EASTERN CONFERENCE AA SEMI- FINAL
Green leads Riverside to 39-19 victory over Mount Carmel
By: Aaron Domanski (Twitter: @AaronDomanski)
With the advent of the PIAA playoffs, the Eastern Conference is no longer viewed as the premiere post- season event in eastern Pennsylvania but do not try telling that to the Riverside Vikings or the Mount Carmel Area Red Tornadoes. Both squads battled four full quarters Friday evening at Mount Carmel’s Jazz Diminick Field at the Silver Bowl. Riverside would eventually pull away, behind the running of senior running back Mikell Green, to defeat Mount Carmel Area 39-19. The Vikings (6-5) will advance to face District 2 rival Elmer L. Meyers (8-3) in the Eastern Conference AA Final next Friday evening in Wilkes Barre. The game will be a rematch from week 3, won by Meyers 7-6. Mount Carmel Area will end its season at (6-5). The Red Tornadoes exceeded expectations in the inaugural campaign of Head Coach John Darrah, producing a winning season and earning a playoff berth.
As noted above, the main story line of this EC semi-final was the running of the Vikings’ Mikell Green, who showcased speed and power skill set all night and accumulated 313 yards from scrimmage, had 257 yards rushing and scored 5 touchdowns. “We knew the game was going to come down to whether or not we could tackle Green on the edges. We did alright, but it was just one or two of those that he would bust out in the open (that cost us),” said Mount Carmel head coach John Darrah. One of those runs occurred in the first quarter as Green scampered 20 yards to the end zone for his first score of the night. Nicholas Sotille would add the PAT making it 7-0. The Tornadoes would immediately answer, with freshman quarterback John Ayres capping the drive with a 3 yard touchdown run. Sophomore Rosolino Mangiapne would add the PAT making it 7-7. Darrah added, “I was happy with the way our guys fought all night. I felt like we continued to fight back throughout the whole game.”
The Red Tornadoes effort was clearly evident as the Big Red stayed within 8 points of the Vikings until there were only 8 minutes remaining in the game. The effort was highlighted by a gritty performance by senior running back Kyle Karycki, who sustained a blow to his already injured ribs on the third play of the game, but still managed to rush for 200 yards on 15 carries, which included a 42 yard scoring run in the second quarter. Karycki’s run cut the deficit to 21-13 and came after two Riverside scores by Green. The first was off of a 56 yard screen pass from senior quarterback Kenneth Kielar and the second was a 14 yard run. Nicholas Sotille would add PAT’s after both of Green’s touchdowns. The Vikings would carry their 21-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the half, the Red Tornadoes would get closer as MCA quarterback John Ayres produced some electricity of his own in the third quarter. The Freshman signal caller ripped off an 80 yard run to the Vikings’ 2 yard line, with the touchdown saving tackle being made by Riverside’s Kishod Stanton. Ayres would finish off the drive and take it the final 2 yards to make it 21-19. Karycki would be stopped on the conversion attempt, but the Tornadoes found themselves down only by 2 points. Riverside, however, would not be denied. On the ensuing kickoff, Kishod Stanton, perhaps warmed up by running down Ayres on the previous drive, returned the kickoff 27 yards and set-up the Vikings with excellent field position at mid-field. Two plays later Green scored his 4th touchdown of the game and took it to the end zone from 28 yards out to give Riverside a 27-19. On the conversion it seemed like a Friday the 13th jinx grabbed hold of the Vikings as they lined up to kick the extra point, but holder Cody Glogowski seemed somewhat spooked and threw an incomplete pass instead.
The miscalculation on the conversion would not matter as the fourth quarter would belong to Riverside. Green would score his 5th touchdown with 8:00 remaining to give the Vikings a 33-19 lead. The score was a culmination of a 14 play drive that covered 86 yards. The lengthy possession not only chewed up 8 minutes of game clock, but also exhibited Riverside’s discipline as a team, which made Viking head coach John Fox proud. “We knew it was going to be tough to come down here and play in the Silver Bowl. I can’t say enough about the way my team responded. I’m so happy right now.” To close out the scoring, Junior running back Paul Coleman, who quietly had a nice game (64 yards on 12 carries), scored from 2 yards out to make it 39-19.
On Mount Carmel’s final possession, Karycki would give the home fans one more memorable run for 2015, gaining 35 yards on the second to last play of the game. Karycki would also get a final carry as time expired, closing out a great career for Mount Carmel. The senior running back will undoubtedly be a favorite for post-season awards, including all-state, as he produced one of the best seasons in MCA history. “I feel like our team had a great year, we came a long way from our scrimmages to week 11. We had kids that played with heart and pride and I think that showed in a lot of games. I’m proud of every single guy on our team and I wouldn’t have wanted to play my senior year with anyone else,” Karycki said after the game. “Hats off to Riverside, they are a great team, but I’m proud of what we accomplished too and I got to give one final shout out to my offensive line. They were great this year.”
One of the anchors of that line was senior center Ethan Bartos, who was asked to reflect on the 2015 season after the game. “Coming into the season we had a new coach and a young team so I really didn’t know a lot of the guys. Since then a lot has changed and I’m glad to have played with these guys. Playing both ways was necessary for a lot of us and spending that time allowed us to become a team both on and off the field.” Senior fullback/linebacker Allen Yancoskie, who had 14 tackles on the night, added, “All in all this was a great year. We had a lot of things change: coaches, quarterbacks, and the creature bleachers (MCA’s famous end zone section which was removed prior to this season), and for a team that wasn’t supposed to win many games, we came a long way. Coach Darrah and all of our coaches are going to do great things here in the near future and I’m proud to say I was part of bringing back the Red Death mentality to Mount Carmel.”
Of Mount Carmel’s 29 players, the Red Tornadoes will lose 7 seniors to graduation. Aside from Karycki, Yancoskie, and Bartos, other Big Red graduates are: defensive back Michael Bergamo, offensive lineman and captain Dylan Fiamoncini, fullback/linebacker Marcus English, and tight end/defensive end Mason Duran, whose motor simply would not quit as the game wound down Friday night and is the type of effort needed for a team with a small roster to succeed. As Coach Darrah added, “I feel like we laid the foundation this year. We had a group of guys establish what is needed here at Mount Carmel for our program to be successful in the future.”
EASTERN CONFERENCE AA SEMI-FINAL STATISTICS
Riverside: 7-14-6-12 = 39
Mount Carmel: 7- 6 – 6 -0 = 19
Mikell Green 35- 257 4 TDS; Paul Coleman 12- 64 TD; Kishod Stanton 1-0; Kenneth Kielar 1- (-9)
Kenneth Kielar 4-7-0, 84 yds TD
Nicholas Sotille 3-28; Mikell Green 1-56 TD
MOUNT CARMEL (6-5)
Kyle Karycki 15- 200 TD; John Ayres 16-77; Lane Tanney 5-36; Allen Yankoskie 6- 64; Zach Zarkowski 1-8
John Ayres 1-5-0, (-1) yds
Lane Tanney 1-(-1)
Mount Carmel Area Stats provided by Jose Gonzalo
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