By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
ELYSBURG – The popular Elysburg Haunted House is a few weeks away, but opponents of the Southern Columbia football team might want to go there to calm down.
Perhaps Tigers opponents don’t endure blood-curdling screams, but there can’t be anything much scarier than playing these unbeaten Tigers.
Ask Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess, whose Seals saw the Tigers score 33 points in the first quarter in their Friday night Homecoming Game en route to a 54-14 romp in a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game.
“Southern Columbia is one of the best football teams I’ve ever seen,” Hess said.
“They are a great football team, there’s no two ways about it.”
Oh, yes, and that vaunted Tigers ground game was just as daunting as ever, gaining 402 yards on just 42 carries. But early on, it was Tigers quarterback Nick Becker wielding the pitchfork, throwing four touchdown passes, two each to sophomore halfback Blake Marks and senior split end Zach Tillett.
Becker, whose 219 passing yards gave the Tigers a whopping 621 yards of offense (to just 197 for the Seals), said, “I have to give the credit to my linemen and receivers. My receivers will catch anything. All I have to do is throw it up and they’ll get it.”
Added Tigers coach Jim Roth, “The passing game has come along and we just have a lot of weapons right now.”
Actually, the game did not start out like a blowout. In fact, Southern (6-0) trailed for the first time all season.
After Southern scored on the game’s second play on a 35-yard pass from Becker to Marks (Brad Noll helped set it up with a 45-yard kickoff return to midfield), the Tigers missed the extra point try.
Selinsgrove (3-3) then shocked the Tiger faithful when junior quarterback Isaiah Rapp unloaded a bomb for a 75-yard TD to senior wide receiver Mason Pope on the Seals’ first play. Brendan Sheaffer added the PAT for a 7-6 Selinsgrove lead with 11:10 left in the first period.
Hess said the Seals planned to come out and throw to try to loosen up the Tigers’ defense. It worked, but, “They basically took over the football game after that.”
Indeed, the Tigers shook off that setback and continued to do what they would not let the visitors do: score.
Southern scored the next six times it had the ball, stopped only by the clock at the end of the half.
Besides Becker and his receivers, the Tigers were able to roll because of the job by senior fullback Adam Feudale (178 yards on just eight carries) and his improving offensive line.