Tigers begin new era at Mifflinburg
A new era begins for Southern Columbia when the Tigers open their first season as a District 4 AA class member, but coach Jim Roth believes tonight's game won't be the start of the double-A excitement, quite yet.
"I don't know if double-A is adding to it at this point," Roth said. "The excitement will be more down the road with qualifying for playoffs. I think there's more excitement going into the season, because it's a tougher schedule."
However, there's still plenty of storylines that will play out in Southern Columbia's season-opening game against Mifflinburg.
For one, Roth said he wasn't as impressed with his defensive line in the second Tigers' scrimmage as the first.
"We felt a little better after the first scrimmage just because we played better defense in the first," Roth said. "Maybe that had to do with Montoursville, but we had problems with our defensive front. It's our biggest concern going into the season."
There are three seniors on Southern Columbia's defensive line, but Roth still acknowledged that the team lost experience over the offseason.
However, Mifflinburg's offensive line may be in a bigger hole with four new starters, but could offer a good matchup for an inexperienced Tigers defensive line.
Roth believes the battle between the two lines will be a big point to the game.
"We look at that as a key to the game because they lost people on the line," Roth said. "We have to gain an advantage there. Hopefully, put their younger guys in a situation they don't want to be in. Our big key to the game is contolling the line of scrimmage."
While the two teams may have a weakness that will compete against each other, the strengths of both teams won't.
Southern Columbia's passing pair of quarterback Nick Becker and wide receiver Luke Rarig, along with some other valuable options, has created a lethal offense for the Tigers, and the running game has always been a rock.
Mifflinburg's offense is of a similar mold with senior quarterback Jordan Wagner throwing for 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
"He's one of the key players," Roth said. "He seems like a very good quarterback, good thrower, good decision maker."
But the passing game isn't the Wildcats only weapon.
"They also run the ball effectively," Roth said. "It's not a basic running system, they go one back, moving people around, misdirection. It's a good balanced offense. You go into it without a whole lot of focus on one area. We have to prepare to play run and pass."
The options showed last season as Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler used six different running backs and seven receivers during the season, but the Tigers know that's something they'll have to deal with during the game.
"Their overall variety is an area of concern," Roth said. "They can go to running if their passing game isn't having success. Our main focus isn't only the quarterback."