Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010
By Steve Tucker
CHAMPAIGN -- Call it three the hard way.
Maine South, which started the season with consecutive losses to Schaumburg and Wheaton Warrenville South after 28 consecutive victories, ended it the same way it finished the last two years, with a Class 8A championship after the Hawks defeated Mount Carmel 28-7 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
"It feels like a real long time ago the 0-2 start," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. "I'd like to forget it. The kids, the team and the coaches came together. Three in a row, I'd like to say that is for myself, coach Rich Magsamen and coach Charlie Bliss. We've been together a long time."
Maine South (12-2) overcame a shaky start with a strong defense and a high-powered offense that came alive.
It is the first time since East St. Louis in 1983-85, a team won three consecutive titles in the largest class.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Caravan (11-3) tried a Nikko Rodriquez 41-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, and missed. Maine South took over and drove 80 yards in eight plays, capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Paul Preston (21 carries, 147 yards, two TDs) to go up 7-0.
The next time the Hawks got the ball, they struck in one play, a 57-yard touchdown pass from Matt Alviti (16-for-21, 224 yards, TD, 17 carries for 46 yards, TD) to Imran Kahn. The kick was no good, leaving the Hawks up 13-0.
The Hawks were dominant in the first half with 14 first downs and 248 yards of offense to four first downs and 84 yards for Mount Carmel.
In the second half, the Hawks added touchdowns on a 10-yard run by Preston to cap a 10-play, 95-yard drive, and a nine-yard run by Alviti.
Mount Carmel avoided the shutout with a 71-yard scoring pass from Chris Sujka 99 of 18, 119 yards, TD, two interceptions) to Mayan Cook with 1:08 remaining. It avoided the Caravan's first shutout in the state playoffs since they lost to Glenbard South 33-0 on Nov. 1, 2003.
Cook finished with five catches for 128 yards. Sujka was the leading rusher for Mount Carmel with 14 carries for 62 yards, while Michael Banks had eight carries for 42 yards.
The meeting was the third between the two powers in state tournament play. In 1995, the Hawks won the Class 5A title game 31-28 on a second-chance field goal. In 2007, Mount Carmel was a 21-14 winner in a Class 8A quarterfinal.
Inserra is 116-14 in 10 years (89 percent) with three state titles and two second-place finishes, while Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti is 303-54 (85 percent), with nine state titles and five seconds in his 27th season.
"We just didn't execute offensively," Lenti said.
Scott Derrick led all Maine South receivers with seven receptions for 81 yards. Luke Motley had four catches for 31 yards. The Hawks won for the third year in a row with a different quarterback: Charlie Goro in 2008, Tyler Benz in 2009 and Alviti.
"Our young kids played like seniors and our seniors played like champions," said Inserra.