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Disabato: Football season has produced many highlights

JasGasser Mount Carmel is grabbed by Kaylyn Entoe Simeon. Patrick Gleas~ For Sun-Times

Jason Gasser of Mount Carmel is grabbed by Kaylyn Entoe of Simeon. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:12AM



Five weeks in the books.

Hard to believe the high school football season is entering its final stretch.

So what have we learned?

Quite a bit, actually.

Marist and Mount Carmel are really, really good. Like No. 1 and No. 1A good. I’ll be shocked if one of them isn’t playing for the Class 8A state championship. Marist’s offense garners most of the headlines, but it’s the RedHawks defense that deserves much of the spotlight thus far. It has improved significantly, while the offense, — averaging about 37 points per game — still has room to improve. “There’s so much more room in all three phases of the game to get better at,” said Marist coach Pat Dunne, whose RedHawks rallied Friday to beat Joliet Catholic 27-24. “I think we are definitely progressing. But we’ve got to get better.”

Mount Carmel, coming off a 56-7 shellacking Friday of Brother Rice, is playing magnificently. Offense, defense, special teams, the Caravan is clicking on all cylinders. Coach Frank Lenti hasn’t had an offense in recent memory that boasts the number of weapons this one does. Don Butkus, Matt Domer, Draco Smith, Jason Gasser. It’s borderline ridiculous.

Lincoln-Way East’s defense is awfully good. Just how good, you ask? The Griffins have allowed just 47 points in five games against quality competition. The offense has racked up 149 points, which is an impressive total. However, my concern is how reliant the ‘‘O” is on QB Tom Fuessel. The kid is special, no doubt about it. He’s big — 6-foot-3 — strong, elusive and lightning fast. But he has to stay healthy if the Griffins are going to advance beyond the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. Fuessel is to the Griffins offense what water is to fish.

Richards is back. By back I mean among the elite teams once again. Am I surprised? Not in the least. What I was surprised at was how other publications omitted Richards from their preseason polls. The junior class is wildly talented. The Bulldogs defense is off-the-charts good and the offense boasts multiple game-breakers. From my vantage point, the only thing preventing Richards from mounting an extended postseason run are turnovers and penalties. The two-headed monster at quarterback of Tommy Mister and Hasan Muhammed-Rogers is certain to cause sleepless nights for opposing coaches.

Brother Rice quarterback Matt Page is 6-foot-5, leads the area in passing yards and scored a 33 on his ACT. I realize Northwestern already has landed Maine South QB Matt Alviti, but Page is built to run the Wildcats’ spread offense.

St. Rita’s streak of qualifying for the playoffs 12 consecutive years is in serious jeopardy. The Mustangs are 2-3, with games remaining against No. 2 Mount Carmel and perennial power Loyola. They’re going to need to upset one of those two to extend their playoff streak to a baker’s dozen.

It’s almost eerie how quietly Crete-Monee has gone about its business at 5-0. It’s impossible for a program that has gone 47-14 since 2007 to fly under the radar. The Warriors, however, resemble silent assassins despite a No. 4 ranking and having outscored their first five opponents 184-29, including a 37-6 win Friday over Kankakee. I hear whispers from detractors who say the Warriors’ schedule isn’t up to par with other elite programs. Fair enough. The Southland Conference will never be confused with the Catholic League Blue. But know this: receiver Laquon Treadwell and quarterback Marcus Terrell, along with a handful of other Warriors, would start on most teams in the state.

Lemont has Oak Forest’s number. The Indians are 7-1 against the Bengals since 2006 after Friday’s 17-14 win. While amazed at how Lemont continues to develop elite teams, what impresses me most is how the Indians seemingly never beat themselves during the regular season. When is the last time a Lemont team coughed the ball up in the final minutes of a close game? Rarely, if ever. I know Oak Forest’s players took the loss hard. Considering the Bengals pushed Lemont to the limit despite having starting fullback Matt Barry on the sidelines for the final three quarters with a knee injury and Tom Zale still not healthy enough to play quarterback, Oak Forest should be encouraged by its performance. There is fear Barry’s lost for the season. “You have to tip your hat to those guys,” Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. “They played short-handed and still took us out of a lot of things we like to do.”



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