CHICAGO | They were there two years ago when Mount Carmel ended its season with two losses.
Five seniors were on a Caravan team which advanced to the Class 4A finals at Joliet's Silver Cross Field and lost to eventual state champion Lyons Township in one semifinal and to Prospect in the third-place game.
This year, the five want to come back from Joliet with two wins and a Class 4A state title. They are looking to do what the 1974 Glenbrook North football and 1975 baseball teams did -- win a football and baseball state title in the same school year. That year, Glenbrook North teams were led by major leaguer Scott Sanderson as it captured the 5A football title and one-class baseball title. The Caravan won the Class 8A football title in November.
"We remember," said shortstop Jerry Houston, who had a frown come over his usual smiling face. "It wasn't the way we wanted to end the season. We got a chance to go back this year and we want to win it."
The Caravan will play Neuqua Valley, the same team the football team beat in the semifinals, at 3 p.m. today in one semifinal.
Houston, Jason Gasser, Jeremy Kravetz, Tom Hayes and Beau Filkins were on the 2011 Caravan and Filkins said they are ready.
"This is a good team and we are the senior leaders," Filkins said. "We are going there to play our best."
Hayes said being there before means a lot.
"Our job is to keep the younger guys calm and to go out and do our jobs," Hayes said. "We are a good team and with us five having that experience of playing (at state), we are ready. We want to win state."
Gasser, who has been getting looks from Northern Illinois and Western Michigan for baseball, said the experience has paid off.
"I think that experience helped us a lot, especially in the playoffs," Gasser said. "Our goal was to get to state and we want to win it. It would be a great way to close out our careers."
Coach Brian Hurry said the five have been a pleasure to have in the program and they kept their focus all year and showed the leadership expected of three-year veterans.
"They know what we need to do this weekend," Hurry said. "These guys are what Mount Carmel baseball is and their hard work says what the program is about."
Gasser added they have a responsibility.
"In the super-sectional, we made sure the younger kids weren't awed by the big crowd," Gasser said. "Same thing Friday. We've been there, so we know what it is like."
Kravetz said it has been a good ride, but one that they need to finish off with a pair of wins.
"These guys do not quit and are focused," Kravetz said. "We are all business going down there and we have a goal."