It was the defense that stepped up last Saturday in the Tigers state quarterfinal win over Schuylkill Haven. Freshman Cal Haladay with the stop of the game on 4th and goal. Now Southern Columbia makes their 15th appearance in an eastern final against Ligonier Valley.
"We'll that was a real plus to have our defense at this point of the season in a state playoff game step up and play at that level. You know that is key at this point because when you get to this level in the playoffs the teams are all so good all three phases have to contribute to have a chance to win," said Jim.
"I think our game with Schuylkill Haven was definitely a good base for us. We needed a game like that. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit so we have to work on our defense and our penalties and just the basics of football," said Hunter Thomas.
Last week the Southern defense dealt with a Schuylkill Haven team that likes to predominantly likes to run the ball. This week they will be dealing with an aerial attack from Ligonier Valley and quarterback Collin Smith. He goes 6'1" and 200lbs. He has 41 touchdown passes and he can also run the ball, so the Tigers defense will have to be ready for both aspects.
"Oh! for sure we will be working on our pass defense. They have a tremendous quarterback. He can scramble out of the pocket. He is quick, and they are a good football team so we have to match them and play to the next level and increase our intensity and just go out there and show people that we can play Southern Columbia football," added Hunter.
The Tigers last loss November 14th, 2014 to Montoursville. They've rolled off 30 wins in a row and a 7th state title in 2015 and Coach Roth looking for career win #396.
"I think especially from the beginning of the year even all the way back in the summer when everybody said that it was going to be a rebuilding year there's no way you can be good when you lose 25 seniors. It feels pretty good to be back in an Eastern Final and hopefully we can get the win this weekend and play in the state final next weekend in Hershey," again said Hunter.
Kickoff is Friday at 7pm in Wingate at Bald Eagle Area High-School. Steve Lloyd reporting for Newswatch 16 sports in Columbia County.