By Mike Clark
Even if the results were there for Mount Carmel the past two weeks, something was clearly missing.
Though the Caravan was getting healthier with the return of mainstays like linebacker D.J. Romero and more diverse with the emergence of Vince Speller on offense, the formula wasnt complete.
We thought our enthusiasm in the Providence game and the Brother Rice game, it seemed a little down compared to what its been in the past, quarterback Don Butkus said. Thats what wet tried to emphasize, playing with enthusiasm, playing Mount Carmel football. Being fast, energetic. getting to the ball.
I thought the defense really accomplished that.
The numbers proved it, too. The Caravan didnt give up a play for positive yardage till early in the second quarter, when it was up by four touchdowns and well on the way to a 41-6 win over Simeon Friday night in Class 8A second-round action at Gately Stadium.
Butkus threw two touchdown passes to Speller and ran for another score for Mount Carmel (10-1), which goes on the road next weekend to play the winner of Saturdays Lyons-OFallon game. Simeon (8-2), which had won eight straight since an opening loss to Loyola, drops back into the Prep Bowl playoffs.
The tone for this game was set early by Mount Carmel on both offense and defense.
Butkus raced 79 yards down the left sideline on the second play from scrimmage to set up his own two-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Our dive fake ... sold it, Butkus said of the long run. Their safety ended up flying all the way up to the line of scrimmage. I tried to take advantage of it.
After Simeon went three-and-out, Mount Carmel again needed just three plays to score, this time on a 19-yard run up the middle by Draco Smith (10 carries, 66 yards).
Speller then picked off Simeon quarterback Elcee Burke (6-of-12, 70 yards) on the next play from scrimmage and eight plays after that.
Matt Domer (five carries, 58 yards) went 15 yards for a 21-0 Caravan lead with 3:57 left in the first quarter.
Butkus (seven carries, 82 yards; 57 yards passing) hit Speller with scoring passes of 16 and 30 yards in the second quarter, sandwiched around another TD run by Domer of 12 yards. It was 41-0 at halftime and the only score of the second half was Darnell Cockrells late touchdown run for Simeon.
Vince is a hell of an athlete, a big body, Butkus said. We just try to put him where hes going to be able to make plays. A lot of guys are starting to key on Jason Gasser, Mount Carmels leading receiver. ... Being able to hit Vince with two touchdown passes hopefully will open things up for us.
Speller, whos committed to Eastern Illinois as a cornerback, was glad to help out however he could.
We knew Simeon was going to come out and punch us in the mouth, Speller said. We had to throw the first punch.