MUNDELEIN — When Carmel football coach Andy Bitto looked at film of his team’s 34-14 ESCC loss to Joliet Catholic in Week 3, he saw something different than what the scoreboard showed.
“The funny thing is, I don’t think we’re that far off at all,” Bitto said. “One play here, or one play there, and it would’ve probably been a whole different game. We let many of those opportunities — where we had the chance to change the momentum of the game with a key tackle, block or interception — slip away.”
That’s a pattern he’s noticed the first three weeks, as the Corsairs head into Friday’s key showdown at Marian Catholic with a 1-2 record.
“We were in all three games, but we played three great teams [Fenwick, Phillips and Joliet Catholic] too,” Bitto said. “But that’s beside the point. We really have to focus on retooling what we do, and getting us where we want to be midseason. Not just focusing on our upcoming opponents and evaluating what they do. I know it sounds like a cliché, but if we take care of the things we’re supposed to as a team, success will take care of itself.”
One person who took full advantage of his opportunities against the Hilltoppers last Friday was sophomore running back Rondel Jamison. He carried the ball 21 times for 145 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown. As a team, the Corsairs racked up 293 yards on the ground.
“The blocking by our offensive line was a big reason I had a good game,” said Jamison, a first-year varsity player. “They created holes for me, and once I came off those blocks, I was able to get upfield in the open a lot.”
Patience was the key.
“Sometimes you can attack holes in the [offensive] line right away,” Jamison said. “But there are many times you have to wait for those holes to open up and be more patient. Against Joliet Catholic, I had to wait to get off my guards’ blocks more.”
Another player who had a stellar game was senior running back/defensive back Joe Hoy, who had 20 tackles.
“They [Joliet Catholic] ran pretty basic plays, which made it easier to anticipate where the ball was going,” Hoy said. “Part of it was watching film a lot in the days leading up to the game, too. Even though we didn’t win, I knew it was an important game and wanted to play my heart out.
“We were well-prepared, but no one enjoys losing a game like that to a key division opponent, especially on our home field. This week, we need to stay focused on every down, every play. Joliet Catholic had a huge play at the end of the first half [a 44-yard touchdown pass with 1.5 seconds left in the second quarter] that shifted the momentum, so we can’t lose focus for even a split second.”
Hoy’s performance should serve as inspiration for the rest of the Corsairs, according to Bitto.
“I didn’t realize he had that many tackles until we added the numbers up, then double-checked,” Bitto said. “He was everywhere out there defensively. If we take that aggressive, heads-up mentality into our next game on every down, I like our chances. We don’t have to change much I don’t think. Just a lot of little things, like working on our technique on both sides of the ball in practice during our off days. Those little things will go a long way.”