Tigers, Bucks to square off
CATAWISSA R.R. - Most people thought Southern Columbia's opponent in tonight's PIAA Class A first round game would be Old Forge.
It was supposed to be a rematch of last year's game, a classic run versus throw matchup.
Southern upheld its end of the bargain by beating South Williamsport 47-12 in the District 4 title game for its 21st overall district title, but Dunmore threw a wrench into those plans by upending Old Forge 7-6.
It was much like last year when Dunmore was the favorite in District 2 and lost in the first round to Riverside.
"We weren't counting on it," Southern Columbia head coach Jim Roth said about the possibility of playing Old Forge. "That district has had some surprises as far as favorites and outcomes. We thought it would be Old Forge, but they weren't automatics."
Now instead of seeing more screens than a window factory in practice this week, the Tigers will have to prepare for a classic Dunmore team that pounds the ball.
Southern has seen that before, including against South Williamsport, which was big and burly and went down with a thud.
Dunmore has nearly 3,000 yards rushing as a team, with 5-foot, 11-inch, 215-pound junior Daiqwon Buckley leading the charge with 1,240 yards and 17 touchdowns.
As a change of pace, senior Austin Seamon (5-9, 180) has gained 884 yards and scored 10 times.
"They don't throw a whole lot," Roth said. "Their approach is a power running game. They line up and come right at you out of the I and a little bit of power."
The Bucks' line is big, too. Starters Mike Boland (6-5, 265) and James McHale (6-6, 285) anchor the unit.
"They have a nice size front,"
Roth said. "They aren't huge, but they'll match up with us. It's comparable to our size, but still they're one of the biggest teams we'll play."
Boland and two others start on both offense and defense, and that could be a factor.
When the Bucks pass, quarterback Brandon Kujawski is careful and efficient, completing 31 of 62 passes for 548 yards and eight touchdowns with only two interceptions.
The Bucks aren't showy with the passing attack. Starting receivers Mike Kolcharno and John Rinaldi each have just 11 receptions for 193 and 232 yards, respectively.
Both receivers, as well as Buckley, Seamon and fullback Josh Sawka also start on defense.
The Tigers also like to run and are doing so better now than they had late in the regular season
Junior Adam Feudale has 1,059 yards to lead the Tigers, with fellow junior Matt Lupold adding 574 yards.
"The way they were playing it was our best offensive game since Selinsgrove," Roth said. "We put it together at the end of the Line Mountain game and it carried over. Hopefully, it's a good sign because the defense has definitely improved."
The key for Southern may be in the passing game, however.
The Bucks have only three interceptions all year and have given up 1,134 yards passing in 11 games but in a league that still considers the forward pass a fad, the Bucks have only given up 11 points per game.
NOTES: The Bucks' roster is limited to just 38 players. ... Dunmore's only loss this season was early in the regular season, 21-0 to Old Forge. ... There are several other intriguing storylines at play. When the teams take the field there will be a combined 710 coaching victories between Roth (342) and the Bucks' Jack Henzes (368). ... Valley View is also the scene of Southern's two most recent exits from the state playoffs. Both came against Riverside. "It would be nice to get a win on that field," Roth said.