Coming of Age: Tornadoes Keep Bucket in 42-14 Win.
“The Bucket Stays Here” was the mantra all week in Mount Carmel. It is the only thing that matters in Week 10 of the scholastic football season in Tornado Country and the way John Darrah’s squad played in their 42-14 victory against arch-rival Shamokin (1-9), you can tell they were not about to let the coal bucket go anywhere. The Red Tornadoes unleashed a fury of offensive firepower and defensive toughness to ensure the rivalry trophy was going to stay at Mount Carmel Area (5-5).
The game started in surprising fashion as the Red Tornadoes attempted to catch the Indians off guard with an onside kick. Freshman Blake Kane recovered, but Shamokin Area was not able to establish anything on offense, despite the great field position. Mount Carmel Area would also go 3 and out on their first possession. The teams still needed the remainder of the first quarter to settle into the game and it would end with Red Tornadoes and Indians tied, 0-0.
Mount Carmel Area would get things going offensively in the 2nd quarter behind the play of sophomore quarterback John Ayres, who was an absolute warrior on both sides of the ball for the Red Tornadoes throughout the evening. With 8:13 remaining in the half Ayres found senior tight end Wes Shurock streaking wide open behind the Shamkoin Area defense for a 35-yard scoring strike. Junior kicker Rosolino Mangiapane added the extra point and Mount Carmel Area would lead 7-0. “It was amazing scoring that touchdown in my final coal bucket game,” an excited Shurock said after the game. “It will be one to always remember, but those catches wouldn’t have happened without our line making great blocks and giving Johnny time to find me. “
The Indians would answer right back with a scoring drive of their own, as junior wide receiver Jacob Jeremiah would score on 17-yard run and senior Alek Washuta would add the extra point to tie the game 7-7. Shamokin Area would have momentum, but only briefly, because whenever the Indians would find success, the Tornadoes would respond. On the ensuing drive, Ayres would lead Mount Carmel down the field again and once again find Shurock behind the defense for a 39-yard completion to the 7-yard line. “Wes was wide open on those passes. They were huge plays for us,” said Ayres after the game. So was his next as the Tornado signal caller would finish the drive, rushing 7 yards to pay dirt for the touchdown. Mangiapane would add the PAT to increase Mount Carmel Area’s lead to 14-7, one they would take into the locker room.
The Red Tornadoes would open on offense in the second half and continue their dominance in the rushing game. The drive was sparked by a 12-yard run by Lane Tanney, who brought the ball into Shamokin territory. The senior would finish with 52 yards on the ground in his final coal bucket contest. “In this rivalry game I knew every time I touched the ball I had to run or catch it to the best of my ability. We were feeling good, but they weren’t far behind. We just needed to get one good drive and keep the ball moving” said Tanney. Helping Tanney move the ball on this possession was Ayres, with the qb picking up three key first downs and finished off the drive with an amazing 21-yard touchdown. The run was an immediate addition to the highlight reel as Ayres ran with authority and broke off five Indian defenders on his way to the end zone to give the Tornadoes a 20-7 lead. “The line dominated the line of scrimmage the whole night. Can’t thank those guys enough,” said Ayres. With junior lineman Brendan Boris adding, “We had such a good week of practice coming off the ball and it showed in dominating the line of scrimmage tonight.” Mangiapane’s point after attempt would hit the upright, so the score would stand at 20-7, with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Shamokin would face a 4th and 22 and were down to their last gasp in the coal bucket game. This was due to the relentless pressure of Tornado defensive linemen on the drive, primarily sophomore defensive end Michael Hood and sophomore defensive tackle Billy Anderson, along with junior defensive end Brendan Boris. The trio would terrorize Shamokin backs all evening and finished with a combined 14 tackles, 5 for losses, and 4 sacks. Although this pressure was dominant, the Indians would connect on that 4th and long, with freshman quarterback Nathan Grimes completing a pass to junior running back Devin Pietkiewicz to the 2-yard line. Grimes would take it from there on the next play and, after Alek Washuta’s PAT, the Indians cut the lead to 20-14.
