By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
Carmen DeFrancesco walked off the field Friday night at Blue Jays Stadium and proudly proclaimed, “Defense wins championships and this is the championship season.”
The Mount Carmel head coach had good reason to be proud after the Red Tornadoes delivered their best defensive game of the year in blanking Central Columbia, 17-0, in District 4 Class AA quarterfinal at Blue Jays Stadium.
“All the credit goes to my defensive coaches Gary Howanec and Bobby Schiccatano for putting the scheme together and getting the players into the positions where they are most comfortable,” DeFrancesco said. “I knew that once we got our defense straightened out we were going to be a tough team to deal with.”
All the Red Tornadoes (7-4) did in their shutout victory was hold the Blue Jays (7-4) to a paltry five yards rushing on 10 carries and contain quarterback Jordan Thivierge to just seven completions in 19 attempts and just 112 yards. The victory puts Mount Carmel into next week’s semifinal against the winner of tonight’s Lewisburg-Montoursville game.
Central had its best opportunity on its first possession when Thivierge connected with Dylan Hine for a 58-yard completion down to the 15. The Blue Jays self-destructed with two penalties and ended up punting the ball away.
Early in the third, Bobby Beierschmitt went over the left side of the line and bolted 34 yards down to the 23. Luke Klingerman, who paced Mount Carmel with 145 yards on 33 carries, carried own to the 1. Zach Wasilewski took it in from there, and Rob Varano’s PAT made it 7-0 late in the third quarter.
Unable to move against the revitalized “Red Death” defense, the Blue Jays punted following their initial possession of the quarter giving the Red Tornadoes excellent field position at the 38. Klingerman carried five times for 37 yards before Central’s defense stiffened and Varano booted a 22-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Any hopes for getting back in the contest were dashed on the next Blue Jays’ possession when Thivierge’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Danny Lesko picked off the ball and returned it to the 21. Wasilewski was able to burrow through the line for his second one-yard TD of the game to give the Red Tornadoes a 17-0 lead.
“Our offensive line really took over in the second half and we just went right at them,” DeFrancesco said. “We moved Joraskie into the backfield and although he was primarily used as a blocker he did give us some big yards when he carried the ball.”