Local lads will take on Dunmore in one of the season's biggest games
The Chargers (5-3) face a huge challenge at Dunmore on Friday night when they battle the Bucks (8-0).
Carbondale Area, winning five of their last six battles, have clinched a berth in the District 2 Class AA playoffs. However, the local lads are still fighting for the No. 2 seed and a home game in the opening round in three weeks.
"Took longer than anticipated to find our identity," said head coach, Larry Gabriel III in assessing the recent surge in the middle of the season.
"Switched to an odd front defensively after opening game and kids worked hard on blocking basics offensively to establish line of scrimmage with our various schemes."
Meanwhile, Dunmore has clinched the top seed and home field in the upcoming AA post season and finishes regular season vs. Old Forge (8-0) next week with a D-III title at stake.
The Chargers' challenge will be to slow down the Bucks attack and penetrate a nearly invincible defense.
"They are well-coached and fundamentally sound rarely hurting themselves," noted Gabriel. "In order to beat Dunmore, all 11 pieces of the puzzle have to execute their job and you can't make mistake because they take advantage of them."
Dunmore, which has already defeated other ball clubs still alive for the two other post season AA berths in Mid Valley (49-0), Susquehanna (35-0), Lakeland (41-7) and Riverside (35-0), boasts a well-balanced running game.
Caleb Kilmer (63 runs, 391 yards, 3 TDs), Billy Donvito (64 rushes, 388 yards, eight scores) and Frank Damiano (39 carries, 321 yards, five TDs) leads the way.
Quarterback Gavin Darcy has kept opponents' defenses on their heels with a superb 37-58-2 passing mark for 743 yards and 16 TDs. Nate Fangio (16 catches, 351 yards, five TDs), Steve Borgna (7 receptions, 154 yards, four scores) and Noah O'Malley (7 catches, 150 yards, two TD's) are the leading receivers.
Mark Rinaldi (36-39) has been solid in place kicking efforts.
Up front, the Bucks have been dominant on both sides of the ball.
"You have to be able to hold your own upfront. They play very physical," offered Gabriel.
Andrew Larson, Reece Fuchs, Kevin Kelly, Shawn Connolly, Tegan Trotter, Seth Arthur and Noah Yates will be the Chargers key in the trenches.
For the Chargers, posting a solid effort will be paramount as they face the heavy favorite to claim the AA crown and No. 2 ranked AA team in the state.
Nick Vadella (665 yards, 6 TDs, 131 attempts) and Frank Burke (480 yards, six scores, 56 runs) ignited the ground game.
Signal caller Jordan Tolerico has a 29-66-1 passing mark for 400 yards and four TDs. Noah Yates (163 yards, 3 TDs, 12 catches), Anthony Bucklaw (58 yards, three scores, six catches) and Adam Rossetti (44 yards, 5 receptions) lead the receivers.
Yates (54 yard TD, blocked punt) and Rossetti 75 yard punt return TD) have special teams' scores.
Carbondale Area jumped to a 28-3 halftime lead to control the contest.
Steve Martin blocked the Meteors first punt attempt and Noah Yates scooped the bouncing ball for a 54 yard TD just 3:11 into the contest. Jordan Tolerico added the run conversion for an 8-0 lead.
When Shawn Connolly scooped a fumble and returned the turnover to the Meteors' nine, Tolerico followed with a nine yard TD toss to Anthony Bucklaw at the 6:24 mark in the opening period.
Montrose responded with a 24 yard FG at the 2:25 mark to narrow the gap to 14-3.
CA answered with a scoring series capped by a Frank Burke 40 yard TD gallop for a 21-3 lead.
When CA's defense forced a punt from the Montrose end zone and the rush forced a low kick that was blocked, the Chargers had one play before half at the host's 3.
Nick Vadelka hit Yates for a score and 28-3 spread.
Halfway through the third period, Yates turned a high punt snap that sailed over his head into a 50 yard TD escape for a 34-3 margin.
The Meteors ran off three TD efforts and recovered an onside kick in the fourth period to narrow the gap to 34-21 with 2:53 left before CA posted a Frank Burke one yard score with :32 left.