By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL — Here is a cliché that has become an obscure reference in this modern connected world.
Mount Carmel quarterback Zach Wasilewski is like a Timex watch, he takes a licking and he keeps on ticking.
The senior signal caller has been relied upon by the Tornadoes as one of the primary ball carriers along with his already dangerous right arm.
“He can take a lot of hits and still play very well,” Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess said. “They are a pass oriented team (this year), but he’s a threat with his legs as well.”
Though Wasilewski’s team-high 105 carries has Hess concerned, it’s Wasilewski’s right arm that causes the most worry for the Seals’ head coach.
Selinsgrove (4-4) has struggled in pass coverage this season, allowing teams to complete nearly 64 percent of their passes and allowing 189 yards per game through the air. Last week in a 14-7 win over Jersey Shore, the Seals limited the Bulldogs to 5-of-12 for 47 yards.
“It’s a far more advanced passing game (this week),” Hess said. “It’s a better quarterback and far better athletes at receiver, plus the Mount Carmel (offensive) line is built to pass block.”
Wasilewski is second in the area in passing yards with 1,095 and passing touchdowns with 12 this season. His favorite target has been Treyvon White, who has 36 catches for 531 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Christian Kelley has 16 catches and three scores. Eight different receivers have caught touchdown passes for Mount Carmel (5-3) this season.
“If we are going to win this game, we are going to have to play better pass coverage than we have at any point this season,” Hess said.
Though Hess also knows that sometimes the best defense is a ball-control offense, which will be another weapon in the Seals’ defensive arsenal on Friday night — keeping the Mount Carmel offense off the field.
“It’s going to be all about controlling the line of scrimmage, establishing a running game and controlling the clock,” Hess said.
Angelo Martin leads the Seals in rushing with 589 yards, while fullback Conner Liesenfield leads the team with eight touchdowns and has added 497 yards rushing.
While Selinsgrove’s chance at a Heartland Athletic Conference Division I title has fallen by the wayside, a win over Mount Carmel would certainly help the Seals in their quest for a home game in the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Red Tornadoes are in a fight for their playoff lives as well. With little in the way of points available from Shamokin in next week’s Coal Bucket game, Mount Carmel’s best chance to move out of its No. 6-seed in the current District 4 Class AA playoff points is a win over the Class AAA Seals.