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Football Preview: No. 2 Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel senior Dominic Antonietti has fully embraced the suck.

Caravan coach Frank Lenti is using “embrace the suck,” an old military phrase, to help get his team through this summer’s long and hot practices and it’s resonating.

“It’s just taught me about doing what’s required,” Antonietti said. “When it’s hot out and everything it sucks, but you just have to embrace it and you have to do what needs to be done. You can’t make excuses or feel sorry for yourself. It’s about doing what needs to be done. I think that’s helped me in school and in life.”

The phrase has also helped No. 2 Mount Carmel move on from the loss of talented cornerback Houston Griffith, who transferred to IMG Academy in Florida. The junior is a top 100 national player and was possibly the most highly-recruited player in the state.

“I understand that he’s a good football player and this sport is a business so he has to do what’s best for him,” Mount Carmel senior Michael Kennedy said. “I’m not upset or anything, I think he made a good move for his future.”

The loss of Houston just added to the list of players Lenti will have to replace this season. Only five starters, three on offense and two on defense, return.

Kennedy, a Northern Illinois recruit, is one to watch along with junior Alek Thomas. Kennedy is a running back for the Caravan but expects to play linebacker in college. Thomas, who is a terrific shortstop on the baseball team, could be one of the area’s breakout stars this season.

“We’re hoping so,” Lenti said. “We will have him return punts, possibly return kicks, play running back, play wide receiver. We might even have him play a little bit of quarterback. He’s a 4.0 plus student, he’s very heady academically and athletically. He’s one of those kids where you tell him something one time and he gets it. Those kind of kids are far and few between today.”

The strength of the team is the offensive line, led by juniors Verdis Brown and Tucker Gill. The quarterback situation is still up in the air.

“I wouldn’t say there is a settled starter,” Lenti said. “Dan Trudeau, a senior, has taken a lot of snaps. Shane Egan will be working in there as well but he’s been sick.”

Mount Carmel lost three games last season. Two to state champs (Loyola, Glenbard West) and one to rival Brother Rice. The lose to the Hilltoppers in the playoffs has remained on Kennedy’s mind.

“That left a bad taste,” Kennedy said. “I was upset about it for awhile and I’m ready to redeem myself this season. The returning guys have a good example of what can happen if you come up short, you can can wind up in the Prep Bowl. We have to work hard so that doesn’t happen again.

MOUNT CARMEL SCHEDULE

Aug. 28: vs. Taft at Soldier Field, 3 p.m.

Sep. 2: at Gary West, 7 p.m.

Sep. 9: vs. Loyola, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 16: at DePaul Prep, 4:15 p.m.

Sep. 23: vs. St. Rita, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 30: at Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7: vs. De La Salle, 4 p.m.

Oct. 14: at Montini, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21: at Providence, 7:30 p.m.