CHICAGO | Matt Domer remembers every play of the winning touchdown drive against St. Rita.
The Caravan trailed, 15-14, and were deep in their own territory.
"We knew our season could be over," Domer said. "I kept telling the guys 'we got time, we got time. Just do our thing.' There was no need to panic."
Domer did his thing with the help of his offensive line. The running back carried eight times for 73 yards on that drive, which culminated in him scoring a 10-yard touchdown with 4:34 left. Mount Carmel won, 20-15, and went on to win the Class 7A state title.
"I had confidence in my teammates," Domer said. "Our defense came back and stopped them twice and Colin (Knusta) made a pick at the end."
To say Domer, who finished the game with 273 yards on 29 carries, put his team on his back would get no argument from coach Frank Lenti.
"When you have Secretariat, you ride him," Lenti said. "We put a saddle on his back and he took us down the stretch.
"Matt did that all year."
Domer rushed for 1,467 yards and 16 touchdowns on 189 carries, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. He also caught seven passes for 64 yards and a score and returned four kickoffs for 139 yards and a touchdown. For his outstanding efforts, Domer is The Times Offensive Player of the Year.
Lake Zurich coach David Proffitt commented before the Caravan played his Bears for the state title that Domer, an Illinois recruit, was a great runner.
"He is not a D-I player for nothing," Proffitt said. "Illinois knew what they were doing when they recruited him."
Domer said his memories of his four years at Mount Carmel will last him forever. He said he also cherishes his memories of his late grandmother's farm in Mississippi.
Carrie Harper died two years ago from cancer, but Domer has her in his mind all the time.
"My grandma told me to be successful," Domer said. "That is what she wanted from me. Before every game, when we pray, I pray for her and I know she is looking down on me and praying for me. She is cheering me on.
"I just wanted to make her proud."
His face drew a big smile as he talked about he and his family making those trips to Mississippi to visit his maternal grandmother.
"She had a little lake on her property and some of the best times were me and my brothers fishing and catching fish," Domer said. "We would bring them in and she would help clean them and fry them up for us.
"I will always cherish those moments."
He also remembers what his grandmother told him.
"She said to be good at what you do and work hard," Domer said. "You think about how those things stick with me.
"She has really played a big role in my life."
So did his parents, who sent him to Mount Carmel. His older brothers played at Homewood-Flossmoor, but Matt wanted to go to Mount Carmel.
"I am glad I did because I have loved it here," Domer said. "Not just football, but the whole experience."
Domer, a three-year starter, won back-to-back state titles and was also on the 2010 Prep Bowl championship team.
"I had a good year, but it was a team effort," Domer said. "Our offensive line sure opened some big holes for me. The defense, they shut everybody down."
But nobody could shut Domer down. Carrie Harper is staring down, proud of her grandson.