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CN100 Game of the Week preview: IHSA Football Playoffs Second Round - St. Rita vs. Mt. Carmel

The Mustangs and Caravan meet on the CN100 Game of the Week.
The Mustangs and Caravan meet on the CN100 Game of the Week.
CHICAGO – It’s a rivalry that spans 90 years; two behemoths from arguably the best high school football conference in Illinois – and they get another shot at each other Friday.

Defending Class 8A state champion Mt. Carmel and St. Rita, two old rivals from the Chicago Catholic Blue, meet in the Class 7A second round of the playoffs Friday at 7 p.m. at Gately Stadium. The game will be broadcast by CN100 at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11. You can also find the game throughout Chicagoland with Xfinity on Demand.

Mt. Carmel leads the all-time series 58-29-2. The two teams have met twice in the same season three times in the past 20 years, the last coming in 2005. Mt. Carmel won the regular season match-up 24-3 in Week 5. The winner of this game will face either Downers Grove North or Wheaton Warrenville South in the quarterfinals.

St. Rita (9-1) comes in with a defense that could potentially slow down the powerful attack of Mt. Carmel (9-1). Last week, Martin Bechina (43 tackles on the season, four interceptions, four tackles for loss), John Connolly (58 tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks last week) and company shut down record-setting Willowbrook quarterback Brian Jackson in a 34-6 St. Rita win.

Earlier this season, Jackson set a state record by throwing for 675 yards in a game.

Offensively, senior Tommy Mister, the transfer from Richards, has had a stellar season running the show. He has rushed for 1,373 yards and 24 touchdowns and passed for 996 yards and six more scores, with only three interceptions. His top target in the pass game is Julian Crum (17 catches, 400 yards, four touchdowns), while D.J. Miles (517 rush yards, four touchdowns) aids Mister in the run game.

“I believe that we are playing consistent football right now,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We have continued to run the ball effectively to set up some play action passes on offense and continue to stop the run on the defensive side while limiting the big play. I see the same consistencies from our opponent this week.”

That opponent is one of the state’s most storied programs, south side rival Mt. Carmel. The legacy left so far by Coach Frank Lenti is nothing short of amazing. He is now 335-60 in 30 years as the head coach, winning 10 state titles and coming in second five other times.

All told, the Caravan have only had three seasons with fewer than 10 wins since 1986. Last year, they went 13-1 to win the Class 8A title. This year, they were dropped to Class 7A, setting up this second-round matchup with the Mustangs.

Running back Matt Domer came back in last week’s 49-6 win over Benet after missing three weeks with a knee injury. He is committed to Illinois and joins a long list of Division I recruits for the Caravan. Defensive linemen Enoch Smith (Michigan State) and Steve Richardson (Minnesota) are both headed to the Big Ten, while defensive back Deontae Brown is committed to Western Michigan.

Offensively, quarterback Marko Boricich leads the way. Domer is flanked by Jimmy Mickens in the backfield, while wide receiver Christian Searles and tight end Sam Connolly factor into the passing game.

“They are overpowering teams up front on both the offensive and defensive lines, which is how you win games in the playoffs,” Kuska said. “We are going to have to control the line of scrimmage and win the turnover battle.”

- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent

Stay up to date on all of CN100’s games this season by visiting our website, or follow Game of the Week on Facebook and Twitter to see where our crew will be next. When the games are done, tune into to see the best in Chicagoland prep sports each week with CN100 Sports Weekly. You can also find video clips and highlights with Sports Weekly on YouTube.





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