So far throughout the year, this space has been reserved for the Mid-Penn. Each week, I’ve given my thoughts on some of the local teams, a topic I first became acquainted with last year in my first season as a midstate resident.
Prior to that time, high school football meant one thing to me: Southern Regional, my alma mater.
Before becoming a sports reporter, my knowledge in high school football was really just limited my former school in Manahawkin, N.J. When off at college, I would check to see how the team was doing, sometimes even going back home to catch a game. It wasn’t always easy to do, with my move to Pennsylvania putting me three hours from home.
However, over these past two years, it’s become a lot easier to keep tabs on the Golden Rams — or at least a couple standouts making quite the name for themselves. With the success of these two, I wouldn’t be surprised if Southern has become a name some football fans around here have come to know, too.
When I first joined the team as a sophomore in 2004, Southern was going through a bit of a slump. We were one of the bigger schools in the area, classified as a Group IV school, the equivalent of Class AAAA here, but struggled during my time on the team. In three season, we finished 15-15, capped by a 3-7 mark my senior season.
Since that time, the Rams have gotten much better, running off a 49-25 mark in seven seasons entering tonight, including two trips to the state championship.
Impressive, you might be saying, but why do I care about a team that resides almost 200 miles away in New Jersey? Well, if you’re a Penn State fan, that school so far away has been quite good to you as of late.
I’ll start with one guy I actually got to play with. My senior season, Glenn Carson was just a sophomore. Make no mistake about it though, he was our best player. Just 15 years old at the time, Carson was a two-way star, dishing out punishing runs at fullback while excelling at the linebacker position the Nittany Lions are more familiar with seeing. We didn’t do much winning in 2006, but it was clear that Carson was going to be a star.
In his senior season at Southern, he helped the Rams to a 10-2 mark and a spot in the PIAA title game. He finished his career with 1,511 rushing yards, good for third in school history.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, Carson is a senior and a leader of the defense at Penn State. For me, it’s always cool to watch on Saturdays and say, ‘Hey, I played with him in high school,’ to anyone I might not have told already. I may not have been very good, but there’s a sense of pride that comes with it. Seeing a fellow Golden Ram excelling at such a high level is exciting.
Carson might be graduating after this season, but the Southern tie at Penn State is going to live on.
Enter Mike Gesicki, the No. 1-ranked tight end in the nation according to 247Sports.
Unlike Carson, I’ve never met Gesicki — he would have just been in sixth grade when I was a senior. I may not have been on the same team as him, but it’s still cool to see another Ram get so much attention.
As a four-star recruit, he chose Penn State, just like Carson. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be red shirting, meaning we could be seeing him lined up next year alongside local name Adam Breneman, another top-ranked tight end to chose the Lions.
While I might not know Gesicki, I’ll still be able to brag about the Golden Rams each Saturday Penn State plays, something that is becoming not too hard to do.
So get to know Southern Regional, my alma mater almost 200 miles away, Penn State fans. It’s been pretty good to you.
Christopher Hopkins is the Sports Editor for The Sentinel. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44