PREP FOOTBALL | WEEK 4

Mount Carmel's Lenti becomes IHSA's winningest football coach

2011-09-17T22:00:00Z 2011-12-31T12:50:19Z Mount Carmel's Lenti becomes IHSA's winningest football coachBy Vince Vosti Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 17, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

WESTCHESTER | Mount Carmel defensive coordinator David Lenti remembered his oldest sibling, Frank, as always wanting to do things, usually sports related, while growing up on the south side of Chicago.

"Frank got all of his brothers and sisters involved in athletics," David Lenti said. "He'd be outside playing catch, throwing a football around, and if he saw you sitting around, watching television, he'd suggest we go out to the park or he'd put a hockey stick in your hand or baseball glove to play catch."

Saturday, Frank applied those leadership qualities to a different family, the Mount Carmel football program, one he has coached for more than 27 years.

The Times' top-ranked Caravan rolled to a 62-8 Chicago Catholic Conference crossover victory against winless host St. Joseph, then celebrated on the field as Lenti was honored for his 307th career win with the Caravan, which made him the winningest football coach in the history of the IHSA.

With the blowout win, Lenti moved past former Richards coach Gary Korhonen, who was unable to attend Lenti's achievement due to prior commitments. Though Lenti said he never talked about the approaching milestone with his players, he took the time to thank the Carmelite community at the conclusion of a brief tribute on field shortly after Saturday's game concluded.

"This is quite an honor, but it is not me, it is not Coach Frank," Lenti said. "I didn't do this by myself; we did this together."

Lenti has led the Caravan to nine state championships in 14 state final appearances. He cited defeating Homewood-Flossmoor in 1988 on the last play of a playoff game en route to the state title, avenging a loss to Carmel of Mundelein in the playoffs in 2002, and defeating Cincinnati powerhouse Moeller in 1990 as some of the highlights of his career.

Saturday's game with the Chargers (0-4 overall) was far less dramatic. The Caravan (4-0) scored 28 points in the first quarter and scored two touchdowns early in the second quarter on two offensive plays before Charger coach Anthony Griffin asked for a running clock.

Lenti began liberally substituting before the end of the first quarter. Defensive tackle Vontrell Williams, for example, managed five tackles before taking the final three quarters off. Friday, Williams committed to play college football next year at Illinois, which won out for his services over Kansas and Indiana.

"It was a huge relief for me to make that decision," Williams said.

Caravan starting quarterback Don Butkus threw three touchdown passes, the last one coming on the first play of the second quarter.

"It is incredible for (coach Lenti) to get 307 wins," Butkus said. "He's the best in the state. He's like family to me."

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