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West Catholic loses to Southern Columbia in PIAA Class 2A state semifinals

West Catholic was overcome by the Tigers, falling behind early and never gaining ground.

West Catholic running back Jacir Savoy has carried 196 times for 962 yards in 12 games this season.
West Catholic running back Jacir Savoy has carried 196 times for 962 yards in 12 games this season.Read moreLOU RABITO / Staff

West Catholic had been a second-half team all season and Southern Columbia was well aware.

The District 4 Tigers, the defending PIAA Class 2A state champions, already led the Burrs big by intermission Friday night, en route to a 42-6 win and another berth in the 2A finale at Hershey Park Stadium.

The first play from scrimmage in half No. 2 was more of the same.

Junior defensive tackle Cole Schankweiler and his 6-foot-1, 285-pound frame lifted West Johnson quarterback Tre Johnson and smashed him into the turf at Northern Lehigh high.

“That was a tone-setter,” Schankweiler said. “I think that was definitely a tone-setter.”

He added: “We knew they had a pretty good defense, but our offense is pretty much a juggernaut.”

The Tigers (16-0) had led 28-0 at halftime thanks to explosive plays by juniors Gaige Garcia and Julian Fleming.

Garcia (184 yards on 21 carries) started the onslaught with a 67-yard touchdown run with about nine minutes left in the first quarter. Fleming (five catches, three touchdowns) followed with a 1-handed grab in the end zone about four minutes later.

The Burrs (12-3) had a chance to answer after Johnson, who started because junior quarterback Zaire Hart-Hawkins broke his collarbone two weeks ago, connected with Justino Griggs for 35 yards, moving the Burrs to the Tigers’ 26-yard line.

The ensuing snap, however, was low and eluded Johnson, who recovered it but took a loss.

Johnson was sacked on the next play and completed a short pass after that. Johnson, who is also the punter, was again forced to recover a low snap on fourth down, which led to great field possession for the Tigers.

Five plays later, Stone Hollenbach hit Preston Zachman for a 13-yard score and the route was on.

Johnson had been an emotional leader for the Burrs at linebacker and acquitted himself well at quarterback.

He finished with 191 yards and a score on 12-of-28 passing. He hit Seth Degree for a late score


The play was emblematic of the Burrs’ improbable playoff run, which was aided by their unwillingness to quit.

“Yo, we walk outta here with our heads held high, you understand me?” Burrs coach Brian Fluck told his team. “No one thought we would get here. No one.”


Southern Columbia 21 7 14 0 - 42

West Catholic 0 0 6 0 - 6

SC: Gaige Garcia 67 run. Kick good.

SC: Julian Fleming 10 catch from Stone Hollenbach. Kick good.

SC: Preston Zachman 13 pass from Hollenbach. Kick good.

SC: Fleming 13 pass from Hollenbach. Kick good.

SC: Ty Roadarmel 51 run. Kick good.

SC: Fleming 25 pass from Hollenbach. Kick good.

WC: Seth Degree 62 pass from Tre Johnson.