Disabato: Mount Carmel finishes as one of the great ones
DEKALB — Flawless.
That’s the most accurate way to describe Mount Carmel’s performance Saturday during their Class 7A state championship game against Lake Zurich.
The Caravan amassed 279 yards of offense, 248 arriving via a running game that sustained drives and ate valuable clock time. The defense allowed — sit down, folks — 71 total yards and four first downs.
Oops. The Caravan did cough up the ball once. So, how can a performance that included a turnover be defined as flawless, you ask?
On the ensuing play, the defense provided a safety, turning that little miscue at the Lake Zurich 1-yard line into a score.
Mount Carmel resembled Picasso in that it produced a masterpiece that resulted in a 30-0 win and the program’s 12th state championship, 11 of them coming under the guidance of coach Frank Lenti, the state’s all-time winningest coach at 339-60. It was also the Caravan’s second championship in a row, following the 8A title last season.
And to be certain, Mount Carmel athletic director Dan LaCount corrected an IHSA official who had short-changed the program one state championship during the post-game press conference.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the kids right here,” Lenti said. “It’s not about talent, it’s about team. We may be out-talented from time to time, but we’re going to be prepared and we’re not going to be outworked.”
This wasn’t one of the those years Mount Carmel was out-talented.
I’ve covered high school football in the Southland for 23 years.
I’ve watched multiple local teams hoist the state championship trophy, from Class 4A to Class 8A.
Many have registered undefeated seasons, exhibiting a level of dominance resembling a state champion — multiple Mount Carmel and Providence teams, Lincoln-Way prior to producing any offspring and Crete-Monee come to mind.
Of course, as the years fly by, the memory begins to fade.
But I’m confident when I say the 2013 Mount Carmel defense is the best I’ve ever covered, this team one of the finest. Defenses like this don’t come around often. They had allowed just 96 points all season, posted six shutouts.
Twelve of the Caravan’s 14 opponents made the playoffs. Translation: The schedule was void of cream puffs.
Which is why when Mount Carmel jumped out to a 21-0 lead at the half against Lake Zurich, there was a greater chance of seeing a Beatles reunion than the Caravan relinquishing its lead.
I chuckled when Lake Zurich fans cheered moments after Mount Carmel, ahead three touchdowns, coughed up the ball at the Bear 1-yard line.
What? Were Lake Zurich fans that delusional to think their team was going to march 99 yards against this defense and make a game of this 7A encounter?
One play later, Mount Carmel sacked Bears quarterback Noah Allgood in the end zone for a safety and a 23-0 advantage.
The icing on the cake, ladies and gentlemen.
“There aren’t very many teams that are going to drive the ball 80, 90 yards against our defense,” Lenti said. “I don’t like using the term ‘the best’ but this defense is one of the best we had, no doubt. What I was real pleased with is we started fast and set the tempo. We try to set the tempo every game where they’re (opposing fans) going to say, ‘we’re not going to beat Mount Carmel today.’ ”
Having two Big Ten-bound defensive linemen had a great deal to do with that thinking. Enoch Smith Jr. and Steve Richardson are headed to Michigan State and Minnesota, respectively. Seniors Deontae Brown, Sam Connoly and Christian Searles, along with junior Deandre Greer might land D-I offers in due time.
Beyond the talent, the defense exhibited great focus.
And let’s not forget about running back Matt Domer, who rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
“Yeah, I know we’re the best,” said Richards, who flashed a wide smile before giving props to the teams before this one. “We always watch the other (Mount Carmel) teams from previous championships. We learn from the greats.”
And now rank among the greats.