Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game

320409.jpg

Mount Carmel staves off rally, reaches title game

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
11:01 PM

By Mike Clark
YourSeason.com

Vontrell Williams has heard the whispers about a Mount Carmel program that hasn't won a state title since 2002 and hasn't played in a state championship game since 2006.

He and his Caravan teammates answered the doubters on Saturday afternoon by beating Homewood-Flossmoor 28-21 in a Class 8A semifinal at Gately Stadium.

Mount Carmel (11-2) advanced to its 14th title game in 25 seasons under coach Frank Lenti and will play Maine South (11-2) in the 8A final next Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

"We're proving Mount Carmel hasn't lost a step," said Williams, a junior defensive lineman who forced an H-F fumble in the closing seconds to help seal the win. "Like coach Frank Lenti always says, 'It's not our job to drop the tradition, it's our job to enhance the tradition."

The Caravan did that by limiting the damage done by H-F running back Malik Norman, who had rushed for 1,987 yards and 31 touchdowns before Saturday. He finished with 47 yards and one TD on 23 carries.

"Malik is a great back," said Mount Carmel's Michael Banks, a youth football teammate of Norman. "We've done a pretty good job on the run all year. If we wanted to win, we were going to have to contain Malik. Thank God we did it."

Banks ran for a game-high 112 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner on a one-yard plunge with 5:06 left.

"I heard coach Dave Lenti, Mount Carmel's defensive coordinator say on the sidelines, 'This drive is the game' and it really was," Banks said. "If we didn't score on that drive, who knows what would have happened?"

H-F's next possession ended with Derrick Bryant's sack of H-F quarterback Tim Williams on fourth down with 2:32 left. The Vikings (10-3) got the ball back on a fumble recovery with 1:42 remaining, but Williams forced a Williams fumble two plays later and Bryant recovered. The Caravan then ran out the clock.

"The defense played great today when it had to," Frank Lenti said, "The offense played just well enough to win when it had to."

Chris Sujka (17 carries, 51 yards) ran 13 yards for Mount Carmel's first touchdown with 7:10 left in the first quarter. But H-F's Arnold Duncan ran the kickoff back 95 yards for a 7-7 tie.

Banks' 49-yard touchdown dash down the right sideline put the Caravan back ahead 14-7 with 5:06 left in the first. Sujka's one-yard sneak pushed Mount Carmel's lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.

H-F tied it with two third-quarter touchdowns. Norman had a nine-yard scoring run out of the Wildcat formation and Williams (14 of 20, 181 yards) hit Sean Jones with a 29-yard TD pass.

"We knew they were going to try to stop No. 5 Norman," H-F coach Craig Buzea said. "We had other options. Tim hasn't thrown for 2,000 yards for nothing. ... Basically, we came up one play short."

Ed Belfour reflects on fulfilling 'childhood dream' of playing for Blackhawks

3-23_ed_belfour.jpg
AP

Ed Belfour reflects on fulfilling 'childhood dream' of playing for Blackhawks

While Troy Murray was attending summer school at the University of North Dakota he was also working out in offseason skates and practices there. Getting goaltenders for those skates wasn't easy. But a guy from Carman, Manitoba would drive down to Grand Forks, N.D., play in those games and then drive back home that night.

That guy was Eddie Belfour.

"He'd come in, put his gear on, and we thought this was just some kid that came from somewhere and, ‘Hey, thanks for coming, kid.' Little did we know, that's how he was making himself better," said Murray, who would later play with Belfour with the Blackhawks. "He walked onto UND, made there and the rest is history in how good he was at the collegiate level and as a pro."

The drive was there for Belfour then and it lasted throughout his career, which included eight seasons with the Blackhawks, a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2002 Olympics and a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. On Thursday night the Blackhawks honored Belfour in their latest installment of "One More Shift."

For Belfour, it was a chance to be back where it all started – "it's always emotional coming back to Chicago. I had a lot of great times here," he said – with his favorite childhood team.

"The fans are always fantastic for me here in Chicago. I'll never forget the "Eddie, Eddie" chant. They're the ones who started it," Belfour said prior to taking his shift. "For me, getting a chance to play in Chicago stadium in front of the fans and how close they were and how loud the building was and the anthem was amazing. It was boyhood dream come true."

Ask Belfour's former teammates how best to describe the goaltender and the answer was pretty unanimous: intense.

"Intense is a good word. I think competitive is a really good word, too, because he was one of the few guys, few goalies who took working out very seriously [then]," Steve Konroyd said. "He used to train for triathlons, and this was in the late 80s, early 90s. For NHL players that was probably odd, but for NHL goaltenders that was crazy. He was ultra-competitive, different in ways but in a good way. He was a real character."

Denis Savard said Belfour's preparation for games was, "second to none."

"He always came prepared for a game, from focusing on that night and sharpening his own skates. He'd work on his own skates after practices sometimes for two hours. He was very meticulous about everything," Savard said. "We already know goaltenders are on their own program with how they prepare, but he was a special one. He was a battler, he was a winner and he was a great goalie for a long time."

Murray would face Belfour in 1996, when Murray was with the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche and Belfour was still with the Blackhawks. Patrick Roy got the best of that postseason series (Belfour led the Stars past the Avalanche in 1999 and 2000 playoff matchups). But Murray remembers Roy's confidence no matter who was in the other net, and Belfour had that same mentality.

"You need that as a goaltender. You want that challenge," Murray said. "You have to have that mindset because if you think you're second best, you're not going to succeed. That's what drives all these great players and Eddie had that mindset."

[Buy Blackhawks tickets]

For Belfour, those Chicago days were bittersweet. His first trip to the Stanley Cup final came with the Blackhawks. There were a lot of great times. There were a lot of tough times. But it was all worth it.

"Going to the Stanley Cup final was awesome to do in my first couple of years. Unfortunately, we didn't win and that's probably my biggest regret is that we didn't play well. It still haunts me some days," Belfour said. "But that happens sometimes when you're a younger player and you learn from it and get better. That's what I tried to do."

Belfour's body of work speaks for itself. The kid who first started honing his craft in pickup games at North Dakota had a tremendous NHL career. As for that competitiveness, he's still got it – even in jest.

"I was joking, ‘If I'm doing this [One More Shift], I gotta play at least five minutes,'" he said.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Alabama DL Jonathan Allen

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Alabama DL Jonathan Allen

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

6'3" | 286 lbs.

2016 stats:

69 tackles, 16 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 3 FR

Projection:

First round

Scouting Report:

"Outstanding leader and athlete with an ability to rush the passer from outside or inside. Has produced against the run and pass thanks to his strength, agility, elite hand usage, and plus footwork. He might not be the cleanest fit inside as a full-time tackle for some teams, but his talent should trump any size concerns. Allen is a likely first-round selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles