Mount Carmel’s Alek Thomas (27) fakes a hand-off and gets a first down against St. Rita. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

O’Brien: Week 9’s four downs

SHARE O’Brien: Week 9’s four downs
SHARE O’Brien: Week 9’s four downs

Thoughts and observations heading into the state playoffs.

FIRST DOWN: Mount Carmel’s absence from the playoffs last season and absence from the Super 25 for a good chunk of this season has Caravan fans up in arms. There are several reasons for both slights, but if Friday was any indication things could be on the upswing for city’s legendary football program.

Alek Thomas has moved to running back and receiver the past two games, with Radomir Premovic taking over at quarterback.

Thomas led the Caravan back from 13-point halftime deficit against Providence on Friday. He had seven carries for 81 yards and was great at receiver, with with four receptions for 102 yards including a 49-yard touchdown catch.

Mount Carmel will travel to Moline (7-2) in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs. The Caravan (6-3) would face the Downers Grove North-Normal winner in the second round with powerhouse East S. Louis (8-1) possible looming in the quarterfinals .

SECOND DOWN: It’s way past time to pay some attention to Crete-Monee and quarterback Isaiah Rucker.

The Warriors lost to No. 1 Lincoln-Way East in Week 1, then beat Brother Rice 33-25 in Week 2. They weren’t challenged again the rest of the season and are averaging 46 points while allowing just 14.

Rucker, a 6-6, 225-pound senior, has been a sensation. He holds the school record for completions and passing yards and is seven touchdowns away from holding that record.

He’s a three-year starter that led Crete-Monee to the Class 6A title game back in 2015.

The Warriors (8-1) are the top seed in the south bracket of this season’s Class 6A bracket. They will host dangerous Hinsdale South (5-4) in the first round.

THIRD DOWN: It’s a vast and complicated city, but almost everyone seems united in disgust over the situation at Hope Academy. First it was St. Francis that refused to play the Eagles at Altgeld Park. That was Week 7. Bishop McNamara followed suit in Week 9.

it all stems from a shooting that occurred blocks away from Altgeld Park during Hope Academy’s Week 6 game against Providence. Both teams took cover when they heard the shots. Since then the Hope Academy administration and the city have taken every measure possible to make sure Altgeld Park is safe during football games, but the suburban schools still refuse to come.

Hope Academy now heads into the playoffs having played just once in the past three weeks. The Eagles (7-2) host Orr (7-2) in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs this weekend. The Spartans will show up to play.

FOURTH DOWN: Some streaks were extended and some broken when the playoff field was announced. Stevenson (6-3) has the longest current Class 8A playoff streak. The Patriots qualified for their 29th consecutive playoff appearance this season

Buffalo Grove (8-1) is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and Maine West (7-2) has qualified for the first time since 2002.

Back of the Yards (8-1) and Ag. Science (6-3) are both in the playoffs for the first time.

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