keep scrolling and you'll see the step-by-step process of how Tiger Stadium is changing. This week saw installation of the stone bases, and green turf started to go down Thursday.
Due to ongoing work, our scrimmage had to be played at Shikellamy instead of at home. Campus was also not ready to host our Meet The Tigers event last Sunday, so we moved it to the All-Home Days grounds. Progress at the stadium seems OK; keep your fingers crossed that everything is ready to go for our home opener against Mount Carmel on Sept. 8! Renovations aren’t contractually required to be done until that Monday, the 11th.
Individuals or families who wish to purchase reserved seats for the upcoming football season should contact Beth Fegley at 570-356-3499. ($25 for all regular season home games; plus a Senior Citizen discount.) Avoid the long lines before kickoff!
Your tax-deductible donations are accepted year ‘round for the entranceway or for “the good of the order.” Make checks payable to SCA Tiger Football Alumni Association and mail to Treasurer Aaron Menapace, Treasurer, 7 Erin Way, Mohrsville, PA 19541. We are a 501(c)3 organization.
An impressive bunch of Tiger players, along with Coach Roth, again participated in May’s ALS walk for “Team Reed” -- supporting the father of alum Hayden Reed ‘11. We wish John all the best in his fight.
Please don’t forget to notify us if you change your home internet provider e-mail address, get a new work e-mail addy, or no longer use your college addy. Our Alumni e-mail account, maintained by Secretary Judy Lynn Weaver, is receiving a dozen bounces (“return to sender”) notifications after every mailing. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If we already have your correct e-mail address, click Join at our Football Alumni group on Facebook. Whether you’re new there or a long-time member, please click the “Get Notifications” button to be alerted of our posts (because Fbook keeps changing its settings). We post daily throughout the season, and would love to get more Tiger news nuggets out to as many of you as possible.
Most of our contacts are made via Facebook, so we’d appreciate you checking (and reminding other alums to check) the “Other” messages folder in case Judy Lynn needs help tracking down a former player.
FROM THE BOOSTERS
There's a new place to provide SoCo news, photos, and more! (Since the old "Fans" home on Facebook was unfortunately deactivated by the person who initiated it.) This new Southern Columbia Football/Cheer Boosters page on Fbook welcomes all Tiger fans, whereas the group will remain closed to actual Boosters members to conduct the nitty-gritty business. Give it a Like and Follow.
Our 6th Annual Youth Cheer Night will be held at the Hughesville game on Sept. 15. Children entering first through sixth grades are welcome to join the “big kids.” Deadline for a T-shirt is Sept. 1. The form was posted at the new Southern Columbia Football/Cheer Boosters page on Facebook on Aug. 10.
Tiger cards are available now. For a $10 purchase, receive discounts on area businesses year ‘round – until next August. You can pick up yours from any parent, secretary Judy Lynn, or at home games. An enlarged look at all the businesses supporting us is also on the new Facebook page.
Don’t forget to stop by the Spirit Shack during Friday night home games to pick up new black and gold swag! The Shack is between the band’s concession stand and the home bleachers. Cash and personal checks are accepted.
Once again, our Dave Fegley took Coach Roth’s usual season preview and expanded it in this article for Eastern PA Football. Dave provides not only the names and numbers but an excellent, thorough breakdown of what to expect. So instead of reading a basic analysis, click the link.
Basic previews are posted there for most of our opponents; you may want to have a look as we move closer to the time we play them. Sometime Friday, they’ll also post their rankings of the top five teams in all six classifications across the eastern part of the state.
Here’s where you’ll need to be for the next 10 Friday nights. All games are Fridays at 7:00 p.m.
8/25 @ Shamokin (AAAA)
9/01 @ Bloomsburg (AA)
9/08 MOUNT CARMEL* (AA)
9/15 HUGHESVILLE (AA)
9/22 @ Lewisburg* (AAA) -- at Susquehanna University)
9/29 MILTON Area* (AAA) *Homecoming & Alumni Night
10/06 MONTOURSVILLE* (AAA)
10/13 DANVILLE* (AAA)
10/20 @ Central Columbia (AA)
10/27 @ Selinsgrove (AAAA)
~The Lewisburg game is moving to Susquehanna due to "family weekend" events at Bucknell.
Southern’s JV team usually plays the same teams the varsity played, at the same location, on the following Monday at 6 p.m. The lone exception this year is Bloom, which will be played at 11 a.m. that Saturday due to the Labor Day holiday. Lewis burg’s game is moved up to 4:30. Our Junior High schedules don’t follow the varsity’s pattern. This year, some schools dropped their freshman programs late in preseason, causing a bit of a scramble. Check the link to their schedule at www.scatigerfootball.org/schedule.html, and try to see a few games by our Tiger cubs. SCA has 50 players in 7th-9th grades. “Everything we do is to contribute at the next level,” states Junior High coach Brandon Traugh ’04. “They’re not judged on wins and losses, but on gains.”
