DEKALB | There is no need to state the goal at Mount Carmel at the start of a football season.
Everybody who walks in the door knows a state championship is the goal, and anything less is unacceptable. Oh, winning the Prep Bowl now and then is all right, but that relic is no longer the defining moment in a player’s career. A state title is.
The Caravan now has an even dozen of them. Sam Connolly is one of several players to play key roles in the most recent two, last year’s in Class 8A, and Saturday’s 30-0 triumph over Lake Zurich at Huskie Stadium.
Back in October, he was part of the only loss of the season, a Sunday defeat at Loyola Academy that saw the Caravan turn the ball over four times after play resumed after it was halted on Saturday by a severe thunderstorm.
The feeling from then to now?
“Obviously, they’re complete opposites,” Connolly said. “We didn’t come out to play that game, and they took advantage and came out and played great. Every since then, we’ve tried to not let than happen again, to come out with emotion, come out with fire.
“It’s special today to win the second state championship in as many years.”
And to go out on top, which makes this title that little bit better than last year’s, when the Caravan stopped Glenbard North, 28-14.
“This is awesome because it’s my senior year, the game I’ll go out on, the last game I’ll ever play in as a Mount Carmel football player,” Connolly said. “It was special to repeat, to be disciplined enough to not to get complacent and happy with just last year’s state championship.”
Not getting complacent was a common theme among the players, in part because coach Frank Lenti and his staff drummed it into them. And it took.
After a week in Edwardsville where the only thing Lenti could find serious fault in was the number of penalties – the Caravan committed nine, totaling 103 yards – his flock were like choir boys against the Bears, with only two flags for 25 yards.
Complacent? More like hungry for a championship, eager to not only go out on top, but in style.
Matt Domer, for instance, was more worried about making a mistake in the second half than collecting a third touchdown.
“I just wanted to focus on ball security, because we know they’re going to be hungry for the ball, try to get it back,” Domer said. He finished with 176 yards and no fumbles to go with his two scores, with 1,475 yards for the season.
Quarterback Marko Boricich said he still couldn’t comprehend last season, when he was part of both football and baseball titles. Now comes another title, with a baseball season to come. He threw a five-hit shutout in Mount Carmel’s 8-0 victory over Neuqua Valley in last year’s Class 4A semifinal.
“This feeling, I don’t have a word for it,” Boricich said. “No doubt, my next goal is that baseball title.”
But for a day or three, he’ll just bask in the feeling that comes with a second straight state football championship.