Disabato: Mount Carmel, Marist in unfamiliar positions

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I don’t know which has been more unpredictable: the weather on Friday nights or the number of unexpected performances, both good and bad, from local football teams.

Raise your hand if you predicted 1-3 records for Mount Carmel and Marist, two perennial powerhouse programs?

Or that Reavis, Rich East and Lemont would be 4-0?

Or, for that matter, that Lincoln-Way North, without Julian Hylton, would have a perfect record entering Week 5?

Let’s discuss.

Since taking over in 2008, Pat Dunne has led Marist to a 51-22 record, including six consecutive playoff appearances. In 2009, the RedHawks advanced to the Class 8A state championship, finishing runner-up. Last season, the they advanced to the Class 8A semifinals.

It’s been a routine that, despite the loss of significant talent, Marist has been able to sustain. That’s is a credit to Dunne, one of the brightest and most dedicated coaches in the Southland.

The exception, as it turns out, could be this season. First, Marist returned one starter, running back/defensive back Jawill Aldridge, from 2013. I don’t care how much skill is projected on the roster, nothing compensates for game experience — right Mount Carmel fans? Marist is 1-3, and still has Benet (4-0), St. Patrick (2-2), Marian Catholic (1-3), Nazareth (4-0) and Joliet Catholic (3-1) on its schedule. The RedHawks have their work cut out to get to 5-4. The loss of Aldridge to a Week 2 ankle injury has had a devastating effect on the offense. No way does Marist lose to Notre Dame in Week 4 if Aldridge is in the lineup. The good news is that he’s expected to return Friday just in time for the playoff push.

A week ago in this very space I talked about the likelihood or, better yet, the unlikelihood of Mount Carmel failing to qualify for the postseason. Such a reality hasn’t occurred during coach Frank Lenti’s 31-year career. A loss Friday to St. Rita, though, has the Caravan at 1-3.

With Loyola (3-1), Brother Rice (3-1) and a Friday date with De La Salle remaining, getting to 5-4 is going to take some work. Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes.

I still wouldn’t bet against Mount Carmel winning four of its next five and sneaking into the playoffs. Worse yet, how about the team that finishes 9-0 or 8-1 and is “rewarded” with a first-round game against the Caravan? But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we …

There aren’t many programs that could pick up where it left off after graduating a player who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.

That’s precisely what Lincoln-Way North has done. Julian Hylton is now at Illinois and North is 4-0.

Yes, North’s schedule up to this point has been as soft as a roll of Charmin. However, the play of quarterback Ryan Arthur, a three-year starter, and running back Jaylen Branch, who transferred from Mount Carmel after his freshman season and has made quite an impression, has lessened the severity of Hylton’s departure.

When talk centers around specific conferences, the Southland doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

There’s no denying that Crete-Monee has ruled the roost. Since 2007, the Warriors are 36-1 in conference.

However, Rich East (4-0), Bloom (3-1) and Rich Central (3-1) have the talent to make things interesting in the race for conference supremacy. Each has star power: Rich East running back Vince Causey, Bloom linebacker Kyle Pugh and Rich Central receiver Dequan Dudley are difference-makers.

It should add up to a memorable run for bragging rights in the Southland Conference.

For Marist and Mount Carmel, there’s some digging to do to re-enter the playoff discussion

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