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Southern Columbia Overwhelms Serra Catholic, 62-25 to Win PIAA Class-2A Title



HERSHEY, Pa. — If a tiger is the king of the jungle, then the same rings true for Southern Columbia’s Tigers. Southern Columbia remains the unquestioned king of PIAA Class-2A football.

The age-old question of whether an unstoppable force beats an immovable object was answered as Southern Columbia won the PIAA Class-2A championship with a 62-25 victory over Serra Catholic.

Despite Serra Catholic’s penchant for defensive excellence in its run to the state title game, Southern Columbia’s unstoppable force propelled the Tigers to a fifth consecutive state title at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday afternoon.

With a dominant all-around effort from Braeden Wisloski (scoring four touchdowns on the ground and through the air and intercepting a Serra Catholic pass that led to another touchdown) and another Gavin Garcia masterclass on the ground to move into the program’s second-leading rusher spot, Serra Catholic wasn’t able to get back into the game despite a gutsy second half performance.

Southern Columbia received the opening kickoff, and it went about as expected. The Tigers ran six plays, all rushes, and capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown sweep from Braeden Wisloski. However, Serra Catholic was game.

Serra Catholic set up a drive with quick-hitting passes, moving toward midfield with a steady dose of Pharoh Fisher catches. And with a third-and-two from the 44-yard line, Southern Columbia brought a blitz into Max Rocco’s face. Rocco stood tall in the pocket and delivered a beautiful ball to a streaking Terrell Booth, who made the catch over a Tigers’ defender and raced 56 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

After a drive of all rushes from Southern Columbia, Serra Catholic answered with a drive of all passes.

Wisloski continued to make his impact for Southern Columbia — on the ground and through the air. Wisloski juked out a defender to create some open space and hurdled another for a big-time gain, but it was called back because, apparently, hurdling is a personal foul in high school football.

However, even with an eventual third-and-19 off the personal foul yardage, Wisloski earned it back in a big way. Blake Wise dropped back in the pocket and just launched his second pass of the game toward Wisloski, who came back for the underthrown ball and Moss’d his defender on a 63-yard touchdown reception.

Serra Catholic wasn’t able to answer on an ensuing drive, and star running back Gavin Garcia made his first major impact of the game. With a quick 14-yard rush to move Southern Columbia across midfield, helped by an Eagles’ personal foul, Garcia took a 32-yard rush untouched to the end zone two plays later to stretch the lead to two touchdowns.

And Wisloski made his impact felt again at the end of the first half, tipping a Rocco pass along the sideline to himself and corraling the ball before racing back down inside the 10-yard line. Garcia powered into the end zone from five yards out a couple of plays later.

The nightmare continued for a deflated Serra Catholic squad as a tipped Rocco pass couldn’t fall to the turf quick enough, Southern Columbia’s Wes Barnes diving under the ball for another interception deep in Eagles’ territory. However, the Tigers were unable to capitalize before the halftime whistle sounded.

A 28-7 lead and a completely overwhelmed Serra Catholic squad painted the whole picture though.

With Serra Catholic needing a score coming out of the half, it appeared the Eagles got it with an 85-yard touchdown pass to Booth, who came back to make the catch around a lost defender, but the play was called back for a questionable offensive pass interference.

However, in a case of ‘ball don’t lie,’ the ensuing punt was muffed by Southern Columbia and recovered by Serra Catholic’s Zack Weber. However, the Tigers’ ferocious pass rush simply didn’t allow Rocco any time to make a play.

Southern Columbia got the ball back, but a double-reverse handoff attempt was bobbled and dropped, and Serra Catholic’s Jayvon Holt jumped on the ball to give the Eagles excellent field position already in the red zone. Aaaaand Rocco was picked off by the Tigers’ Connor Gallagher to kill any momentum.

But the gutsy play from Serra Catholic continued after a defensive stand, converted by a Rocco to Holt fourth-and-long conversion for a 30-yard touchdown toss. A blocked extra point made it 28-13 late in the third quarter.

Another defensive stop from Serra Catholic gave Rocco and co. another chance, and Rocco stood in the pocket once again. With Gallagher looking to jump Rocco’s pass on a second-and-10 play, the ball zipped into Weber’s arms, and the big tight end lumbered 80 yards for a huge touchdown. Another missed extra point kept the deficit at two possessions though.

Garcia wouldn’t be denied, however, returning yet another kickoff back across midfield and capping his initial effort with a 4-yard rushing touchdown. With a 34-19 lead, Southern Columbia continued to remain just ahead.

Serra Catholic wasn’t able to answer Garcia’s score, gambling on a fourth-and-three from inside their own 30-yard line, but Rocco was brought down short and the ball popped free. Garcia once again capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach. Another Wisloski and Matt Masala touchdown turned the game into a big lead at the end. And a late Booth touchdown for Serra Catholic made it a bit better.

Despite the loss to Southern Columbia, Serra Catholic’s inspired run to the state title game will forever hold the distinction as being the WPIAL champions.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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9 months ago

Serra just ran into one of the only public schools in PA that recruits. Great season though…

9 months ago
Reply to  NotMarkPantoni

Oh that hurts coming from a school that is allowed to recruit. These SCA kids all grew up on farms around here.


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