Aurora Christian junior quarterback Anthony Maddie delivers a pass in the Eagles' second-round playoff victory over Oregon.
Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer
Mt. Carmel (12-1) vs. Aurora Christian (12-1)
Class 3A state championship, 4 p.m. Friday in Champaign.
Road to the final: Mt. Carmel beat Harrisburg, 35-7; Benton, 42-9; Anna-Jonesboro, 33-21; and Greenville 49-19. Aurora Christian beat Kewanee, 35-8; Oregon, 34-21; Winnebago, 48-13; and Tolono Unity, 50-36.
Playoff history: Mt. Carmel, 46-31 in 33 playoff appearances, has qualified six straight times. The Golden Aces lost to Driscoll in both the Class 4A 2001 and 2002 title games, the first one in double-overtime. Mt. Carmel won the 3A title in 1981 and in 1974 lost to West Chicago for the 3A crown in the first year of the state series. Mt. Carmel was eliminated in the semifinals in 2010. Aurora Christian, 13-9 lifetime in its 10th straight playoff run, was the 2008 Class 4A runner-up to Bloomington Central Catholic which knocked Mt. Carmel out of the 2007 semis. The Eagles reached the 3A semifinals in 2007 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2010.
Coaches: Mt. Carmel coach Darren Peach is 101-30 in 11 years. Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe is 74-21 in eight seasons at the helm.
Mt. Carmel Aurora Christian
Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.
Sheldon Hannah 6-2 170 Sr. QB Anthony Maddie 6-6 215 Jr.
Dallas Cook 6-1 205 Sr. FB/RB Ryan Suttle 5-11 165 Jr.
Pete Condol 6-1 185 Sr. HB/WR Cory Windle 6-6 215 Jr.
Nathaniel Wagner 5-10 175 Sr. HB/WR Chad Beebe 6-6 215 Jr.
Jacob Jackson 5-5 130 Sr. WR Grayson Roberts 6-6 215 Jr.
Dillon Farmer 6-1 215 Sr. TE/WR Noah Roberts 6-2 168 So.
Seth Schalaski 6-0 275 Sr. LT Julian Sosa 5-11 201 Sr.
Dalton Peach 5-8 175 Jr. LG Eric Motisi 5-10 193 Jr.
Kyle Smith 5-11 255 Sr. C Roman Czerwinski 5-10 206 Sr.
Daniel Johnson 6-4 260 Sr. RG Jackson Hazlett 5-10 183 Jr.
Keagan Bogard 6-1 255 Sr. RT Josh Kok 6-4 245 Jr.
Pete Condol 6-1 185 Sr. PK Julian Sosa 5-11 201 Sr.
Mt. Carmel Aurora Christian
Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.
Gary Howder 6-2 305 Sr. DT Jonah Walker 6-3 231 So.
Sean Hinderliter 6-0 190 Jr. NT Nick Larson 5-10 221 Jr.
Dillon Farmer 6-1 215 Sr. DT Josh Kok 6-4 245 Jr.
Clayton Cole 6-3 220 Sr. OLB Ryan McQuade 6-4 191 Jr.
Sam Wampler 5-8 185 Jr. ILB Julian Sosa 5-11 201 Sr.
Dallas Cook 6-1 205 Sr. MLB Roman Czerwinski 5-10 206 Sr.
Colton Schuler 5-11 200 Sr. ILB Kenny McCracken 5-10 184 Sr.
Sheldon Hannah 6-2 170 Sr. S/OLB Ryan Suttle 5-11 165 Jr.
Levi Laws 5-11 160 Fr. S Brandon Mayes 5-11 165 Jr.
Jared Piper 6-1 165 Jr. CB Brandon Walgren 6-1 173 So.
Nathaniel Wagner 5-10 175 Sr. CB Cody Slamans 5-9 162 Sr.
Pete Condol 6-1 185 Sr. P Noah Roberts 6-2 168 So.
Mt. Carmel's offense (344.5 yards per game, 40.0 points per game) vs. Aurora Christian's defense (235.0 yards per game through 10 games, 16.3 points per game): An indication of the effectiveness of Mt. Carmel's offensive line and double-tight end, Wing-T offense: Last week against Greenville the Golden Aces ran for more than 500 yards; third-string fullback Wampler, a starting linebacker, came in to run for more than 200 yards. The offensive philosophy has remained nearly the same since the Golden Aces faced Driscoll, a physical, option-based football team but this year they've also added a jet sweep, Peach said. Cook, the starting fullback, has run for 1,410 yards and 24 touchdowns. Wagner adds 605 yards rushing and 5 TDs, and Condol, who returns after he was hurt the last two playoff games, ran for 492 yards, 9 touchdowns. Freshman Laws, the starting safety, came in the last two weeks to add 229 yards rushing. Hannah, another two-way player, is not the running threat Aurora Christian saw from Tolono Unity's quarterback. He can still be dangerous in play-action passing with 698 yards passing and 10 touchdowns but has thrown 8 interceptions on 48 percent completions. Though Cook is the main man Mt. Carmel's backfield diversity will present difficulties, Beebe said. Still, McCracken is up to 131 tackles with 16 for loss, Mayes has made 101 tackles and middle linebacker Czerwinski has made 99. The Eagles' quick three-man defensive line will be challenged to hold their ground so the linebackers can roam. The key: allow minimum yardage on first downs to force Mt. Carmel to the air.
Aurora Christian's offense (445.5 yards per game, 42.4 points per game) vs. Mt. Carmel's defense (204.0 yards per game, 12.0 points per game): Maddie, who as a sophomore was on the losing end of the 2009 Class 5A title game as Joliet Catholic's starting quarterback against Montini, has thrown for 3,706 yards and 50 touchdowns, fourth-best in a season according to IHSA records, 5 more than Aurora Christian's Jordan Roberts in 2008. He's also thrown 14 interceptions out of the spread offense, but his ability to hit the big play, and to audible out of bad ones, far surpasses any negative. Main deep threat Windle has caught 56 passes for 1,277 yards and 18 touchdowns; Grayson Roberts, Noel Roberts and Chad Beebe who reinjured his left shoulder against Tolono and will be a game-time decision all have at least 445 yards receiving. Coaches familiar with Maddie might say his greatest weapon is his running ability. The senior adds team highs of 925 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing, whether on called plays or scrambles. The Eagles will also need to maximize Suttle and fellow back Mayes, who have run for 290 and 681 yards, respectively, against a very fast defensive front. Peach said he'll try to keep Aurora Christian off balance by "mixing things up" dropping eight into coverage one play or bringing the heat with Cole (87 tackles, 11 sacks), the huge Howder (71 tackles, 11 sacks) or Farmer (77 tackles, 18 sacks). Hazlett, who played lots vs. Tolono, will make his first start on the Eagles' offensive line, keeping Larson fresh for defense. The quickness of Mt. Carmel's three down linemen drew rave reviews from Don Beebe. So did the athleticism of Mt. Carmel's secondary. "That's a battle we have to be able to win," Beebe said.
Intangibles: Maddie has returned a punt for a touchdown, and kickoff returners Mayes and Suttle are capable of the same. Kicker Sosa has made a 56-yard field goal in practice. Several of the Eagles' intangibles are motivational, not X's and O's. Maddie looks to reverse his fortune at Memorial Stadium. The Eagles would be the first Aurora team to win a state football championship. And if Aurora Christian were in position for the winning kneel-down "always my favorite play," Beebe said that would provide the opportunity for injured stars Mitch Holtz and R.J. Morris to take the field one last time in their prep careers, as ceremonial fullback and tailback.