Four Downs: News and notes from Week 1 in high school football

Mount Carmel’s unsung hero, an impressive debut for Morgan Park, the new freshman phenom QB at Bolingbrook and the latest Fox Valley contender.

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Mount Carmel players celebrate Denny Furlong’s (11) touchdown against St. Rita.

Mount Carmel players celebrate Denny Furlong’s (11) touchdown against St. Rita.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Top-ranked Mount Carmel delivered Friday, taking down St. Rita with ease in the 100th matchup between the South Side rivals

Caravan quarterback Blainey Dowling’s maturation was the story of the game. He’s bigger and stronger this season, and his accuracy was impeccable. Dowling was 19-for-21 for 318 yards and five touchdowns. He connected with seven receivers.

One player that seems to get lost in the hype around all of Mount Carmel’s future college players is wide receiver Denny Furlong. Last season, it was Furlong’s nine-yard touchdown run on an untimed down in overtime that beat Batavia in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

It was a play designed for Furlong to take the handoff and pass to Damarion Arrington. Furlong made the split-second decision to run instead, and it gave the Caravan a magical victory.

Furlong (5-11, 185 pounds) was Mount Carmel’s leading receiver last season with 30 receptions for 540 yards and five touchdowns. He was a force in Week 1 against St. Rita with three catches for 97 yards. His 54-yard touchdown reception was the standout play of the game.

“He’s a kid that is under-recruited,” Caravan coach Jordan Lynch said. “That kid can play FCS Division I football. He’s a heck of a player that comes to work every single day.”

Freshman phenom

The week before the season, Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow wasn’t sure which one of his talented quarterbacks would start. Ivlow thought having two quarterbacks with “cannons” was a strength of the team and not an issue.

Freshman Jonas Williams got the job. He delivered a spectacular debut in Week 1, leading the Raiders to a 49-12 victory against Minooka. Williams threw for more than 400 yards and had seven TD passes.

Bolingbrook’s Jonas Williams completes a drill during practice.

Bolingbrook’s Jonas Williams completes a drill during practice.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

He has two standout receivers to target in I’Marion Stewart and Kyan Berry-Johnson. Expect the Raiders’ offense to be one of the area’s most impressive units this season.

Bolingbrook will face Simeon at Gately on Saturday.

Young Mustangs debut

Morgan Park opened Friday against Richards and wasn’t part of the three-game slate at Gately Stadium, which left the team out of the spotlight in Week 1.

The Mustangs had the most impressive win of any Public League team, though, knocking off Richards 30-2 at Gately. The Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs last season.

Morgan Park’s young stars all sparkled. Junior Tysean Griffin had nine carries for 97 yards, and sophomore quarterback Marcus Thaxton was 13-for-24 for 172 yards and three touchdowns.

Jovan Clark, a highly touted sophomore, was a force at linebacker. The Mustangs are the youngest of the elite Public League football teams but could wind up having the highest ceiling.

New factor in the Fox Valley

Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge have dominated the Fox Valley and the local scene in Class 6A for several years.

The conference has been solid overall, with Huntley featuring regularly in the Super 25, as well.

Late last season another Fox Valley team started opening eyes. Jacobs finished 8-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state playoffs, where it lost a tough game to Prospect.

The Golden Eagles opened the season in the preseason Super 25. They have a star in senior Grant Stec (6-6, 220), a tight end with offers from Cincinnati, Florida, Michigan State, Penn State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Wisconsin and seven other Power Five schools.

Jacobs knocked off Crystal Lake South 41-31 in Week 1 and racked up nearly 400 rushing yards, led by senior Antonio Brown with 18 carries for 163 yards.

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