Two teams with different goals meet in Sunbury tonight.
Mount Carmel (1-1) is looking to roll to its second straight victory, following up a 48-20 bounce-back win at Hughesville last week.
Shikellamy (0-2), on the other hand, is hoping to emerge from the Week 3 matchup with no additional injuries.
The depleted Braves competed with only 27 players in their 42-13 loss at Loyalsock last Friday, and they may have to field even fewer against the Red Tornadoes, according to coach Jim Keiser.
“We had 13 kids out last week, so we’re dealing with a lot of injuries and a lot of things that are coming up,” Keiser said. “Right now, we’re just hoping to have enough kids to play our games. We’re staying positive. The kids are working really hard, and they haven’t gotten down at all. We’re pretty pleased with that considering everything that is going on. They’ve kept a really positive attitude.
“We’re trying to stress to our young kids to take advantage of these playing opportunities they’re getting due to injuries and make the most of them. They’re playing sooner in their varsity careers than they may have expected, and we want them to make themselves known by playing well on Friday nights.”
The Red Tornadoes have an embarrassment of riches in their backfield, captained by senior running back Julien Stellar, who has 127 yards on 23 carries.
Mount Carmel distributed touches to 10 backs last week, which coach John Darrah thinks will prevent his starters from tiring as quickly in the second halves of games as the season progresses.
“The last few years, we’ve have the disadvantage of having to use most of our guys on both sides of the ball. So we’ve been focused on developing more one-way starters,” Darrah said. “We don’t have the luxury of having exclusively one-way players, but if we can work a rotation in the backfield and guys can have 10 carries instead of 20, or five instead of 10, I think that’s only going to help us hold on in second halves against some opponents that have more one-way players.”
Mount Carmel’s Pedro Feliciano continues to settle into the starting quarterback role, proving a dual threat by tallying 156 yards on the ground and another 81 and two touchdowns through the air on six completions.
“He’s been really impressive,” Darrah said. “He’s a really good competitor. I saw that in him last football season and during basketball. He’s a gamer. He plays his best in big games. We’re trying to work past the learning curve as quickly as we can. He started playing (quarterback) on the freshman team and only had a few snaps there last year. Once he gets polished up a bit and gets some more experience, he’s going to be really, really good. He’s already good now, and he’s only going to grow throughout the season as he gets more experience as a passer.”
Darrah expects his potent offense to be challenged to a degree by a Braves defense that held Central Mountain to just 12 points in Week 1, posting nine tackles for a loss.
“They have a pretty solid run defense in their front eight,” Darrah said of Shikellamy. “I think they’re a little bigger than Hughesville, including their linebacking corps. Offensively, their backs are strong runners so it’s going to be important that we tackle them, don’t assume they’re down, and rally a lot of guys to the football to make sure we get them on the ground.”
With that being said, with monster two-way linemen such as Matt Kelley and Nick Nestico, the Red Tornadoes will still hold a strong advantage in size.
“They’re so big,” Keiser said. “They just have great personnel right now. It feels like we’re going to be facing a boulder coming down a hill at us.”