By Mark Maxwell
The Class 7A state title game was business as usual for Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti. Lenti, 339-60 all-time, has now led the Caravan to 11 state titles in 30 years of coaching.
Lake Zurich came into the game averaging more than two fumbles per game this season and that would cost them dearly in the state championship. The first two Lake Zurich (12-2) possessions of the game ended in fumbled turnovers, setting up a short field for the Caravan offense on both occasions. Caravan senior running back Matt Domer capitalized on both possessions, rushing for touchdowns and taking his team to a 14-0 lead in the closing minute of the first quarter.
After the game, Lenti talked about the Lake Zurich turnovers and how they affected the game early on.
"First of all, the kids did a great job because Lake Zurich is a heck of a football team," he said. "Dave Proffit and I have been friends for over 30 years. We were assistants together years ago. So to beat his team that soundly was really a tremendous accomplishment. I think turnovers had a lot to do with that as well. We were good enough to take advantage of that."
Just before halftime, Mount Carmel senior wide receiver Christian Searles hauled in a touchdown pass from Marko Boricich to extend the Caravan lead to 21-0.
After the half, Mount Carmel was on the verge of taking a 28 point lead when they fumbled the ball on the goal line. Lake Zurich recovered the ball on their own one-yard line, but their offensive line couldn't hold the wave of Caravan defenders on the very next play and they gave up a safety. Boricich added one more touchdown pass to his stat line by connecting with senior wide receiver Brendan Griffin late in the game.
Down 30-0, the Bears' deficit was much too large to overcome. The stingy Caravan defense allowed only 71 yards of offense in their second straight state championship victory.
"I think all of the credit really goes to the assistant coaches and the players," Lenti said. "My brother Dave and the defensive coaches did a great job. What more can you say? The kids had a purpose. We were able to keep them focused. We always tell them, 'It's not how you start, it's how you finish.'"