MT CARMEL WINS PREP BOWL
By John Montgomery
The high school football season began with Mt. Carmel(10-4) beating Simeon(10-4) at Soldier Field in August. The season ended with Bolingbrook(13-1) beating Loyola (13-1) 21-17 at Champaign in the Class 8A championship game.
In our area, the two biggest stories occurred off the field. Gordon(5-5) forfeited to Leo(5-6) in the Catholic League playoffs while Lake View linebacker Ashley Diaz missed the season due to health issues.
In the Prep Bowl at Soldier Field, Brandon Greer rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Caravan to their 11th city championship. Simeon fell short despite 205 yards passing from backup quarterback Elcee Burke.
Mt Carmel has won 11 Prep Bowls and 10 state football championships. This past year saw Mt Carmel head coach Frank Lenti become the state's winningest man on a high school sideline in Illinois. Lenti will enter 2012 with 313 wins and only 58 defeats.
In our neighborhood, Gordon made the Catholic League playoffs despite suiting up only 22 players. The Rams were hoping to advance to the state football playoffs.
Leo beat Gordon 39-19 at Luther North in an embarrassing loss for the Rams during section play.
The Rams were ready for the rematch as they stunned Leo 14-8 limiting Keith Harris to 23 yards on 12 carries and more importantly no trips into the end zone at Luther North.
The thrill of victory turned into the agony of controversial defeat six days later as Gordon forfeited for playing two freshmen in the win over Leo. Leo re-entered the playoff and was beaten by Hales(7-5).
Under Catholic League rules, freshman are ineligible to participate against Catholic League opponents. Freshmen can play in the state playoffs. This rule might be changed after the outcry over this forfeit.
On the field, Lane(3-6) endured its third straight losing season. Taft(7-3) won the Big Shoulders section over Foreman(7-3) and Mather(6-3).
Diaz missed the season for Lake View(7-2), who won the section title after losing season opener to Gordon 54-0.
Eventually Mt Carmel would meet and beat Simeon in the Prep Bowl.
Most people still don't think it's fair for the Catholic League and Public League teams that lose in the state playoffs to re-enter Prep Bowl playoffs.
In the state playoffs, could Maine South(10-1) win a fourth straight title? The Hawks were upset by Stevenson(9-3) in the second round of the Class 8A tournament. Maine South could be a factor again in 2012 with Matt Alvitti returning for his senior year at quarterback.
Fans, coaches, and media were anticipating a rematch between Loyola(13-1) and Maine South in the semifinals of the 8A playoffs. Maine South had beaten Loyola in back-to-back years enroute to state championships.
Stevenson stunned Maine South so the next best matchup would Loyola-Bolingbrook in the title game at Champaign.
Bolingbrook(13-1) won its first state football title beating Loyola 21-17 on Saturday to close the book on football 2011. Junior quarterback Aaron Bailey had two touchdowns and 149 yards rushing to lead the Raiders. A dramatic game despite the weather conditions and five turnovers by Bolingbrook.
Another game that would be interesting to spectators was Montini clashing with Joliet Catholic in the Class 5A championship. Montini(12-2) beat Joliet Catholic 29-28 in the 2009 Class 5A final.
The rematch wasn't a disappointment as Montini won its third straight state football title 70-45 over the Hilltoppers(11-3), who have won 13 state football championships. Montini's Jordan Westerkamp caught five touchdown passes from quarterback John Rhode. Westerkamp, who will attend Nebraska, had 11 receptions for 331 yards. The Broncos overcame a stellar performance by Joliet Catholic junior Ty Isaac. Issac rushed a state record 515 yards and six touchdowns in the loss.
Dakota(12-2), Morrison(13-1), Aurora Christian(13-1), Rochester(12-2), Prairie Ridge(13-1), and Rockford Boylan(14-0) left Champaign with state football championships.
Now, my choices for Player and Coach of the Year. The Player of the Year in our area is Gordon quarterback Julian Russell. Russell finished his senior year with the Rams by rushing for 763 yards and 15 touchdowns. Isaac is my pick for Player of the Year in the Chicago area. Isaac ran for 51 touchdowns and 2,629 yards.
My selection for Coach of the Year in our area of Chicago is Taft's Matt Walsh. Walsh has revived the program at Taft winning the section title this past season while making appearances in the state playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
The choice for Coach of the Year in Chicago area is Prairie Ridge's Chris Schrempf. Prairie Ridge won the Class 6A title over the weekend by beating Peoria Richwoods. The school located in Crystal Lake won its first state football title after losing in the semifinals in 2010 to Rockford Boylan.
More high school sports next week including Gordon's Catholic League opener against Loyola in basketball.