But the re-occurring theme of this game was coming of age for Mount Carmel Area, especially their sophomore quarterback, who engineered an eight-play scoring drive, following a huge fumble recovery by Red Tornado junior Michael Cuff on a squib kick. The drive was highlighted by clutch passes to Wes Shurock and Lane Tanney, who came up with a big catch on 3rd down. Ayres would do the rest, taking it 20 yards to the Shamokin 5-yard line and following that up with a 5-yard touchdown run. He would also add the 2-point conversion run. The Big Red was in control, 28-14, in the final seconds of the third quarter and the Indians would not recover.
In the fourth quarter, another Red Tornado senior would rise to the occasion. Running Back, Zach Zarkowski, would continually move the chains throughout the period for coach Darrah and Mount Carmel Area, adding two touchdowns on back to back drives. The first was a 14-yarder, coming with 6:49 left in the game. Mangiapane would start a new extra point streak and the Tornadoes would lead 35-14. The second, a 13-yarder, would come with 1:33 left in the game. Mangiapane would again add the PAT. “I’m glad I got to work my way up to where I am now,” said Zarkowski, also giving credit to his teammates, “We all help each other, we all encourage each other, and we like seeing each other do well.” Zarkowski’s run would be the final score of the evening and Mount Carmel Area would defeat their arch-rival Shamokin, 42-14, and keep the coveted coal bucket for a record-straight 21 seasons.
“This was a huge game for us,” said Ayres. “It means a lot to the whole community.” With Head Coach John Darrah stating, “The Bucket Stays Here!” Adding, “This rivalry makes you realize what we have here as communities. There’s nowhere like it in the state and there’s not many in the nation. Football is life here and it’s great to live here, coach here, and be part of this tradition.”
Darrah’s Red Tornadoes will look to continue their march on as they enter the District IV “AA” playoffs as the #6 seed next Friday evening taking on the #3 seed Mounties of South Williamsport (9-1). Pat DiRienzo’s Shamokin Area Indians will finish their season at (1-9).
Game Side Notes: Along with the great defensive line effort shown by Mount Carmel Area, its linebacker play also evoked comparisons to some of the Red Tornadoes’ finest to ever play in a Coal Bucket Game. Sophomore Johnny Ayres (11 tackles, 5 for loss, and 1 sack) and Junior Manus McCracken (8 tackles, 3 for loss) are continuing to thrive in Mount Carmel Area’s 5-2 defense and will be a force to contend with in the upcoming District IV playoffs. The first round match up between Mount Carmel Area and South Williamsport will be the teams’ first meeting since the 1997 District IV “AA” Championship, won by the Mounties 14-6.
MCA: 0-14-14-14 = 28
SHAMOKIN : 0- 7- 7- 0 = 14
MOUNT CARMEL (5-5)
John Ayres 17-152 3TD; Lane Tanney 11-52; Zach Zarkowski 13-86 2TD; Tanner Karycki 5-21; Tommy Reisinger 1-(-2).
John Ayres 4-11-0, 97 yds TD
Lane Tanney 1-16; Wes Shurock 3- 81 TD.
Mount Carmel Area Stats complied by Jose Gonzalo
Devin Pietkiewicz 13-36; Sam Deptula 4-33; Jacob Jeremiah 1-17 TD; David Stevens 2-13; Dennis Cole 1-0; Nathan Grimes 11 (-13) TD; Zack Johnson 1 (-14).
Nathan Grimes 4-14-0, 72 yds; Zack Johnson 1-2-0, (-1) yds; Alek Washuta 0-1-0, 0 yds.
Devin Pietkiewicz 2-31; Sam Deptula 1-28; Marcus Deivert 1-13; Blake Kane 1 (-1).
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