All three local newspapers published their preseason football supplements this week. The News-Item’s came out Sunday, leading off with a story about how our loss at States is providing motivation for this year’s Tigers. Our much-touted freshmen are now sophomores, and “this year’s Tigers are stacked with experience, so another run at Hershey may be in the offing, if they keep their heads swiveled the right way.” The NI opined. Coach Roth reminds us, “But we always get everybody’s best shot, and I think every team on our schedule except maybe one will be improved.” Andrew Bell and Julian Fleming were also featured in separate stories; here’s the link to the main article:
The Daily Item and Press-Enterprise tabs appeared Thursday. The Press featured Julian Fleming on the cover, and also told the story of the locker room’s occasional signs of “49-7” – reminding Tigers of the final score in Hershey and why they need to keep grinding in the offseason. Among all the other evaluations and stats, the Press named two Tigers as their preseason players of the year: Gaige Garcia on offense and Cal Haladay on D. That trio of sophomores along with junior Stone Hollenbach and lone senior Andrew Bell made the All-PE Preseason Team. Unfortunately, their website is behind a paywall.
The DI preview’s headline explains expectations: “Tigers focused on winning state title.” The writeup mentions how our talented QB-WR duo had a whole year to work together, which improved their connection. And having teams pay close attention to our passing game should help our running game until the new RBs have a chance to jell. Coach also pointed out erstwhile soccer player Brett Szuler, a senior, who hasn’t played football since junior high. “I don’t ever remember a kid being away from the game so long and then looking so natural on the football field.” Jim Roth is featured on the cover as he closes in on his milestone 400th. Jim Doyle has some interesting comparisons between our coach and the late George Curry, who has the most career wins in PA history with 455. The DI’s All-Area Preseason Team includes Garcia and Troy Donlan on offense, with Haladay on defense, and both Bell and Fleming chosen for both. Again, this handy link enables you to view pdfs of the actual issue, to read all 40 pages:
Not to snub our upperclassmen, but here’s a tangible demonstration of the potential for Southern based on last year. PA Football History tweeted this question: Has a team that relies on FR & SOPHs as much as @SCAtigers ever made the state final? According to MaxPreps, 9th & 10th graders have combined for:
2,022 pass yards … 2,590 rush yards … 1,029 rec. yards … 51 total TDs … 312 points scored …AND, on defense: Players with 143 and 112 tackles … 8 total sacks … 7 total INTs
Eastern PA Football has been posting 100 days of player previews, and seven Tigers made the list of guys to watch. Check out the stats, coaches’ comments, and Hudl highlight videos for Andrew Bell, Cal Haladay, Stone Hollenbach, Troy Donlan, Anthony Scicchitano, Julian Fleming, and Gaige Garcia.
Several of our studs are attracting unusual amount of attention. Most impressive is Julian Fleming who started receiving offers to play college football back in March – yep, when he was still a freshman! His total so far stands at eight big-time schools: Michigan, Connecticut, Michigan State, Rutgers, Syracuse, West Virginia, Pitt, and Penn State. The latter came as Southern had a strong showing at Penn State's Lion Strong 7-on-7, where our Tigers reached the quarterfinals in a tournament of 55 teams. Here are two stories with video:
Since then, Jules has become ranked nationally as the #1 wide receiver recruit for the class of 2020 ... that's the #5 sophomore in the country overall! He’s mentioned in the fifth paragraph of this overview; his name is hot-linked to take you to his 24/7 Sports page. Click the "TOP100 FOR 2020" line to get to the rankings list.
SoCo has never experienced this type of thing -- even Josh Marks and Henry Hynoski of the class of '07 weren't recruited until their junior year. At Fleming's age, college coaches "can’t even talk to him in the spring," noted Coach Roth. His family has stepped up, particularly grandpa Mick Fleming '65, who used to coach SCA girls basketball. Our Tiger's page here (affiliated with 24/7 Sports) is a similar source of articles and offers, plus his "must-watch highlights."
Incoming junior QB Stone Hollenbach was featured here on Scout.com right before that PSU camp ... dropping names like Nick Saban, Brian Daboll, and James Franklin. His Hudl highlights from sophomore year are at the end.
Our Tiger also finished in the top five among class of 2019 QBs at the recruiting site QBHitList.com! Check out what the professionals are seeing in our Tiger. It's a premium site ($) with a few freebies; after a glance at Stone's fine Evaluation Scores, take a look at his Scouting Report. This not only assesses his attributes ("ideal college-ready size ... a very accurate passer ... excellent throwing mechanics ... a very intelligent QB"), but provides in-depth analysis -- e.g., regarding arm strength: "His vertical game is virtually unstoppable because of the trajectory and distance. This stretches the defense, which lets Stone take advantage of gaps within zone coverage."
