NEPA Sports Nation

Southern Columbia streak hits 61

Southern Columbia overpowered visiting Berwick, scoring all its points in the first half Friday night on the way to a 43-0 rout in a season-opening matchup of two of Pennsylvania’s most storied football programs.

With Gavin Garcia leading the way, the four-time defending state champions ran their winning streak to 61 games.

Southern Columbia is once again the state’s top-ranked team in Class 2A, according to both and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Tigers, who won their first in 1994, hold the state record of 11 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state championships, including 10 since 2002 when they started their record streak of five in a row. They have won five of the last six and are closing in on Clairton’s state record of 66 straight wins.

Garcia is one of the big reasons why. He ran for 1,921 yards in 12 games in 2020 and had 217 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 42-14 state final rout of Wilmington.

Last year’s state Class 2A Player of the Year scored 22 points against Berwick, running for a pair of two-point conversions to help turn two first-quarter touchdowns into a 16-0 lead, then scoring the first three touchdowns of the second quarter.

The late George Curry was the state recordholder for career coaching wins before being passed by current Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth.

Berwick also held the record of six PIAA titles when it won the last one in 1997, just nine years after the introduction of state championships. Now, the Bulldogs are tied for second in state titles with St. Joseph’s Prep and Archbishop Wood, well behind the Tigers.

The Bulldogs, who went into the game with several key offensive players unavailable, also found themselves well behind the Tigers on the scoreboard Friday night.

Garcia returned a punt 68 yards, caught a fourth-down pass from Liam Klebon for 18 yards and ran 9 yards for scores that increased the lead to 37-0.

Klebon had started the scoring with a 31-yard scramble. State sprinting champion Braeden Wisloski then ran away from the pack on a 92-yard touchdown.

Wes Barnes added a 16-yard touchdown on the last play of the first half.


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