By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL — Coach Carmen DeFrancesco’s Mount Carmel Red Tornadoes are at a crossroads.
It should be a familiar feeling.
The Red Tornadoes, who won their first two games, but lost the last two, are in the same situation as last year for their week-5 game Heartland Athletic Conference Division II game with Montoursville.
But this year, Mount Carmel (1-1 HAC-II faces a Warriors team that is not only 4-0, 2-0 HAC-II, but a team that has blow out every opponent in sight. Coach J.C. Keefer’s charges have outscored their first four foes 154-20, with a pair of shutouts.
“They are a good football team,” understated DeFrancesco about the Warriors. They are big up front and they’ve got an outstanding back (senior tailback Cameron Ott). On film, he seems to be their go-to guy,” DeFrancesco said.
He also knows that, after Montoursville saw how Loyalsock’s back had their way with the Red Tornadoes last week, that is exactly what Keefer’s team will try to do Friday night in the Silver Bowl.
“They are going to try the same recipe,” DeFrancesco said. “Unfortunately we were unable to stop that run the way we would like to (last week), but our kids are healthy. We let one slip away, and it’s the same situation as last year.”
Nevertheless, the goal of a District 4 Class AA playoff berth, despite having a young squad, remains the focus for Mount Carmel).
“We just like our chances. Every week we have toe make the plays and not turn it over, and I think we should be in good shape,” he said.
DeFrancesco said his team is in for a physical battle with Montoursville, a team the Red Tornadoes beat twice last year, including the playoffs.
He said that what stands out on film with Montoursville is that its defense plays aggressively, flies to the football and has great pursuit.
“That is the sign of a well-coached team and we will have to be at our A game,” he said.
The Red Tornadoes are led by their outstanding senior quarterback, Zach Wasilewski, who can hurt teams with his arm and his feet in DeFrancesco’s new no-huddle, read-option attack.
Said Keefer, “Obviously Zach is a great quarterback and we have to try to slow down their passing game, but they’ve established a nice running attack with Zach, Blake Panko, and Christian Kelley.”
Keefer added, “We’re going to have our hands full slowing down their offense. We’ve got to tackle well and try not to give up the big play.”
Offensively, Keefer said, “Every possession needs to end with a kick. A punt isn’t always a bad thing. If we can stay ahead of the chains, limit the penalties and have no turnovers, it should be a heck of a game.”