Sunday, November 16, 2014

This is the winningest coach... the history of Illinois high school football moments after his team qualified for the semifinals. (That's not a Mount Carmel hat, though, is it?)

After entering the final game of the regular season with a 4-4 record, needing (and getting) a victory over Loyola, the Caravan has won three games in the postseason and is now on the verge of another trip downstate for the 7A crown. All they have to do is get past No. 1-seed Providence (12-1) next Saturday, a team that beat them, 33-14, in Week Three. (Is that all?)

In case you don't have access to the Internet, Mount Carmel overcame a 7-0 deficit in the first quarter yesterday to defeat Lincoln-Way East, 20-7, at Gately Park on the city's South Side. Coach Frank Lenti and the Caravan are now 3-0 lifetime against the Griffins.

After the game Lenti was quoted as saying, in classic "coach-ese" (my emphasis):

“I’m just extremely proud of the way the team has hung in their, fought through adversity and are playing Mount Carmel football.”

My buddy Kevin and I then hightailed it to Top Notch Beefburgers on 95th Street in Beverly to eat a couple of burgers and decompress.

Kev went home afterward, but I returned to Gately for the nightcap.

And what a nightcap it was! Phillips, led by quarterback Dewayne Collins (with the ball) and wide receiver Quayvon Skanes (no. 9), defeated No. 1-seed and previously unbeaten Rockford Lutheran, 14-13, in a nail-biter. (Sorry about that blurry picture above. As I was walking to my seat before the kickoff someone next to me called out to Collins. He turned around quickly and I took the shot without getting a chance to get set.)

According to the Sun-Times:

It was a history making event as Phillips joined Simeon as two teams advanced to the semifinals from the Public League for the first time in state history.

And more "coach-ese," this time from Phillips coach Troy McAllister:

"We got off to a great start and hung on against a great team. I knew it was going to come down to turnovers and special teams."

Don't coaches ever get tired of saying stuff like that? 

But it was true; Phillips got off to a quick and early first quarter lead of 14-0 before the Crusaders got on the board early in the second quarter. After a scoreless third period (and most of the fourth), Rockford Lutheran recovered a Phillips fumble at the Wildcats' 42-yard line and scored on fourth-and-the season to make it 14-13 with just 1:38 left in the contest. As I had mentioned earlier on Twitter, I smelled overtime but the Rockford Lutheran kicker missed the extra point, wide right. Pandemonium on the Phillips side!

But wait; Rockford Lutheran recovered the ensuing onside kick! But they were called for off-sides! And Phillips fell on the next onside kick. Wildcats won, 14-13, and now advance to the semis against the Coal City Coalers (who?). It was thrilling!

But a few observations. Phillips can't sit on a lead next week, if they get one. This is crunch-time; it may be "coach-ese" to say this, but it's true: you have to play four quarters. And Collins has to avoid getting sacked for big losses. He needs to learn to either throw the ball away or just make a run for it. He can't make mistakes like that in the semifinals.

As for the game itself, there was quite a bit more passing than I anticipated. (And more penalties, too.) I really didn't know what to expect from Rockford Lutheran, but I certainly didn't think their stud running back, James Robinson, would be limited to only 42 yards rushing. 

Next week, as I said, is Providence at Mount Carmel and Coal City at Phillips. (Both games at Gately again?) Glenbard West also takes on Stevenson in Glen Ellyn so I'll just have to wait and see how the scheduling comes out.

No comments: