Lenti, Mount Carmel bring home another title

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Lenti, Mount Carmel bring home another title

By Mike Clark
Season Pass

CHAMPAIGN The question all week long was, would Don Butkus play quarterback for Mount Carmel in the Class 8A state championship game?

The answer: Yes, and very effectively.

Butkus ran 35 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and later threw a seven-yard touchdown pass as the Caravan beat Glenbard North 28-14 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Justin Sanchez had three interceptions to lead a Mount Carmel defense that did not allow a score until there were under four minutes left.

Mount Carmel (13-1) won its 11th title overall and its first since 2002. Coach Frank Lenti has led the Caravan to its last 10 championships, tying now-retired Matt Senffner of Providence for the

state record.

Ive never felt this happy in my entire life, Butkus said. Its an insane feeling.

I dreamed about this ever since I came to Carmel as a freshman. I always wanted to be a state champion.

Butkus had left Mount Carmels semifinal win over Neuqua Valley after suffering a left ankle injury on an unsuccessful two-point conversion try in the closing minutes. The senior, a two-year starter and three-year varsity player, was held out of practice early last week. He only practiced one day in pads all week.

Our trainers did a great job, Butkus said.

Lenti gave some of the credit to his quarterback, with a nod to his famous great-uncle, Bears great Dick Butkus: I think he is fitting of the name Butkus.

Any doubt about his status was erased when Butkus led the Caravan onto the field for pregame warmups, running without seeming to favor the ankle.

He ran 12 times for 50 yards as the Caravan rushed for 256 yards. Draco Smith ran seven times for 129 yards, while Matt Domer added 79 on 13 carries. Butkus completed 2-of-5 passes for 34 yards with one interception.

Butkus night got off to a rough start when two-way star Justin Jackson of Glenbard North (12-2) stepped in front of one of his passes and ran it back 76 yards for a touchdown with 9:53 left in the second quarter.

After that, it was all Mount Carmel.

On the Caravans first offensive play after the kickoff, Smith raced 78 yards down the right sideline for the tying score.

A 34-yard burst by Domer set up Butkus touchdown run a simple quarterback sneak that he turned into a long gainer with 1:20 left in the first half.

Butkus scoring pass to an open Jason Gasser in the middle of the end zone made it 21-7.

Smith added his second score on a 25-yard run with 10:31 left in the game.

Mount Carmels defense didnt allow a score until Brian Murphy hit Ryan Storto with a six-yard touchdown pass with 3:44 remaining.

The Caravan limited Jackson to 63 yards on 28 carries. Murphy ran 16 times for 46 yards and was 9-of-25 passing for 168 yards with four interceptions.

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Bucks in final regular season meeting on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Can the Bulls get one on the Bucks? The Bulls are 0-3 against the Bucks so far this season and it hasn't been pretty. The Bucks have won the previous three meetings all by double digits and by an average of 19 points. The youth and athleticism of the Bucks has been a tough matchup for the Bulls so far.

2. Containing Giannis. There may be no stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bulls can at least try to contain him. Antetokounmpo is averaging 23 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. In three games against the Bulls this year he has averaged 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest. If the Bulls are to stay in the game, they will need to keep him to numbers lower than that.

3. Playoff implications. The Bulls playoff hopes are still alive with nine games remaining, but things are looking a bit bleak. The Bulls are a game and a half out of the eighth playoff spot, but only 3.5 games behind two teams tied for the No. 5 seed, the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have won three in a row to improve their position.

4. Mirotic on a roll. Streaky play is nothing new to Nikola Mirotic, but he's on a good run currently. After scoring a season-high 28 points on Wednesday against the Pistons, Mirotic followed that up with 15 points against the 76ers. Since missing three straight games earlier this month, Mirotic has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games and is averaging 15.6 points during that stretch.

5. Beginning of a tough stretch. The Bulls' playoff hopes could be made or broken in the next three games. After taking on the Bucks, which occupy a playoff spot, the Bulls host two more Eastern Conference playoff teams in Cleveland and Atlanta. The Bulls need to string some wins together and this is not an easy stretch to do so against.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you're ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Bulls fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Bulls Pulse