By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
ALMEDIA — On a clear day, Mount Carmel Red Tornadoes fans can see their playoff hopes rapidly slipping away.
Well, no matter what type of day it is, if Mount Carmel doesn’t soon halt its losing streak, it may be on the outside looking out for the eight-team District 4 Class AA tournament next month.
Mount Carmel’s next chance to halt the slide, which stands at three after a 2-0 start, comes Friday night at Central Columbia in a Heartland Athletic Conference Division II contest.
Mount Carmel (2-3 overall, 1-3 HAC-II) surprised a lot of fans with a gutsy performance last week, losing to unbeaten and state-ranked (No. 10 in AA by Pennsylvania Football News) 18-13.
Giving Mount Carmel some hope is the fact that they moved the ball at times against one of the best defenses in the area and now take on the Blue Jays (3-2, 2-1), who have given up 26 points a game.
Mount Carmel coach Carmen DeFrancesco was unavailable for comment.
His Central Columbia counterpart, Jay Hippenstiel, whose team has dropped two in a row, said, “Our focus is on getting better in all aspects of the game. Mount Carmel is a very good football team that is very aggressive in every phase of the game. We certainly need to be focused and technically sound.
Hippenstiel said that is something his team has not done at times, and it has hurt the Blue Jays.
“If we don’t play better defensively this week, they certainly are capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard,” Hippenstiel added.
Mount Carmel senior quarterback Zach Wasilewski has had an outstanding first half of the season as the Red Tornadoes have switched to a read-option attack, hurting teams with his legs and his arm.
In spite of a sputtering offense most of the time, the 6-0foot, 198-pound Wasilewski, who is also dangerous as a punter, has passed for eight touchdowns, completing half of his passes for 637 yards and rushed for two more.
Unfortunately for the Red Tornadoes, Wasilewski is by far the team’s leading rusher. He has run for more yards than all of the running backs combined.
His top targets have been a pair of juniors, split end Treyvon White (17 catches, 252 yards, 3 TDs) and tight end Christian Kelley (12-206, 2 TDs).
For the Blue Jays, junior running back Danny Koch has been the offensive leader with 344 yards and four TDs.
Hippenstiel said Wasilewski is a good quarterback with a big arm who will run at any point.
“They have a lot of speed on both sides of the ball that we have to be prepared for and be ready to face,” he said.