By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL — Entering the 2013 high football season there weren’t two teams with District 4 Class AA playoff aspirations who had more question marks than Lewisburg and Mount Carmel.
Both teams had enough returning talent to be considered postseason contenders, but also lost enough high-level talent that it left local football fans wondering how good both teams could be.
If the first week is any indication, both teams should be OK.
“We were pleased with the progress we made this summer and we knew our skill position kids had a chance to be good,” Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn said. “Our skill kids played well (against Towanda) and the offensive line, where we had the most question marks entering the season, played well, too. We didn’t give up any sacks and we had a good yards-per-carry average.”
“We were very happy with how played in the first week. We as a coaching staff had no idea (going into the game). We played well in our first scrimmage, but in our second scrimmage we didn’t look any better,” Mount Carmel coach Carm DeFrancesco said. “You usually make a leap in that second scrimmage. It was really disappointing. So we were excited when we played as well as we did (against Shikellamy).”
However, even though it’s only the second week of the season, Friday night brings the first big game of the season at 7 p.m. at the Silver Bowl when the Green Dragons visit the Red Tornadoes in a Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II opener for both teams.
The game shapes up to be a battle of two of the top senior quarterbacks in District 4. Mount Carmel’s Zach Wasilewski carried the ball 16 times and threw 11 passes in the 21-0 win over the Braves.
“Zach really studied up on the read option in the offseason and, for the first time, we have a quarterback coach. Mark Persing is working with just our quarterbacks and he’s doing a great job,” DeFrancesco said. “We are really going to rely on Zach this season.”
Persing played quarterback for DeFrancesco when he was the head coach at Shamokin.
Nick Costagliola threw for 209 yards and a touchdown for the Green Dragons in their 25-20 victory over Towanda, but Lewisburg has to get past the turnover issues it had against the Black Knights. Lewisburg turned the ball over six times in the victory.
The Green Dragons had the same problems in their opener last year, with four turnovers in a victory, but then turned the ball over just seven times in their final 10 games.
One plus though for Lewisburg is a defense that forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, which is what allows you to win a game with six turnovers.
“Our offense put our defense in bad shape a couple of times and they really answered the call,” Winn said.
“That defense really flies to the ball,” DeFrancesco said.