A week ago, Columbia's players and coaches to a man said they didn’t feel like sharing, especially the Section Four title.
On a rainy Friday night at home, the Crimson Tide made sure they got their prize all to themselves.
The sloppy conditions somewhat limited the prolific passing game, led by quarterback Robert Footman. Yet that didn't matter as Columbia won this one in the trenches and celebrated a 52-6 win past Pequea Valley.
“I told the guys we have something that we can do that wasn’t done in 20 years,” Tide coach Bud Kyle said. “They shared it 19 years ago, the last time they won it outright was 20 years ago. It’s two decades since Columbia had it by themselves. I asked the guys, what do you want to do? Do you want to share something or have it by yourself? They wanted it by themselves and they worked hard.”
Columbia closed the regular season with a 5-0 league record and 8-1 overall.
The Tide are the No. 2 seed in the upcoming District 3 Class 2A playoffs with next week’s likely foe being Upper Dauphin.
However, there was no looking ahead to districts. First off was taking care of a short-handed Braves team.
“We definitely wanted to clinch straight out,” senior lineman Collin McCarty said. "It hasn’t happened in 20 years. It was a big one. It felt good to finally clinch it by ourselves, especially after the last three seasons.”
Steven Rivas led the way, rushing nine times for 156 yards and three touchdowns — all in the first half. The junior had scoring runs of 38 yards, 5 yards and a 49-yard scamper that put the Tide ahead 36-6 at halftime.
Needing only 88 yards coming in, Footman hit Jayden Boone on a 26-yard completion that put him over the 4,000-career-passing-yard mark with 16 seconds left in the half.
Despite the driving rain, windy and muddy field, Footman still managed 142 passing yards on four completions.
The senior opened the second half with a 45-yard touchdown pass to J’von Collazo that put the running-clock mercy rule in play and ended his night.
As the field took on more water, holding onto the ball became an issue as both teams fumbled nine times, losing three each.
McCarty, who recovered one of Pequea Valley's fumbles, didn’t mind the weather.
“I loved it. It was perfect. I don’t know how the skills feel, but this was a lineman’s dream,” he laughed.
Both McCarty and Kyle knew before the season that 2021 could be special.
“We had a lot of guys working, 20-plus guys at workouts, throwing the ball around, running hills over there,” McCarty said. “Guys came in to work and focus. We thought this was the year. It feels great to be proud of the process.”
Kyle said that people didn’t believe him when he said his team would be faster than it was in 2020.
“We lost a lot of kids last year that were our receiving core,” he said. “I am just so happy for the kids. The work they put in, believing in each other, believing in the coaches and believing in the program itself that it could happen.”
The Braves fell to 0-5, 1-8 and have a nonleague make-up game next week when they host Biglverville.