You don't have to say anything to a football player on either St. Rita or Mount Carmel.
You can read it in their faces. If you could read their minds, you would find that they know the history of this series, which dates back to 1924.
This is South Side Catholic League football and one of the biggest rivalries not only on the South Side, but in the state. It is as much of the South Side as the old stockyards and steel mills. It goes back to the days when Mount Carmel played its home games at Eckersall Stadium at 83rd and Yates, and St. Rita, which at one time was at 63rd and Claremont, played home games at it walled-in football field. In fact, this is now part of the 2013 Great American Rivalry Series presented by the United States Marine Corps and Hibbett Sports.
For some, their dads and grandfathers played in it — maybe even great-grandfathers or a great uncle. Many of the players went to the same grammar school and live on the same block or next door to each other.
Caravan running back Matt Domer knows the history and importance of the rivalry as his team meets St. Rita at 7:30 p.m. today on 77th and Western.
Both are 4-0 with the Caravan 1-0 in the Catholic Blue. This is St. Rita's first conference game.
"It is a big rivalry game and it is the Catholic Blue," Domer said. "We want to win the Catholic Blue and this is just one of the tough games we have in the conference. Really, every week in the Catholic Blue is playing for a championship."
The Illinois recruit knows as a captain it is his job to make sure the team is ready, something he said they weren't last week in a 28-20 win over Brother Rice.
"We had some distractions with homecoming and the dance, and you saw how we played," Domer said. "I take responsibility for that because as a captain and a senior, I have to make sure we are focused. That is what being a leader is and at Mount Carmel, you make sure your teammates are ready.
"I can guarantee you we will be focused this week. No distractions."
Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said Domer has been a leader and his efforts on the field show it.
"Matt is a leader and he does feel some of the responsibility," Lenti said. "We as coaches rely on our seniors to be leaders because they are the guys in the locker room and they know what is going on. The coaches are not. Matt is one of those kids who is for the team. The stat he cares about is wins."
Domer said it is not about him getting a lot of touches. With Jimmy Mickens in the backfield and quarterback Marko Boricich, he said spreading the offense around makes the Caravan a better team.
"Marko knows how to run the show and Jimmy is a great runner," Domer said. "With Jimmy, the defense can't key on one guy. Mark has two great receivers in Christian Searles and Richard O'Brien. We play as a team."
Domer also said the guys up front make everything happen.
"We got a great line and I love those guys," he said. "It all starts up front with the offensive and defensive lines. They get things going for the rest of the team. It is not about my stats or anyone else's, but getting that win. Coach Frank (Lenti) has preached that. At Mount Carmel, it is not a 'me' thing, but a 'we' thing."