LEWISBURG - Luke Klingerman grew up like many young boys in football-crazed Mount Carmel. He watched the Red Tornadoes on Friday nights in the fall and dreamed of becoming the next big name in the storied program's history. His chance didn't come immediatley as he waited behind more talented teammates, but he spent the spring and summer prior to his senior season preparing for his big shot.
Now, young boys in Mount Carmel are likely dreaming of becoming the next Klingerman.
The senior rushed for 131 yards on 24 carries and helped Mount Carmel defeat Lewisburg 27-13 in a game that could go a long way in determining the HAC-II champion, though Friday night was just Week 2 of the high school football season.
"At Mount Carmel when you are growing up and watching the older kids, they are your idols," said Klingerman, who has back-to-back 100-yard performances to start the season. "I've been waiting for this as long as I can remember.
"Football has been my passion my whole life and now that it is here, I'm going to embrace it."
Klingerman didn't score a touchdown against the Green Dragons (1-1, 0-1 HAC-II), but he set up his offense for four touchdowns and survived a pounding by Lewisburg linebacker Brandon Smith, whose name was the only other one announced more often than Klingerman's over the Bucknell University PA system last night.
"He is just an extraordinary athlete," said Klingerman of Smith. "He's a two-time All-State linebacker and it's always fun going up against a kid like that. I love competition and I have a lot of respect for him."
Mount Carmel (2-0, 1-0) took control of the game with two third-quarter touchdowns. Klingerman and quarterback Zack Wasilewski ran through the tiring Lewisburg defense for 60 yards during a nine-play, 80-yard, uptempo drive that resulted with a Wasilewski 1-yard plunge and a 20-6 lead.
"We physically imposed our will on them," said Mount Carmel coach Carm DeFrancesco. "We saw those guys getting tired and we thought this was the time and boy did we wear them out."
"We like to sub a lot of defensive linemen and we really couldn't do that because they were going no-huddle," said Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn.
Lewisburg's lone turnover, an interception, set up Mount Carmel's final score - a 12-yard pass from Wasilewski to Elijah Duran with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Wasilewski, who missed his first three long pass attempts to start the game, completed 7 of his final 9 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
"(Wasilewski) was on tonight," said DeFrancesco, "and the whole team just executed completely."
Wasilewski's 39-yard touchdown pass to Rob Varano in the second quarter gave Mount Carmel a 12-3 halftime lead.
Lewisburg's only first-half points came on a Maxfield Reed 31-yard field goal after Mount Carmel's punter dropped to his knee trying to field a low snap. Lewisburg received the ball at the Mount Carmel 18, but moved just 4 yards before settling for the field goal.
Reed made a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut Mount Carmel's lead to 12-6 before the Red Tornadoes scored the next two touchdowns.
Lewisburg's offense struggled mightily and finished with 118 yards of total offense. Smith was the lone Lewisburg rusher to run for positive yardage, finishing with 79 hard-earned yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Nick Costagliola finished 6 of 23 for 59 yards, but at times deserved a better fate as his receivers dropped a few catchable passes.
"We just weren't hitting our pass game," said Winn. "We had some drops, we had some bad throws, but that is something again that is going to come over the next eight weeks."