Week 1: Bloomsburg
Gaige Garcia rushed for 12 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. The defense started the season by giving up negative-36 yards on the ground as the Tigers mauled the Panthers 56-6.
Week 2: Mount Carmel
During a game that the Tigers failed to run the ball well, Julian Fleming showed what he does best in Southern’s 41-7 victory over the home Red Tornadoes. The junior caught three touchdown passes and had 113 yards receiving. Max Tillett and Cal Haladay carried the defense by combining for 30 tackles in the win. “Any time we play Mount Carmel it is a battle. Both programs are known for great traditions and you want to do your best in that game,” said Tillett.
Week 3: Selinsgrove
Gavin Garcia touched the ball just three times in the game, but he found the end zone on each of those touches. His two rushing scores totaled 95 yards and he caught a 26-yard touchdown against the District 4 4A finalists as the defense posted a shutout. The Seals were outmatched as the black and gold won 48-0.
Week 4: Shamokin
An anticipated matchup against an Indians team coached by three former Southern coaches and players was one that didn’t live up to the hype. “We played a great game all-around. There was a lot of hype with Henry Hynoski coming back to his alma mater as the Shamokin coach and we just took it to them,” said defensive lineman Robert Williams. The Tigers, who won 48-0 for the second straight week, simply did what they wanted, how they wanted, and whenever they wanted during the contest.
Week 5: Central Columbia
Preston Zachman got his first start at quarterback due to a broken hand of senior quarterback Stone Hollenbach. With a handful of changes due to swapping positions, the Tigers were able to turn a tie game at the half into a blowout in the second half. “Give Central credit for the way they played in the first half,” Southern head coach Jim Roth said. “I do think though that with all of our changes in positions it had a negative impact until the guys got adjusted and came out in control after the half.” The Tigers downed the Blue Jays 54-27.
Week 6: South Williamsport
On the road with a bad playing surface due to heavy rains, Gaige Garcia was still able to lead the offense with four rushing touchdowns and another one receiving. Other than an early screen pass for a touchdown on the first drive, the Tigers defense was dominant. The Mounties added two late touchdowns against the Tiger backups, but SCA was able to win big 54-20.
Week 7: Jersey Shore
The Tigers showed their authority against the eventual District IV 4A champs by controlling both sides of the ball. The Tigers were dominant in a 62-7 victory over the Bulldogs on Jim Roth Field. On offense, the Garcia brothers each rushed for over 100 yards and combined for seven touchdowns as the Tigers racked up 613 yards of offense. Cade Linn had eight tackles from his safety position.
Week 8: Shikellamy
It became well-known across District IV that the Braves were doing everything they possibly could to not have to play the Tigers during offseason scheduling. The confidence level had to be low for the 4A Shikellamy squad as the smaller 2A Southern team dismantled the Braves. Cal Haladay broke the school record for career tackles in the win. “It is an honor to hold that kind of a record at a school as great as Southern. There have been a lot of outstanding players that have played here,” Haladay said after the 69-7 win.
Week 9: Hughesville
In a game that Preston Zachman had to complete just three passes, all of them to Julian Fleming (103 yards), the Tigers ran for a season-high 474 yards against the Spartans. Gavin Garcia averaged nearly 23 yards per carry, and the starting defense held up strong all night. The Spartans only found the end zone once as the home Tigers rolled to victory 69-8.
Week 10: Danville
A matchup between two PHAC divisional champions proved that the Tigers were on another level than the Ironmen. In Hollenbach’s return from injury, Fleming stole the show. “I want people to know that I want to compete at the highest level that I am capable of. You can’t take plays off if you want to be successful and I like to contribute in all phases of the game,” said Fleming. He caught nine passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he intercepted two passes and returned both for scores as the Tigers won 49-7 in their regular season finale.
Week 11: Line Mountain
The Tigers defense started off the playoff run with a statement. The Eagles were held to just 15 yards rushing and didn’t complete a single pass. Ty Roadarmel had his first two-touchdown game from his fullback position. With the offensive line starting to mesh better, the Tigers beat the Eagles 55-0.
Week 12: Troy
Julian Fleming scored twice on offense and once on defense as the Tigers tore away from the Trojans early on. Wade Kerstetter had a team-high 10 tackles for a defense that gave up just 114 yards in the district semifinal. “We wanted to make sure to not take plays off. On any play we all try to get to the ball, but we also know our rules and roles,” Kerstetter said. SCA scored 69 points for the third time in five weeks as the final score resulted in a 69-16 landslide.
Week 13: Mount Carmel
A rematch of last year’s District 4 2A final provided the same result. A close game at the half, and the Tigers pulled away after the break. “The Tornadoes are a very good team. They are definitely one of the top teams in the state, but unfortunately for them only one team advances to the state playoffs,” Roth said. All three of Stone Hollenbach’s touchdown passes came on fourth down plays. Cal Haladay and Max Tillett once again steered a dominant defensive effort combining for 21 tackles in claiming another district championship. The Tigers won their 26th title in 28 years by a final score of 39-14.
Week 14: York Catholic
In a first ever meeting between the Tigers and Fighting Irish, Southern Columbia showed York Catholic why they were the reigning heavyweight champion. With a starting defense that held the Irish to just one touchdown, the offense produced a season-high 621 yards. “We were clicking on all cylinders. The line blocked well and we were having our way on the ground and in the air. It makes it tough when we have different options that can all result in big plays,” said freshman Gavin Garcia. The Garcia brothers rushing, and Julian Fleming and Preston Zachman receiving, each had over 100 yards in the game. The scoreboard showed 56-23 when the clock hit zero, but the Tigers dominated more than the score appeared.
Week 15: West Catholic
The only previous meeting between the Tigers and Burrs was in 2015 when SCA won in the same game. In this year’s PIAA Class 2A Eastern Final, the defense shut down West Catholic’s rushing attack. Max Tillett had two sacks and an interception from his linebacker spot as well as leading the team in tackles. On the defensive line, Lear Quinton and Cole Schankweiler stepped up by controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the course of the night. “We knew if we could shut their run game down they would have to throw,” Schankweiler said. “That allowed us to get pressure on the quarterback to get sacks and force lots of turnovers.” Roth’s team won 42-6.
Week 16: Wilmington
In a rematch of last year’s PIAA Class 2A State Championship, the Tigers and Greyhounds went to halftime tied at 14-14. In the second half Gaige Garcia took over and finished with five touchdowns. His younger brother Gavin scored the other two. Senior defensive back Shane Miller had two second half interceptions for the Tigers as they didn’t allow Wilmington to find the end zone over the final two quarters. “It was just an awesome feeling. I won’t ever forget about this experience of what we accomplished this season. As a senior, it doesn’t get better than this,” Miller said. Max Tillett had a game-high 13 tackles. The mercy rule victory for the second year in a row, this time 49-14, gave SCA their ninth state championship to extend their state record.