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.

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

MIAMI – This isn’t a Tommy La Stella situation. The Cubs purposely told Kyle Schwarber to take a few days off to decompress before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. The reboot will begin Monday in Des Moines.

“We’re doing it to hopefully reset him, get him back up with a fresh start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “As you would expect, he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it to be long. But we’ll see how it plays out, give him a little bit of room to get things right and then move it forward from there.”

The Cubs broke the news to Schwarber after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, where the entire lineup went 1-for-27 outside of rookie Ian Happ’s two-run homer. It left Schwarber hitting .171 with a .673 OPS, not enough to justify his 12 home runs and suspect outfield defense. The Iowa Cubs are in the middle of a four-game series this weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

The Cubs hope Schwarber can regain his confidence and almost become a trade-deadline addition, reenergizing the team the way he did in 2015, when he blasted 16 homers in 69 games and five more in the playoffs.

Under entirely different circumstances in 2012, future All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo used 70 games with Iowa to rework his swing and make adjustments after bombing his audition with the Padres.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully, he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will. Just do the best down there to get back up here and to be the Kyle Schwarber that we all know and love.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”