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Mount Carmel Looks to Ground Golden Eagles
By Rick Smith, Nauticom Sports Network

Mount Carmel has created one of the more interesting patterns in Pennsylvania high school Sports over the past few years. The Red Tornadoes have won PIAA state football championships in 1994, 1996, and 1998. It doesn't take a statistical wizard to see that Mt. Carmel is not due to win its next state title until next season.

Someone forgot to tell the players.

Mt. Carmel (11-3) will play Tyrone (14-0) for the Class AA crown on Saturday at noon at Hersheypark Stadium.

"A lot of people didn't count on us to be (in the state title game) this year," said Mt. Carmel head coach, Dave "Whitey" Williams.

Mt. Carmel is one of the most storied high school football programs in the state of Pennsylvania. The Northumberland county school's 690 victories is tops in Pennsylvania gridiron history and ranks sixth in the entire country.

Despite the great tradition and the return of Stanford-bound quarterback Nick Sebes and tailback Jon Veach, both All-State performers, it's been an uphill climb for the Tornadoes.

"We lost our entire offensive line, our entire defensive line, and all of our linebackers from last year's team," said Williams.

Williams credits the strong program at Mt. Carmel for creating the talent that has enabled him to fill in the blanks.

"When you establish a program, kids will wait for their opportunity to play," said Williams, "One thing you can't take out of these kids is the pride and the heart."

One piece of adversity faced during the season by the Red Tornadoes, a broken hand to Sebes, has had a positive effect on the team's make-up. An injury to a player the caliber of Sebes, the Associated Press Small School Pennsylvania Player of the Year last season, would spell doom for most programs. Not at Mt. Carmel.

Williams turned to 6'3" 180 pound freshman Dave Shinskie to fill the void. Shinskie has played so well that, upon return from his injury, Sebes was inserted into the lineup at wide receiver, where he's expected to play at Stanford, and the young freshman has remained under center.

"He's had a lot of playing time on the junior varsity team," said Williams, "He doesn't play like a freshman."

If it's a close game game on Saturday, Mt. Carmel should feel right at home. Most teams that make it to Hershey have been blowing out their opponents all season long. Half of the Red Tornadoes' games have been decided by less than two touchdowns.

"A lot of our games have been close," said Williams, "We play a very difficult schedule."

The level of difficulty will certainly not diminish for the District 4 champion on Saturday. Tyrone is on a roll coming into the state title game. Head coach John Franco's squad has defeated its opponents by an average of 30 points per game this year.

The Golden Eagles are led by Jesse Jones. The junior tailback leads Tyrone with 2,204 yards on the ground this season . He's scored 36 touchdowns this year.

Brandon Hoover is solid at quarterback for the District 6 champions. Last week, in Tyrone's 17-13 Class AA western final win over WPIAL champion Waynesburg, Hoover completed 10 of 17 passes for 111 yards and the game winning touchdown to wideout Steve Johnson.

If the game comes down to a field goal, give Tyrone the edge. The Golden Eagles' Scott Gummo, a straight-on kicker, has converted 7 field goals this year, including a 45-yarder aainst Waynesburg last week.

This game is a re-match of the 1994 Class AA championship game won by Mt. Carmel, 25-6. Both Tyrone and Mt. Carmel are backed by some of the most passionate high school football fans in the state. Hersheypark Stadium should be rocking for the show-down at high noon on Saturday.

The game can be heard live at nsnsports.com!!!