Mount Carmel’s roster dotted with talent

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Loyola senior quarterback Jack Penn has plans to go to Saturday night’s homecoming dance at the school. However, he’s not quite sure of the theme.

“I think it’s Candy Land,” he said.

Penn can be forgiven if he has been less than focused on the dance because earlier in the day he is scheduled to lead the No. 2 Ramblers (5-0 overall, 2-0 Catholic League Blue) against star-studded No. 1 Mount Carmel (5-0, 2-0) in a league contest that features the top two teams in the Chicago Sun-Times poll.

The Caravan squad features several players who have verbally committed to Division I programs: defensive linemen Enoch Smith (Michigan State) and Steve Richardson (Minnesota), defensive back Deontae Brown (Western Michigan) and running back Matt Domer (Illinois).

“They are formidable,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “… With three Big Ten and then a Western Michigan recruit, they just have great athletes. We haven’t got scholarship (players) all over the field. We haven’t got one (scholarship) from any (major) college. It’s their personnel that you have to worry about.”

In a Monday interview, Penn explained just how critical the week of practice would be in preparing to face the Caravan.

“I think we definitely need a full week of practice,” he said. “I’m not ready to jump in and play them yet. I’m thinking about (the game) all the time, but want to use the time to practice and prep.”

The Ramblers defeated the Caravan in a 30-27 overtime thriller at Chicago’s Gately Stadium last season, but Mount Carmel went on to win the Class 8A state title.

Mount Carmel showed some vulnerability two weeks ago when it had to rally to beat Brother Rice 28-20. Coach Frank Lenti’s team did return to its dominant ways with a 24-3 win over St. Rita last week.

Messages left for Lenti seeking comment were not returned by press time.

Loyola, which is coming off a 24-3 victory at Brother Rice on Friday, has given up its share of yards this season. Though the Ramblers have not surrendered a ton of points due to some clutch red-zone defense and an ability to cause turnovers.

Two weeks ago, Providence gained 418 yards against the Ramblers, but the Wilmette school won 28-16.

On the other side of the ball, Loyola senior running back Julius Holley has been back on the field for two weeks after missing the Week 3 win over St. Ignatius with a leg injury. Holecek said Holley was still trying to get back into top shape and had been struggling with leg cramps since his return.

On Saturday, Loyola’s offensive success could depend on its line’s ability to slow down the high-powered Mount Carmel defensive front.

“It’s definitely the offensive line’s biggest challenge so far, but I have complete confidence in them,” Penn said about the group that includes junior center Michael Carlin, senior guards Bubba Kubon and Matt Maher, senior tackle Milan Urukalo and junior tackle Jack Moroni. “Yes, (Mount Carmel) has a big front three, but I have faith in our line to get the job done.”

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