Mount Carmel’s running back Matt Domer returns to the sidelines after a touchdown run against Saint Laurence at Gately Stadium, Saturday October, 6, 2012. | Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 24, 2012 6:54AM
Matt Domer didn’t have to look far to find role models when he started playing football.
“My brothers played before me,” the Mount Carmel junior said of Emile and Michael, who played at Homewood-Flossmoor in the early 2000s. “I always followed behind them. ... I always felt like I had big shoes to fill growing up because they were really good. I felt like I had to be like them when I got older.”
The little brother looks to be the best player in the family. After filling a complementary role on the varsity for the Caravan’s Prep Bowl championship team as a sophomore last year, Domer has emerged as a rising star for 12-1 Mount Carmel’s Class 8A state finalist.
Heading into Saturday night’s title game (7 p.m.) against Glenbard North (12-1) at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Domer has rushed for 1,290 yards and 20 touchdowns on just 142 carries, a 9.1 average. He also has eight catches for 65 yards and has returned five kickoffs for a 27.4-yard average.
The numbers don’t surprise Caravan coach Frank Lenti.
“It’s a combination of two things,” Lenti said. “The fact that we run option football, it causes hesitation in the defense; our offensive line has sprung him loose. ... And he’s more than athletic enough to do it all.
“Matt can run by you, he can run over you, he can make you miss, he can block and he can catch.”
What Domer is less inclined to do is talk about himself or start daydreaming about the next level.
“When we were getting ready to play Loyola he didn’t want to talk to anybody (in the media) because he didn’t want it to be a distraction from the team and the game,” Lenti said.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder is taking a similar approach to recruiting, at least until after Saturday’s game, though he already has a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois and interest from several other schools.
“I really don’t pay much attention to it,” Domer said. “I have a goal here first and I want to stick to the family. I want to win state first. That’ll all come. That’s not going anywhere.”
Lenti sees a significant upside in Domer, who is one of three Caravan players with at least 500 rushing yards (fellow back Draco Smith has 799 and nine touchdowns, while quarterback Don Butkus has 508 and 13 scores).
“I think he’s a Big Ten running back,” Lenti said. “He has the skill set to do that (and) he’s got pretty decent grades.”
And he’s got an idea of what it takes to play at a high level from all those nights watching his brothers play.