H.S. FOOTBALL: Southern Columbia, South Williamsport meet with D-4 title on the line
CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia will play for its 22nd District 4 Class A title Saturday night.
And for the second year in a row, South Williamsport, with its bruising, no-frills, offense, is the Tigers' foe.
Southern has seen the Mounties since last November, though.
The Tigers hung a 48-14 blemish on the Mounties' season in Week 4, the only game South Williamsport lost.
Southern knows how to deal with teams looking for revenge, though.
The Tigers took Bloomsburg's best shot last week and for the second time this season dispatched the Panthers with a mercy-rule score.
The Mounties of recent weeks are considerably different from any other team the Tigers have faced, and that includes the Week 4 permutation of South Williamsport's team.
"I think they're playing better," Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth. "It's tough to gauge with the competition they played, but it seems like they're executing better and they're probably playing with confidence because they've run the table since we played them."
Need evidence of South Williamsport being better now?
Look no further than the Mounties' seven straight wins since then.
And of course there is record-breaking running back Dominic Bragalone.
Just a junior, Bragalone (5-11, 200) has rushed for 2,940 yards this season and 44 touchdowns.
In the game with the Tigers, Bragalone was held, that's right held, for 182 yards and two scores, his second-lowest output of the season.
Against the Mounties' 10 other opponents this season, Bragalone has averaged 275.8 yards per game and scored more than four touchdowns a contest.
The workhorse, and 243 carries gets you that term although his average is still more than 12 yards a carry, has game totals of 421 against Hughesville and 316 in the Mounties' semifinal victory over Wellsboro last week.
"Bragalone is one of the better backs we've seen a while," Roth said. "He's a physical back with speed, but he won't make a lot of people miss.
"He's not a finesse guy, but I've seen enough runs when he's been in the open and run away from people. You have to hit him low and be physical with him.
"The best thing we can do is what we did in the last game and that's get a lead on them."
Where South Williamsport may have a problem keeping up with Southern is on the lines. Most of the Mounties' linemen go both ways, and with so many snaps being decided in the trenches, that's bound to wear on a team.
With all of Bragalone's exploits, don't count the Mounties' passing game out.
Quarterback Matt Boone has had an efficient year. He's completed 57 percent of his passes (44-of-77) for 796 yards and has thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception. In short, he's the perfect quarterback for their system.
His top receiver is 6-foot, 3-inch Ryan Hengler with 26 receptions for 435 yards and three scores.
"Hengler is a good receiver," Roth said. "He has good size and runs well.
"The key is that if you don't give them a lot of yards on first and second downs, they become predictable and then you can change the defense accordingly."
The Mounties defense has shown it's susceptible to the run, giving up more than 2,000 yards to teams, as well as another 1,000 yards passing.
The defense does have 17 takeaways, however, and intercepted Wellboro's quarterback three times last week.