2019 TOP TEN COUNTDOWN: #1 Southern Columbia


(WBRE/WYOU) — A new season of high school football in Pennsylvania starts Friday night and so our preseason Top 10 countdown comes to an end.

Our number one team, if you’re measuring by state championships, is the most successful program in PA history. Number 1: the Southern Columbia Tigers.

Julian Fleming, Gaige Garcia, Cal Haladay. Three Southern seniors, all Big 10-bound after high school.

“I tell everybody, this is once in a career class, a once in a career team, a once in a career class. I’m speaking on behalf of three decades now, and regardless of how long I’m here, I don’t think I’ll ever see a class like this again,” head coach Jim Roth said.

Together, these seniors have already played in three Class AA state championship games and have won the last two. So what keeps them motivated coming into 2019?

“Never be satisfied to be honest with you. We lost our freshman year, everybody still looks back at that, and we want a third ring. Hopefully this year we take it game by game and we get back to that point,” Fleming said.

“You can’t say anyone’s perfect because that’s not true. There’s always room to improve. You’re trying to get one percent better every day we say, so you’re trying to get one percent better, not 100 percent better. Any way shape or form, we’re trying to get better,” Garcia said.

“We just have something to prove. We’ve done a lot of stuff as people know, but we still want to prove what we are and what kind of program that we are,” Haladay said.

And we can’t forget another senior, Preston Zachman. He too has offers to play Division I football and Zachman’s transition to starting quarterback will be made easier knowing what kind of talent he has around him.

“Most quarterbacks don’t get to have weapons like that spread around. I can throw it to the right running back, left running back, right receiver, left receiver. Got crazy weapons and they just make it very easy for me,” Zachman said.

It won’t be a traditional Friday start for Southern Columbia in Pennsylvania this season. Instead, the Tigers have a unique opportunity in front of them: a Sunday night nationally televised game on ESPN, against a top-ranked team in South Carolina.

“The thing that I’m most excited about is to get to show that this small little school out between two cornfields can compete on a national scale,” Fleming said.

“Small town in PA, show them what we can do as a program and show them that we are meant to be in this game. That’s what I hope we go down and do what we should do,” Haladay said.

“It feels almost like we’re going to play a state championship game week 1. There’s such a build-up, their team is so good. And of course, having to travel halfway across the country adds to the whole thing, but it should be a great experience for the players,” Roth said.

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