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Four Downs: News and notes from Week 11 in high school football

Controversy at Mount Carmel, a Public League football solution and St. Patrick’s success.

Mount Carmel’s Dennis Furlong (11) breaks a tackle against Batavia.
Mount Carmel’s Dennis Furlong (11) breaks a tackle against Batavia.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Mount Carmel’s win against Batavia on Friday came on an untimed down with the Bulldogs leading by four.

Batavia was called for pass interference on the final play as time ran out, giving Mount Carmel one more chance at the win. Junior Dennis Furlong scampered nine yards into the end zone to give the Caravan a 16-14 victory.

There was another pass-interference call on Batavia during Mount Carmel’s final drive and several holding calls on the Bulldogs during the game. Social media lit up with anger after the final buzzer, and fans pored over clips of the pass-interference penalties.

“It just felt like we were playing against two teams,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “I’ve never seen that in my life. I’m not a person that says things like this. I can’t make these kids feel better. It isn’t the loss. I don’t mind losing games. This is going to sound horrible in the paper tomorrow, but whatever.”

Losing your undefeated season and a playoff game on an untimed down after a penalty is rough. That’s just a harsh way for everything to suddenly end. It’s understandable that Batavia’s players, coaches and fans had a difficult time accepting it initially.

Hopefully that has passed. The officiating crew did its best. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary during the game. I thought the final play was clearly pass interference after watching it several times.

I was standing about three feet behind the end zone Friday at Mount Carmel, and the pass interference-play happened so quickly that I had no clue about the call initially. That’s how dialed-in the officials are. They make split-second decisions, usually correctly.

Public League co-ops

Chicago Public Schools, which qualified a record 24 teams for the state playoffs, is down to just one. Morgan Park and Clark lost lopsided games in the second round. Phillips beat Kewanee 48-21 and will host undefeated Richmond-Burton in the quarterfinals.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Morgan Park coach Chris James. He brought up the subject of Public League schools forming co-ops for football. It’s a regular practice across the state but has only been used sparingly in CPS.

“My dream is that CPS co-ops some teams,” James said. “I wouldn’t mind combining with Julian. They are right down the street. They have a rich tradition of football but maybe 20 kids in the program right now. We could combine coaching staff and funds. I think it makes sense.”

It makes a ton of sense and is the best way forward for Public League football.

Shamrock success

St. Patrick beat Rochelle 21-14 on the road Friday to advance to the quarterfinals in Class 5A. It’s the first time the Shamrocks have ever reached the quarters. They had failed in five previous attempts.

Senior running back Alex Goworowski scored three touchdowns and ran for 155 yards.

“This was just amazing,” Goworowski told the school website. “My O-line gave me the holes and I got through them. I knew as a freshman this team could be special.”

St. Patrick (7-4) will travel to Sycamore (8-3) next week.

Up next

There are several good quarterfinal games, but a lot of the marquee names in Class 8A were eliminated in the second round. Class 7A has a monster showdown: Mount Carmel at Brother Rice. The Crusaders beat the Caravan 43-36 on the road in October.