Mt. Carmel blasts Batavia, will face DG North for 7A championship
By Mike Walsh
It’s fitting that Mount Carmel will end its season in the same venue it began in late August.
By virtue of a 64-26 dismantling of Batavia in an IHSA Class 7A semifinal on Nov. 18 in Chicago, the Caravan (12-1) advanced to the 20th state championship game in their history. Mount Carmel will attempt to repeat as Class 7A champs when it faces Downers Grove North (11-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hancock Stadium on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal.
Caravan junior quarterback Jack Elliot has been looking forward to getting back to ISU.
“As a Mount Carmel guy, we get scapulars,” Elliott said. “I left one in the locker room at ISU when we played East Saint Louis and I hope it’s still there and that we can see it.
“We all said that we had to get back there. We knew we’d get back there.”
Mt. Carmel coach Jordan Lynch also had plans to return.
“This is the reason why I wanted to play East Saint Louis at ISU to start this season,” said Lynch, he has led the program to two (2019, 2022) of its 15 state titles. “We’d never been to ISU and I wanted to schedule Week 1 there. The kids are used to the drive to ISU and now they’re used to being in that situation.
“There’s no better thing than practicing and playing on Thanksgiving weekend.”
Mount Carmel has outscored its four opponents 213-65 in the playoffs.
Against Batavia, junior quarterback Jack Elliott was 23-of-28 passing for 453 yards and four TDs. He also ran for 74 yards, including a 64-yard TD.
“Jack’s a winner,” Lynch said. “He’s in my office every day at lunch watching film. He eats and sleeps football.
Lynch said Elliot “learned a lot” from former Mt. Carmel quarterback and 2022 Tony Lawless Award winner Blainey Dowling.
“Jack just waited his turn and he deserves every success,” Lynch added.
Running back Darrion Dupree caught TD passes of 27 and 74 yards and ran for scores covering 2 and 35 yards. Darrion Gilliam reeled in a 36-yard TD strike.
Gilliam finished with eight receptions for 142 yards and Kevin Gardner had seven receptions for 98 yards.
Dupree rushed for 75 yards.
“This was really big for us,” Dupree said. “This was our last time on this field and we took it to heart. We had to play the way we did today.”
Tavon Rice tallied two sacks for 16 yards in losses and anchored the Caravan’s defensive line. Linebacker Matthew Mucha returned an interception 41 yards to set up and Elliot 2-yard TD pass to Zander Gorman.
Rory Small and Alonzo Manning II also rushed for TDs for Mount Carmel. Manning finished with 42 yards on seven carries.
“We started our season [at ISU] and we’re going to end it there,” Rice said. “It’s been a hell of a journey and I’m happy to end it playing there with my brothers.”
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