Tornadoes tangle with Montoursville
MONTOURSVILLE - The stadium in Montoursville will seem awful familiar to Mount Carmel tonight. Put the emphasis on the awful.
The Red Tornadoes return to the scene of a 41-37 week five defeat to the Warriors to play in the District 4 Class AA semifinals, and the trick for No. 7 seed Mount Carmel is to not forget about the disappointment but embrace it and learn from it.
"This is pretty cut and dried. We went up there and we were undisciplined, sloppy and
without focus," Mount Carmel head coach Carmen DeFrancesco said. "We played the way we practiced all week and our kids realized that. It was on us as coaches, but our kids didn't understand schemes, didn't tackle and didn't pursue. We made every mistake you can."
The week five matchup was a true shootout with 945 yards of total offense, including a school record 355 yards rushing by Luke Klingerman. There were also three lost fumbles and a couple dropped passes from the Tornadoes' offense.
What's different about the Tornadoes going into tonight is momentum.
Mount Carmel was coming off two straight losses, couldn't seem to buy a break and couldn't tackle to save its cleats. The season seemed lost, unsalvagable.
Tonight, Mount Carmel is proof that tornadoes never stay in one place too long. They've won two in a row with a defense that's played pretty well the last two weeks, giving up just 112 yards on average in wins over Shamokin and Central Columbia.
"We have it fixed now," DeFrancesco said. "If Montoursville thinks they're going to see the team from week five, they're mistaken.
"We moved a couple guys around and settled on 11 guys. For six or seven weeks we were trying multiple personnel changes and it never gave us continuity. When we settled on a lineup and everyone was aware our team settled in and it's made a big difference. We're getting better defensively every week."
The Tornadoes are going to need every bit of that new defensive prowess to combat a Montoursville offense which seems to be just as diverse after a 37-33 win over Lewisburg last week as it was earlier in the season.
Warriors' quarterback Aaron Cole threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns against the Green Dragons and has 1,116 yards and 16 touchdowns on 86-of-161 passing.
Backup Griffin Dunne, who the Tornadoes watched run for 208 yards and three touchdowns and throw for another 99 yards in week five, has thrown for 310 yards and rushed for another 445 yards total this season.
Running back Clay Stoner, who ran for 107 yards against the Tornadoes, has 1,197 yards this season with 15 touchdowns.
"Coach (J.C.) Keefer has done an oustanding job," DeFrancesco said. "If you want to see a multiple offense team, they're it. They really disguise a lot of plays and force you to defend the whole field. It's going to be a challenge. They don't give up, that much is clear from their game against Lewisburg."
While Mount Carmel is still the defending District 4 Class AA champion and is until someone beats it, it may be easier for the Tornadoes to focus on the road where they'll be underdogs according to most.
"I don't know if it matters," DeFrancesco said. "We know we have to travel. We have the mindset that it is what it is and we're only concerning ourselves with how we play."