Duel threats: Sujka; Banks carry Mount Carmel

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Duel threats: Sujka; Banks carry Mount Carmel

Friday, Nov. 12, 2010
10:42 PM

By Mike Clark
YourSeason.com

It sure didn't seem like it at the time, but the best thing that happened to Michael Banks was when he fumbled away a Lyons punt early in the second quarter Friday night.

The Lions took advantage of the Mount Carmel senior's mistake to score a field goal. But Banks bounced back to score his second and third touchdowns of the evening as the Caravan cruised to a 41-10 Class 8A quarterfinal win at Gately Stadium.

No. 13 Mount Carmel (10-2) advanced to the state semifinals for the 19th time in 25 seasons and will host Homewood-Flossmoor next weekend. No. 10 Lyons, which was seeking its first trip to the semis, finished 10-2.

Banks ran 17 times for 134 yards, while quarterback Chris Sujka rushed 16 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns of his own, giving him 28 for the season.

That backed a big night by the Mount Carmel defense, which finished with 10 sacks and three interceptions.

"Our defense really got after it this week," Sujka said. "It had a lot to do with our offensive line and defensive line going after each other in practice. ... It got them better."

Banks' early mistake provided a similar spark.

"The mishandled punt was not a smart play on my behalf," Banks said. "The whole game after that, I had to make a play for my team. ... If I didn't do that, that would have haunted me for the rest of my life."

The Caravan opened a 14-0 first-quarter lead on touchdown runs of 10 yards by Banks and six yards by Sujka. Mike Pett's 35-yard field goal, set up by Banks' fumble, got Lyons on the board. Sujka plunged across from a yard out to make it 21-3, but Lyons quarterback Brian Kelley hit Mark Sewall with a 34-yard scoring pass 49 second before halftime to cut the margin to 21-10.

After a scoreless third quarter, Mount Carmel pulled away. Sujka had his third TD run, a 12-yarder, with 11:42 left and Banks had touchdown dashes of 36 and 30 yards.

The Caravan defense took care of the rest, as Jack Houser, Brandon Greer and Dave Nicholson all had interceptions. Up front, Jon-Stefan Bodnar helped keep the pressure on Kelley all night.

"The defense did a great job of getting the ball back and we took advantage of it," Banks said. "The 10 points we gave up, we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times in the kicking game," Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. "We did some things that were very uncharacteristic of us."

And then Banks, Sujka and the defense did a few things that were very much in character.

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the NHL's salary cap could stay flat next year, reports ESPN's Craig Custance.

Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed at the latest NHL's Board of Governors meeting that the projected ceiling for the 2017-18 campaign could be an increase between zero and $2 million, which isn't exactly encouraging considering the projection at this time of year is normally an optimistic one.

That means the salary cap may be closer to — or at — the $73 million it's at right now.

In the last four years, the cap has increased by $4.3 million in 2013-14, $4.7 million in 2014-15, $2.4 million in 2015-16 and $1.6 million in 2016-17. The number continues to descend, and it affects big-budget teams like the Blackhawks the most.

It makes it especially difficult for the Blackhawks to navigate because they own two of the highest paid players in the league in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom carry a $10.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. It's a great problem to have, though.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

According to capfriendly.com, Chicago currently has $60.6 million tied up to 14 players — eight forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender — next season. If the cap stays the same, that means the Blackhawks must fill out the rest of their roster with fewer than $13 million to work with and still have to sign Artemi Panarin to a long-term extension.

And they may need to move salary to do it, with the potential cap overages crunching things even more.

On the open market, Panarin would probably be able to earn Vladimir Tarasenko money — a seven-year deal that carries a $7.5 million cap hit — but if he prefers to remain in Chicago, the contract would likely be in the range of Johnny Gaudreau's six-year deal with an annual average value of $6.75 million.

With the expansion draft looming, the Blackhawks know they're going to lose a player to Las Vegas in the offseason. The two likely candidates, as it stands, are Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and the former would free up $3 million in cap space while the latter $825,000.

If that won't get the job done, the Blackhawks may be forced to part ways with a core player such as Brent Seabrook and his eight-year, $55 million contract, although he has a full no-movement clause until 2021-22 and it would be very hard to imagine since you're trying to maximize your current championship window.

Anything is possible, however, after seeing promising young guys like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw shipped out of Chicago due to a tight budget.

It's a challenge general manager Stan Bowman has certainly already been thinking about, and a stagnant salary cap doesn't make things any easier.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Jonathan Toews is still not back at practice. Is it time to panic?

Meanwhile, the Bulls beat the Spurs. And Rajon Rondo compliments the coaches? Is all well in Bulls-town?

Plus, Dexter Fowler is Cardinal. Should Cubs fans be angry?

And finally, is it good idea for Jordan Howard to get the ball less for the rest of the season?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: