The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 30, 2013

Harold Raker's high school football column: Honoring 50 years of Tiger football


Daily Item

---- — Unless you have been on Mars -- the planet, not the western Pennsylvania town -- you know the name Jim Roth. You know that he has never had a losing season as the head coach of the Southern Columbia football team.

You also know that his teams have won six Class A state championships, 21 District 4 titles and he was won so many games (342 and counting) that he would have to coach for 28 years, and lose them all, to drop to .500 for his career. Thanks to The Daily Item's Williams Bowman for pointing out that little tidbit.

That being said, how many fans of this small school powerhouse know the name of Pat Mondock.

Who?

Well, without Mondock, who had a long career in the National Football League (he was the Tigers' gift to pro football long before Henry Hynoski), there may not have been a team for Roth, or his predecessor, Andy Ulicny, to coach and win championships with.

In an era when soccer was king, probably because of the small size of the area schools, football was nowhere near the popular sport it is today, at any level.

But Mondock and a few of his young contemporaries, former Southern athletic directors Charlie Nesbitt and the late Roy Sanders, thought there was room for the gridiron sport.

They convinced the school board to approve the sport with the merger of three small schools — Ralpho Township, Catawissa and Roaring Creek Valley — in 1962 and, after recruiting players door-to-door, fielded an exhibition team that played a junior varsity schedule, going 1-6-1.

The seed was sewn and, in 1963, Mondock, Nesbitt and Sanders led the new Southern varsity team to a 4-4-1 record.

That team, although not as well known, nor as successful as some of the Southern teams in the last 30 years, was special and at long last will be recognized during a home game versus rival Selinsgrove on Oct. 4.

The information above is courtesy of the SCA Tiger Football Alumni Association, which for several years has been honoring one of its past teams every season. This year, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of varsity football at the Elysburg area school, association members hope to bring back as many players from all of those teams as possible. They will specifically recognize the 1963 squad and are hoping many of them will attend. They are also inviting past coaches.

They include Mondock, who left Southern to coach at Division III power Washington & Jefferson College and eventually served on three NFL coaching staffs, retiring with the New Orleans Saints about 10 years ago.

If you can lend a hand in getting the word out, contact the association at alumni@scatigerfootball.com.

Speaking of alumni events, it should be noted that Upper Dauphin, which was once a perennial power in the Tri-Valley League and Twin Valley Conference, will also recognize championship teams during its Oct. 25 game with backyard rival Line Mountain.

The school will honor the 1968, 1973, 1978 and 1986 championship squads. Each of those teams will receive a championship banner which will be hung within Trojan Stadium.

n THE BOOK IS BACK: Congratulations to Rich Vetock, long a champion of high school athletes, for another edition of his Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide, stocked full of valuable information for the high school grid fan.

And now, let the games begin.

n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football for The Daily Item. Email comments to hraker@dailyitem.com.