It's a prototypical David vs. Goliath scenario
Carbondale Area (7-4) visits state ranked Dunmore (11-0) at 7 pm on Friday night for the District 2 Class AA championship and a berth in the state playoffs.
The Chargers bounced back from an 0-2 start and a 13-0 deficit at halftime in their third game by winning seven of their last nine games to advance to the program’s first AA title game in school history.
“Our kids had their backs against the wall and didn’t back down from the challenge,” noted head coach Larry Gabriel III. “They are excited about the challenge ahead.”
One of those two losses in that stretch was to the unbeaten Bucks, 49-0 just three weeks ago. The state’s No. 6 ranked AA team has posted six shutouts along the way and have dominated opponents.
David vs. Goliath
Dunmore averages a 38.8 to 5.2 points per game margin. A quartet of backs have banged away at opponents. Frank Damiano (69-500, 10 TDs), Billy Donvito (74-443, 4 TDs), Caleb Kilmer (78-441, 8 TDs) and Cristian Buckley (44-255, 1 TD) have been tough to stop.
The Bucks have also big strike capability wth quarterback, Gavin Darcy (54-92-4, 1123 yards, 23 TDs) has a trio of targets in Nate Fangio (21-545, 7 TDs), Steve Borgio (13-303, 7 TDs) and Noah O’Malley (12-212, 3 TDs).
“Dunmore is rock-solid in the ground game and efficient in the passing game,” noted Gabriel. “Up front, they come at you.”
Carbondale Area averages 23.6 points per game and yields that same average.
Nick Vadella (184-936, 8 TDs), Frank Burke (87-638, 9 TDs) and Steve Martin (30-162, 1 TD) lead the ground game.
Quarterback Jordan Tolerico (35-90-5, 499, 5 TDs) has looked to Noah Yates (12-163, 3 TDs), Burke (7-80), Anthony Bucklaw (6-58, 3 TDs) and Vadella (4-139, 2 TDs).
“Our ground game has been improving all season and has been a huge factor in our success. That’s a credit to the guys upfront.” Andrew Larson, Reece Fuchs, Kevin Kelly, Shawn Connolly and Tegan Trotter have manned the interior slots.
Defensively, Seth Arthur has joined some of the aforementioned players and added trench contributions while Adam Rossetti and TJ Rosar have been solid in the secondary. Jaden Hudson
has been a formidable defender and joined Burke and Martin as the team’s hard-hitters.
In their first meeting, the Chargers battled the Bucks to a scoreless first period. That only happened one other time all season.
Lackawanna Trail went toe-to-toe in a 7-0 halftime score before dropping a 34-7 game. West Scranton trailed 7-6 after one period and 20-12 at halftime.
Mid Valley was in a 7-0 first quarter game earlier in the season and 0-0 battle with the Bucks last week but Dunmore pulled away to 49-0 and 34-13 wins.
“We can’t lose the special teams phase or give them a short field like the first game,” noted Gabriel. “We can’t allow them to score in bunches. In the first game, the Bucks had a two yard drive off a blocked punt.
A 33 yard field off a punt return, a 36 yard scoring series and snagged a fumble in mid-air en route to a 55 yard TD return off the miscue.
The Chargers will be hard-pressed to slow down the Dunmore juggernaut. Offensively, CA will have to keep the ball away from the Bucks while on the flip side force Dunmore into time-consuming marches.
Before the start of District and State playoffs in 1988, the Eastern Conference Playoffs were the prize. The Chargers were defeated in the 1973 EC title game.
In 2000, the Chargers were defeated in the Class A District title game while In 2001 claimed the Class A District 2 championship.
In 2012, the Chargers played in the EC title game.