ALMEDIA - Reality checks are often hard to come by for a 8-0 team that's gotten every game it's played this year into the mercy rule.

On Friday, Southern Columbia had little trouble with rival Central Columbia, winning 44-12, but the Tigers were not as crisp in every aspect of the game as head coach Jim Roth wants to see headed into the playoffs.

Roth's complaints aren't even the nit-picking kind that coaches of really good teams have to do to keep their squads motivated.

No, Southern Columbia showed very visible chinks in the armor against the Blue Jays.

Tigers' quarterback Nick Becker, who has played better this year than his sophomore status belies, threw a pair of interceptions and almost lost a fumble on a designed run.

The Tigers' secondary allowed two touchdown passes, and the only two penalties Southern had wiped out a touchdown and an interception.

"We had a couple negatives there," Roth said. "We had two interceptions. The one pressure caused and that wasn't on Nick.

"There's some stuff to clean up, but like I told the team afterwards, sometimes, to have a game that's not all that sharp and you don't execute all that well it's not always a bad thing, especially when you have the kind of year we're having.

"You obviously need something to keep your attention a little bit, and this serves as a wake-up call. We just played a game when we

didn't execute all that well, and we weren't sharp, so we can't get complacent with the playoffs coming up."

For all the problems, Southern seemed to have later, there were no such issues to start the game.

Southern needed just four plays after receiving the opening kickoff to score its first touchdown. Matt Lupold ran that in from seven yards out.

The defense then forced two consecutive three-and-outs and Southern scored on both of its ensuing possessions.

Adam Feudale ran it in from one and three yards out and Southern had a 21-0 lead before anyone blinked.

After Central scored its first touchdown with 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Blue Jays gave away two points on a safety when a snap went over punter Cody Bowman's head.

When Central did get its next punt off, Southern's Luke Rarig was on the spot for a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Southern's scoring wrapped up for the half when Becker and Blake Marks connected for a 25-yard TD.

But Becker's interceptions came on back-to-back possessions for Southern.

"It gets your attention. When you come out and score 44 points and things go easily and our way the whole time, kids walk away thinking they're world beaters. Sometimes, having a game where it's a little rougher can be a positive," Roth said.

Roth did heap praise on Central Columbia's Jake Klinger, who was a major disruptive force in the Tigers' running game.

"I didn't see anything that was a big concern, but what we talked about was being disappointed we didn't do a better job against Klinger," Roth said. "He caused problems that we wouldn't have liked. He's a heck of a player, and that's something hopefully our linemen can use."

Game Summary

Southern 21 16 7 0 - 44

Central 6 0 0 6 - 12