NAZARETH -- Jim Roth on Friday night would like to see more of the Southern Columbia defense that played as tough as possible in mid-season against quarterback Blake Rankin and Bloomsburg, and less of the Tiger defense that gave up 31 in a come-from-behind win over Old Forge last week.
You get the idea: Roth is not a fan of shootouts, unless his team has all the bullets.
So a week after rallying late and hanging on to beat the Blue Devils in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs, the Tigers (12-1) now face Pius X and perhaps a more potent offense in Friday's state quarterfinal game (7 p.m. at Nazareth High School).
The Royals (12-1) are known for their potent air attack, directed by sophomore phenom quarterback A.J. Long, but they also run well behind senior back Nick DeRea.
Pius X, two-time All-America Conference champion, averages 44.2 points a game, similar to Southern, at 42. The Royals throw for 260.5 yards a game and rush for 205.3.
"Discipline on defense and tackling well are the keys because they have kids who are fast and elusive. We have got to tackle well to make them earn what they get," Roth said.
"We need to prevent the big play, and we didn't do a good job of that last week," Roth said, but he added that his team has played well against other wide-open offenses this season, such as Bloomsburg and Line Mountain.
"When you get to this point, teams are talented and if you don't play well in certain areas, they can hurt you," Roth said. "(Against Old Forge), we had some passes that we didn't play real well and they hurt us with screen passes; we didn't react, we didn't adjust."
Roth joked that the good thing about playing poorly last week and winning is that there is a better chance the Tigers will play well Friday.
"We know we have the talent to do it," he said.
Pius coach Phil Stambaugh, who was the Royals offensive coordinator the last time the teams met — a wild 76-47 Southern win in the 2004 state quarters, said, "They still have the same kind of talent. We put the film on from 2004 and these kids look like they are doing the same things; some are even built the same way," he said.
"We are preparing to play (our) best. We know the state championship runs through them. We have to focus and do our part to slow down their offense and execute ours," the former record-setting quarterback at Lehigh said.
He added, "We feel we can still do some damage with our offense. We realize they will be prepared for what we're doing. They are used to winning and we are not going to catch them by surprise."
Long, who threw for more than 2,000 yards as a freshman, has passed for 3,367 yards this season, with a remarkable 43 touchdowns. He has only eight interceptions in 279 attempts.
His Southern counterpart, first-year senior starter Brad Fegley, has gone all season without throwing a pick, in 147 attempts. He has 1,397 yards and 12 TDs.
Pius' DeRea has run for 1,021 yards and 10 TDs, but the bigger threats come at wide receiver. Junior DuBois "Bois" Ross made 44 catches for 1,017 yards and 18 TDs, and Matt Camilletti caught 53 for 712 yards and 6 scores.
Although the Royals are not known so much for their defense, they have 45 sacks and 12 interceptions.
"They are a talented team and have a number of weapons. The Ross kid is a big-play threat -- anytime you have 1,000 yards as a receiver in high school, that is impressive -- but they have several other (standouts)," Roth said, specifically mentioning DeRea, Camilletti and wide receiver Drake Freeman (39-701, 8).
Stambaugh, in addition to noting the talents of senior receiver/safety Keith Day and Fegley, said the Royals will also need to control senior halfback Matt Moore (1,016 yards rushing, 15 TDs; 21-414 receiving, 3 TDs) and senior fullback Tyler Levan (1,549 yards, 24 TDs).
"They do some really nice things," Stambaugh said.