Southern Columbia runs past Mount Carmel
MOUNT CARMEL-Southern Columbia is a program with championship mettle firmly entrenched in its DNA. Once again, that was on display Friday night. After being counted out by many following a regular season that had its share of injuries and adversity, the Tigers showed why they are among the elite in Pennsylvania high school football.
Southern broke open a close game by executing its running game to perfection in the second half. The Tigers scored on six consecutive possessions and pulled away from Mount Carmel for a 48-18 win. The victory marked Southern’s 30th District 4 title in the last 32 years. Southern (10-3) will play District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle next week in a matchup of defending state champions. Bishop Guilfoyle (10-3) captured the PIAA Class A title in 2021 before moving up to 2A this season.
“We’ve been working hard to improve our run defense from the Loyalsock game on,” Southern coach Jim Roth said. “When we played Mount Carmel the first time, that was a disappointing effort. Defensively, we gave up a lot of yards. They controlled the tempo of the game. We got behind, tried to throw, and obviously had a bunch of turnovers. The whole key was improving the run defense and basically doing a better job upfront. Tonight we played against them as we played against them the last couple of years. We certainly didn’t do that in the first game.”
Mount Carmel (12-1) took a lead when Garrett Varano bulled his way across the goal line on a 5-yard touchdown reception with 4:22 left in the second quarter. Heavy snow squalls that started 50 minutes before kickoff covered the field at the Silver Bowl with about a half-inch of snow. An offense that came in averaging almost 45 points a game was held in check by a defense that limited the Red Tornadoes to just 44 yards on 26 carries. Michael Farronato scored a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, but it was too little too late, as Southern was able to avenge a 35-21 loss from five weeks ago.
“Those guys played on the same field we did,” Mount Carmel coach John Darrah said. “We practiced out in the snow this week, so we’re not going to make any excuses.”
Isaac Carter made a play late in the first half that may have been a turning point. Trailing 6-0, Carter made an outstanding one-hand catch on a high punt snap and ran for 12 yards on a broken play, which resulted in a first down. The drive was kept alive, and Wes Barnes was able to finish it off with a 7-yard touchdown with just eight seconds left before halftime.
“He’s a very good kicker and punter, and he’s a good defensive lineman, but that’s was his first display of running and he looked pretty good,” Roth said of Carter. “That was huge. Looking back on this season, when you look at all those undefeated years, after you’ve done it so long, when you have a team that loses three games in the regular season – that’s huge for us do that. But when you get the kids to work, improve and come out with the right mindset to have this kind of finish, at least at the district level, that’s really rewarding. Because we came a long way from where we were earlier in the year.”
In the second half, Southern’s running back duo of Barnes and Braden Wisloski dominated. Wisloski scored three times, two of which came on big runs of 51 and 57 yards respectively, as he finished with 188 yards on 17 carries. Barnes didn’t necessarily make the splash plays like Wisloski, but he was very consistent. The senior rushed for 174 yards on 24 carries and was able to keep his team in favorable down-and-distance situations throughout the decisive final two quarters.
“Obviously our two big backs did it again tonight, even on a sloppy field,” Roth said. “It wasn’t as easy to cut. Maybe you weren’t as fast, but they ran hard, got yards and I know we didn’t punt since early in the game. We did a great job of just keeping the football and putting the ball in the end zone.”
Carter Madden chipped in with a couple of rushing touchdowns, helping the Tigers to finish with 397 yards on 58 carries. Southern didn’t attempt a pass after halftime and put together long, time-consuming drives against a defense that couldn’t find any answers. With Mount Carmel pressing late, Kyle Christman finished the game in style with a 47-yard pick-six.
“It’s tough to say, we were doing some different things,” Darrah said. “I think when we got behind there, I don’t know if we were trying to do too much, or what it was, but we couldn’t get stops when we needed to. You have to give them credit. They made plays when they needed to. Obviously, we’ll check out the film and see what was going on. It was a tough one.”
Southern Columbia 0 7 14 27- 48
Mount Carmel 0 6 0 12-18
MC-Garrett Varano 5 pass from Cole Spears (run failed) 4:27
SC-Wes Barnes 7 run (Isaac Carter kick) :08
SC-Carter Madden 1 run (Carter kick) 7:29
SC-Braeden Wisloski 51 run (Carter kick) 4:34
SC-Madden 4 run (Carter kick) 9:52
MC-Michael Farronato 24 run (pass failed) 9:18
SC-Wisloski 13 run (kick blocked) 6:16
MC-Farronato 12 pass from Spears (run failed) 3:52
SC-Wisloski 57 run (Carter kick) 3:35
SC-Kyle Christman 47 interception return (Carter kick) 3:18
Rushing-Southern Columbia: Braden Wisloski 17-188, 3 TDs; Wes Barnes 24-174, TD; Carter Madden 8-26, 2 TDs; Isaac Carter 1-13; Tyler Arnold 5-9; Team 3-(-13). Mount Carmel: Michael Farronato 5-24, TD; Luke Blessing 12-19; Ryan Weidner 1-5; Cole Spears 2-0; Garrett Varano 1-0; Xavier Diaz 5-(-4).
Passing-Southern Columbia: Blake Wise 1-2-1, (-6) yds. Mount Carmel: Spears 14-24-3, 161 yds., 2 TDs.
Receiving-Southern Columbia: Barnes 1-(-6). Mount Carmel: Varano 5-55, TD; Farronato 4-22, TD; Jacob Schultz 3-65; Blessing 1-13; Michael Scicchitano 1-6.
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