To win a state championship in Class 2A Pennsylvania football, you must beat a program that has won the last five PIAA championships and has played in 21 state semifinals over the last quarter of a century.
That the Shamrocks of Trinity High School were in the state semifinal at Selinsgrove’s Harold Bolig Memorial Field was a remarkable achievement, but to beat the powerhouse Southern Columbia Tigers seems to require miraculous intervention or a Tigers’ team that helps beat itself. And that was not the case on December 2, as the Tigers pounced early, burying the ’Rocks in a 28-0 hole behind the Wing-T offense they run (381 yards rushing) to perfection. Everybody in the state knows the Tigers are going to run the football right down your throat and they rarely throw tricks and gimmicks at you. It’s smash-mouth football that wins them gold every year, and they physically line up and beat you play after play. The final score of 42-7 did not damper Trinity’s huge accomplishment of being one of the state’s best 24 teams left playing on the first weekend of December.
Trinity’s September was filled with double-digit losses to Roman Catholic, Wyomissing and West Perry, so few thought the ’Rocks would even make the District 3 playoffs much less the PIAA state tournament. Given too, the football program at Trinity has had two winless campaigns in the last five seasons while the Tigers were putting gold medals around their necks, only the die-hard faithful believed that Trinity had a prayer.
The ’Rocks graduate a few key seniors, but their roster is laden with underclassmen. Given how smart and battle-tested the Tigers are, they should be wary of a new foe in Class 2A that is not going to roll over nor back down from a future fight.
“It’s a proven program,” Trinity’s second-year head coach Jordan Hill told the press after the game. “They’ve been doing it so long for a reason. And they will continue to do it. There’s a method. There’s a madness. There’s a formula and they know what they are doing…. But sometimes when it comes down to it, it’s the physicality and who wants it more.”
Wanting it more seems to be the future the ’Rocks are serious about achieving.
(Photos by Lisa Schlager, for The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness