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Small Player - Big Player Notebook: Tidbits from around the eastern half of the state

Written by: on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012. Follow Josh Funk on Twitter.


Mount Carmel Area head football coach Carm DeFrancesco is one of the best postgame interviews around.

He’s honest and thorough, and he’s also got personality with his answers. He’s not afraid to react when he hears a stat that blows him away, like the 29 total offensive plays and five first downs the Red Tornadoes’ defense limited No. 2-seeded Central Columbia to Friday night in the District 4 AA quarterfinals.

“Coaches (Gary) Howanec and (Robert) Veach had the guys ready to go,” DeFrancesco said following the 17-0 victory. “Our team just took control in the second half.”

Friday’s game began eerily similar to the first meeting between the two teams. Central’s Jordan Thivierge hit Dylan Hine for a huge gain on a pass play down the far sideline, which spanned 58 yards. In the first meeting, Thivierge and Hine connected on a 76-yard touchdown, but then did little else. Ditto for Friday night, minus the touchdown.

The Red Tornadoes face yet another rematch in the semifinals – Montoursville – a team which hung 41 points on the vaunted Red Death defense earlier in the season. If Mount Carmel survives that test with the Warriors, it likely would face Danville in the District 4 title game.

“We told our kids, ‘We are the defending District 4 champions until someone else says we aren’t,” DeFrancesco said. “Our kids here (at Mount Carmel) have championship heart.”

How about the huge showdown in southeastern PA between undefeated Imhotep Charter and four-time PIAA AA semifinalist West Catholic? Imhotep Charter has set a Philadelphia Public League record for points scored in a single season, with 486, and loves to run, run, run the football. West Catholic, meanwhile, has scored 40 points or more in six of its seven victories and brings to the table a 1,400-yard rusher in Greg White and 1,400-yard passer in Antwain McCollum.

Imhotep Charter’s defense faces by far its stiffest test of the season. The Panthers have allowed only 50 points – an average of 4.5 points per game – and has recorded six shutouts.

Depending on the length of Pennridge’s playoff run, junior running back Mike Class might surpass the 4,000-yard benchmark in career rushing this season.

Class, the Rams’ feature running back and primary offensive centerpiece, has rushed for 2,201 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. Entering Friday’s game with Pennsbury, Class has rushed for 3,713 yards for his career, needing just 287 to reach 4,000 and 288 to surpass the mark.

Parkland has been playing red-hot football as of late, ripping off nine consecutive victories and averaging just a hair under 40 points per game. Last season, the Trojans finished the season with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Rob Dvoracek and Jarel Elder.

But this year, Parkland could potentially have a shot at a 1,000-yard rushing trio.

The aforementioned Elder has rushed for 1,060 yards, but teammates Tim Baranek (906) and Elijah Redmond (830) are also within shouting distance of 1,000 yards rushing as well. If both Baranek and Redmond join Elder with 1,000 yards rushing, Parkland will become just the sixth PIAA-affiliated program with a trio of 1,000-yard rushers since the 2005 season, and the first program in that span from District 11.

There are a pair of major rematches involving District 2 programs this weekend.

In the 2/11 AAAA subregional semifinals, Scranton and Delaware Valley meet again. The Knights beat the Warriors, 34-27, in the first meeting.

Meanwhile, in the District 2 A championship game, Dunmore meets Old Forge. Old Forge won the initial meeting, 21-0, but Dunmore was without its two top rushers, Daiquon Buckley and Austin Seamon.

Wyoming Area’s Nick O’Brien unofficially needs just 99 yards rushing Friday against Lakeland to attain 5,000 for his career and 100 yards passing for his first-ever 1,000/1,000 season.

Despite his team being eliminated from the District 3 AA playoffs Friday, Trinity senior running back Adam Geiger surpassed the 4,000-yard benchmark for his career. Geiger’s career for the Shamrocks saw him rush for 4,041 yards, including 1,510 as a senior.

Schuylkill Valley won its first-ever District 3 playoff game in program history Friday, eliminating Berks Catholic, 42-21.

Bermudian Springs officially has posted its third consecutive season with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers – Zack Stroup has 1,230 and Tristan Sponseller 1,063.

Muhlenberg and Hamburg also each have 1,000-yard backfield duos. For the Muhls, Ben Ortiz (1,072) and Francisco German (1,032) have helped the blue and yellow reach the Eastern Conference AAA championship game against Scranton Prep. For Hamburg, Montay Berger (1,157) and Joe Raffensberger (1,006) fronted the run-centric Hawks’ offensive arsenal.

District 3 lays claim to five of the 10 1,000-yard rushing tandems in the state this year.

Archbishop Wood had scored only 192 points through its first seven games of the season. Over the last four weeks, the Vikings have scored 210, bumping their season total to 402 through 11 games (36.5 points per game).

Follow Josh Funk on Twitter @Funk_pafb.

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Leave a Reply

4 Responses to “ Notebook: Tidbits from around the eastern half of the state”

  1. Josh Funk says:


    No problem. This whole notebook idea was an idea hatched between Dave Mika & myself to go beyond weekly game coverage and give programs and kids some attention.

    I’ve seen you guys already, but I don’t want to drudge up the memories of Week 3 in Altoona. After this weekend, LC will be one of 23 different programs I’ve had the pleasure of covering this year. Danville (4), Berwick (2) and Williams Valley (11) are the only teams I’ll have seen play more than once in person.

  2. jason stevens says:

    Thanks, Josh. Just hit the tidbits page this week and thought is was a new post season link. Thanks for being represented on our sideline this year and for the constant attention to the football teams of Eastern PA. Go LC!

  3. Josh Funk says:


    When Roman Clay hit 5,000 career yards rushing, it made the notebook – two weeks ago.

  4. jason stevens says:

    You forgot to mention District 3 AAA Lancaster Catholic Crusaders’ Senior Roman Clay, who has surpassed 2,000 yards this season playing only AAAA Teams, until the playoffs and surpassed 5,000 yards for his career. Lancaster Catholic voluntarily moved up to AAA to get an opportunity to move out of L-L League Section 3, which placed them in Section 1 to battle the Quad A teams. Lancaster Catholic is gaining hard fought experience and continued program success as they worked for a #4 seed in District 3.