Top-ranked Mount Carmel sets sights on 14th state championship
Several programs in the city have come for Mount Carmel’s crown the last few years, but the Caravan remain the kings of Chicago high school football.
Several programs in the city have come for Mount Carmel’s crown the last few years, but the Caravan remain the kings of Chicago high school football. Mount Carmel has won 13 state championships.
The controversial pivot from legendary coach Frank Lenti to Jordan Lynch in 2018 refreshed the program, and the construction of an on-campus football stadium has helped take things to another level.
Mount Carmel was 11-2 in Lynch’s first season and won the Class 7A title with a 14-0 record in 2019. A repeat bid was impossible because of COVID.
Last season was a rebuilding year. But how many teams beat St. Rita, Marist and Batavia while reloading?
Lynch has 18 starters back from that squad that went 8-4 and lost to Brother Rice in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state playoffs.
Most important, he has Blainey Dowling back at quarterback.
“[Dowling] is a winner,” Lynch said. “The stadium is named after his uncle. He knows what this place is about. There is no better competitor.”
Dowling (6-1, 200 pounds) has added 25 pounds since last season, which should make a significant difference when he’s running the ball.
“If you look at the film from Week 1 last year and then look at Week 11 or 12, you see the difference,” Lynch said. “He made gains every week. And he really protected the football.”
Junior Darrion Dupree (5-11, 195) is the breakout talent on offense. He should be one of the state’s best running backs.
“The thing that makes Dupree so special is you can’t tell if he has 16 offers or zero,” Lynch said. “He’s working harder now than he ever has.”
Mount Carmel has added another major talent in the backfield. Junior Alonzo Manning, a standout at Marist last season, has transferred in.
“He’s a stud,” Dowling said. “He started off slow here. You could tell he still had that Marist in him. We got that out of him real quick. He’s going to be really important for us.”
Manning isn’t the only significant addition. Senior Nolan O’Brien is back after missing last season with an injury.
“He’s ready,” Dowling said. “He’s a South Side guy who has been working hard for this.
‘‘He’s one of the freak athletes on this team. I’m excited to see him play.”
For the first time, every player in the program came to Mount Carmel to play for Lynch.
“Your first group is always a special group,” Lynch said. “These are the guys that we brought in, and we’ve watched them from freshman year all the way until now. They took tremendous strides.”
Lynch expects safety Owen Schickel to be the vocal leader of a defense that includes linemen Danny Novickas, an Ohio recruit, and Asher Tomaszewski, a Kansas State recruit.
The Caravan host rival St. Rita to open the season. It’s the 100th meeting between the schools and is expected to be the first step toward a possible state championship.
“That’s how it is here every year,” Dowling said. “But especially this year.”
Mount Carmel schedule
Aug. 26 vs. St. Rita
Sept. 2 vs. Phillips at Gately
Sept. 9 at Notre Dame
Sept. 16 vs. Marist
Sept. 23 vs. St. Ignatius
Sept. 30 at Brother Rice
Oct. 7 at St. Laurence
Oct. 14 vs. St. Viator
Oct. 22 at Loyola