OLD FORGE — From the first day of practice in the stifling August heat, Ron Arnold knew he had something special on his hands.
The rookie head coach was convinced his Wayne Highlands B-Team was capable of winning an All-County Conference Junior Football League championship. He even dared hope that these talented Stingers might also make a deep playoff run ... perhaps even qualify for the Super Bowl.
Now, three months later, the Red & Black have made their skipper appear prophetic. Wayne Highlands traveled to Old Forge Sunday afternoon and defeated Pocono Mountain in the American Conference championship game.
With this 14-0 victory, the Stingers did indeed punch their ticket for the 2012 ACCJFL all-season title tilt. Weather permitting, they'll take on North Pocono Sunday afternoon at Valley View.
Opening kickoff for Super Bowl XI is slated for 1:45 p.m.
"This is such a special group of kids," en emotional Coach Arnold told TWI Sports. "I love every one of them. They have a shot at doing something really special and it was our goal from Day One."
Wayne Highlands and Pocono Mountain played to a scoreless tie through one quarter Sunday in Old Forge.
However, the Stingers began showing signs of life midway through the second period.
Although the Panthers keyed on tailback Justin LoBasso all day long, this opened things up for Andy Carroll and Tanner Box. Carroll pounded away between the tackles and Box broke loose for several eletrifying runs.
Carroll tallied both Wayne Highlands touchdowns. The hard-nosed fullback rumbled to a 35-yard score on a counter just before intermission. Andy then added a 25-yard scoring gallop off a jet-fake power play.
"Andy Carroll had the game of his life," said Coach Arnold. "The took away the outside, so Andy stepped up and ran hard inside. He did an amazing job."
LoBasso and Box earned high marks from their mentor for superb all-round play.
Despite constant attention from Pocono Mountain tacklers, Justin still managed to grind out nearly 100 yards rushing. "Boots" also turned in the Play of the Day on defense, killing off a Panthers' drive with an interception.
Tanner is showing no lingering effects from an injury that cost him most of the regular season. Box ran the ball aggressively and blocked with reckless abandon.
"Tanner had a terrific game," Coach Arnold said. "He loves smashing through the middle. But, his blocking was the most important thing today. Tanner sealed linebackers and kicked out ends so his teammates could run."
Offensive linemen Kevin Bednar, Jacob Kabonick and Joe Scarfalloto also received kudos for their heroic play in the trenches.
Page 2 of 2 - Defensively, Luke Bancroft and Ethan Dunn shut down Pocono Mountain's vaunted aerial attack with blanket coverage on the corners.
Score by Quarters...
WH (9-0-0) 0 7 7 0 - 14
PM (7-2-0) 0 0 0 0 - 0