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Montoursville at Mount Carmel preview

Montoursville PPG–34.3, PPA–18.3; YPG–343.3, YPA–316.3

Montoursville facts: Two of the district’s most storied programs collide for the first time since 2017 as the Warriors try bouncing back following last week’s heartbreaking overtime loss at Jersey Shore. Montoursville led 20-13 in the final minute before Jersey Shore mounted a game-tying 85-yard drive. The three-time defending HAC-II champions are seeking their fourth straight District 4 Class AAA final appearance and are third in the playoff standings. Montoursville overcame a third-quarter deficit against Jersey Shore to take a lead and also rallied from a second-quarter deficit to defeat Wellsboro in the season opener. Running back Rocco Pulizzi ripped off a late 79-yard touchdown last week and has topped 100 yards in each game the past two seasons. Quarterback Maddix Dalena is coming off a 1,000-yard season and has thrown a touchdown in each game. The offensive line is young and trying to come together but has an excellent anchor in all-state senior Hunter Hanna. A young defense has looked dominant at times and struggled at others. Frank Schemery had two sacks in a 41-7 win against Lewisburg and the team has nine in three games. Linebackers Kayden Frame, Matthew Conklin, Brayden Brown and Dylan Blackwell all are first-year starters who are making a big impact. Frame collected two sacks last week. Big plays have hurt Montoursville at times with Wellsboro and Jersey Shore scoring on plays of 85 and 76 yards.

Montoursville player to watch–Marco Pulizzi: The junior cornerback likely will be lining up opposite an all-state receiver for a second straight week after doing an excellent job defending the area’s all-time leading receiver Cayden Hess last Friday. Pulizzi provided blanket coverage throughout the game, broke up four passes, intercepted another and made seven tackles. He also is an emerging threat at wide receiver and caught a go-ahead 21-yard touchdown pass a week ago.

Mount Carmel PPG–30.0, PPA–19.7; YPG–324.3, YPA–287.3

Mount Carmel facts: The Tornadoes have won consecutive games after opening the season with a loss against the state’s top-ranked Class AAA team, North Schuylkill. Mount Carmel played just three games last year due to an alleged hazing incident but appear eager to reclaim their status as a Class AA title contender. Mount Carmel’s defense has allowed just three touchdowns the past two weeks and has matched Montoursville with nine sacks. Julien Stellar and Michael Farronato help ignite the defense and are averaging a combined 16 tackles per game. Matt Sciccitano has been tough up front and has 3 1/2 sacks, including two against North Schuylkill. Mount Carmel has relied on its running game thus far and four players have gone over 100 yards. Quarterback Pedro Feliciano is one of the district’s most mobile quarterbacks and leads the team in rushing, producing 112 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-20 win against Hughesville. Stellar has topped 60 yards in each game has scored in both victories. Farronato and Garrett Varano combined for 104 yards and a touchdown against Shikellamy as the offense heated up late and produced 14 points to help Mount Carmel pull away from Shikellamy. Mount Carmel played in three straight district finals from 2017-19, losing to Southern Columbia each time.

Mount Carmel player to watch–Thomas Davitt: The senior linebacker made a home in Shikellamy’s backfield a week ago, collecting 2 1/2 sacks and making four tackles for loss. Davitt produced a career-high 11 tackles and also blocked a kick. He opened the year with 10 tackles against North Schuylkill.

Outlook: Montoursville played one of the district’s most physical games a week ago and this one likely will be every bit as hard hitting. Barring turnovers and costly mistakes, this one will be one in the trenches.

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