Tigers have questions entering showdown

·4 min read

Sep. 22—There is no denying slow starts have cost Southern Columbia this season.

The Tigers fell behind by two touchdowns to Berwick, before rallying, and the same happened against Loyalsock.

After that slow start turned into a 27-10 loss — the Tigers' first to a District 4 team in the regular season in 10 years — the question know is what did the five-time defending Class 2A state champions learn from those games?

"I'm hoping we took the proper lesson from the loss, and it serves as a motivator to play at a high level," Roth said. "No offense to Lewisburg, but we didn't have to wait long for a big game."

The Tigers, currently No. 3 in the state in Class 2A, will make the short trip on Route 54 to play No. 2 in the state Class 3A — both according to pennlive.com — Danville at 7 p.m.

The Ironmen (4-0) will be looking for their first victory over Southern Columbia since a 28-18 victory in 2010.

The biggest thing for the Tigers to get out of their early season, first-half funk against good teams, just better execution.

"Three turnovers, again? That certainly won't be conducive to winning this game," Roth said. "Eight or nine penalties for 100 yards wouldn't be good either.

"We just have to be better than we were against Loyalsock."

The Ironmen are coming off a road victory over the Lancers, thanks in large part to a defense that allowed only two scores despite being on the field for more than 60 plays.

Roth's impressed with Danville's linebackers. Mason Raup became the school's all-time leading tackler two weeks ago, and Army-bound running back Ty Brown-Stauffer has also been outstanding at outside linebacker. Sophomore Cameron Keirsch had an interception against the Lancers. It's no wonder Danville coach Mike Brennan calls the other Danville linebacker Cade Cush one of his most underrated players. Cush had 13 tackles in the win over Loyalsock.

"Their defense is solid on all three levels, but those four linebackers, that's going to be the key," Roth said. "With our offense, it's going to come down to how our three running backs block those linebackers.

"It is their responsibility to get on the second-level, and lead some of those runs."{p class="p1"}{span class="s1"}The Danville defense can't allow the big play from the Tigers' senior running backs — halfback Braeden Wisloski and fullback Wes Barnes. Both Wisloski and Barnes had punt return touchdowns, and touchdown runs of at least 40 yards in last week's win over Lewisburg.{/span}{p class="p1"}{span class="s1"}"You have to try to bottle them up, and not let them have any easy ones," Brennan said. "We have to make them work for everything they get. They are going to attack the outside of our defense, and our outside linebackers and secondary better to be ready to make tackles."{/span}

The other big concern for the Tigers comes on just the sheer balance of the Ironmen. Both Brown-Stauffer and wide receiver Carson Persing each had 1,000 yards last year, rushing and receiving, respectively, and that eliminating that balance is key.

"They run a lot of different formations, and concepts at you, and you have to stay disciplined defensively," Roth said. "The key to stop the run, and keep them out of second- and third-and-shorts. If you can make them one dimensional."

Senior quarterback Zach Gordon has been uncannily accurate all-season. Missing on just one pass last week against the Lancers, and completing 80 percent (28-of-35) of his passes for 483 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception.

Persing has 332 yards receiving on 16 grabs, and has seven TD catches.

"He's not the 4.4 40-kid, but his short-area quickness and his ability to run routes are fantastic," Roth said. "That short-area quickness is what allows him to get so open a lot, and to make people miss on those (receiver) screens.

"Those are the two biggest things that make him so difficult to defend."

Roth said that Wisloski is going to draw the bulk of the coverage assisgnment on Persing, and that for the first time all season the Tigers are completely healthy in the secondary with the return of Kyle Christman for a pulled hamstring suffered in the summer.