The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Harold Raker

September 30, 2011

Harold Raker's column on high school football: Closing on half-way point

Mount Carmel coach Carmen DeFrancesco will tell you he learned much of what he knows from his mentor, Joe "Jazz" Diminick.

DeFrancesco played for Jazz and cut his coaching teeth under his tutelage.

So it is fitting that the second-year Mount Carmel coach, already successful at four other high schools before taking his dream job, would also follow Diminick's philosophy.

One of the many Diminick philosophies was this one, which DeFrancesco pulled out when we talked this week about his game tonight against visiting Montoursville: "It takes five weeks for things to play out and then you will know who the contenders are and who the pretenders are. It takes a half a season," he said.

"Everything starts to clear up and that's why I like our chances in every game," he said.

A win over the Warriors tonight and DeFrancesco's Red Tornadoes will be a perfect 5-0 to end the first half.

And if what Diminick, and now DeFrancesco, say is true, I guess we will have a real good idea about two teams that are tangling tonight at Bucknell University's Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

The Lewisburg Green Dragons, who lost to the Red Tornadoes in that stadium on Sept. 9, will host the Southern Columbia Tigers, who have rolled to a 4-0 mark and whose closest challenge came in week one from Line Mountain in a 42-25 win.

The Green Dragons bounced back from that loss, a game in which they led 16-0 early, by going on the road the past two weeks and trouncing Hughesville and Muncy.

The game has importance both in the District 4 point standings (Lewisburg is now seventh in Class AA, where only eight teams advance) and the Tigers lead the Class A standings. But, it also will help decide the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I championship, won by Lewisburg a year ago, but once dominated by the Tigers.

It would be easy for Lewisburg coach Todd Tilford, his staff and players, to dwell on a game they truly should have won. But Tilford wouldn't let that happen and after a pair of lopsided wins, his Green Dragons get to see just how good they are.

Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth, like Tilford, a Shikellamy High graduate, also looks forward to playing a team like this to gauge his own squad.

On paper, this looks like a game similar to last year's wild 28-21 Lewisburg win, with possibly even more scoring.

Go early if you are planning to watch this one. Parking is always at a premium in Lewisburg, but to make things worse, there is a 5K race in town tonight, with registration beginning at 6, and traffic problems are expected.

MOVING FORWARD: Danville coach Jim Keiser is hoping his Ironmen can follow in Lewisburg's footsteps. Like Tilford, whose team saw a two-year regular-season win streak end versus Mount Carmel, Keiser is trying to get his team past a loss to Mifflinburg which snapped a 19-game regular-season winning streak. The Ironmen face improving Milton tonight on the road.

Keiser, who has had the golden touch since taking over his program in 2010, had a long talk with his players in the middle of the muddy Danville Ironmen Stadium field after the shutout loss to the Wildcats.

So what did he tell them?

"Get your heads together, come back in on Monday and get ready to go for Milton because this (loss) is over, it's history and it's time to look at next week," he said.

Keiser also agreed that every team goal, save going unbeaten, is still attainable.

"They know that, they know they have to come back and work a little harder and maybe this was a good thing. We hadn't lost in 19 regular-season games and things were kind of easy for them. This might wake us up a little bit," he said.

Keiser added, "We can't mope, and put our heads down. We have to look at film and respond and get ready for Milton."

WELCOME BACK: Line Mountain hosts longtime rival Millersburg on Saturday night in a Twin Valley Conference game as it tries to get to 5-0 on the season and move into a D4 Class A playoff position (the Eagles are now fifth with only four teams advancing).

Oddly enough, the Eagles are about to compete in a homecoming game in every sense of the term. You see, Line Mountain has yet to play in the friendly confines of Eagle Stadium this season. They get a one-game reprieve then go back on the road the next week to Tri-Valley. At least the Eagles are scheduled to end the regular season at home against Pine Grove in a game that very well could amount to the TVC championship game.

Line Mountain coach Mike Carson said the players will be glad to finally wear their home white jerseys. They certainly should not be showing any wear.

— Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football for The Daily Item. Email comments to

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