DEKALB — When Mount Carmel went nine seasons without winning a state title, some wondered if the dynasty was done.
Those doubts are just a distant memory now that the Caravan has made winning titles a habit again. A year after taking first in Class 8A, top-ranked Mount Carmel rolled to a 30-0 victory over Lake Zurich Saturday evening in the 7A final.
“When we win titles, we win them in multiples,” said coach Frank Lenti, whose 11 titles in 30 seasons include a four-peat from 1988 to ‘91, a three-peat from 1998 to 2000 and the current two-year run.
The latest championship came courtesy of a smothering defense and an offense with a big-time running back and an opportunistic quarterback.
Mount Carmel’s defense pitched its seventh shutout of the season and held an opponent to single-digit scoring for the 10th time. No. 4 Lake Zurich 12-2) finished with 71 net yards — 35 rushing, 1.8 yards per carry, and 36 passing — and four first downs.
Lenti didn’t want to say whether this defense was his toughest, “but it’s one of the best without a doubt.”
Lake Zurich quarterback Noah Allgood wasn’t arguing the point: “Their defensive line was firing off the ball. They’re fast, all of them.
They brought some blitzes, that was tough on us.”
So were Mount Carmel’s 30th and 31st takeaways of the season, both of which led to touchdowns and a 14-0 Caravan lead after one quarter.
Sean Lynch fumbled a punt and Mount Carmel’s Justin Peebles recovered at the Bears’ six-yard line. Two runs by Illinois-bound Matt Domer, the last for one yard, gave the Caravan a 7-0 lead with 8:56 left in the first.
Allgood fumbled later in the period, Mount Carmel’s Bob Brophy recovered at the Lake Zurich 13 and Domer (35 carries, 176 carries) scored again from two yards out.
“Any time you turn the ball over at this level during the playoffs against good teams, bad things happen,” Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt said. “And we dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
The Caravan gradually stretched the lead, getting a 21-yard touchdown pass from Marko Boricich to Christian Searles at 7:45 of the second quarter and a three-yard scoring toss from Boricich to Brendan Griffin with 8:16 left in the game. Boricich, who has 15 touchdown passes among his 55 completions this season, got a call from former Caravan quarterback Jordan Lynch — now a Heisman Trophy candidate and NCAA record-setter for Northern Illinois — earlier in the week.
“The big thing is how humble a kid he is,” Boricich said. “He said I’m a better high school quarterback than he was because he never got to state, which is a ridiculous comment.”
Mount Carmel’s defense is pretty ridiculous as well. It came up with another big play between Boricich’s touchdown passes when Minnesota recruit Steven Richardson tackled Allgood in the end zone for a safety.
“Earlier in the week there was a little bit of confusion with [Lake Zurich’s] formations,” said Brophy, who credited defensive coordinator Dave Lenti and the other coaches for resolving that. “They said focus on the linemen and don’t get confused by the motion in the backfield.”
When it was over, there was no confusion about who was the best team in Class 7A.