HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Mount Carmel defeats Lewisburg
MOUNT CARMEL - Leading by less than a touchdown at the half, Mount Carmel Area head coach Carm DeFrancesco had a little heart-to-heart with his team in the locker room Fridiay night.
He appealed to their pride.
He asked them to focus.
He got his results.
Tacking on a pair of touchdowns and a safety after the break, the Red Tornadoes improved to 2-0 with a 30-14 Heartland II victory over Lewisburg.
"We were walking off the field at the half, and we weren't very happy," DeFrancesco said after Friday night's game. "We appealed to them to focus as every individual player doing their job.
"Obviously, we're happy with the way they responded."
To be sure, there are still some kinks to be worked out. The no-huddle offense ran much more smoothly than in the opening-night victory over Shikellamy last week. The ground attack, however still hasn't found its stride.
Running back/defensive back Michael Gilger was limited to action only on defense as he recovers from an ankle sprain. His presence on offense likely would have made some difference, but the Tornadoes still need to find a way to
improve upon the 39-carry, 103-yard performance they had against the Dragons.
"We aren't effectively running the ball between the tackles," DeFrancesco said. "And if we can't get some consistency there, we're going to have issues."
On the other hand, the defense, despite giving up some points this week, was equally as tough as it was in the opening win over Shikellamy.
"That was a point of emphasis for us in the offseason," DeFrancesco said. "The defense. ... We got that straightened out. The kids are reacting to the ball.
"We're attacking. We shut them down the whole game."
In fact, Lewisburg finished with 200 total yards, but 50 of that total came as time ran out on the final drive of the game with Mount Carmel reserves on the field.
All that said, the Red Tornadoes were able to score early and get a lead, protect it through the first half and add to it when they hit their stride in the second half.
Zach Wasilewski connected with wideout Juwan Sullins for 16 yards and a first quarter touchdown. The defense, with Kyle Karycki blocking a punt and Dylan Patrick falling on it in the end zone added the first of its two scores to make it 13-0.
The late in the first half - and this is what had DeFrancesco and his staff upset heading into the break - Lewisburg took advantage of Andrew Newcomb's interception of a Wasilewski pass to cut into that lead. Quarterback Nicola Costagliola hit Morgan Getkin for 25 yards and a touchdown, then the Green Dragons added a two-point conversion, to cut the deficit to 13-8 at the half.
"We dominated the first half, but you can't let a team hang around," DeFrancesco said. "All they need is one break and they're back in the game, and that's what happened there."
Mount Carmel, however, responded to the coach's halftime words.
The Tornadoes' first possession of the second half resulted in Wasilewski's second scoring toss of the night, this one of eight yards to Christian Kelley to make it 21-8.
The defense's second score, a safety early in the fourth when it pressured Costagliola into an intentional grounding penalty in his own end zone, added to that lead before Wasilewski scored on a one-yard run in the middle part of the fourth quarter to effectively put the game out of reach.
Lewisburg 0 8 0 6 - 14
Mount Carmel 7 6 8 9 - 30