Stone was impressive in his first year in Southern’s program. Going 110-of-183 for 2,156 yards, he threw for 24 TDs and only a half-dozen picks -- accounting for three SoCo school records. PennLive ranked Hollenbach #24 among all outgoing sophomore players, and believe he "is trending upward."
Stoney also received his first offer to play FCS college ball, at Bucknell. Keep an eye on this page for future interest; and don’t get confused by his freshman highlights at Lewisburg.
Easily overlooked among all our big-name stars, SoCo's senior kicker, Elijah Hoffman was named to the prestigious MaxPreps 2017 Preseason Small Schools All-American Football Team, as Second Team Offense. "Hoffman was one of the national leaders in extra points last season with 90." Quite an accomplishment for the soccer player who agreed to step onto the gridiron after Tyler Keiser's graduation in 2016! Elijah's one of just 60 All-American selections from across the nation ... and to give you an idea how exclusive this club is, he's the only player from the state of PA on first or second team.
After finishing second in the state, Southern starts out the preseason Super 16 Countdown as number 1! Our foes Selinsgrove, Danville, and Mount Carmel also made both lists. The SCA video isn’t posted yet, so take a look at the website later:
Likewise, the Top Ten Countdown at Eyewitness Sports has only reached #2 at this writing … but since SoCo isn’t on the list yet, it’s pretty safe to say we start 2017 as the top dog there as well. Check back for their video:
Last year, the local ESPN radio station shut down. This year, political actions by WHLM have led to cancellations of their broadcasting and advertising contracts with both Bloomsburg University and Berwick High School. That not only means announcers Jim Doyle and Andy Ulicny – former SCA teachers and coaches – lost their jobs, but we won’t hear their familiar voices on the radio after (and sometimes *for*) Southern games. Fingers crossed that they find a home on the airwaves – we’ll miss Jim’s “Countdown to Kickoff” and his “Friday Football Commute.”
In addition, the popular postgame "Friday Night Football Final" will no longer be heard. Bigfoot Country will continue to air a game of the week; not sure about their pregame program. The 106.5 FM station’s schedule includes Southern’s games against Danville and Selinsgrove. For your postgame fix, tune in to Eagle 107 FM for their recap show after every Selinsgrove game. You can also catch our game against the Seals on Eagle 107.com and on the Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation app. Milton’s games will air on TalkRadio 1380 WMLP, and Lewisburg’s on 100.9 The Valley (Shikellamy will be carried by Newsradio 1070 WKOK).
The good news: You can “always get your game on” at www.BlackDiamondSports.net, which thankfully streams audio of every Tiger game online. Most will be simulcast on Bill 95.3, where you’ll usually hear Dave Fegley ’09. Archives of years of prior games are available, too.
SECV8-TV has also trimmed its sports resources. However, the station will still present a weekly game on tape-delay and – even better -- plans to go live toward the end of the season! They’re still finalizing their schedule, so check www.secv8.com/index-sports
A good source for regional scores as well as ongoing District point totals is www.SusquehannaValleySports.com and its Twitter feed and Facebook page. Cody Jared will appear on Eagle 107 FM’s postgame show, giving stats and the District-IV picture.
Our game against Danville is slated to be televised by Fox 56, per their “Friday Night Rivals Schedule.” If you can’t make it home (it’s Friday the 13th!), watch our Tigers live on MyTV, WQMY that night at 7 p.m.
Here’s how your SoCo players (and cheerleaders) look for the 2017 season. Much thanks again to photographer Bob Rush for donating his time and talents. You’ll see a shot of an rare number of five SoCo(quint?) captains -- it's great to have so many seniors viewed as leaders when the players vote! They are (from left) Andrew Bell #53, Tyler Bendas #7, Jeffrey Cox #30, Connor Fulmer #65, and Anthony Scicchitano #36. That's three Tiger legacies: Jeffrey's father is Jeff Cox Sr. '77, Connor's dad is John Fulmer '84, and Andy is the son of Matt Bell '95.
Speaking of legacies, here’s a trivia question: Who was Southern’s overall first father-son player pair? For bonus points: Have we had a father-son-grandson combo yet? If not, do you know how soon the third generation will come along? (Not just grads of SCA -- we’re talking about football team members.)
If you want to hang out after our games and talk football in-person, several alums and fans stop at the Nickle Plate, the pub at Knoebels’ Golf Course. It’ll have special hours and offerings for Football Fridays this fall, and it’s closer than any other venue.
In just a few hours, Southern opens the season on the road at Shamokin. Welcome back to Friday Night Lights! You’ve all helped build an amazing program – enjoy every minute of watching it grow.
With Tiger pride,
The SCA Tiger Football Alumni Association Board
Jon Fetterman ‘94, Aaron Menapace ‘84, Marc Osevala ‘00, Judy Lynn Weaver ‘83 (mgr.), Brandon Traugh ‘04, & Coach Jim Roth