The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Harold Raker

December 1, 2011

High school football: Southern, Pius X could be headed for another shootout

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."

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