Sunday, February 7, 2010

DeFrancesco Returns After 17 Year Exile

Carm DeFrancesco has become just the 5th coach for the storied Mount Carmel Red Tornado football team since 1962. He succeeds Bob Chesney after going 7-5 in one season.

For the record, only three men applied for the position including current assistant Rob Varano, and former assistant and Danville head coach Jeremy Winn.

DeFrancesco who will be making his 5th head coaching stop after stints at Cardinal Brennan, Danville, Shamokin and Upper Dauphin, finally comes to his alma mater nearly two decades after being the front man to succeed Joe "Jazz" Diminick.

The previous four stops were reclamation projects while Mount Carmel will be asking their native son to return them to statewide prominence.

If you ask his previous 4 stops if they would like to see Carm back, 3 out of the 4 would probably agree with one now being closed in Cardinal Brennan. When Carm left Cardinal Brennan, they were beginning to show signs of a numbers problem which would eventually close the school. Carm left Danville because of Shamokin working with him professionally for teacher certification and a position.

The most acrimonious end came at Shamokin in 2006. Problems began to brew for DeFrancesco back in 2005. That year the Indian's opened up facing Southern Columbia for the first time since 1900 and came away with a 19-16 win at Southern in overtime ending Southerns longest win streak in school history at 27. The Tigers went on to lose just one more game in capturing the state title that year while Shamokin stumbled to .500.

Hit hard by graduating in 2006, incidents of "hazing" and a new administration that had some run-ins with DeFrancesco in the past, DeFrancesco was sent packing. Whether you agree with his firing at Shamokin or not, Carm gave it his all while there. He had detractors who said he "threw" the MCA game on purpose every year and after going 0-7 against his alma mater that also proved to be an albatross.

In his tenure at Shamokin, DeFrancesco probably spent more time worrying about keeping kids eligible through academics and discipline than being overcome with injuries.

DeFrancesco was sent to high school purgatory in 2007 at Upper Dauphin. In a conversation with Carm back then, he indicated that "the fastest guy on the team was the head coach." He didn't complain about the hand he was dealt in 2007 and said these are kids I could work with to get better.

Success came in 2009 with the outright championship of the Twin Valley Conference and District III runner-up.

It is hard to say what is in store at MCA. He does have to build a coaching staff since his assistants will be staying at UDA. For one, DeFrancesco has one of the firmest foundations to build upon. Being a consistent players in the state playoffs will be hard.

Since 2002 and MCA's last state title, the dynamic has changed. It now takes 3 wins for a district title and two more wins to get into week 16. There was only week 15 back in 2002. Also, you add District 12 which does it's fair share of "recruiting" students (see West Catholic). MCA has only won district title since the 8-team format with that coming in 2008.

You can see he already has big detractors.

What does the future hold? It is hard to say. The Coal Region is dying. Paper Magic and Pace Arrow are gone. Catawissa Lumber is on life support. Does it affect Mount Carmel? Carm is now 57, just a few seasons away from the age when Diminick was ousted. On the other hand, Carm is a better head coach now than when he would have gotten the job back in 1993. He has seen and experienced everything on and off the field you can imagine.

At the end of the day, you ask yourself this about you head football coach. Would you want your son to play for him? I would want my son to play for Carm as with for the previous head coach. I don't know if that will be enough.

No comments: