Mount Carmel Caravan
Last year's record: 10-4 (1-3 in the Catholic League Blue), lost to Bolingbrook in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs, beat Simeon to win the Prep Bowl.
Head coach: Frank Lenti
Record: 313-58 at school and overall.
Assistant coaches: Pete Kammholz, David Lenti, Bill Nolan, Mark Antonietti, Mike Minogue, Jerry Blew, Dan O’ Brien, Bobby Sanders.
Starters back: 13 (7 on offense, 6 on defense)
Top offensive players: Draco Smith, Sr. RB (756 yards, 6.5 yards-per-carry, 5 TDs, 7 catches, 70 yards); Jason Gasser, Sr., WR (30 catches, 433 yards, 7 TDs); Don Butkus, Sr., QB (103-of-172 passing, 1,203 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, 60 percent completion rate, 622 yards rushing, 13 TDs); Nick Dreixler, Sr. OL; Juan Beltran, Sr., OL; Brian Parker, Sr., OL; Dominic Villa, Sr., WR/RB (213 yards rushing, 3 TDs).
Top defensive players: D.J. Romero, Sr., LB (73 tackles, 16 TFL); Steve Richardson, Sr., DL (34 tackles, 12 TFL); Vince Speller, Sr., DB (35 tackles); Ronan Flaherty, Sr., LB; Nick Johnson, Jr, LB (15 tackles); Justin Sanchez, Sr., DB (28 tackles).
The Times Breakdown
The Caravan have several starters returning from last year's Prep Bowl champions and it will depend on how well they get the younger kids to jel. Smith, a Northern Illinois recruit, is a three-year starter who will also see action as a defensive back. Butkus has a year under his belt at quarterback and is expected to have a good season and lead the offense. He has a good line as Dreixler, Beltran and Parker were starters last year. Gasser has speed and strength at wideout, and is also a good possession receiver, while Villa will run the ball and also be a receiver. Defensively, the linebacking crew, led by Illinois State recruit Romero is pretty solid. Johnson and Flaherty should give plenty of opposing ball carriers fits. Speller, Sanchez and Smith are a great trio as defensive backs. Like every year, the schedule is tough, but each year Mount Carmel tends to rise to the challenge. This could be an exciting year with a nice playoff run if the team stays focused and doesn't have a lot of injuries.
Quote: "It is all about senior leadership and how well they lead. On the teams we have had that have been successful, we had good senior leadership. On our teams that have not been so successful, we did not have good senior leadership. Our seniors know what they have to do and show the younger kids. We have some experience coming back and we count on those kids to lead." !~ Frank Lenti
!~ Compiled by Mike Nieto