CHICAGO | It was just one play, but it explains how top-ranked Mount Carmel has honed its latest edition of its football machine.
Third-and-10 on the Morgan Park 27 in the second quarter, and Marko Borocich lofted a pass for receiver Christian Searles. He'd already caught a 30-yard touchdown pass, but this time, he was tightly covered. Cornerback Brandon Riley had at least one hand on the ball.
Searles had two mitts on it, and wrestled it away for a 15-yard reception and a first down. The Caravan went on to score their fifth touchdown of the first half of their 49-8 rout of the Mustangs before about 2,000 fans at Gately Stadium.
"It was the most difficult one (of his two)," Searles said. "I wasn't sure I was going to get to it. I just wanted to make sure he didn't get to it. It's just a mentality that the ball is always mine, whether I'm on offense or defense.
"It's my ball."
And it was 2-0 Mount Carmel's ball for most of the night, the Caravan's second straight romp to start the season, this one featuring three touchdown passes by Borocich. But football seasons progress from short sleeves to earmuffs.
"Other than the first quarter last week, we're starting to see some consistency," Caravan coach Frank Lenti said. "Defense is playing well, kicking game was much better, offense is consistently improving. Marko is getting more comfortable out there, having not started since his sophomore year.
"But we've got to keep improving. We tell them its about our standard of play when we take the field out there."
The victory was Mount Carmel's 10th in succession and 18th in the last 19 games, going back to the Catholic League playoffs and Prep Bowl win over Simeon at the end of the 2011 season.
It was all Caravan from the start. Fourteen points in the first minute of possession. Four touchdowns in 10 plays, taking just 3:13. Four-of-four on third down conversions with the starters in, two of the plays going for touchdowns.
It was that kind of offensive night. The Caravan piled up four touchdowns in the first quarter and 35 points before the first half was over, the fifth scoring drive the longest of the quintet, a 10-play march extending 70 yards and taking 4:29 of a clock that moved all too slowly for Morgan Park (0-2). It then moved all too quickly for anyone but Mount Carmel, a running clock for the final 19:35.
Only then did the Mustangs score their consolation prize touchdown, an 8-yard run by Desmond Earles.